Targeting the net player on a return of serve

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by time_fly, Mar 23, 2014.

  1. time_fly

    time_fly Rookie

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    Suppose you are playing a normal USTA match against a doubles team where one partner has a weak serve and the other partner crowds the net. You can consistently hit hard enough to beat the reactions of the player at the net. Do you:

    a) Smack it at the net player until he or she learns to stand somewhere else or gets hauled away in an ambulance, whichever comes first
    b) Only hit it at the net player when you really need a point, or if you are having trouble winning points with a cross-court return
    c) Don't intentionally target the net player; USTA is supposed to be fun not dangerous and there's no real money on the line

    Also, does your answer change if it is mixed doubles?
     
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  2. MethodTennis

    MethodTennis Hall of Fame

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    a)

    10chara
     
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  3. TeamOB

    TeamOB Professional

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    In juniors we just hit the ball hard at the net person until he/she backs off. It usually only takes 2-3 shots. They don't mind because they understand what is going on and know that it's a legitimate strategy. In adult leagues it might be different, so you should at least know the person and decide whether to risk pi$$ing them off.
     
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  4. MethodTennis

    MethodTennis Hall of Fame

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    for this to be effective it is likely that the net player is **** and is going to be pretty ****ed that you are torpedoing balls are their chest at a good level they know whats going on and love it cause its a **** easy put away volley into a massive space.

    90% sure you are going to annoy people doing this, but at the end of the day, do you really even care?
     
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  5. dcdoorknob

    dcdoorknob Hall of Fame

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    a) is a perfectly reasonable option and people who get upset by their opponents doing this are actually the ones being unreasonable.

    It isn't your god-given right to have the advantages of crowding the net without ever having to deal with the potential disadvantages.
     
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  6. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    Yes, a is a good option, however it is usually just as easy to hit a spinner passing shot down the alley.

    And never in mixed.
     
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  7. v-verb

    v-verb Hall of Fame

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    c) I try to hit past them not at them. Don't want to injure anyone, ever

    Altho I did take my mixed partner down with a blast to the kidney on an errant serve. That was terrible
     
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  8. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    Do they have a weak serve, or are they choosing to dink in a second serve? I think it's more fair to do this when they are tapping in a slow, short, serve as a choice. Because you're showing them that this is not an intelligent choice.

    If they're old and frail and this is all they can do, then you have other options. For one, you can sharply angle the return for a winner. Also, you can go easy on the net man and just lob it over him for a winner, (it would be a winner because anyone who serves like that, probably never covers for their partner either.)
     
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  9. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    Fortunately I rarely ever have this situation .... A) my return is weak ... B) 4.5 men do not have weak serves .... C) In mixed when the woman is serving it is not usually in my interest to after the guy at net, although I will if the situation is right.

    However, I do not think any man should ever be miffed when they come at you. If they are coming at you, usually it is because you are not good enough.... Get better.
     
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  10. directionals

    directionals Rookie

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    In men's doubles, hitting at the net man is a fair game. If playing mixed, I would either hit past the woman or just hit with enough pace to get a weak ball or force an error. Never want to hurt the lady!
     
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  11. Bagumbawalla

    Bagumbawalla Hall of Fame

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    My feeling is-- if the serve is weak (as you say), and the net player not really all that great (as you imply), and you are able to pinpoint your return (so you say)-- then, really, this match is a "no contest" event and you would just be mean-spirited to drill the net-man.

    However, if it is a really close game, and your return game is too "iffy" to trust for making placements, and you need every advantage- then go for the net man and see what happens- he can always adjust if he feels uncomfortable.

    In mixed, it is situational. If you have to ask the question, then I am doubting your ability to make good judgments.
     
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  12. gmatheis

    gmatheis Hall of Fame

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    It's all situational.

    If you feel that you will win the match without much trouble, then what's the point? hit returns cross court.

    If you feel the match could be close (or maybe even that you are at a disadvantage) have at it! If the ball actually hits them, offer an apology and do it again :)

    As for mixed doubles ... I'm not sexist, I still follow the above.
     
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  13. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    Personally I get a bigger kick out of passing the player at the net as opposed to drilling them. It is kind of a mental game to see how long I can wait on my return and get them hopefully to commit to a poach before sending one DTL into that newly vacated area.

    There are several players I know who are constantly hitting at the net player and while I consider it an accepted part of the game I always try to nail any player back who has previously hit at or actually hit me. If you can't stand the heat, then don't play with fire.
     
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  14. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    First of all, it's a tennis ball, not a baseball.
    Within a couple of body shots, the net player has to make the choice, stand in and face the shot, or get a better serving partner....
     
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  15. TenS_Ace

    TenS_Ace Rookie

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    wrong!! :) it's a tennis ball NOT a hockey puck :twisted:
     
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  16. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

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    a) if you're hitting legal shots, no one has a right to complain.

    This is really rarely or never an issue anyway.
     
