05 Jul 2004 22:26:30
Eric Patton
The serve of Roscoe Tanner?

Let's see here...

On August 7, 2003, St. Petersburg Times columnist Gary Shelton claims
that on Tanner's serve, Tanner "usually topped out above 130, but he had
been timed at 153, and no one doubted it." [1]

But John Maclean writes for the Sunday Mail on June 20, 2004, that "In
1974 when US monster Roscoe Tanner was thundering down serves estimated
at 140mph with a WOODEN racket the winner of Tennis magazine's contest
to find the game's biggest hitter was unknown Aussie Colin Dibley, who
was credited with 148mph." [2]

In October 2003, GolfDigest.com says that "A typical tour swing rips
through the ball at 115 miles per hour. Former long-drive champion Jason
Zuback's swing is 140 mph; the average golfer's is 90 mph. The ball will
leave a long hitter's clubface at 200 mph, which easily exceeds the
fastest recorded tennis serve of 153 mph (by Roscoe Tanner), and is on a
par with jai-alai, often called the fastest game in the world." [3]

Something here called the "National Fast Serve Challenge Tour" says, in
a note credited to someone named Tina Cheung, that " To know what it is
like for a top server to win it, let us drop back in history to examine
the details of a 1976 event. That's when legendary Roscoe Tanner, whose
serve a radar gun once clocked at 153 mph, blasted into the winner's
circle." [4]

As part of an April Fools' Day joke in 1985 in Sports Illustrated,
George Plimpton wrote that "The fastest projectile ever measured by the
JUGS (which is named after the oldtimer's descriptive -- the
'jug-handled' curveball) was a Roscoe Tanner serve that registered 153
mph. The highest number that the JUGS had ever turned for a baseball was
103 mph, which it did, curiously, twice on one day, July 11, at the 1978
All-Star Game when both Goose Gossage and Nolan Ryan threw the ball at
that speed." [5]

Simon Austin and Mark Jolly say "The whole subject of the world's
fastest serve is not quite what it seems.

"For one thing, there are not speed guns on every court and they are not
always the most accurate devices on the planet.

"There are those that swear Roscoe Tanner, one of Bjorn Borg's rivals
from the 1970s, could serve at 150mph - and that was with a wooden
racket." [6]

According to this, on September 5, 1979, "Roscoe Tanner fires 11 aces,
breaks the net with his bullet serve & upsets top-seeded Bjorn Borg in
US Tennis Open quarterfinals." [7]

I don't know. I could believe that, perhaps, on one occasion, Roscoe
Tanner managed to hit a 150+ mph serve with a wooden racquet. I think I
might even be able to believe he managed to hit some 130+ mph serves
more often than not.

I just have difficulty believing that there's also not some "urban
legend" quality at work here. I have incredible difficulty believing
that Tanner was out there walloping serves like Sampras, Ivanisevic,
Rusedski, or Roddick, way back before people were even using so much as
an aluminum tennis racquet.

People are free to draw their own conclusions from all this. One thing,
however, is absolutely certain: Big serve or no, Tanner managed one
grand slam title only -- the 1977 Australian Open. If he really did
have all that heat, then he sure didn't do much with it if he could only
muster one solitary grand slam win.


Notes:

1. http://www.sptimes.com/2003/08/07/Columns/Tanner_doing_disservi.shtml

2.
http://www.sundaymail.co.uk/sport/mailsportweekly/tm_objectid=14342556&method=full&siteid=86024&headline=tennis--wimbledon--hot-rodd-clocked-for-speeding-name_page.html

3.
http://www.golfdigest.com/features/index.ssf?/features/gd200310golfguru.html

4. http://nfsctour.com/big.html

5. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2003/magazine/09/26/plimpton.finch/
However, it appears as though what appears on cnnsi.com is an excerpt.
The full article would seem to be able to be found at
http://www.bostonbaseball.com/whitesox/baseball_extras/sidd.html

6. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/tennis/2991002.stm

7. http://www.brainyhistory.com/days/september_5.html


05 Jul 2004 23:36:34
ConnMoore
Re: The serve of Roscoe Tanner?

>Subject: The serve of Roscoe Tanner?
>Path:

>From: Eric Patton ebpatton@xyahoo.com

>I just have difficulty believing that there's also not some "urban
>legend" quality at work here. I have incredible difficulty believing
>that Tanner was out there walloping serves like Sampras, Ivanisevic,
>Rusedski, or Roddick, way back before people were even using so much as
>an aluminum tennis racquet.


I do want to point out a fatal flaw in this reasoning.

Tennis raquets do not generate any pace...the user does.

How fast a tennis ball travels has to do with a few different factors.

