Doubles High Service Return in Middle - What Stroke?
When playing doubles and you are the net player, what racket technique(s) do you use with a service return high and in the middle?
Let's say a ball that is within a step and a half - a ball that you could comfortably reach if you tried. Forget the very high, short lob, as that is obviously an overhead. There is also a lower height below the shoulder that a more standard volley works on, forget that also. How about the ball that:
1) is going to land in & deep
3) down the middle of the court within reach after 1 1/2 steps
2) is above the shoulder and too low for an overhead
For forehand and backhand - what foot work, body positioning, stroke/ball work, and targets?
I asked an instructor very briefly about this issue. He said that you want to cut around the ball. ? I interpreted that to mean much more side spin than usually used for most other strokes and maybe more contact on the side of the ball. ? Not sure now but perhaps he also said 'not so much for pace but to carefully angle it'. ??
I know that higher level players put these high service returns away. I let most of these reachable high service returns go by because I'm very unsure of the technique to use for these balls.
That's a high ball sitter, ready for your putaway.
Hi prep, high volley it DOWN into the service line, center hash area, so net player has little play on it, and backcourter has to cover the middle.
As you get better, as as they anticipate where you're hitting it, go into the alley or feet of the netperson.
Closed stance, high volley.
To add to what LeeD has mentioned. To be honest, those shots should rarely trouble you if your preparation is correct.
You have to trust that your serving partner has the tools and nous to do the right thing. So, mostly, you expect him to pepper the returners weaker side without you even having to ask.
Let's say your partner is serving to Deuce. You should be expecting that serve to go down the T. So, your prep should be:
- be ready, maybe 1.5m to 2m back from net, fairly towards central in serve box but not quite.
- As soon as you hear him serve, you move forward at a bit of an angle and get ready to split, AT THIS STAGE YOU ARE HONING DOWN ON THE MIDDLish OF THE net.
- If your partners serve illicits that floaty shot return, your are already moving with momentum and alertness which should give you all the *punch* you need. Pop it down the hash (The percentage play), or firmly punch it forcefully anywhere. You'll have momentum with you so really there should be no fear that you're going to *wrist* punch it or anything like that.
On the forehand side, hit a side arm overhead.
Backhand side, just a high backhand overhead
hit down the middle -- or better yet, if
your partner has a forehand side shot
he should hit it.
For 3.0 - 3.5 level. Dink it back deep or run
back and lob it back.
That's your standard high volley. Nothing fancy. In fact, I'd keep it simple as possible - short takeback, keep it in front and punch it. A lot of players get into trouble because their eyes get big and they want to take a swing at that one.
That's your ball, if you leave it for your partner he might not be ready for it thinking that you should have had it. A lot of people at the net are afraid of getting passed up the line and hug the sideline (and end up leaving the middle wide open). I believe it was Stan Smith who would talk about it's the net man's duty to cover the middle and if he's doing his job the server should only have to use his outside shot on first volleys. Middle is yours. Now, I totally agree and that applies when you have partners of equal strength, but I'm ok with making the exception that the stronger player takes it or whoever has the forehand volley takes it, but that's something you and your partner should be on the same page about.
As for where to go with it, my read is on the opposing net player. My first option is to always look for the diagonal/seam in coverage. That places the ball behind the net player and travelling away from the returner. If the net player is playing deep that opens up the sharp angle, or you could just go straight at the net player's feet. I would not generally recommend angling it back towards the returner because look at the space you just vacated by moving to take the ball in the middle.
Some Video Instructions on High Volleys
Searched for high volley videos and found these. Includes a well done overall volley discussion with videos from tennisplayer.net.
HIGH VOLLEY VIDEOS
High forehand volley article with video links. Jeff Cooper.
Brent Abel high forehand volley. (2010)
Brent Abel high forehand volley. (2009)
Brent Abel high backhand volley.
Brent Abel high backhand volley, 2 problems, 2 solutions.
High Forehand Volley, Elisabet Mateos
Positioning for a High Volley
High Backhand Volley.
Aggressive Forehand High Volley. Left leg forward to meet the shot.
VOLLEYS IN GENERAL
3 Things for an Accurate Volley.
Tennisplayer.net Volleys Article with Videos.
I'll have to review the videos as there's a lot of variety and the common threads weren't all clear to me.
Do any of the instructions seem better than the others? Disagree with any of the techniques recommended?
It's probably easiest to remember: 1) don't hit it back to the returner & 2) don't try to spin it.
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