Aiming at the body, Who's right, who's wrong?

user92626

Legend
There was a lot of firework last weekend for us.

One guy, in the process of trailing 0-4, was undisguisedly aiming at the body/head of the people on the other team. There were quite a few close body misses, and obviously tennis-wise virtually all bad shots, hence the score. Later through his partner I found out that he was pissed by his opponent's mannerism.

We called it quit and some nasty words were exchanged.


In talking, at least two outsiders, not witnessing the match, out rightly declare that people are free to hit whatever shot they want. My argument is they shouldn't/mustn't because it's a weekend game and we are out here to have fun, play tennis, not hurting people. It's legit for people to complain that said hitter is nasty and not right.

What do you think?
 
Hitting the ball directly at the opponent is within the rules of tennis, but I think it's very poor sportsmanship. It is reasonable to point this out to the opponent and tell them to stop. If they don't stop, quitting seems like a good idea especially if you think someone could be hurt. If enough people refuse to play with this person, then maybe he'll eventually get it and stop.
 

MisterP

Hall of Fame
Definitely depends on the situation. Even in relaxed, social doubles there are times when the correct shot is to the opposing player. For example, on a short pop up the finish should (usually) be at the net players feet. I'm not saying try to hit them. I'm saying put the ball low and hard at their feet.

Conversely, if I'm at net and the opposing player gets an easy overhead, I expect that it's coming to me and if I have time I retreat. That is: I get off the d@mn tracks when the train is coming thru!

If you see a big overhead about to come your way and you just sit there like a sack of potatoes, you don't really deserve to complain about getting hit.
 

user92626

Legend
Hitting the ball directly at the opponent is within the rules of tennis, but I think it's very poor sportsmanship. It is reasonable to point this out to the opponent and tell them to stop. If they don't stop, quitting seems like a good idea especially if you think someone could be hurt. If enough people refuse to play with this person, then maybe he'll eventually get it and stop.
So, is it legit to call out the bad sportsmanship (behavior)?

Unfortunately there are enough people around that this person can always get to play. Sometimes this openly hostile* action is not an issue at all because many do not come to the net so these people don't mind.

*It's openly hostile but yet people can claim that that's what they need to do to win and within the rules. So somehow it's alright.
 

user92626

Legend
Definitely depends on the situation. Even in relaxed, social doubles there are times when the correct shot is to the opposing player. For example, on a short pop up the finish should (usually) be at the net players feet. I'm not saying try to hit them. I'm saying put the ball low and hard at their feet.

Conversely, if I'm at net and the opposing player gets an easy overhead, I expect that it's coming to me and if I have time I retreat. That is: I get off the d@mn tracks when the train is coming thru!

If you see a big overhead about to come your way and you just sit there like a sack of potatoes, you don't really deserve to complain about getting hit.
There you go. The bolded part. If that was the case, the intention, the spirit, no one would have a slightest issue.

The issue here is when the action is openly hostile, undisguised, the hostility claimed necessary in the name of winning point. Can people make that claim and get away with it? If yes, then it's wrong for other to complain about the action.
 

dsp9753

Rookie
Hmmm... what level is this at?

It seems more or less impossible to win points in doubles when i play with good 4.0/4.5 players. Volleys must be hit hard at or near the other net person or else they are coming back.
If both opponents are the net, sometimes the only option is to hit through them or try to lob.
Sometimes if the opposing net player is on fire, you need to at them to make them a bit more tentative.

I have never seen any good 4.0/4.5 player get angry about balls being hit at them. I have seen lower level players and women get angry about balls being hit with some pace in their direction.
 

Max G.

Legend
Its poor sportsmanship to deliberately try to injure your opponent.

Look, there are times when aiming for the body is the right play, it's a legit place to aim. Body serves, passing shots, volleys at the net guys feet. But the second it crosses from "I'm aiming there to win the point" to "I'm aiming there because I want to hurt them" it becomes bush league.
 