1) How fast the raquet is going when it hits the ball

2) How much compression the ball has.

3) How much compression the raquet has.


Be aware that wooden raquets were often strung at very high tensions. Very
little give or trampoline effect in these raquets. This means that you have a
very tough time generating pace off ground strokes, without losing a lot of
control..

Put another way......string tensions on raquets today are lower than they were
with old wood raquets. Bjorn Borg had a string tension in the 80's!! Today
you seldom hear of anyone going above 60. Those old raquets were like playing
with a board. or a Bat. Now can you hit something very hard with a bat?

I know that few of you have ever played with a wooden raquet, but if you have
one around...go pick it up, and compare the face of the raquet with a modern
wide body. The woody will have very little if any give....no trampoline
effect at all. All that balls stored energy is going to stay with the ball
when you hit it. Seldom, if ever, would a player using a wood raquet hit it
with anything close to full strength during a rally...it was a game of guile
and patience. The ONE shot people would hit with full force was the
serve...the first serve at least....because a flat downward swing fit right in
with the old raquets strengths.....full power transmitted into the
ball.......to be sure, serving percentages were lower, because the ability to
impart spin was greatly lessened...but hitting a ball with a tightly strung
raquet using arm speed in excesss of 100 MPH is going to create a serve as fast
if you use a rock, a tennis raquet, a frying pan or a Toyota Corolla.

Its physics...pure and simple.







05 Jul 2004 23:44:44
Eric Patton
Re: The serve of Roscoe Tanner?

[snip stuff]

> Its physics...pure and simple.


Okay, you've convinced me of this much. So Tanner could have hit 153.
But with that small racquet head, to do it consistently? It might be
physics as far as velocity generation, but it's accuracy to connect with
the racquet's sweet spot and actually be able to get the serve in;
hitting a 200 mph serve does no good if you can't place the shot in the
service box.

Doesn't the smaller size of those wooden racquets' heads make it more
difficult to serve consistently hard serves? Put another way, even if
we stipulate that Tanner could have served 153 with a wooden racquet (or
a Toyota Corolla), what percentage of the time was he hitting 140+ mph
first serves -- and, of course, actually getting them in the service
box? Wouldn't it be more likely that he'd have to serve slower in order
to hit his serve accurately?


06 Jul 2004 00:52:28
GregRupedski
Re: The serve of Roscoe Tanner?


"Eric Patton" <ebpatton@xyahoo.com > wrote in message
news:qAkGc.186030$DG4.22236@fe2.columbus.rr.com...
> Let's see here...

Eric, I can assure you Tanner topped 130mph, I have talked to Vic Braden
personally about it. He has computer analysis and footage of this.

As noted in another thread, Kevin Curren who topped 120mph on atp radar has
acknowledged that Tanner served much harder than he did.

When I saw Tanner's motion IN PERSON, I realized how he did it. His motion
was absolutely unique. Like nothing in tennis I've ever seen. It
was....perfection....bear in mind my personal record is 124mph and I once
hit 118mph with a cheap(was cheap at the time of purchase) Bancroft wood
racquet with the original strings which actually cracked in half on a
forehand about a month later when I was fooling around with it. The Tanner
motion made me feel like....well a complete hack.




05 Jul 2004 19:51:45
StephenJ
Re: The serve of Roscoe Tanner?

> I just have difficulty believing that there's also not some "urban
> legend" quality at work here. I have incredible difficulty believing
> that Tanner was out there walloping serves like Sampras, Ivanisevic,
> Rusedski, or Roddick, way back before people were even using so much as
> an aluminum tennis racquet.

.. and at under six feet tall to boot (no top servers these days are).

Don't fret - your tennis instincts don't betray you. The notion that Tanner
really was serving 140 mph back in the late 70s, better than Sampras, Goran,
Roddick, etc. is ludicrous...


--
When the facts change,
one's opinion ought to change.

- John Maynard Keynes




05 Jul 2004 20:28:51
StephenJ
Re: The serve of Roscoe Tanner?


> Be aware that wooden raquets were often strung at very high tensions.
Very
> little give or trampoline effect in these raquets. This means that you
have a
> very tough time generating pace off ground strokes, without losing a lot
of
> control..

? Every one knows that higher tension = lesss trampoline effect = *less*
power (speed) on the ball.

> I know that few of you have ever played with a wooden raquet, but if you
have
> one around...go pick it up, and compare the face of the raquet with a
modern
> wide body. The woody will have very little if any give....no trampoline
> effect at all.

... which means less power...

