What's your stand on hitting a player on purpose...for strategic reasons?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Zachol82, Jan 7, 2010.

  1. Zachol82

    Zachol82 Professional

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    By strategic reasons, I mean not hitting them out of anger, but striking a ball at their body simply because it is the best shot at the moment to get a point.

    I know it's not good manners and whatnot but I'm torn on this, which is why I'm asking the TW community!

    Sometimes, I would face an extremely skilled net-player and lobbing doesn't necessarily help and it's not really my style to lob 9/10 shots. Can't really hit a passing shot since my opponent is pretty good at predicting where I will hit it. The only option I have is a shot right at the face, or the body where I can possibly get a weak reply and create an opening from there.

    Now, this makes me look ill-mannered and all on the court but what else can I do? My opponent is good, I would lose the match if I handicap myself by not hitting at him. In my own opinion, if you like playing net, and you're really good at it, you shouldn't expect your opponent to respect you by not hitting the ball at you. However, my opponent did seem a little pissed off about it, and I don't blame him...but what does the community think?

    Just for your information, I did hit a good 10-15 shots at him :oops:
     
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  2. TennisKid1

    TennisKid1 Semi-Pro

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    Well if you hit him once its more of a mental boost for you and mental decrease for the opponent. Hitting your opponent with the ball will help you think that he cant read where you are going to hit the ball as well as you thought they could. For your opponent he will be thinking more about what you will do since instead of just passing shots and lobs it adds getting hit by the ball to the menu. So really hitting them once, on accident or on purpose, will increase your position during the match.
     
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  3. Zachol82

    Zachol82 Professional

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    I must have increased my position a lot then :[
     
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  4. W Cats

    W Cats Rookie

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    I have two responses:

    1, Yeah, I'd be slightly ticked, but I would also know it's part of the game. And if I got any inclination that it wasn't an accident - then you've just signaled that it's open season.

    2, If you are that good at targeting, you should be able to come up with a decent passing shot.
     
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  5. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    OP,

    It's rather simple.

    First, walk into the court with a friendly attitude that no one would doubt your friendliness. Then, proceed with this shot in a gamely manner. If you hit it correctly like you say/intend it's quite hard to hit people in the face. Stomach, yes. I aim to hit to win a point which is key here. I never need to aim at the net person, just in his general direction or close to him is enough to win me point already (I guess quality of your shot is also key). If it gets dangerously close, I raise my hand to apologize and cite lack of control which is true cuz I never intend to hit player. If I had control the shot would pass perfectly and unharmfully. ;)
     
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  6. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    You can hit it at them all you want. (you're talking about when you're at the baseline, right?)

    People try to nail the ball at me all the time, especially some of the 3.0 or weak 3.5 players we've been playing in this indoor league.

    Once in awhile I blink or lose a beat and I suddenly have to get out of the way at the last minute (rather then go for the shot), but that's my fault.

    I always think it's a lot like playing the infield in baseball. You really have to be ready for those shots and stay aggressive up there, otherwise it can get really dangerous.
     
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  7. Bashi

    Bashi Rookie

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    i think the only time when this is frowned upon is when you're putting away a short ball or an overhead around the service line, when they can be pretty sure it was on purpose. but yes, i have done this before, and had it done to me.
     
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  8. zettabyte

    zettabyte New User

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    I'm new to the game but I have to say I don't see it as ill-mannered or inappropriate.

    If a body serve is okay, why not a body pass? If the opponent is frazzled by a hard hit body shot when at the net, maybe they don't belong up there?

    Now, if you're good enough to do it all the time, then it would seem you could probably find an angle to attack as well, as your placement is pretty solid. But that's not the point, is it?

    If you were doing it to me, I'd see it as a decent tactic, and I wouldn't be offended.
     
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  9. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    On contrary this is one of the instance that it's most expected, thus less frowned upon. It's a short ball and a sure way to win. I'm not gonna hit way away from the netman or to their baseline person and give up the point. To boost, smart netman can assess the situation, turn around and surrender the point which means he expects such a shot.

    Now, on the other hand, if you fire a low percentage shot right at anyone, people are gonna question your intention. To boost, if they dodge the shots and the shots consistently go long, you'll be hung. They will come to believe you're a bad blood.

    In fact there was one guy like that in our group. I never got hit by him, just a few scares, but almost everyone else got hit. We did not mind him hitting those shots to win but they better be in. Sadly 9/10 of those shots sailed long and he got so much verbal abuse. He stopped coming out over 6 months already.
     
