Young Montreal-born leftie Leylah Annie Fernandez (*2002 / CAN) has made a great start into the, in between unfortunately interrupted, 2020 season. Since winning the 2019 Junior French Open crown, which brought her later also the #1 spot on the ITF Junior Girls ranking, Leylah has focused on the women’s tour. After reaching 3 ITF Women’s finals in 2019 (winning one), she was able to add one gear at the beginning of 2020. First, in January, she qualified for her first Grand Slam main draw in Melbourne (falling in the first round to Lauren Davis – USA) and then in February, during the Fed Cup tie of her Canadian team in Switzerland, she was able to beat the leader of the Swiss team and the world’s #5 Belinda Bencic. Following this, at the WTA event in Acapulco (MEX), she was able to go from the qualification all the way to the finals, which she then lost to Heather Watson (GBR). This result helped Leylah to advance to close proximity of the WTA Top 100, but regretfully, the WTA season had to be halted due to the Coronavirus epidemic before the start of the big ATP/WTA Indian Wells event. So, it remains to be seen how this Canadian prodigy will continue her rise in the rankings when the tennis tour will reopen again.
Leylah who is of Ecuadoran and Filipino background started with tennis at the age of 5 years and she is a very dedicated hard worker with a high level of discipline in her strokes. This together with her good hands and rather faster feet helps her to overcome her limited size of just 1.68 m (5’6”). At this place, I would like to sincerely applaud her parents and surrounding for staying away from the potentially dangerous HGH (human growth hormone), which is, sadly in the front of the eyes of multiple tennis authorities, being illegally misused for the additional body growth stimulation (mainly with the focus on growing longer extremities) by an ever-growing group of the young tennis players (or rather their unscrupulous success hungry parents and managers) in the recent years!!
Despite her limited size, Leylah is thanks to her very solid serving technique a quite decent server. Her backhand, with a bit complicated racket holding style, has certain limitations. One of her biggest qualities is then her forehand 3.0 and mainly the forehand return 3.0 where she does very often almost everything quite perfectly. The upper body pivot with the help of the non-dominant arm (right) combined with the activation of the outside (left) leg starts it all. This together with good spacing makes a good energy absorption of the incoming ball possible. The previously stored body energy while released is then the main engine behind the acceleration of the racket on a helix path against the impact and later target. Such body energy dominance of the stroke combined with a long attention focus leads to very good control of the racket in the space and thus to a high stroke precision. In these aspects, Leylah is much better than most of the other aspiring young players. Below, I am showing some examples from her matches in Paris, as well as in Biel:
This article covers certain aspects of Leylah Fernandez’s forehand return 3.0 and forehand return 3.0 in general only! It is not intended as a complete stroke analysis. Further extensive photo galleries and more distinct details about her forehand return and other strokes (including potential improvement suggestions), as well as about the strokes of many other top players over the time, are available upon a qualified request at drmgb11(at)gmail.com. Some significant details of this kind, necessary for the peak performance in modern tennis as well as for a sustainable tennis training/development in general, are being discussed also in the seminar “TENNIS 3.0 – Future of the Game”, which is available worldwide upon request – www.tennis30.com / www.tennis30.cz.
Photos (June 2019 & February 2020) & text (March 2020) are under the copyright of the author, Dr. Martin G. Baroch. Any further publication of either any of the photos and/or texts with the explicit written permission issued by the author/copyright owner only!! All comments & instructions provided reflect just the personal opinion of the author and neither the author nor the CPTA accepts any responsibility for potential damages, direct or implied, of any kind!!