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  17. struggle

    struggle Hall of Fame

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    returns are one thing, but i try be abit more careful on say, a close up net exchange overhead opportunity.....then i hit at the feet or open space if i can.
     
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  18. mauricem

    mauricem Rookie

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    bodyshots ok, headshots not ok imho. Lots of people have had serious eye injuries from tennis balls

    Our interclub comp had a lot of juniors at one stage, the juniors were always the worst culprits at trying to line you up any chance they had even if there was plenty of open court.

    Not a wise move against bigger harder-hitting opponents!
     
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  19. Mr.Lob

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    This 6'7" dude was literally right on top of the net, waving and moving around to try to distract me. My return was a dart about an inch over the net that hit him square in the nut sack. Really didn't think I'd actually hit him, as I am but a lowly 3.5. About 5 games later I unintentionally hit him again, this time in the gut. Both times he just smiled and laughed it off. Odd fellow.
     
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  20. Mr.Lob

    Mr.Lob Hall of Fame

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    So, yeah, under certain circumstances it's okay.
     
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  21. jrs

    jrs Professional

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    If it's a social game I might just return cross court - in a tournament or league match go right at them - provided they are not good and won't take all that pace and smack your partner - who's probably standing diagonally from them at the net!
     
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  22. asimple

    asimple Semi-Pro

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    I have never heard of a single serious injury from a tennis ball. I believe they could occur but are rare.

    When I was a kid our coach had us play a game he called "killer". It was a two person half court volley game where you got one point if you won the point and 2 points for hitting the other guy. It was effective in curing the fear of getting hit.

    On this topic though, I don't normally go at the net man. If the player can't handle this then I should be able to beat them straight out without doing this. The one exception is in mixed. I recently hit a guy about 8 times because of the ladies serve. It's a bit frustrating but a lot of the ladies I played could handle my returns and I was forced to go at the net man. In the end I felt guilty about doing this and stopped but it probably cost us the match.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2014
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  23. chatt_town

    chatt_town Hall of Fame

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    well...I've seen that happen to a guy(getting nailed in the crotch). I think for me though it's situational. I generally start out this way. In men's doubles at the 4.0 level...most of the net guys can volley so it is stupid to go at the net guy on the return. If he's any good he'll end up taking it and putting it away between you or drilling your net guy(as you are the returner), but if I run into some wise asses that as someone else said..plays with the fire...then that is their problem. In mixed...I don't do it unless you come after my partner. If the man comes at me...then I don't go at the woman..I just at some point get him lined up and there are several ways to do that.

    Under no circumstance though do I ever biotch about being hit at. It's either my fault or my partner's fault. I never get p***** about it but you should know that its probably at some point coming back double fold.


     
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  24. mauricem

    mauricem Rookie

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    Ive seen it happen, guy nearly lost his eye, heard many other people mention it and just so its not all my opinion here's a link to an article in a journal of opthamology citing 29 cases of detached retina from tennis ball injuries most requiring surgery:(

    http://www.pjo.com.pk/23/3/Nadeem Qureshi.pdf
     
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  25. time_fly

    time_fly Rookie

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    I'm not saying I have pinpoint precision and can hit him in the belly button every time. I'm more talking about ripping it in his general direction and trying to win with power vs. going for a finess shot such as a lob or alley passing shot, or just doing a cross court return to the server.

    In the particular match I'm thinking of, I was literally standing 5' or more inside the baseline when I was hitting the ball and I have a hard forehand when I connect. It would take a pretty good player to volley it cleanly and consistently.
     
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  26. asimple

    asimple Semi-Pro

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    Did you actually read the article?

    If not, I will spoil the surprise for you, the injuries happened by people playing cricket with a tennis ball.
     
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  27. mauricem

    mauricem Rookie

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    Not closely:oops:, was a bit surprised how popular tennis was in Pakistan!

    Anyway there's plenty of other documented cases out there, and most people can hit the ball faster with a tennis racquet than a cricket bat!
     
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  28. widmerpool

    widmerpool Rookie

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    At a high level, it's fine.

    Murdering the net man in mixed doubles off a horrible serve is a bit much. Unless it's a very good woman in which case it's fine.
     
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  29. RetroSpin

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    My cousin is a personal injury attorney. She had a case where a guy was hit in the eye when his opponent swatted a ball in anger on a changeover. Very serious injuries that could not be fully corrected.
     
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  30. anubis

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    I always hit a few balls at the net person to test mis or her mettle. If they swat them back like no one's business, then I avoid them from there on out.
     
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  31. tennis_ocd

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    This is really only an issue in mixed or a very unbalanced skill set. If a player is hugging the net they ought to be able to handle anything a similar level player can throw at them -- making this a poor percentage play for the returner. Getting up close to the net for hard forehands is much safer and stronger position for hard groundstrokes than stepping back to the service line.
     
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  32. winstonlim8

    winstonlim8 Semi-Pro

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    I got hit so often that I ended up developing a very good backhand reflex volley. LOL Personally, I don't try to drill the opponent with a ROS but because I try to take the ball very early, accidents do happen when my timing is off a bit.
     