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  10. W Cats

    W Cats Rookie

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    For some reason I'm assuning this is singles situation and not doubles because I don't recall th OP mentioning doubles and if the opponent is at the net I assume that hitting at their feet on a short ball or overhead is highly unlikely, therefore you are aming at their torso, lets say an area 4-5 square feet. I don't know about you but if I turned my back to yield the shot and got nailed in the back with an overhead with a targeting area of 4-5 feet vs. the rest of the court I don't think anyone would reach out and shake your hand for good sportsmanship.
     
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  11. papatenis

    papatenis Semi-Pro

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    You've got to be kidding.
    If you have the ability to hit at body parts, then you have the skill to hit a passing shot.

    Don't forget, tennis is a gentleman's sport!!!
     
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  12. ALten1

    ALten1 Rookie

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    I think in singles hitting at the opponent at the net is a good stratagy, especially if they can't return it. If the player is tall wouldn't hitting into their body or at their feet be the smart thing to do?
     
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  13. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    Yes, your right.

    When the purpose of the shot is purely to "injure" or "hurt" someone than you have things pretty screwed up and you might consider giving up the "sport" before you end up in jail. If someone is interested in doing these things, forget tennis and join the Marines or Army Infantry - where you actually get paid. Grow up, this is a "game".
     
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  14. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

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    I don't have to resort to body blows in singles except on serves as changeups.

    In doubles, I naturally don't like hitting people so I always hit away from the net man. This usually means that if I'm poaching I'll usually hit to the baseline player. Sometimes I get the angled volley winner, but other times I basically did nothing and took a meaningless risk. I've been trying to aim for the net man more on poaches (unless I have open court to hit to anyway), but it's still difficult for me, I hate it that much. I've been told by many to aim for the net man and to not apologize when I hit it to them and that if I don't occasionally hit them (as an accidental result of aiming in their vicinity), then I'm not being aggressive enough at the net.

    So to summarize, in singles it's not too necessary since you have open court to hit to, but it's a good tactic if you need to resort to it (but you should never NEED to resort to it if you're a good player). In doubles, it's almost mandatory regardless of your abilities, just try not to hurt them or make contact with their body.
     
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  15. brad1730

    brad1730 Rookie

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    It depends on the distance. If your opponent is at the net, and you are at the service line, then I would fire away - but not at his face. I've had guys hit me that were a lot closer, and had a lot of open court - and it really got me upset. This happens more in doubles - but what goes around, comes around.
     
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  16. Zachol82

    Zachol82 Professional

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    Just to clarify things up a little, yes I am talking about a singles match and yes I am at the baseline while my opponent is at net. However, I aim for his body as I approach the service line, not while I'm way back at baseline.

    Well, you're right in that aiming at a person's body is difficult. However, it's "easy" for me to hit at a person's body as oppose to hitting passing shots by them because first of all, they wont expect a shot toward their body, and secondly, I can hit a much harder ball toward them, since normally it would be out but in this case it's fine since it'd hit the opponent instead.

    Hitting a passing shot by the opponent I was describing above was extremely difficult for me. I would have to hit it with extreme angle to either the left or right. All he has to do is reach out and that's pretty much point for him, since a net player has much better angles and options. Also, keep in mind that to hit a passing shot would either mean extreme angle cross-court OR straight down the line, which is a heck of a lot harder than just hitting it down the middle of the court at someone's body. Granted if I was better, I would have been able to, but I'm just not there yet.

    And also, I DID aim for his body on purpose, however, with the intention that it's the only option I see open. I would never hurt someone on the court out of shear anger or for sadistic gratification.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2010
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  17. Zachol82

    Zachol82 Professional

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    That's what I believe as well, but it's kind of hard to make hitting someone else look right:neutral:
     
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  18. Netspirit

    Netspirit Hall of Fame

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    I will never try it intentionally if this is a recreational match. Tennis is supposed to be a non-contact sport, I do not want to injure or scare my opponent.
     
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  19. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Zachol,

    You and your game are very odd (to say the least). How the heck in singles do you get a chance to hit at one opponent "10-15" times? And in all those times, you have nowhere to go but the body? From the service line? The court is that small and your stroke is that constrained?

    There are many wrongs with your current approach.

    1) Tennis at your level never worths anyone's injury.

    2) By aiming at your opponent's body while not counting on hitting it in, you're practicing a bad shot. A semi-quick or smart opponent just simply dodges and win the point.

    3) Winning a point by hitting the opponent's body in a nonpro game where you don't make a dime is ugly and carries many consequences. You may win one point, but lose a social group. Worse, you may come across an ahole or a competitive, capable player and you'll have to watch your back. That defeats the point of YOUR tennis.
     
