Sloane Stephens – Service 3.0 over the time

Young American Sloane Stephens (*93 / USA), who inherited some great sports genes, belongs to the most talented players on the WTA Tour. Sloane’s so far 4 WTA titles and career best of #11 (in 2013) could be, in my personal opinion, eventually seen just as a beginning…, if Sloane can stay out of trouble and all the necessary things should fall into place for her one day…

It was my real pleasure to have had the chance to work with Sloane in 2010-11, and updating her service was maybe the most enjoyable instant success of my coaching career in tennis. During our first ever meeting on the court in South Florida in 2010, Sloane, as this is quite usual with most of the young players until today, didn’t have a clear understanding about the (targeted) pronation. Following short verbal, visual and proprioceptive explanation of this motion and its key elements (including the Service 3.0 Code) from my side, Sloane wanted to try the full service and while “framing it” on the first attempt, the ball has flown all the way over the clubhouse standing on the side of the court… After my small repetition of the key elements, Sloane went for the second full attempt to hit an incredible ace with a wonderful pronation right into the backhand corner of the service box (serving from the ad side), one which had the second bounce less than 2 feet below the upper end of the standard height back fence. Needless to say, she was not able to repeat the same service quality immediately again, but over the time, we have been able to stabilize the key elements and since then Sloane can consider her serve as a serious weapon and she belongs to the best servers on the WTA Tour.

Below, I am sharing the images from one of our practice during the Cincinnati Masters in 2011 and then some from Sloanes’ US.Open matches in 2014/2015. Among the key elements, which Sloane can control quite well, are the high elbow position above the shoulder during and after the impact, very fast pronation immediately after the impact (one of the fastest on the WTA Tour) and well-controlled follow through 1 with her arm being kept in the long-axis pronation position for quite a while. Sloanes’ great quality is also her ability to use different degrees of topspin.

 

Sloane Stephens (*93 / USA) – Service 3.0 in a practice – 1 of 1 – impact – good use of the body with high reach and optimal glenohumeral angle – 2011 Cincinnati Masters, OH / USA – August 2011

 

Sloane Stephens (*93 / USA) – Service 3.0 in a practice – 1 of 1 – early follow through – almost perfect fast pronation as the action of the entire limb – 2011 Cincinnati Masters, OH / USA – August 2011

 

Sloane Stephens (*93 / USA) – Service 3.0 in a practice – 1 of 1 – follow through 1 (with targeted pronation) of a service with certain topspin – perfect body control – 2011 Cincinnati Masters, OH / USA – August 2011

 

Sloane Stephens (*93 / USA) – 1st service 3.0 during a Kids Day exhibition – 1 of 1 – follow through 1 with high elbow position and targeted long-axis pronation, solid body energy use – 2011 Cincinnati Masters, OH / USA

 

Sloane Stephens (*93 / USA) – 1st service 3.0 (with certain topspin) in a match – 1 of 11 – start with a wide base – 2014 US.Open – New York

 

Sloane Stephens (*93 / USA) – 1st service 3.0 in a match – 2 of 11 – the start of the toss and backswing – 2014 US.Open – New York

 

Sloane Stephens (*93 / USA) – 1st service 3.0 in a match – 3 of 11 – well-controlled toss with high release – 2014 US.Open – New York

 

Sloane Stephens (*93 / USA) – 1st service 3.0 in a match – 4 of 11 – toss/backswing – body weight starts to shift from the back to the front foot – 2014 US.Open – New York

 

Sloane Stephens (*93 / USA) – 1st service 3.0 in a match – 5 of 11 – loading starts – 2014 US.Open – New York

 

Sloane Stephens (*93 / USA) – 1st service 3.0 in a match – 6 of 11 – loading & transfer from the platform to the pinpoint stance – 2014 US.Open – New York

 

Sloane Stephens (*93 / USA) – 1st service 3.0 in a match – 7 of 11 – the start of the push-off from the poinpoint stance – 2014 US.Open – New York

 

Sloane Stephens (*93 / USA) – 1st service 3.0 in a match – 8 of 11 – push-off 2, racket travels into the cocking position – 2014 US.Open – New York

 

Sloane Stephens (*93 / USA) – 1st service 3.0 in a match – 9 of 11 – a well-controlled start of the explosion from the cocking position towards the impact – 2014 US.Open – New York

 

Sloane Stephens (*93 / USA) – 1st service 3.0 in a match – 10 of 11 – end of follow through 1 = targeted pronation, elbow is still above the shoulder and the palm of the hitting arm keeps pointing away from the body, as this service has a certain topspin component, the racket travels more to the right side than with a rather direct service – 2014 US.Open – New York

 

Sloane Stephens (*93 / USA) – 1st service 3.0 in a match – 11 of 11 – follow through 2 (=arm relaxation) and entry into the court – 2014 US.Open – New York

 

Sloane Stephens (*93 / USA) – Service 3.0 in a match – 1 of 2 – quite a powerful explosion from the cocking position, perfect eye control of the impact zone – 2014 US.Open – New York

 

Sloane Stephens (*93 / USA) – Service 3.0 in a match – 2 of 2 – end of follow through 1 with perfect targeted pronation, this service has also certain topspin component – 2014 US.Open – New York

 

Sloane Stephens (*93 / USA) – 1st service 3.0 in a match – 1 of 4 – a beginning of the toss, body weight is still on the back foot – 2015 US.Open – New York

 

Sloane Stephens (*93 / USA) – 1st service 3.0 in a match – 2 of 4 – the racket is approaching the impact, perfect eye control – 2015 US.Open – New York

 

Sloane Stephens (*93 / USA) – 1st service 3.0 in a match – 3 of 4 – practically ideal follow through 1 with perfectly controlled targeted long-axis pronation – 2015 US.Open – New York

 

Sloane Stephens (*93 / USA) – 1st service 3.0 in a match – 4 of 4 – follow through 2 = relaxation – 2015 US.Open – New York

 

Sloane Stephens (*93 / USA) – 1st service 3.0 in a match – 1 of 1 – follow through 1 with targeted pronation of a rather direct service – 2015 US.Open – New York

 

Sloane Stephens (*93 / USA) – 2nd service 3.0 in a match – 1 of 1 – follow through 1 of a service with a quite heavy topspin component – 2015 US.Open – New York

 

This article covers just certain aspects of the Sloane Stephens’ service. More photo material and further information are available upon qualified request at drmgb11(at)gmail.com

 

Photos (August 2011, 2014, 2015) and text (August 2017) copyright of Dr. Martin G. Baroch. Any further publication of either photos or text with written permission of the author/copyright owner only!

DrMGB
Dr. Martin G. Baroch (alias DrMGB) - CPTA's Vice-president - Director of Education and Certifications, long-time USPTA International Head Tester and member of the USPTA Education Committee, owner of the Martin Baroch Tennis Academy & Human Performance Center (MBTA & HPC)
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