N

Nashvegas

Guest
How is this even a discussion. What he's doing is ridiculous. If someone were to go after him the same way (which needs to happen), the ensuing farce would put an end to it.
 

MisterP

Hall of Fame
If I'm returning some 3.5s lollipop second serve with a crisp return low over the net and directly to the opposing net player is that a mean spirited play? I would say not. It's tough to defend that ball. I'm not trying to "hit" them, even if that's the outcome. But plenty would call my tennis etiquette into question. Would I do that in a social match? Probably not.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
this has got to be 3.5 or lower level... 4.0/4.5 would definitely handle anything "screaming" from the baseline... and at 4.0/4.5 the net person is smart enough to turn their back move off the court to concede the point.
that said, if the person is just generally not pleasant to be around... i'd probably just finish out the match that day, and not play with them again...
but not because he was trying to "hit me" - which to me is fair play:
* if he's doing it in anger, he's more likely to miss...
* and if he starts making it... he should probably do it more often to win the point (ie. net person can't handle volleys)

if you have some (positive) history with this person, maybe chalk it up to a bad day... else not play with them again.
 

OrangePower

Legend
I think it depends. Depends on the type of shot, ability of all the players, etc.
In general, deliberately trying to tag someone when it's not necessary (not actually the correct tennis play for the situation) is very poor sportsmanship.
However I've seen cases of extreme provocation - for example, guy hits shot lob sitter, then runs up to the net to try distract the guy hitting the overhead instead of retreating. Someone who does that repeatedly is going to get tagged sooner or later.
But yeah, 95% of the time, players who are headhunting are just being a-holes and should be avoided.
 

Moveforwardalways

Hall of Fame
Hitting at the head or face is never cool at any level (and is unlikely to win the point anyway at that trajectory). However, hitting at an opponent's feet or even below the waist is totally reasonable and many times is the strategically optimal play.
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
I generally agree that it's poor sportsmanship to head hunt and try to intentionally hit someone. However there are a lot of 3.0 and 3.5 guys who have no tennis skill other than camping out on top of the net and poaching everything. IMO there's nothing wrong with a few well placed shots at their head/body to move them back a little.
 

dsp9753

Rookie
Just a couple of weeks ago I was having a social 8.5 mens match. I am a 4.0. The opposing 4.5 blasted a ball right into my body that I barely got my racket on that I popped up to the service line. He lined up next his shot, I turned around stood still and he nailed a big forehand into the alley for a winner. Normally against other 4.0 guys I would've probably taken a couple of steps back and try to volley the next shot. But this 4.5 is known for his forehand and it wasn't worth the risk.

I had no problems with either shot. Although if he nailed me with his followup shot, I probably would've been pretty butt hurt both emotionally and physically. He is a friend so even if he did hit me, I would've known it wasn't malicious but accidental.

Now if all of his shots were intentionally trying to hit me, and I couldn't volley them well enough, I would just move back to the baseline. Problem solved? Either that or yell at my partner to stop coughing up meat balls.
 
The guys sounds like he's probably a tool, but aiming at the body/feet is fair game. If I'm doing it, it should be the last shot of the point as I have a significant advantage.

I know a few 3.5's who camp on the net and they seem to get hit quite often and it's usually thier fault.

If he's a just a hot head I would've finished the match and not played with him again.
 

Rattler

Professional
I don't try to hit anyone; however, there was of all things a mixed match, where our opponents were married...both were unpleasant to say the least...he tried to drill my partner more than once, she could more than handle it...which only frustrated him more.

Anyway on a change over she (the wife) made a crack about my hat (I was wearing ballcap from my University). It was a particularly snide comment, about the school and those who've attended there. I had enough of these two by then and her in particular...she was the smack-talker of the pair...her running uncomplementary commentary about us, our play and how the hell they could be loosing to us had reached my last nerve.

I normally hit the ball hard, I just do.

Durring a ralley her hubby put up a shallow lob and I crushed it...and hit her just below her bellybutton. Why she stood straight up is a mystery to me. Never had I struck a more satisfying ball.

