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Properly hit a backhand

Most new tennis players find that the backhand is the most difficult stroke to master. But most of the essentials of the forehand ground stroke also apply to the backhand.

"I often say about the backhand, it’s equal but opposite,’’ says Tim Butorac, director of the Rochester Tennis Connection and girls tennis coach at Rochester John Marshall. "For a right-handed player, you’re using the other side of the racquet, you have the left foot forward, everything’s on the left side of your body.

People aren’t as comfortable on their opposite side, so it takes a bit more practice at first.’’

You can use one or two hands to hit backhand shots. With the "one-hander,’’ rotate your grip one-quarter so the first knuckle of your index finger is on the top of the racket. This allows you to square the racket face and put your racquet on edge.

From there, a backhand is like other tennis shots -- turn sideways to the net, step to the target and swing low to high.

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Alternatively, both hands can be used for the backhand. Here, Butorac recommends the two-forehand grip -- for a right-handed player, the right hand is underneath the handle, while the left hand guides or steers the ball.

Two hands makes for a much more stable racquet head.

"Young kids especially, they need that extra hand for added strength,’’ says Butorac.

Again, keep in mind the other shot basics -- turn, step and swing.

Rochester Tennis Connection provides lessons and leagues for players of all ages. Visit

postbulletin.com for details.

www.rochestertennis.com for details.

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