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.
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!