Her husband demanded an apology, which I managed to give, somehow through laughing.

My partner hi-fived me and they got so upset they packed their bags and left...well she sort of stormed off while limping..complaining the whole way off the court and out of the tournament...not ashamed to admit recollecting this match still brings a chuckle.
 

Moveforwardalways

Hall of Fame
I don't try to hit anyone; however, there was of all things a mixed match, where our opponents were married...both were unpleasant to say the least...he tried to drill my partner more than once, she could more than handle it...which only frustrated him more.

Anyway on a change over she (the wife) made a crack about my hat (I was wearing ballcap from my University). It was a particularly snide comment, about the school and those who've attended there. I had enough of these two by then and her in particular...she was the smack-talker of the pair...her running uncomplementary commentary about us, our play and how the hell they could be loosing to us had reached my last nerve.

I normally hit the ball hard, I just do.

Durring a ralley her hubby put up a shallow lob and I crushed it...and hit her just below her bellybutton. Why she stood straight up is a mystery to me. Never had I struck a more satisfying ball.

Her husband demanded an apology, which I managed to give, somehow through laughing.

My partner hi-fived me and they got so upset they packed their bags and left...well she sort of stormed off while limping..complaining the whole way off the court and out of the tournament...not ashamed to admit recollecting this match still brings a chuckle.
Wait a sec. You hit a woman "just below the belly button" and she limped off the court while you high fived your partner and laughed?

 

jhick

Professional
I recall a one guy in particular at 4.5/5.0 level who I played that would go right at the net guy, flat and hard usually at the body. It took a little adjustment as most players go at the feet or away from the player and try to keep the ball low. He never went head hunting, but I just had to adjust and be ready for every shot when I was at the net.
 

Rattler

Professional
Wait a sec. You hit a woman "just below the belly button" and she limped off the court while you high fived your partner and laughed?


First off, she was the one making rude abusive comments throught out the match....we were up a set and leading in the second.

Secondly, my partner wanted to throw her racquet at her.

Thirdly, she not only held her position, she stood up!

I apologized, and laughed..

Her and hubby were still being obnoxious whole they left...you bet I laughed, I laugh everytime someone acts like a fool.

Like I said I didn't try to hit her, but it sure was satisfying to do so.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
i definitely would not drill any woman 4.5 or lower... (50/50 if they can handle it IMO)

5.0 women can definitely handle a 4.5 guys pace from the baseline.

or generally if i see someone can't handle a "baseline screamer" at the net... i probably would stop hitting at them for the sake of keeping it social.
 
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Deleted member 23235

Guest
I recall a one guy in particular at 4.5/5.0 level who I played that would go right at the net guy, flat and hard usually at the body. It took a little adjustment as most players go at the feet or away from the player and try to keep the ball low. He never went head hunting, but I just had to adjust and be ready for every shot when I was at the net.
definitely always have to test the net guy :)
 

user92626

Legend
As mentioned in the OP, this is weekend game. Skill level is typically 3.5 or lower but these are guys in their late 30s to late 50s. Ie. strong!

Are there a lot of 4.0, 4.5's playing on weekend socially in your neck of the wood?


I belong to the crowd that thinks this behavior is completely unacceptable. I am very lenient and wouldn't be confused and talking about this if these guys were 4.0, 4.5 with amazing control, only firing shots from near baseline aiming at the feet, the court to win point. No, these guys are 3.5 weekend warriors getting the ball all over the place and swinging hard at volley-type ball seemingly disregarding opponent's (anyone's) safety.


In their defense, that's how they play which everyone should know (according to some of their defenders); it's fair to do anything to win! (if you take it further I suppose blinding someone and get him to retire certainly gets them a win. Perfectly align with the sport objective. I don't know. I'm confused).


How is this even a discussion. What he's doing is ridiculous. If someone were to go after him the same way (which needs to happen), the ensuing farce would put an end to it.
I have this same,decisive judgment for this situation. Because of the ensuing BS (in light case some argument, cannot imagine worst case), such play is completely unacceptable.

