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Maria Sharapova took part in a charity tennis clinic yesterday in Tokyo, Japan ahead of the Pan Pacific Open.
The heavy slice serve as shown here has nearly pure sidespin, generated by striking the ball from its center toward what would be its 3:00 position if it were a clock face. As upper arm drives upward, forward, and to the right, the racquet starts to move upward in an edge-first position. Tonight in New York City was the 14th Annual BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis at W New York Hotel. The children that attended were from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster hit area, and it looked like they enjoyed meeting Maria (and getting some tennis tips from her!).

The lack of topspin in this serve limits its margin of clearance over the net, so it is usually hit at less than 75% the speed of a topspin-slice serve, and it is too risky to make sense as a second serve. The sharp curve of the heavy slice serve can be used either to pull the receiver quite wide and open up the court or to jam him with a ball that suddenly curves into his body. The serve could still be hit up the middle from this stance, but an astute receiver might perceive an early signal of wide placement. The delicious event started with some star arrivals on the red carpet, including Venus Williams and James Blake. The heavy slice serve curves to the left (from the perspective of a right-handed server) in the air, and on hard courts and grass it also takes a pronounced, skidding left turn on the bounce.

The party continued inside with Victoria Azarenka spinning in the DJ booth and other players trying their hands at some gourmet food! In spite of the distraction of announcing her defection from Czechoslovakia, Martina made it to the semifinals before losing to eventual champion Chris Evert, who won the first of her six U.S.

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