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  20. Zachol82

    Zachol82 Professional

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    I guess the only other option I have is to get better so I can hit a more accurate passing shot.

    I know it's practicing a bad shot, since it's going out, but you caught me, the game just seemed too important at the moment for me to give up those points, since I was somewhat in a panic mode and it seems that my opponent had sealed up all other openings :cry:
     
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  21. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Professional

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    There are 3 occasions when I've deliberately tried to hit my opponent in doubles.

    1. I'm serving and the non-returning opponent is deliberately putting his foot into the service box that I'm serving into, as a form of distraction. I hit my flattie as hard as I could and yes, I hit him. Point was ours.

    2. We were playing these net hogs who crashed the net a wee bit too close and too soon. I wanted to back them off because they were getting away with too many junk shots from standing right on the net (few mishit winners because they were pure reaction shots right on top of the net). So, I lined up a few shots and aimed at him a couple times until he backed off. Mind you, these were hard hit balls that still would have landed in if he wasn't in the way.

    3. In the first receiving game of a doubles match I'll hit an aggressive return and try to hit the non-serving net guy to shake his confidence at net, **** him off, or otherwise just see how good his hands are. You'd be surprised how well this works. Sometimes it reveals a poor volleyer, maybe some singles baseliner who got put on doubles that night. Then we don't bother with crosscourt returns. It's just too damn fun to humiliate a non-S&V player who doesn't belong on a doubles court.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2010
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  22. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    I figured someone would say "if you can hit it at someone, you can hit a passing shot!".

    But I think what's at play sometimes is that due to poor technique or because someone is just afraid of getting hit in general they may tend to have a decent ability to get balls that they have to reach out for, but balls hit right at them are very difficult to deal with.

    This is especially the case for those people who tend to swing away at everything from up there. Try to hit it around them and they may be good enough to swat the ball out of the air, but if it's hit directly at them, that becomes very difficult.

    Those are the times when it would be good to make that play.

    If your opponent is standing on the baseline and he's managing to hit you with the ball, I dont care what anyone says, that's YOUR fault. You need to learn how to volley or get off the net.
     
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  23. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Professional

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    +1 learn to volley or get away from the net. It always amazes me how many baseliners try to "wing it" in doubles. It only takes a couple of ugly volleys to figure out that you just have to pick on the poor volleyer.
     
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  24. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    I rarely, if ever, come to the conclusion that trying to hit my opponent with the ball is the best shot.

    Lets say you're playing doubles against a good aggressive net player. If nothing else is working, you might try something like that to back him off the net or knock out some of his confidence. Although a good net player will be in position to handle a shot straight at them most of the time.

    But really most of the time people attempt the shot at the net man because the net player is weak and they feel they will win free points that way or really scare them off the net. That's completely unnecessary because a weak net player can also be exploited by dipping shots, passing shots, and lobs.

    Now when it comes to overheads, its fair game. It is a net person's duty to recognize when remaining in the point is a lost cause and they need to retreat in order to play the most defensive way possible or simply remove themselves from harm's way when that's not an option. If you try to take a smashing overhead head-on then you deserve to get hit because even the pros know when they don't have a chance and back down.
     
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  25. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    That is a very simplistic analysis. Some people are weak in some ways but not in others. Especially at some levels where you have a mixed bag of different skills.
     
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  26. fruitytennis1

    fruitytennis1 Professional

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    Whats not cool in dubs is when your partner throws up a short lob and the net man with a the overhead aims for u...
    Got nailed in the back and that hurt but i think i made up with it by tagging him square in the gut.
     
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  27. ALten1

    ALten1 Rookie

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    being a tall player with pretty quick hands I can understand if someone tried to jam me. I don't see the problem unless the opponent is so close I can shake his hand when he hits at me
     
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  28. Roy125

    Roy125 Professional

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    I would only do it if my opponent was tall, I was at the baseline, has closed off a good portion of the court, and was playing competitively.
     
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  29. T1000

    T1000 Hall of Fame

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    If they are standing on top of the net I'll go for them all I want until they move. They're going to crowd so I'll nail them a couple of times, not my fault they can't react. I've also hit the other players on purpose sometimes in doubles if I'm playing with a girl and the other two are guys and are trying to hit her. I have no problem going for them since it's fair game.
     
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  30. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    First I doubt that someone could be so skilled to handle low volleys just fine, have good anticipation for passing shots, and even good enough overheads to stop the lobs, but if the ball comes near their body they fall apart.

    Second if someone can hit the ball hard enough and direct it well enough to really intimidate the net person, then they are skilled enough to hit an effective shot that doesn't include hitting the net man.

