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Understanding
the Service Box

Paul Lockwood

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Mr. Chuck Straley: math teacher, tennis coach, guide to the service box.

I first began learning to understand the service box while taking a lesson from the head tennis pro at the Tulsa Tennis Club in the early 1960s. The pro's name was Mr. Chuck Straley.

Mr. Straley was a math teacher at Holland Hall School in Tulsa, where John Yandell and I were in the same class and later played high school tennis together. Mr. Straley also doubled up as the head pro at the Tulsa Tennis Club. And maybe there was a connection between his mathematical training and what he taught me about the serve, although that didn't occur to me at the time.

I was taking one of my first lessons with him and we were working on my serve and I was feeling pretty good, thinking I was going to be able to master it all within the next few days or weeks. At that point Mr. Straley stopped the lesson. He wanted me to understand that there was a lot more to serving that just getting the serve in the box, or even developing a, a hard flatter serve, a slice serve, and a kick serve.

He explained that most people divided the service box in half and learned to develop all three serves to the left half and the right half. So that meant you would have 6 serves to each side for a total of 12 different options.



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Paul Lockwood retired this year as men's head coach after coaching the Oklahoma Sooners to 325 wins in 22 years. As a player at OU, he won the conference #1 singles and #1 doubles title in his senior year, leading his team to the conference championship as well. He was a highly nationally ranked junior and trained with contemporaries such as Brian Gottfried at the original Nick Bollettieri academy in Port Washington, New York. Currently he is the director of the new Gregg Wadley Tennis Pavillion in Norman, where he also has a select private coaching practice.