Questions from Derek:
“On the forehand when a player uses a eastern forehand grip he would
swing from the ground up to contact with a slight closed racket face at contact  
coming from 1 racket head length below the ball giving him topspin.  When a
player uses a semi western or western grip does the racket head not go as low
as on the Eastern forehand grip at the bottom of the down swing?  I have been
told the racket swing is not from the ground up but on a more horizontal plane
and how you get more effective topspin is because of the grip which has a very
closed racket face at contact point.�
“If this is the case what happens on the low ball when you need to lift the
ball? There is no way you would hit a level swing as the ball would go in the
bottom of the net.
The next question I want to is on the one handed backhand. If a player has a
strong eastern grip/ Western backhand grip (this encourages a closed racket
face) would you swing on a horizontal plane like the forehand or would you
swing from the ground up coming from 1 racket heads length below the ball to

Hi Derek,  Thank you for your questions.

First of all, topspin is achieved by swinging the racquet (racquet head or the
whole racquet) from below the ball contact and finishing above. The upward
swing is relative, the more the racquet is below the ball contact the more
topspin will be imparted on the ball. How low to swing your racquet below the
ball contact is determined by how much topspin you would want to impart on the

Secondly, the racquet strings MUST be vertical on ball contact. You cannot
contact a ball with the racquet face or strings closed or open. The semi-western
and western grips merely allow a player to make ball contact higher and farther
in front. This makes it easier to get topspin should you decide to swing from low
to high. The grip does not create topspin, the direction of the swing path
creates topspin. Some grips make it easier to take a swing path that could
create more topspin than others.

As for the one handed backhand with an eastern grip, the closed racquet face
must be straightened out before ball contact. The closed racquet face on this
grip would merely allow the player to take a greater low to high swing which
translates into topspin.

Extreme grips (western) only allow the possibility for more topspin. The fact
remains that topspin is only produced when the racquet brushes up the ball
from low to high. Western grips will produce a higher contact point that is
farther in front of the body.

I hope this helps, I didn't mean to sound so vague with my explanation but as
with all grips it is not the grip used it is the direction of the swing. It is just that
certain grips allow for more topspin IF THAT IS WHAT IS DESIRED.

Doug Hofer, USPTA                                   November 2, 2006