Thanks for all the input.
 

user92626

Legend
I don't try to hit anyone; however, there was of all things a mixed match, where our opponents were married...both were unpleasant to say the least...he tried to drill my partner more than once, she could more than handle it...which only frustrated him more.

Anyway on a change over she (the wife) made a crack about my hat (I was wearing ballcap from my University). It was a particularly snide comment, about the school and those who've attended there. I had enough of these two by then and her in particular...she was the smack-talker of the pair...her running uncomplementary commentary about us, our play and how the hell they could be loosing to us had reached my last nerve.

I normally hit the ball hard, I just do.

Durring a ralley her hubby put up a shallow lob and I crushed it...and hit her just below her bellybutton. Why she stood straight up is a mystery to me. Never had I struck a more satisfying ball.

Her husband demanded an apology, which I managed to give, somehow through laughing.

My partner hi-fived me and they got so upset they packed their bags and left...well she sort of stormed off while limping..complaining the whole way off the court and out of the tournament...not ashamed to admit recollecting this match still brings a chuckle.
Man, I disapprove this kind of behavior. This is the situation that two wrongs don't make a right but your wrong is worse. Just imagine if the situation escalated and the husband somehow swung at the ball and the racket slipped out of his hand and hit one of you in the face, then what?
 

Rattler

Professional
Man, I disapprove this kind of behavior. This is the situation that two wrongs don't make a right but your wrong is worse. Just imagine if the situation escalated and the husband somehow swung at the ball and the racket slipped out of his hand and hit one of you in the face, then what?

Wow, relax everyone...sure much more "could've" happened but it didn't, so the "what ifs" are moot.

It was just a story that I sharred, a one-off incident that was it...go back and read my initial post.
I did not try to hit her, nor have I, or do I ever try to hit anyone on the court.


Geez, those on their high-horse really come out of the wood work...and yes if your thinking that comment is aimed your way...well



You're correct.
 

user92626

Legend
Wow, relax everyone...sure much more "could've" happened but it didn't, so the "what ifs" are moot.

It was just a story that I sharred, a one-off incident that was it...go back and read my initial post.
I did not try to hit her, nor have I, or do I ever try to hit anyone on the court.


Geez, those on their high-horse really come out of the wood work...and yes if your thinking that comment is aimed your way...well



You're correct.
OK I only read that one post of you and might have read everything incorrectly :) Cheerio.
 

esgee48

Legend
I think it depends. Depends on the type of shot, ability of all the players, etc.
In general, deliberately trying to tag someone when it's not necessary (not actually the correct tennis play for the situation) is very poor sportsmanship.
However I've seen cases of extreme provocation - for example, guy hits shot lob sitter, then runs up to the net to try distract the guy hitting the overhead instead of retreating. Someone who does that repeatedly is going to get tagged sooner or later.
But yeah, 95% of the time, players who are headhunting are just being a-holes and should be avoided.
Definitely depends on the situation. If it is social, go away or to the feet. If it is a match, then same rules apply, but I would definitely hit harder thru the middle or actually bounce it. Only time I would not do this is if they turn their back. I would still put it away, but with a shot that is not a screamer. If someone tries to distract me by running up to the net on a short lob, I will hit him. It's his problem, not mine. (TBH, I have hit these types of players, multiple times; and it takes like 3-4 hard shots before they stop doing it.) You should note that most of the people in our group/level are not crazy. We have played a long time not just as a group, but separately too. People who are a..holes get boycotted real fast.
 

WisconsinPlayer

Professional
I don't try to hit anyone; however, there was of all things a mixed match, where our opponents were married...both were unpleasant to say the least...he tried to drill my partner more than once, she could more than handle it...which only frustrated him more.

Anyway on a change over she (the wife) made a crack about my hat (I was wearing ballcap from my University). It was a particularly snide comment, about the school and those who've attended there. I had enough of these two by then and her in particular...she was the smack-talker of the pair...her running uncomplementary commentary about us, our play and how the hell they could be loosing to us had reached my last nerve.

