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raiden031
04-04-2008, 07:43 AM
The other day I played a guy in a semi-serious match who I beat easily in a practice set a few weeks ago. This time around he changed up his strategy. He acknowledged that he couldn't beat me from the baseline because I was really dictating play from back there and so he took advantage of his decent drop shots and net play. He started returning my serves from close to the service line by blocking them with drop shots every chance he could get. So he morphed into a slice and dicer so I was running up to the net on most shots trying to retrieve the low bouncing shots. Obviously I couldn't do much with these with my groundies so I was hitting some weak shots from up there that he could either lob back over me or slice or volley right past me. When serving, I had no choice but to S&V because he would block them back short and low. Really the only thing that saved me was my S&V net play, but it just wasn't enough. He ended up beating me in straight sets (4 and 2). Any ideas on a counter to this type of strategy?

Rickson
04-04-2008, 07:49 AM
Make him pay for standing so close to the serve line by jamming him. If this guy is doing droppers on your serves, you're not putting enough heat on that sucka. Make sure you get a good percentage of first serves in and don't give him puff serves because guys like me can slice and dice those all day. Another thing that slicing dropshot artists do is to go inside out a lot. If this guy is going for a righty fh dropper, anticipate the ball going to your left and to your right if he uses a bh slice dropper. Remember, more heat on your serves, get the 1st serves in, and know where the droppers are going.

raiden031
04-04-2008, 08:12 AM
Make him pay for standing so close to the serve line by jamming him. If this guy is doing droppers on your serves, you're not putting enough heat on that sucka. Make sure you get a good percentage of first serves in and don't give him puff serves because guys like me can slice and dice those all day. Another thing that slicing dropshot artists do is to go inside out a lot. If this guy is going for a righty fh dropper, anticipate the ball going to your left and to your right if he uses a bh slice dropper. Remember, more heat on your serves, get the 1st serves in, and know where the droppers are going.

I'd say my serve is decent for my level. The guy even said he couldn't return them from the baseline because they were all going high to his backhand which was causing him trouble. I don't think I coulda done much more on the serve without causing double faults. What was interesting was that I actually started targetting his forehand side on everything because his slice/drop shot forehand was a bit weaker than on the bh side.

Nellie
04-04-2008, 08:21 AM
Yeah - many players have less control on the forehand slice since it is not a shot you practice a lot. Keeping the ball to the middle of the court and making the guy move makes it harder to chip/block the return effectively, because the ball will typically be coming right back to you in the middle. I like the advice about going for a higher percentage on first serves, but I would do it with more action on the serve and moving the ball around and changing the pace. I find it harder to chip/block a return a serve with a lot of spin, especially if I have to run to get to the ball.

tfm1973
04-04-2008, 08:34 AM
*scribbles notes* *playing raiden next week in a friendly match*

so raiden you don't like coming up to net or low balls? i'll do my best to keep it a baseline rally but i have very poor control and balls will likely land very short with little pace and backspin. ;)

Djokovicfan4life
04-04-2008, 09:08 AM
Unless the guy has UNBELIEVABLE touch he shouldn't be able to drop shot return your first serves. Work on getting more pace on your first serve.

Thrice
04-04-2008, 10:10 AM
What was happening that serve and volley was not enough against this guy?

As others have said:

It should be very difficult for someone at your level to drop shot back from near the service line. What type of serves do you have in your arsenal? A serve with a lot of rotation on it is difficult to drop shot.

Mix things up. Slice into the body on some first serves. Send a few out wide in the deuce court and move in to close off the angle. If you have a reliable second serve it may be worthwhile to turn up the heat on a first serve occasionally. If you can get a couple in early he may have to reconsider is return position.

If he is moving in that close your ball has less space to move (left, right, up) off the bounce but he has less time to react. Move the ball around the service box. He adapted his strategy, now it's your turn.

raiden031
04-04-2008, 10:40 AM
*scribbles notes* *playing raiden next week in a friendly match*

so raiden you don't like coming up to net or low balls? i'll do my best to keep it a baseline rally but i have very poor control and balls will likely land very short with little pace and backspin. ;)

Feel free to take advantage of any weaknesses I leak out here. I don't like winning by out strategizing my opponent, but I like to outplay them no matter what they throw at me. Unfortunately this thinking results in alot of losses but thats ok with me.

raiden031
04-04-2008, 10:48 AM
What was happening that serve and volley was not enough against this guy?