> All that balls stored energy is going to stay with the ball
> when you hit it. Seldom, if ever, would a player using a wood raquet hit
it
> with anything close to full strength during a rally...it was a game of
guile
> and patience. The ONE shot people would hit with full force was the
> serve...the first serve at least....because a flat downward swing fit
right in
> with the old raquets strengths.....full power transmitted into the
> ball....

> Its physics...pure and simple.

Yes, lower tension (wood) = less power.

Go figure.

--
When the facts change,
one's opinion ought to change.

- John Maynard Keynes




06 Jul 2004 01:34:21
Sawfish
Re: The serve of Roscoe Tanner?

Eric Patton <ebpatton@xyahoo.com > writes:

>[snip stuff]

>> Its physics...pure and simple.


>Okay, you've convinced me of this much. So Tanner could have hit 153.
>But with that small racquet head, to do it consistently?

Never consistently 153. I don;t even believe 153.

I do believe 128-135 fairly consistently, like Roddick's 140+.

>It might be
>physics as far as velocity generation, but it's accuracy to connect with
>the racquet's sweet spot and actually be able to get the serve in;
>hitting a 200 mph serve does no good if you can't place the shot in the
>service box.

>Doesn't the smaller size of those wooden racquets' heads make it more
>difficult to serve consistently hard serves? Put another way, even if
>we stipulate that Tanner could have served 153 with a wooden racquet (or
>a Toyota Corolla), what percentage of the time was he hitting 140+ mph
>first serves -- and, of course, actually getting them in the service
>box? Wouldn't it be more likely that he'd have to serve slower in order
>to hit his serve accurately?

He hit pretty fucking hard. Remember, if he was going to win, at all, it
would be from his serve. He had no real hope in a ground game with any of
the top 50.
--
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Shit <------------------------------------------------------------ > Shinola
"Which is which?" --Sawfish


06 Jul 2004 04:40:57
john adams
Re: The serve of Roscoe Tanner?


"Eric Patton" <ebpatton@xyahoo.com > wrote in message
news:qAkGc.186030$DG4.22236@fe2.columbus.rr.com...
> Let's see here...
>
> On August 7, 2003, St. Petersburg Times columnist Gary Shelton claims
> that on Tanner's serve, Tanner "usually topped out above 130, but he had
> been timed at 153, and no one doubted it." [1]
>
> But John Maclean writes for the Sunday Mail on June 20, 2004, that "In
> 1974 when US monster Roscoe Tanner was thundering down serves estimated
> at 140mph with a WOODEN racket the winner of Tennis magazine's contest
> to find the game's biggest hitter was unknown Aussie Colin Dibley, who
> was credited with 148mph." [2]
>
> In October 2003, GolfDigest.com says that "A typical tour swing rips
> through the ball at 115 miles per hour. Former long-drive champion Jason
> Zuback's swing is 140 mph; the average golfer's is 90 mph. The ball will
> leave a long hitter's clubface at 200 mph, which easily exceeds the
> fastest recorded tennis serve of 153 mph (by Roscoe Tanner), and is on a
> par with jai-alai, often called the fastest game in the world." [3]
>
> Something here called the "National Fast Serve Challenge Tour" says, in
> a note credited to someone named Tina Cheung, that " To know what it is
> like for a top server to win it, let us drop back in history to examine
> the details of a 1976 event. That's when legendary Roscoe Tanner, whose
> serve a radar gun once clocked at 153 mph, blasted into the winner's
> circle." [4]
>
> As part of an April Fools' Day joke in 1985 in Sports Illustrated,
> George Plimpton wrote that "The fastest projectile ever measured by the
> JUGS (which is named after the oldtimer's descriptive -- the
> 'jug-handled' curveball) was a Roscoe Tanner serve that registered 153
> mph. The highest number that the JUGS had ever turned for a baseball was
> 103 mph, which it did, curiously, twice on one day, July 11, at the 1978
> All-Star Game when both Goose Gossage and Nolan Ryan threw the ball at
> that speed." [5]
>
> Simon Austin and Mark Jolly say "The whole subject of the world's
> fastest serve is not quite what it seems.
>
> "For one thing, there are not speed guns on every court and they are not
> always the most accurate devices on the planet.
>
> "There are those that swear Roscoe Tanner, one of Bjorn Borg's rivals
> from the 1970s, could serve at 150mph - and that was with a wooden
> racket." [6]
>
> According to this, on September 5, 1979, "Roscoe Tanner fires 11 aces,
> breaks the net with his bullet serve & upsets top-seeded Bjorn Borg in
> US Tennis Open quarterfinals." [7]
>
> I don't know. I could believe that, perhaps, on one occasion, Roscoe
> Tanner managed to hit a 150+ mph serve with a wooden racquet. I think I
> might even be able to believe he managed to hit some 130+ mph serves
> more often than not.
>
> I just have difficulty believing that there's also not some "urban
> legend" quality at work here. I have incredible difficulty believing
> that Tanner was out there walloping serves like Sampras, Ivanisevic,
> Rusedski, or Roddick, way back before people were even using so much as
> an aluminum tennis racquet.