I normally hit the ball hard, I just do.

Durring a ralley her hubby put up a shallow lob and I crushed it...and hit her just below her bellybutton. Why she stood straight up is a mystery to me. Never had I struck a more satisfying ball.

Her husband demanded an apology, which I managed to give, somehow through laughing.

My partner hi-fived me and they got so upset they packed their bags and left...well she sort of stormed off while limping..complaining the whole way off the court and out of the tournament...not ashamed to admit recollecting this match still brings a chuckle.
Depends on what level this was in, but some people deserve it, although Id avoid it in a social match. Also I love it when people say its fine to aim at the person at net, but then when someone gets hurt they act as if youre a terrible person for aiming at the person at the net (especially if its a woman). If youre playing mixed doubles as a woman you should know what youre entering, and expect people to treat you equally in a match and target you if youre the weaker link.
 
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NTRPolice

Hall of Fame
In this type of game I would avoid hitting at my opponents at all costs. In league (competition), hitting at your opponent is a legitimate shot.

Hitting at your opponent =/= hitting at your opponent to injure them. In all my games i've only tried to injure my opponents once and that was a response to their ridiculous gamesmanship which could not be remedied without an official. Suffice to say, after about the 3 impact/close call all that gamesmanship stopped and so did the intentional body shots.

Social matches, especially against people lower skilled than you? Never hit at them. In 4.5 + "social" matches the occasional body shot happens and it's generally laughed off. The higher level the skill, the more body shots happen. Players hit harder, move faster, and cover better. This means a lot of "generic" shots will be at your opponents since those are the high percentage angles they're covering.
 

Dartagnan64

Legend
First off: It's a soft fuzzy ball. If you've been hit by a hockey puck before you'd find this topic laughable. Hell I've been hurt more by squash balls than tennis balls in my life.
Secondly: It is a legitimate tactic to hit at someone to end the point. If they don't know how to bail, then they should learn.
Thirdly: It's still unsportsmanlike to take head shots even if legal. That's the only place you could legitimately hurt someone (the eyes) so it should be avoided.
 

user92626

Legend
I'm 100% behind the post above by NTRPolice. Very reasonable and well rounded.

First off: It's a soft fuzzy ball. If you've been hit by a hockey puck before you'd find this topic laughable. Hell I've been hurt more by squash balls than tennis balls in my life.
Secondly: It is a legitimate tactic to hit at someone to end the point. If they don't know how to bail, then they should learn.
Thirdly: It's still unsportsmanlike to take head shots even if legal. That's the only place you could legitimately hurt someone (the eyes) so it should be avoided.
It's no small injury or pain when the ball hits you at certain places. Such size of injury/pain is completely unjustifiable in the context of this sport.

I'm not sure I understand your conclusion. Is it or is it not wrong and should be stopped?

Lots of things are legitimate tactic in rec tennis but they are plain wrong to do. For example, you can set your mind to call all close shots out in your favor and know nothing the opponent can do about it. You likely don't want anyone to do that to you. It's plain wrong. But it's still a very good tactic to tilt the game in your favor.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
I had to talk a dubs partner down from an explicit strategy suggestion to "hit them all hard at [named opponent]" just last week.

We were playing 1 set matches with a group of guys prepping for a tourney, and after a rotation, I get paired with this much younger guy for a set. I've played with him a few times before. Lots of promise, great at the net, sometimes loses focus talking about food or getting into testosterone contests with the other guys. We were paired against a much better team - the more skilled player better than me and the less skilled player better than my partner - a lot better.

But I quickly noticed their impatience and desire to impress with winners rather than execute any coherent strategy. So I quickly pulled my partner aside and said, "Keep us in the point as long as possible, no silly errors." Combined with a strong service game and playing to mitigate my weak bh volleys, to my surprise we were leading or tied (5-4 or 5-5) when my partner suggested hitting them hard at the opponent. I said, "No way, they'll sail long. Stick to the plan, it's working."