As others have said:

It should be very difficult for someone at your level to drop shot back from near the service line. What type of serves do you have in your arsenal? A serve with a lot of rotation on it is difficult to drop shot.

Mix things up. Slice into the body on some first serves. Send a few out wide in the deuce court and move in to close off the angle. If you have a reliable second serve it may be worthwhile to turn up the heat on a first serve occasionally. If you can get a couple in early he may have to reconsider is return position.

If he is moving in that close your ball has less space to move (left, right, up) off the bounce but he has less time to react. Move the ball around the service box. He adapted his strategy, now it's your turn.

He was standing about 4 feet behind the service line. My first serves are topspin-slice and second serves mostly topspin and occasional twist. So alot of spin is there, and decent pace on the first serves. He was basically blocking them on the rise with good success. Normally when I S&V, opponents are trying to hit solid returns so I get some higher volleys to work with. Against this guy I'm hitting the ball upwards during the first volley, setting him up for a more offensive shot.

I had problems not just when serving but when returning because after my return he'd drop shot the next one or slice it low.

Thrice
04-04-2008, 11:29 AM
You're giving him what he wants on a serve. You need to develop a flat first serve to press someone that is crowding the service line.

I can hit slice and topspin slice serves 90% of the time if I want against most people I play just by getting one flat serve down the T and one out wide early in a match. Not that I recommend this, but it's unusual that someone is one step inside the baseline after that on a first serve.

I would also hit a serve with more slice less top against him. The side rotation is harder to handle that the topspin rotation for someone like this. I still think you need to move your serve around the box enough to keep on his toes.

Are you getting to the ball with enough height/ distance from the net that you can topspin the ball deep in the court? Doesn't have to be with pace. Are you taking advantage of the angles your being given when drawn in, how good is his court position after the drop shot shot? Have you tried to dropshot him back? I'm also of the opinion that if someone is going to make me hit up I'm going to see how well they handle lobs.

As for your service returns, make him move for the ball side to side. If he is rushing the net go for the shoes. How fit and consistent is he? Maybe you just need to keep it in play. Good luck, I'm curious to hear how the next time goes. Meanwhile, I'll be working on my weaknesses.

split-step
04-04-2008, 11:47 AM
I will echo what everyone here is saying about serve. If your opponent is standing 4 feet behind the service line and is able to short chip the return,
all it means is you need to work on your serve.

You either need to be more aggressive with your placement or pace or both.

Same goes for your return of serve, if he can drop shot your return.

And lastly, you need to be more aggressive with balls close to the net. If this was his strategy, I assume you would have been expecting the short ball, after he did it 3,4 times.
You move in as quickly as you can and get the ball as high as you can and be aggressive with your placement (especially if the ball is below the net).
You could also hit a dropper of his drop shot.

It seems that you need to work on getting better period to counter this guy. He is exploiting holes in your game.

volleyman
04-04-2008, 11:57 AM
Here's some advice that doesn't involve you retooling your serve. :-)

First, mix up your placements. Forehand, backhand, wide, down the middle, into the body. When he's standing that close, he doesn't have a lot of time to react. If you keep him guessing, that will shave another critical split second off his reaction time, which should reduce the effectiveness of his returns.

Second, move inside the baseline, but don't S&V. Your goal should be to position yourself so you can hit a strong forehand off his short return. If you can do this, you wind up with a lot of options: down-the-line or extreme crosscourt, topspin lob, or just go right through him at the net.

raiden031
04-04-2008, 12:23 PM
Considering my serve is probably the strongest part of my game, I really don't believe it is the solution to beating this guy. He's only a 3.5 so he probably loses to people with crap serves alot. And he's not that consistent but his drop shots give me enough trouble that I am out of my comfort zone because I'm caught running down lobs or hitting pop-up volleys and half-volleys.

Bungalo Bill
04-04-2008, 12:38 PM
The other day I played a guy in a semi-serious match who I beat easily in a practice set a few weeks ago. This time around he changed up his strategy. He acknowledged that he couldn't beat me from the baseline because I was really dictating play from back there and so he took advantage of his decent drop shots and net play. He started returning my serves from close to the service line by blocking them with drop shots every chance he could get. So he morphed into a slice and dicer so I was running up to the net on most shots trying to retrieve the low bouncing shots. Obviously I couldn't do much with these with my groundies so I was hitting some weak shots from up there that he could either lob back over me or slice or volley right past me. When serving, I had no choice but to S&V because he would block them back short and low. Really the only thing that saved me was my S&V net play, but it just wasn't enough. He ended up beating me in straight sets (4 and 2). Any ideas on a counter to this type of strategy?

