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Ben42 03-10-2004 06:52 AM

Moonball aproach shot
Have many of you used a heavy topsping moonball as an approach shot?

I ended up doing a lot of that last night, because this guy was eating up any of my slice approaches that were not right on the baseline.

I'm talking Thomas Muster, 10 feet over the net, windshield wiper , super duper heavy topspin forehand approach shots to this guys backhand. (I'm lefty he's righty) :twisted:

It was really nasty. I just don't know why I've never done it, or seen it done very much before.

@wright 03-10-2004 07:18 AM

Ben, I'll tell you why you haven't seen this shot used much before-it's not logical. This isn't a bad thing though, you'll get a few free points trying it because the other guy will be so surprised, or he may not be good at ripping slow high balls, it depends on what level you're playing at. I'd say some 4.0's and up will punish a moonball approach more times than not. Obviously, it gives your opponent a nice angle to rip the ball down at your feet and really get some pace on it. That said, if you try it and it works, keep doing it! It's kind of like the lob approach, it makes no sense at all, and based on that, it's going to be genius, or horrible depending on the situation.

Ben42 03-10-2004 10:12 AM

Why isn't it logical? I don't see it being that different from a kick serve.

Like I said, I'm not talking about an Andrea Yeager no pace flat moonball. It's a heavy ball with loads of action. (Do you remember Thomas Muster?) When it hits it jumps.

The way I see it either the guy will have to move back, or take it sharply on the rise. If he moves back he can rip all he wants, but I'll have that much more extra time to see the volley, and he'll have less of an angle from being back so far.

If he can step in and take it on the rise, then he's got a hard shot to make. If he can do it consistanly I'd stop, but I think I'd be seeing a lot of floaters coming back at me.

Plawan 03-10-2004 11:22 AM

It's easier to lob or pass off a moon ball than a slice approach plus taken the moonball before it bounces will have more angle and less to worry about depth which is negated by the rushing opponent. Moonball approach would work with those stay behind baseline, but not with those capable taking the ball early.

Bungalo Bill 03-10-2004 11:26 AM

I think I am confused. The terms "approach shot" and "moonball" with "heavy duty topspin" are a bit confusing when used together.

Are you simply talking about getting a ball that you can come in on and hitting a looping topspin shot deep to his backhand?

Anyway, normally, you want to keep the ball low as you approach. If your method was popular then a lot of people would be doing it. However, if it worked for this opponent then it worked! You found a way to beat him. Sounds like he made a lot of errors trying to deal with that ball.

But I wouldnt count on that strategy working all the time - especially with better players. Also, because not all the time your going to keep it deep and your margin of error increases as you have to swing harder to generate that kind of spin with a shorter court!

The game of tennis is about percentages. How much higher chance would the percentage be for someone having to hit up on the ball you gave them on a low shot vs. a high shot? Since your coming to net, what shot do you prefer to volley, something that is rising or something that could be dipping or diving at your feet? Remember some people can take that ball and chip or power slice that passed you or at your feet.

That is not to say that you cant mix it up and if your good at it - keep trying it until you meet someone that can handle that ball.

@wright 03-10-2004 12:52 PM

Ben, it's not logical because you are giving the other guy a high ball to crush at your feet, and a nice angle over the net. As Bill said, approach shots are normally hit pretty low.

Cypo 03-10-2004 11:04 PM

I could be wrong here, I haven't faced this situation, but doesn't what Planwan said about the moonball holds for the Musterball too. The easiest and safest return is a lob, or ?

jun 03-11-2004 02:34 AM

it just doesn't fit into general case. It's probably logical to use the shot if it works against somebody.

Some people don't move well, or have trouble handling high deep balls w/o much pace. If this ball can succesfully push them back and you are having success against it, no reason not to use it

Thunnus 03-11-2004 06:10 AM

I have had some guys do this against me. Here are my thoughts.

1. Why would anyone really want to do this? Tennis is not all about winning. To me, this is junk balling and it really doesn't help the guy who is doing it in the long run.

2. The last thing that you can do, if you are on the receiving end of this, is to try to hit a spectacular passing shot and miss. It is really easy to deal with this. You can either hit a topspin lob or roll the ball cross court, and wait for the the next ball to punish. I really get a kick out of watching my opponent turning back and chasing my topspin lob after hitting one of these junkers and trying to sneak in. After a couple of these, they will slow themselves expecting a lob, and that is when I roll the ball low cross court, and I usually have a sitter.

My point is, unless your opponent sucks at lob or passing shot, this moonball thing won't work well in the course of the match or the next time you play him. I will give you that it may surprize your opponent on the first or second try and you may get a cheap point, if they panic.