We ended up taking the set 7-5.

I guess my point is that aiming at the body is usually a worse strategy than other options.
 

every7

Hall of Fame
I had to talk a dubs partner down from an explicit strategy suggestion to "hit them all hard at [named opponent]" just last week.

We were playing 1 set matches with a group of guys prepping for a tourney, and after a rotation, I get paired with this much younger guy for a set. I've played with him a few times before. Lots of promise, great at the net, sometimes loses focus talking about food or getting into testosterone contests with the other guys. We were paired against a much better team - the more skilled player better than me and the less skilled player better than my partner - a lot better.

But I quickly noticed their impatience and desire to impress with winners rather than execute any coherent strategy. So I quickly pulled my partner aside and said, "Keep us in the point as long as possible, no silly errors." Combined with a strong service game and playing to mitigate my weak bh volleys, to my surprise we were leading or tied (5-4 or 5-5) when my partner suggested hitting them hard at the opponent. I said, "No way, they'll sail long. Stick to the plan, it's working."

We ended up taking the set 7-5.

I guess my point is that aiming at the body is usually a worse strategy than other options.
You can't really determine in this case if it would have worked, because you didn't enact the aiming at the body strategy. It may have proven to be effective, but you didn't need to try it (because your other idea was working well.)
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
You can't really determine in this case if it would have worked, because you didn't enact the aiming at the body strategy. It may have proven to be effective, but you didn't need to try it (because your other idea was working well.)
In principle, you are right. In practice, the partner was nowhere near the skill level to pull it off. He was not even thinking about it as a strategy to win. He just wanted to smack balls at the other guy. Pissing contests are never a good strategy.
 

Rattler

Professional
Depends on what level this was in, but some people deserve it, although Id avoid it in a social match. Also I love it when people say its fine to aim at the person at net, but then when someone gets hurt they act as if youre a terrible person for aiming at the person at the net (especially if its a woman). If youre playing mixed doubles as a woman you should know what youre entering, and expect people to treat you equally in a match and target you if youre the weaker link.
4.0 USTA Tournament match. Years before I became an umpire.

This thread does remind me of an incident on the Pro-circuit not too long ago. Durring a Men's doubles match at a 15K, player A was angry (about the sunrising or something equally irrelevant, as usual) said he was going to try to hit one of the opposing team members...and when he got the chance he, at full strength and rage....
(this is a Pro player mind you, one who has played at the Futures, Challengers, and Tour Level and has quite a few titles, although now he is in the twilight of his career)
....he hit an overhead with no more that 10 feet between himself and his opponent and struck him in the groin...the player went down...had to retire and visit the Emergency Room.

The player who did this is an Ass, and a well-known at that, if you've been to a Futures event in the U.S. in last couple of years I'm sure you've seen him.

I've seen players hit before, but this one stands out.
 

user92626

Legend
In principle, you are right. In practice, the partner was nowhere near the skill level to pull it off. He was not even thinking about it as a strategy to win. He just wanted to smack balls at the other guy. Pissing contests are never a good strategy.

You are right. Any players (partners) who have some experience would be able to judge the skill level with decent accuracy. Any persons with some common sense and observation would be able to read the body language, intention of another person. All of this is important to use to judge whether a situation is called for.

Good point, MathGeek.

I should haven't even opened the discussion with the bystanders at the court who were not there to witness the farce. It's ridiculous.
 

MisterP

Hall of Fame
4.0 USTA Tournament match. Years before I became an umpire.

This thread does remind me of an incident on the Pro-circuit not too long ago. Durring a Men's doubles match at a 15K, player A was angry (about the sunrising or something equally irrelevant, as usual) said he was going to try to hit one of the opposing team members...and when he got the chance he, at full strength and rage....
(this is a Pro player mind you, one who has played at the Futures, Challengers, and Tour Level and has quite a few titles, although now he is in the twilight of his career)
....he hit an overhead with no more that 10 feet between himself and his opponent and struck him in the groin...the player went down...had to retire and visit the Emergency Room.