I love when players move up on my serve. You must have good placement for your serve and good pace. Placement will kill those people that move up as they will have no time to react to the SECOND shot and many times the serve itself!

If you can hit up the T or hit out wide with a mean angle, they will have to guess which way, if they do get it, you should be already in to hit it to the open court.

You have to get the cones out and work on placement.

raiden031
04-04-2008, 12:49 PM
I love when players move up on my serve. You must have good placement for your serve and good pace. Placement will kill those people that move up as they will have no time to react to the SECOND shot and many times the serve itself!

If you can hit up the T or hit out wide with a mean angle, they will have to guess which way, if they do get it, you should be already in to hit it to the open court.

You have to get the cones out and work on placement.

The thing is this guy I talked about is a 3.5 and I haven't seen too many 3.5s who can serve well. So one would think he'd be a 4.0 or higher if the serve was the only way to beat him.

Bungalo Bill
04-04-2008, 12:57 PM
The thing is this guy I talked about is a 3.5 and I haven't seen too many 3.5s who can serve well. So one would think he'd be a 4.0 or higher if the serve was the only way to beat him.

But the serve isnt the only way to beat him.

Keep in mind, the serve is used to start the point so you must place it. It is not necessarily used to PLAY the point. You use your serve to setup the next ball. You find out their tendencies and you play accordingly. If a player is constantly "bumping" the ball and it is short, you would be a nitwit to keep staying back waiting for a deep ball to hit. However, coming to net might expose a weak part of your game, like forward movement or approach shots.

In a match, the reason we practice is to put everything together. You bring what you got. If you are weak at volleys and a 3.5 player is good at giving them, guess what, this is a match up that might favor the lower level player.

The serve must be placed and must setup the second shot. If you can not place your serve on a dime then this stroke will be susceptable to good blockers.

Dont confuse the rating with a players skill in certain areas.

hotseat
04-04-2008, 02:24 PM
have you ever considered countering his dropper with a dropper of your own? if he is slicing lobs and passing shots, dont use your typical stroke to drive it back to him, try giving him a taste of his own medicine. if his droppers are really that good, all the easier for you to counter with an exceptional dropper right back at him.

Ryoma
04-04-2008, 06:03 PM
I have a similar experience. I played 3 sets with this guy. Bagled him the first set, 6-3 the second and barely won the tiebreaker on the 3rd. The change is that he was trying to slice my top spin serve and usually mishit and ended up hitting a drop shot that caught the let-cord. He averaged 2 let cord return each of my service game.

I feel that I need to look at serving and volleying, there is no reason to go to a tiebreaker with such an opponent.

Rickson
04-04-2008, 10:43 PM
He was standing about 4 feet behind the service line.

If someone disrespects my serve that much, I will definitely make him pay. 4 freakin feet? I would have jammed him on every single serve. If this guy won a single point while receiving, I'd have been shocked. I once played a clown like that in doubles. Not surprisingly, he couldn't get a single one of my serves in play because oh what a surprise, he was standing too close to the service line. Either your buddy has excellent timing or your serves aren't as good as you thought they were. Nobody should be able to return your serves from 4 feet behind the service line.

czech09
04-04-2008, 10:55 PM
If someone disrespects my serve that much, I will definitely make him pay. 4 freakin feet? I would have jammed him on every single serve. If this guy won a single point while receiving, I'd have been shocked. I once played a clown like that in doubles. Not surprisingly, he couldn't get a single one of my serves in play because oh what a surprise, he was standing too close to the service line. Either your buddy has excellent timing or your serves aren't as good as you thought they were. Nobody should be able to return your serves from 4 feet behind the service line.

Exactly. There's no way a 3.5-4.0 level player should be able to return your serve with a slice drop shot for a winner. Usually people try to exaggerate the skill of the people they lose to instead of blaming themselves. Been there done that.

Causes of your "problem":

1. Your serve isn't hard enough and/or you don't have any action on your serve. 4 feet behind the service line? I mean if you serve anything with any kick or slice this guy has no chance to slice it back even if it's slow.

2. You're not trying hard enough. If you see him return a serve once for a drop shot winner, ok maybe he got lucky but if he's constantly doing this you need to look at yourself and see what you're doing wrong (mainly not running). Serve and volley maybe? Run to the net and hit his so called drop shot right back in his court. I still have a hard time believing any 3.5-4.0 player has the ability of slicing back a return 4 ft behind the service line for a winner.

