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Serena Williams has had a phenomenal year of tennis.



She won Wimbledon, the Olympics, and the U.S. Open, with a tremendous display of powerful serves, penetrating strokes, and great shot making. She was also in the best physical shape that she has been in for quite awhile. To be playing as well as she is at almost age 31 is truly remarkable.

A question that has been circulating for years and is especially prevalent today is, "Could Serena defeat a male tennis player who is currently ranked No. 100 in the world? The following avid tennis players who are close followers of the game give their opinions to the aforementioned question.

Mark Goldsman, 4.5 Senior Player: "Personally, I think that Serena would have great difficulty. Why? The strength and pace of his shots would be too hard for her to handle. Realistically, I feel that Serena's best chance of winning against a ranked male would be a player whose ranking was between 300-400."

Smaranda Stan, Assistant Women's Tennis Coach at UB and area's No. 2 ranked woman: "Serena's serve is the main reason that she is at the top of the women's game at present. I feel that her serve and determination would be the deciding factor in her winning."

Dave Kocak. Pro at Miller Tennis Center and three-time Muny Open Doubles Champion: "Impossible. Serena's advantage in women's play is that she's fast, hits the ball hard, and has a great serve. However, she is still slower than the slowest guy on the men's tour and weaker that the weakest men's player on the pro tour. The male tennis player will get to shots that Serena couldn't get to. Thirty years ago Martina Navralitova was at the peak of her abilities. Many followers of the game thought she could defeat the world's 100th ranked player. When Chris Evert, her arch rival heard this, she said. 'I don't really think Martina could defeat that player. I would have difficulty defeating the male player who was ranked 1000.'"

Bob Tracy. two-time Muny Open doubles champion: "Although Serena moves well she doesn't move like a guy. Her ground strokes are slower. I do feel that she could be competitive against a ranked male player who is ranked between 250-300 in the world."

Pat Lord, seven-time city singles and doubles champion: "It is obvious that the women players of today are much stronger and in superior physical condition compared to players of twenty to thirty years ago. This is due to weight training and other conditioning skills. Due to this, I feel that when Serena is at the top of her game as she has been recently she could beat No. 100."

Dick Phillips, former boys and girls tennis coach at Williamsville South and 4.0 senior player: "Serena would have many problems returning serve on her forehand and backhand sides especially on wide serves. Serves that were hit right at her or had extremely high bounces that most of the women can't hit as high would give her a great amount of trouble. I feel that she would be totally overpowered by the 100th ranked player. However, she could do reasonably well against a good male college tennis player. I really don't want to demean Serena's tennis game in any way. She is definitely the best women's tennis player competing today and possibly the greatest of all time. Her serve, power, speed afoot, and physical conditioning are the best they have been in quite awhile."

Amy Borden, South Towns Tennis Center Professional and former UB singles star: "I really feel that Serena would be competitive, but I really don't think she could win. In doubles, if she played with her sister, it could very well be a different story. If they competed against male doubles teams that were in the top 100 rankings they would have a good shot at defeating quite a few teams. This is due to their both having great serves, volleys, and overheads. In addition, they would both be responsible for covering only half a court, which would give them more time to react to the pace of their opponent's shots."

Rich Abbott. three-time Muny Open doubles champion, 4.5 senior player: "I have been friends with Jimmy Arias for many years. He rose to the the ranking of No. 5 in the world in 1983 and is without doubt the greatest home grown product to have come out of Western New York. When Jimmy was at the peak of his game he would play against many of the top women players at the legendary Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy.

He related that the matches, all in his favor of course, weren't even close. Jimmy also said that male tennis players who were ranked 100 or higher would also dominate the world's top women in practice. As for Serena she is thought by many, including myself, to be the greatest women's player of all time. She has incredible pace on all of her shots. However, the pace of the men's game is at another level and much quicker. She could not do what she does against the women that she competes against if she played against the 100th ranked male player."

My Own Views: "In 1973 Bobby Riggs, age 55, played Billie Jean King, one of the best women's tennis players in the world, in the Challenge of the Sexes. King won 6-4, 6-3; 6-4 in a one-sided match. The publicity after the match made it sound like a great women's tennis player could do well against the top pro men's players. Nothing could be further from the truth. Riggs was well past his prime. However, that match is often referred to when discussion arises stating that the world's top woman could defeat the 100th-ranked male."

Personally, although Serena is a phenomenal player I don't think Serena could win."?



email: thegreatgar@verizon.net