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  33. BigBlueYanks

    BigBlueYanks New User

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    d) hit it down the line

    it doesn't take long before they start to step back a bit or just stay at the baseline...
     
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  34. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    (a) would be fair game. But I will turn around and point at my partner and be like:

    "Yo, I'm not supposed to fear for my life on 1st serves. Do that s*** again and you'll get one on the back of your head when I serve :twisted:"

    [​IMG]
     
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  35. sphinx780

    sphinx780 Professional

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    It's fair game to go after the net man, but in 4.5 it's rare someone is that mismatched and can't hold their own or simply don't understand the strategy if they can't. I don't remember seeing it an issue in 4.0 years back either.

    I prefer to keep my opponents off balance when I can, so there will be some body shots, some lobs, a pass dtl if it's open and plenty of cc. If I'm returning well anyway.

    Mixed - No. Simply put, if it's too big a mismatch and could harm someone, I don't play in our graduated beer league to hurt people Men's or Mixed.
     
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  36. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Fair game if the netperson is active, is poaching, or distracting.
    No so good if he''s just standing there, minding his own business.
     
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  37. eelhc

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    #37
  38. Mr.Lob

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    Women have quicker reflexes than men. It's a proven scientific fact. So if you hit hard at a woman, you're more likely to get it back, than if you hit at a man. All things being equal.
     
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  39. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Women might have faster reflexes, but....
    Women tennis players tend to develop groundstrokes much farther than volleys, so they can't really defend themselves when in net position against a hard hit solid ball hit by a big guy.
    MartinaNavritilova might be the exception, but she is the exeption anyways.
     
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  40. tennis_ocd

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    I've worked hard at this and find it much easier to defend (and harder to pass a guy) when parked right on the net. You're protected from chest down; ball is either going long or you get a volley in your wheelhouse with all angles open. Much better play is to go over until they back off to defend. From a step inside the service line they are much, much more vulnerable to hard groundstrokes.

    As much as I hate the lob and have a strong FH; I find it a losing strategy to go hard at a guy/girl with even average volley skills if letting them park right on top of the net.

    That all said, if I see a guy right on the net I immediately think he's not a sound volleyer so test 'em. In a serious match it can put tremendous pressure on server to keep ball deep.

    The $64k question I keep in mind to guide me is whether I'll be secretly proud and giggling if pegging the player square in the gut; it will eventually happen.
     
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  41. eelhc

    eelhc Hall of Fame

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    Nobody is forcing anybody to play close to the net. I see many cases in pro matches where both players are back (serving or receiving).

    Much more fun watching a guy try to chase down a heavy topspin lob.
     
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  42. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Seems to me, most guys who stand atop the net don't bother chasing down any deep lobs, they just stand there and go "yours" to their partner.
    Some guys who stand atop the net have really quick reflexes, and can volley almost any shot short of an overhead or angled volley pretty much with ease. Those guys, you have to lob over to get their partner into play.
     
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  43. sphinx780

    sphinx780 Professional

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    The key is if the ability level is a large mismatch, women or man. I know plenty of women that can hold their own.
     
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  44. tennis_ocd

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    exactly. now the partner is running down a deep ball and you've suddenly turned the serving team into a very defensive posture.
     
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  45. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I"m not as smart as you, but how does forcing one player back, the other atop the net allow my team to be on more of an offensive position?
    Back guy just hit's a groundie deep to neutralize the point, he's back, his partner is cuddling up to the net cord.
    Now if back guy hit's a lob, we are on offense.
    If back guy hit's a good topspin lob, we're on defense.
     
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  46. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Everyone I play against knows how to put away a volley, so hitting it to or at the net player is a recipe for losing the point.

    I can maybe get away with it (if he/she is asleep) the first time, but after that the net-player is expecting it.
     
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  47. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Depends on the level of the net person's volleys and reactions.
    Some very good 4.5's can't defend well, while other guys in lowly 3.5 are swordslashing volleyers.
     
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  48. chatt_town

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    bro Lob...I don't buy this....not in Tennis. I see too many that react way too late. I think that may be true if you're comparing apples and apples...women against women and men against men...but man against woman...I think they are clearly slower.

     
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  49. McLovin

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    I coach a girls high school tennis team. Every year, at the start of the season, I tell them the following:
    When you have a short ball & time to wind up, hit the person at the net. Imagine they have the Target symbol tattooed on their body, specifically their right hip (if right handed). If you hit them, hold your hand up & say 'sorry'.

    Likewise, when they retaliate and hit you (and they most definitely will), hold your hand up & say 'nice shot'.​
    Anyone who plays competitive tennis knows this is how you play doubles. Period.
     
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  50. MisterP

    MisterP Semi-Pro

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    I can't do it. Not in rec tennis, anyway. If I was a D1 college player, that might be a different story. But, even then actually trying to hit the person seems weird to me.

    It seems like there is almost always a better option than hitting them e.g., going at their feet, down the line, lob, etc.
     
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