    So in summary, I think hitting at the net man is a last resort when nothing else is working.

    I've played a good sample of players in my area, and rarely encounter people trying to drill me at the net. If they do, then they usually apologize because that wasn't their intention. The few people who do drill others at net frequently are not very popular in the leagues.
     
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  31. ALten1

    ALten1 Rookie

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    And there is difference between hitting into the body and trying to drill the person.
     
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  32. Zachol82

    Zachol82 Professional

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    OP here, just for your information. It WAS my last resort! :oops:
     
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  33. W Cats

    W Cats Rookie

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    Your last resort when you rarely lob 1/10 times, I believe, was what you wrote, so that one of the shots he would least expect is a lob. Sure to nail it at him was your last resort. That was easy.
     
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  34. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    And in summary I think that is very simplistic....

    If you're going to say that none of you hit at players then it's pretty obvious that you wouldnt know how they would handle that shot. You are just assuming they can hit it.

    Im not sure where you get "low volleys" from, I didnt see that anywhere. You're still going at them if you're forcing them to hit a low volley. (it's probably more ideal even)

    Anticipation for a passing shot can just mean that someone is good at reading where the ball is being hit and they have good instincts. Once you have that, if you are good at swatting the ball out of the air it's not that big of a deal.

    Maybe the OP isnt good enough to hit a lob?

    I guess that one has a lot to do with if it's singles versus doubles though. Yes, Id agree in singles a lob is far better then hitting it right at someone, but in doubles a lob could be less desirable because you may not want to give the ball to the other opponent. (provided your lob is good enough that it's not going to get tracked down for an overhead by whoever you're trying to lob)

    It's not a matter of falling apart really, balls that come directly at you are volleyed slightly different then balls that are hit to the side of you. Some players are not able to handle those as well due to bad technique.

    Im not sure if your "wealth" of experience of clobbering 3.0 players and then playing 4.0 would experience that.

    At 4.0 I would hope that it would be pretty rare that you could intimate someone by hitting at them, because if that's the case, Id have to wonder what the heck is wrong with that person???

    At 3.5 Ive seen it a lot of times from actual weak players where they would fit your description of being weak in tons of other areas too.

    But there were the occasional few that had a strong game and if you looked at their record they were fairly successful, but they had this one hitch in their game where for whatever reason if you hit the ball hard enough at them they couldnt handle it.

    And still if they are getting hit with the ball from their opponent which was standing as far back as the BASELINE, that's pretty sad on their part.....
     
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  35. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    Low volleys was a response to 'dipping shots'. These shots are benign and not going to **** someone off.

    I've hit towards the net person accidentally and even out of frustration a few times, but it wasn't effective or necessary.

    Seriously though, in all my experiences from 3.0 to 4.0, I've never been against an opposing team/player where drilling someone at the net was really necessary. If I have the capability to prep for a big shot, then I can easily hit a good passing or dipping shot and if I hit it well they are effective. Otherwise if I'm getting poached by a net man or losing baseline rallies, its because my own shots are weak, which of course I can't intimidate a net man with a weak shot anyways.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2010
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  36. ms87

    ms87 Rookie

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    there is nothing wrong with going for the face/body as long as you are not doing it on a easy smash
     
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  37. Storm_Kyori

    Storm_Kyori Hall of Fame

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    kinda touching on what ms87 said. I've had a few guys do that. I usually man-up and try to get my racket on it. if i react late i usually move out of the way or still put my racket up. I kinda get irritated by that. they have soo much open space to hit, why do they go at you. it makes me want to beat you more than intimidate me. i never go for someone on the smash specially if i'm right in front of them. if nothing is on the line and the opponent isn't a jerk, i don't do it on smashes. everything else, is fair game. i blast away groundies when they're at net. If i hit them by mistake like my aim was off or they turn around andf get hit i raise my hand an apologize.
     
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  38. masterxfob

    masterxfob Semi-Pro

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    if i'm on one side of the court and i have the short angle or the passing lane, i'll aim it away from my opponent. if i'm in the middle of the court and i can't find a good angle, i'll go right at them.

    going right at them gives me a great chance to win the point outright or on the next shot which is usually a weak reply. they may also get lucky once in a while and hit a drop shot or a nice angle that you can't reach. either way, i'm more successful going right at them in that situation rather than going for the small window with the pass. if i miss it, it's either out or there for my opponent to volley for a winner.
     
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  39. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    If its fair game, then why would it have to be a mistake if you hit them, and why apologize for it also? Fair game means you should be able to do it and not feel bad about it.
     
