Geez! You're not making this easy for "Coach KK." But I'll give you my best suggestions....
I'm rearranging your replies to help you see why I asked what I asked.
Originally Posted by AlpineCadet
He's better side to side than going up and back.
He's better than me at the net, and my dropshots are HORRIBLE, but ....
My lob is HORRIBLE.
If you cannot drop/lob him with confidence, this tactic won't be helpful.
I don't really get short balls to put away, since I am always babysitting the baseline, so I'll have to say I'm 50/50 on that. It's mostly a comfort issue when coming to the net..
For the future, I'd suggest you work on identifying when your shot will produce a weak/short reply ... quickly move in 4-6 steps (which for a classic baseliner means you have moved in behind the Service Line) ... and *pounce* on that short ball with a clearly forcing shot (which will produce an even weaker reply) or a winner.
He's clearly got a better bh slice. His fh is random, and I would compare it to Russian Roulette.
My return game is improving, I'm learning how to control height/depth on the bh, and my fh is much deeper since I've improved my timing.
... my disguise/passing shots are great against him and every other 4.0+ player I've encountered.
Yes, I can def. do that [pin him] with both sides. My concentration/discipline has improved, and so has my footwork/swingspeed. I'm no longer a victim of a full-on emotional meltdown.. only partly though at times
These data are helpful.
Build a game plan around your ability to pin him, your FH Return and your comfort with your passing shots. (I know that seems "wrong". Bear with me....)
With your FH Return and any time you get into a baseline exchange, PIN him into his BH corner with 3-4 driving shots. At least one of those ought to produce a weaker-than-normal reply with which you can "pretend" he's come to net and hit your passing shot
toward the FH corner for a winner.
Here's the key, you impatient player, you.... If his "russian roulette" FH happens to "work" that time, you need to play a little psychological trick on yourself
. Instead of groaning to yourself, "Oh, this point will never end!," treat his successful FH return as the start of a new point
. Just pin him on the FH side and hit your passing/winner to his BH side when he gives you a ball you can pounce on.
Rinse and repeat.
Also, if you don't have a drop-shot you can count on, but you do have the ability to hit a short ground stroke which he will use as an approach shot ... then you have two tactical approaches which work toward your favor. Just pass the snot out of him whenever he tires of being pinned and tries to come to the net.