What is so difficult to believe if you already concede that he consistently
hit above the 130 mph range? The logic doesn't quite add up: he may
not have served as many aces, which is something I am too lazy to
look up, but obviously with this kind of power he was a heavy server
without doubt.

> People are free to draw their own conclusions from all this. One thing,
> however, is absolutely certain: Big serve or no, Tanner managed one
> grand slam title only -- the 1977 Australian Open. If he really did
> have all that heat, then he sure didn't do much with it if he could only
> muster one solitary grand slam win.

As we all know very well it takes more than a huge serve to win a grand
slam.




06 Jul 2004 00:21:59
StephenJ
Re: The serve of Roscoe Tanner?

> What is so difficult to believe if you already concede that he
consistently
> hit above the 130 mph range?

Yes, his error was in conceding that. First, it put him in the wrong,
second, it leads to the quandary you noted...


--
When the facts change,
one's opinion ought to change.

- John Maynard Keynes




06 Jul 2004 05:32:46
john adams
Re: The serve of Roscoe Tanner?


"ConnMoore" <connmoore@aol.com > wrote in message
news:20040705193634.06753.00001018@mb-m13.aol.com...
> >Subject: The serve of Roscoe Tanner?
> >Path:
>
> >From: Eric Patton ebpatton@xyahoo.com
>
> >I just have difficulty believing that there's also not some "urban
> >legend" quality at work here. I have incredible difficulty believing
> >that Tanner was out there walloping serves like Sampras, Ivanisevic,
> >Rusedski, or Roddick, way back before people were even using so much as
> >an aluminum tennis racquet.
>
>
> I do want to point out a fatal flaw in this reasoning.
>
> Tennis raquets do not generate any pace...the user does.
>
> How fast a tennis ball travels has to do with a few different factors.
>
> 1) How fast the raquet is going when it hits the ball
>
> 2) How much compression the ball has.
>
> 3) How much compression the raquet has.
>
>
> Be aware that wooden raquets were often strung at very high tensions.
Very
> little give or trampoline effect in these raquets. This means that you
have a
> very tough time generating pace off ground strokes, without losing a lot
of
> control..
>
> Put another way......string tensions on raquets today are lower than they
were
> with old wood raquets. Bjorn Borg had a string tension in the 80's!!
Today
> you seldom hear of anyone going above 60. Those old raquets were like
playing
> with a board. or a Bat. Now can you hit something very hard with a bat?
>
> I know that few of you have ever played with a wooden raquet, but if you
have
> one around...go pick it up, and compare the face of the raquet with a
modern
> wide body. The woody will have very little if any give....no trampoline
> effect at all. All that balls stored energy is going to stay with the
ball
> when you hit it. Seldom, if ever, would a player using a wood raquet hit
it
> with anything close to full strength during a rally...it was a game of
guile
> and patience. The ONE shot people would hit with full force was the
> serve...the first serve at least....because a flat downward swing fit
right in
> with the old raquets strengths.....full power transmitted into the
> ball.......to be sure, serving percentages were lower, because the ability
to
> impart spin was greatly lessened...but hitting a ball with a tightly
strung
> raquet using arm speed in excesss of 100 MPH is going to create a serve as
fast
> if you use a rock, a tennis raquet, a frying pan or a Toyota Corolla.
>
> Its physics...pure and simple.

It may be pure phyics, but I don't think your physical analysis is
purely correct. Velocity is a function of mass and speed, but there are
other important factors that come into play between objects struck: the
ability of a racket to absorb and then retransmit power is determined
by things such as size of sweet spot and the elasticity of the strings when
striking the ball. Imagine playing tennis with steel balls (or benoit balls,
if
you wish). In match play, they are going to travel much slower than a
regular tennis ball because of the inability of the balls to reabsorb
kinetic
energy at the moment of inertia. That is why if you string your racket at
200 lbs. you would probably notice a pretty large shift towards slower
racket speed, supposing the racket and string still held together.

Wood rackets tend to have a pretty small sweet spot, so it takes
excellent timing to hit clean, powerul strokes. As you noted above,
the strings tensions tend to be higher in wood rackets as well. In
addition to that, the rackets themselves are fairly heavy. However,
the logic of your initial post goes against that of the rest of it when
you deduce that stiff unforgiving, small heads generate more pace than
more elastic (more energy retransmitting) rackets with larger sweet spots.