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  40. origmarm

    origmarm Hall of Fame

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    I don't think there is anything wrong with this and do it all the time. For me it's down to the level of the participants.

    Once you reach a certain level in doubles, in simplistic terms the net player should be able to cover most passes or poach effectively. The partner should be covering the portion of the court out of reach to the net player. Most players have the greatest difficulty executing a volley directly in front of their chest, hence if there is no "gap" in the court or lob opportunity, I aim it right there at full pace.

    For me this seems perfectly reasonable. If another easier option exists I would rather put the ball out of reach of the net player/partner, it's a higher percentage shot. Once you reach a certain level of doubles however this is not always an option and hence you go for the shot they will have most difficulty playing. Another favourite of mine is to hit directly at the feet if they are approaching the net.

    Regards, Orig
     
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  41. KenC

    KenC Professional

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    I've heard stories of coaches saying "don't just hit'em if he comes to the net, hit'em in the balls!"

    Seriously though, we all have to decide at what level of sportsmanship we want to play. I'd rather lose with a clean conscious rather than win by trying to injure my opponent. Tennis players that think otherwise may want to consider boxing or MMA.
     
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  42. origmarm

    origmarm Hall of Fame

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    You see I think that's already different, that's a deliberate intent to hurt someone. For me it's about playing the shot they will have the most difficulty hitting.

    As a "ballsy" aside it's actually easier to volley a ball aimed at that area than at your chest (speaking from "survival instinct" experience :) ).
     
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  43. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    Absolutely not!!!

    Get your best eraser out and scratch "at the face" off your list of options immediately if not sooner.

    Any doubles player is smart to hit the ball down at an opponent's feet and when the bullets start to fly in quick net exchanges, someone will occasionally take a body shot. We either understand that this is all part of the game or we learn it while on the job. If a doubles player ever gets beaned by an overhead, it's usually that player's own partner who's to blame for floating a meatball up short and putting the bean-ee in the crosshairs.

    Ivan Lendl was sort of notorious for aiming "center mass" when a net rushing opponent would leave a ball short for him to tee off on, but even at that level, that's a semi-uncool move. There's more open court to look for in singles and if an opponent has good positioning on you, there's still the low-ball option as a setup. Make him/her hit up and your next shot is usually an easy putaway.

    If you go gunning for an opponent's head, you're crossing a serious line in this sport. Don't do it. For the sake of your own welfare, you'll be saving yourself from the strong possibility of having an opponent drop the gloves and come over the net... and not to shake your hand.
     
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  44. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    When you get it in the back, you've basically conceded the point. The pro's even get upset with that type of shot.

    I hate to admit this but when someone goes at me up front I let them have a few balls also - not just one but a few so they get the point. I don't like the head but a couple into the shins or gut generally get their immediate attention. Sine guys don't learn very fast and even though its a game, you have to let them know its a two-way street or they will continue to go head hunting. I've even stopped and ask "were you aiming for me?" - always surprised when they admit it.

    Having said all that, make sure that your racquet is up when close to the net - not only good tennis but your racquet is your protection if necessary. I will seldom turn my back but when I do I try and take a step or two toward the alley to get out of the way.
     
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  45. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    I never aim at the face. But i do aim for the center of the body, especially on return of serve to the net guy. Perfectly legal to go for the body, that's a hard shot to return, especially if the net guy is set up for a forehand...tough to hit a forehand volley thats at your body. However, in social mixed doubles, I usually do not aim at the woman's body. USTA maybe different.


     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2010
    #45
  46. mike53

    mike53 Professional

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    Thanks blakesq, a very good point. Whatever may be legal under the rules, I think sportsmanship would dictate that you don't try to win by threatening to hit a female with the ball.
     
    #46
  47. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    Why would the net man be set up for a forehand volley before you even hit the ball? Most of the time they would be in a neutral volley position and as soon as the ball is struck they would then use the backhand volley to take the body shot.
     
    #47
  48. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    because they may play like me, where I tend to cheat to my forehand side.

     
    #48
  49. papatenis

    papatenis Semi-Pro

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    To those 3.5 and lower, aim for the body. Like golf, if you want to stick it close to the pin, don't "aim at it".
     
    #49
  50. keepurpowderdry

    keepurpowderdry Rookie

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    in doubles I always hit in the open court. with one or to shots at my net opponent just to keep him honest . So in doubles it's completely ok you don't even have to think about it. But if you are playing someone you know they are lesser skilled and you know they can't handle fast pace then I personally wouldn't hit at them. In singles same thing..

    About the guy you played getting upset , then that guy is not experienced in playing match play and if he is than he is not a noble person
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2010
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