Ben42 03-11-2004 06:44 AM

Like I said, it's an approach shot. If I can force someone to throw up a lob on an approach shot I feel like I've succeeded. I'm going to win 8 of 10 points in that situation.

Thunnus, why is this a "junk ball"? To me it's a skilled shot hitting a heavily top spun ball deep to a specific corner. Not sure why you consider it "junk"?

Look, I like the aesthetics of tennis as much as anyone. But there is more to tennis than just nicely struck balls too. Donít tactics and thought count for anything in tennis? Itís not all strokes. If someone is eating my perfectly struck penetrating ground stokes for lunch, then Iím going to try doing something else or Iím an idiot.

And if I can gain an advantage by hitting big loopy shots to someoneís backhand, then Iíll do that all match long if itís successful. If itís not, then Iíll stop doing it and try something else.

Why is this a bad thing?

jun 03-11-2004 07:20 AM


You are missing the point.

This is just ONE case. The other guy wasn't able to deal with this ball successfully, and it was totally logical to exploit that weakness. In general, most decent players will probably be able to deal with it ok. But for sure SOME people won't .

I agree tennis is not all about winning. But it's much more fun when you win. And there are times when you really have to dig out and find a way to win. In tournaments, or league matches. Esp in tournament, since you are going home once you lose. I don't see how it will interrupt with player's develop ment. The palyer is finding a way to win, and he has done it succesfully.

It's a pretty much rule of thumb to go down the line on your approach for several reasons. But if the other guy can't hit forehand under pressure, or on the run, it makes sense to go there. Given that his backhand is more solid than forehand.

Bungalo Bill 03-11-2004 07:21 AM

I dont think it is a bad thing, you found a way to win. I just think the "other way" keeping the ball low, gives you more opportunites. Nothing wrong with your strategy if you keep winning!

I would say go for it!

Thunnus 03-11-2004 09:38 AM

-I never said it was a bad thing.

-To me, hitting moonball is junk balling

-Hitting this type of shot on a regular basis won't get you far, unless you want to be the king of 3.0/3.5 tennis. Just try this against a good player more than a couple of times, you will find out why this shot is not something you see often at high level tennis.

-The only guys that I know play this shot are pushers or junk-ballers. It is not fun to play against them, even though I can handle them easily.

-If you have other good strokes, why would you resort to something like this at first place, except to surprize your opponent? If you are truly good at topspin drives, just hit corners and make your opponent run, then you will probably get a short ball eventually.

-I agree winning is a lot more fun than losing pretty. I don't play particularly pretty game, but I have played enough tennis to understand why pushers/junk ballers/lobbers/moonballers or whoever rely on disrupting the other players' rhythm as a main weapon are not respected, even though they may have good result especially at lower level. Personally, I would rather stop playing the game if I have to resort to something like that on a regular basis to win.

Mahboob Khan 03-11-2004 09:44 AM

This tactic will work against 1-handed BH player who does not like high balls to his backhand. It will also work against any body if used very selectively.

I think the best approach to approach shots should be to mix them up: some slices, some flats, some heavy topspins to keep the opponent guessing with quality and variety of your approach shots!

ohplease 03-11-2004 10:24 AM

As others have said, there's nothing implicitly wrong with a looping approach shot. Just don't assume it will work against everybody.

In the same way, one shouldn't assume that conventional wisdom will work against everybody, either. In other words, just because dogma and yes, even percentages, suggest that slice approaches down the line tend to be the better choice - you found out against this particular opponent that this is not true.

I think changing it up was the right thing to do. You could have been one of those players that stubbornly sticks to a losing (though "correct") game plan - and you would have lost.

Really - neither I nor my opponent is there to make each other feel good about our respective games. If he can't effectively respond to shots or situations that I can more easily maneuver him into, then that's just too bad for him - and same for me if vice versa.

We'd all like to win with aces and winners - but even pros give away more points than they win, on average. I'm honestly amazed more hackers haven't figured this out.

Oh well, more wins for me - and you, if you're smart. Loop on, man - unless that doesn't work, in which case figure something else out.

jun 03-11-2004 05:05 PM


No one said, he should hit this on regular basis. For "SOME" players, it will work. And nothing wrong with that.

Taking the other player's rhytm is important. That's what s-v usually end up doing. Not letting the other player at their own pace is important.....It's not regarded as "disrespectful" IMO

Thunnus 03-11-2004 06:09 PM

I see...

Well, somehow well executed dropshots and topspin lobs are regarded well and are not considered junk balling or disrespectful. But, moonballing, junk balling, pushing are not so well regarded. Pretty much the only time I see this shot being used often is when pusher/junkballer types trying to do their gig. Good S&Vers usually don't do this more than a couple of times in a match, because they don't need to and it is a low percentage play againt good players.

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