Good luck hope this helps but mainly work on your footwork, beat him at his own game.

vince916
04-04-2008, 11:05 PM
Even pros dont do drop shot returns...

Thats crazy when you say you have a decent serve.

Rickson
04-04-2008, 11:08 PM
Even pros dont do drop shot returns...

Thats crazy when you say you have a decent serve.

OOH! Harsh, but true.

Thrice
04-04-2008, 11:52 PM
Last year a guy I play against commented about how I didn't really have a first serve - I had 3-4 different second serves. We are both committed to improving our game and I took this to heart. I'm still working on my first serve in terms of improving the percentage, but it has definitely added another dimension to my game - and taken one away from my opponents.

Ultra2HolyGrail
04-05-2008, 01:00 AM
Exactly. There's no way a 3.5-4.0 level player should be able to return your serve with a slice drop shot for a winner

Most 4.0's hit weak second serves. Moving up on the second serve, ALOT, is a good move.. Drop shots are easy for that shot, and hitting down the line or crosscourt and come charging in..

The OP needs to work on his serve.

raiden031
04-06-2008, 06:56 AM
Either your buddy has excellent timing or your serves aren't as good as you thought they were. Nobody should be able to return your serves from 4 feet behind the service line.

Exactly. There's no way a 3.5-4.0 level player should be able to return your serve with a slice drop shot for a winner. Usually people try to exaggerate the skill of the people they lose to instead of blaming themselves. Been there done that.

Causes of your "problem":

1. Your serve isn't hard enough and/or you don't have any action on your serve. 4 feet behind the service line? I mean if you serve anything with any kick or slice this guy has no chance to slice it back even if it's slow.

2. You're not trying hard enough. If you see him return a serve once for a drop shot winner, ok maybe he got lucky but if he's constantly doing this you need to look at yourself and see what you're doing wrong (mainly not running). Serve and volley maybe? Run to the net and hit his so called drop shot right back in his court. I still have a hard time believing any 3.5-4.0 player has the ability of slicing back a return 4 ft behind the service line for a winner.

Good luck hope this helps but mainly work on your footwork, beat him at his own game.

Most 4.0's hit weak second serves. Moving up on the second serve, ALOT, is a good move.. Drop shots are easy for that shot, and hitting down the line or crosscourt and come charging in..

The OP needs to work on his serve.

Ok guys enough with blaming my serve. Most people I play against can't do much to attack my serve and I win alot of free points with it. I was talking strategy with the guy DURING the match so it was a pretty friendly one. He said that he could not return my serves reliably from the baseline because they had too much spin and were bouncing too high for him. If my serve was so weak, he wouldn't be having any trouble from the baseline. So thats the reason he chose to return from very close, and he has good enough hands that a little chop return would do the job. He wasn't getting winners with them but he was really taking me out of my comfort zone because I couldn't do much with his short low returns.

The guy acknowledged that I was outplaying him when he hit with pace from the baseline so he had to resort to this tactic, which he seemed really good at doing so I couldn't figure out how often he does this since he didn't do it the first time we played.

My serve is already ahead of various other parts of my game, so rather than needing say a 5.0-level serve when the rest of my game is more like 3.5, I was hoping for advice on how to deal with this guy's tactics within my own ability.

Bungalo Bill
04-06-2008, 07:01 AM
Ok guys enough with blaming my serve. Most people I play against can't do much to attack my serve and I win alot of free points with it. I was talking strategy with the guy DURING the match so it was a pretty friendly one. He said that he could not return my serves reliably from the baseline because they had too much spin and were bouncing too high for him. If my serve was so weak, he wouldn't be having any trouble from the baseline. So thats the reason he chose to return from very close, and he has good enough hands that a little chop return would do the job. He wasn't getting winners with them but he was really taking me out of my comfort zone because I couldn't do much with his short low returns.

The guy acknowledged that I was outplaying him when he hit with pace from the baseline so he had to resort to this tactic, which he seemed really good at doing so I couldn't figure out how often he does this since he didn't do it the first time we played.

My serve is already ahead of various other parts of my game, so rather than needing say a 5.0-level serve when the rest of my game is more like 3.5, I was hoping for advice on how to deal with this guy's tactics within my own ability.

What are you doing? You cant be this naive.

I just told you how to do it! We are not talking about a 5.0 level serve! We are talking about you improving your serve to handle players moving in on you. Placement is now important and not spin!!!!!!