What's the best way to play this opponent ...

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Davis937, Nov 14, 2013.

  1. Davis937

    Davis937 Professional

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    I practiced today with a player … he was a good high school player, but I don't believe he played in college -- plays at a solid 4.0 level now. I appreciated his hitting with me since I'm just a 3.5 player (on a good day when I'm injury free …). After hitting, we decided to play two 12 point tiebreakers. To make a long story short, he pretty much owned me. I had particular problems with two aspects of his game: (1) he chipped a majority of his service returns (some very short) and I had a difficult time with those kinds of returns; and (2) he hit a nasty kick serve (a lot of spin that resulted in an extremely heavy ball). Was wondering how best to return his kick serve and how to handle those short chip returns. Really appreciate any suggestions you might have ...
     
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  2. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    The only foolproof advice I can give you is to get better. But for the short slices, I recommend you be ready for them, make sure you don't miss your reply, and hit whatever you feel most comfortable with (you can try slicing them back). Come to net if you feel comfortable up there. For your returns, backing up and letting the ball drop where the ball has spun itself out, and you can take a normal swing at it might be your best bet.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2013
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  3. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Short slices forces you to play net. Approach shot, volley or overhead, go for winners.
    High kickers, if he stays back, just lob it back first.
     
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  4. PeterWA

    PeterWA New User

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    As the poster above commented, the only foolproof advice anyone can give you at the moment is to simply improve.

    However, there are things you can do or think about to be more prepared for the next time you play against this player.

    How are your skills at the net? Since his returns are chips, and some very short especially, you may want to try to serve & volley if you are confident and just try your best to finish it at the net.

    Should you choose to not serve and volley, just be on your toes, ready to reply those chips so you can still maintain an advantage in the point. You don't always have to try to kill it for a winner; it probably won't be so successful. Just do what you can and mix it up to find an effective reply. It may be angles, pace, depth, or spin....maybe drop shots, who knows? :p


    As for his serve and your return of serve, there are few things you can do in my opinion.

    Traditionally, lots of players will advise you to step back a little bit, wait for the ball to die out and go at it, which is fine if it floats your boat.

    Alternatively, which is my usual way of doing things, is to creep up during the toss, split step on contact, jump forward with no backswing to use my forward momentum to hit through the ball. I find this especially effective against high kickers since you get a little more air time, compared to a flat serve, and the ball should be at right around your waist level when you are in the air at contact. This also cuts down time for the server to react and give you good pace and possibly angles as well.

    If you don't like either option, go ahead and stay where you usually return and just chip/moonball/dropshot his returns. Also, remember to swing early if you think that may be a problem as well - some players try to swing at their usual speed and sometimes it may not be in time for the serve. Do whatever you need to do... nobody said you can't win ugly :)

    Good luck!
     
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  5. Davis937

    Davis937 Professional

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    Hey TS … appreciate the feedback. You're right … I got caught too unprepared (for the short chips) … need better reaction time. He usually hits with good pace, so I kept waiting for "full swing" returns (which never came) and I didn't adjust in the tie breakers. I'll try to back up next time (usually, I try just the opposite -- hit the return early before the full kick action "kicks" in (sorry for the pun).
     
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  6. Davis937

    Davis937 Professional

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    Hi, Lee … thanks for your suggestion. You're right … I should have tried some serve/volley (my serving percentage was pretty bad for the tie breaker) … was also worried about his lobs (got a great one). BUT … was worth a try to attempt something new/different … I like your suggestion to try lobbying his kicker … I was trying to hit through it (unsuccessfully). Very heavy ball …
     
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  7. Davis937

    Davis937 Professional

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    Thanks, Peter! Some excellent suggestions … Yes, I should have thought about serve and volley -- if anything, just to change the tenor of the game and to try something different. I had a difficult time chipping his kicker … problems "targeting" the ball (which was also extremely heavy). I'll try the moon ball and drop shot strategy. Those kickers into the body were especially lethal ...
     
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  8. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    If short chip returns bother you, it is probably for one of two reasons, he fooled you and you got to the ball late and hit it poorly, or you don't have a net game, or both. Clearly, once you know he is capable of hitting short chips you should be anticipating it and getting a jump on the ball. If you have a poor net game, you need to either develop one, or use your baseline game to try to hit heavy topspin winners off of these short balls, typically with a lot of angle.

    As to kick serves that bother you, you have two options, one of which is likely the wrog answer. The wrong answer is take it early in your strike zone and either put a lot on tha ball and take over the point, or chip and charge. The right answer is back up and take it later and lower and get ready to baseline bash, I assume that would be your normal game.
     
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  9. anubis

    anubis Hall of Fame

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    What % of the points that he earned were off of your unforced errors? If it was very low, if he earned most of his points through solid play and winners, then there was nothing you could do about it.

    If I were you, I'd play with him as often as you can. You can probably learn a lot from him. sounds like a cool opportunity to me!
     
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  10. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    I had big problems with my BH return, last night against a sliced lefty serve in the add court....

    Stepping back didnt help much(my blocks were very short), stepping a bit in and I got tons of misshits.

    When I lost my own serve at 2-3 I was doomed in that set :(
     
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  11. GoudX

    GoudX Professional

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    You want to be careful about not playing 'your game'. The result of playing with tactics you never practise is almost always going to be failure.

    You deal with the chip return the same way you would with any slice. Good ways of dealing with a slicer/chipper are:

    -Attacking the net, as slices aren't generally good for passing shots.

    -Keep the ball deep (heavy topspin at 4.0/4.5+ but however you can keep the ball deep and inside the lines at lower levels), as this pushes the opponent back damaging their accuracy. This prevents them hitting really low slices consistently.

    -Be ready to move forward to hit groundstrokes, as floating slices spin back on the court, and short slices won't reach the baseline.

    -Be ready to move back, low slicers will often also have a looping topspin groundstroke to push you back if you get too close to the low slices, as a common plan involves moving you backwards and forwards to draw errors.

    -Chip back their short shots as dropshots, then pass them at the net with a lob/passing shot.


    It is much tougher to give advise on the kick serve, as a lot of it comes down to personal taste. One approach is to stand right back like Nadal and try to run it down and hit a loopy return to give you time to recover (hitting flat here steals your time and leaves you very open to a 1-2 punch). Another method is to step right into the bounce and block it back (almost like a cricket player).

    Personally I prefer taking a half step inside the court and hitting the kick serve on the rise or at it's highest point (depending on the speed). This means you are hitting the ball above net height, so you can drive the ball back flat at the back of the opponents court with a very compact shot. This is a low power counterpunching shot, not a massive swing - however it will give your opponent very little time to set up their shot. In the event of a very good serve you simply block the ball back, but if it is a very poor serve you are close enough to the court to get on top of the bounce and rip a winner.
     
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  12. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    Just play your game. I don't want to be disrespectful but from your description he is much more experienced and was just playing a little with you. That means thinking about a new strategy doesn't help you much. Just enjoy that he hits with you and try to get better by playing "open" instead of trying to junk with him. He probably doesn't want to trouble you with the slices but keep you in play so that you have good rallies. The kick serve also indicates that he is just a good player.
     
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