The player who did this is an Ass, and a well-known at that, if you've been to a Futures event in the U.S. in last couple of years I'm sure you've seen him.

I've seen players hit before, but this one stands out.

Like I said, get off the tracks when the train is coming thru.
 

MisterP

Hall of Fame
I guess my point is that aiming at the body is usually a worse strategy than other options.
Perhaps. I played a 5.0/4.0 dubs team last week with my partner (we're both 4.0s) and we got trounced because 5.0 could return balls that are "unreturnable" against my usual opponents. Overhead smashes to his feet, stick-volleys to the gut, body serves to the chest, he dealt with all of those with aplomb. The only way I could win an exchange with him was to hit it away from him, and even then it was dicey.

Conversely, I play against a 3.5/4.0 guy who after many years of playing still has not figured out that a forehand grip (eastern or semiwestern, AKA frying pan) is not the correct grip for volleys. If I try to stay in a forehand rally with him, he's totally comfortable. But, as soon as you hit hard at his body, particularly toward the left side, we get a popup or an error.So it really depends.
 

J_R_B

Hall of Fame
Hitting at someone as a legitimate tennis strategy (like, as people have pointed out, when it's the optimal shot for the situation) is perfectly fine. It's really hard to be injured by a tennis ball. Hitting at someone (especially the head where it's unlikely to be a good shot) just to peg them is very poor sportsmanship. There's a big difference. In doubles, I aim at spots on the court, not people, but if people occupy the spot I'm aiming at, I don't necessarily hit somewhere else just to avoid them, either. I don't end up actually hitting people very often, though (maybe once or twice a season). I don't mind people hitting at me, either. In fact, I try to guess where opponents will be hitting sitters and get to that spot to get in the way. You can block a ball back that's coming right towards you, but you can't for one that he puts out of your reach.

In one of the funniest moments I've had in tennis, I was playing a match where my partner put up a high, mid court lob. The opponent was looking up at the ball to set up an overhead, and I moved to the spot where I thought he was going to hit it. He didn't see me move and hit the ball right at me. I did this intentionally and was totally prepared for the shot, but he didn't know that because he was looking up not across the net, so as he was apologizing for hitting at me, I blocked the ball back over his head for a winner.
 

stapletonj

Professional
doubles. I am at the baseline. You and your partner have come to net behind a shot that is low enough I do not feel safe lobbing over you. You have placed your shot and position yourselves well enough that down the middle or passing shot options are extremely low percentage. I'm sorry. I'm going to try to dip it at your feet if the ball bounces high enough. If not, I'm going to nail a flat shot and I am going to aim for your racket side hip. And I am not going to be apologetic about it.

lower level social hit and giggle mixed doubles? different story.

hitting towards the body of the female (or male) player that has turned into a deer in the headlights on a soft short smash? Nah, because it is a stupid shot that will go out too easily.
I will hit at their feet though, if that is the % play.

actual headhunting? No. Never. First, could get you thrown out, banned, hurt somebody, all the moral reasons. Second, it is a stupid shot to even try. Pros can't even do it.
I would like to see the very first video where anyone can take even a hand fed ball to an overhead or even an hand fed ball to a volley or groundstroke who can hit the HEAD of a mannequin say about 10 feet on the other side of the net
more than 2 out of 10 times. (with any pace at all, tapping it at the target doesn't count)
 

J_R_B

Hall of Fame
I would like to see the very first video where anyone can take even a hand fed ball to an overhead or even an hand fed ball to a volley or groundstroke who can hit the HEAD of a mannequin say about 10 feet on the other side of the net
more than 2 out of 10 times. (with any pace at all, tapping it at the target doesn't count)
 

WisconsinPlayer

Professional
4.0 USTA Tournament match. Years before I became an umpire.

This thread does remind me of an incident on the Pro-circuit not too long ago. Durring a Men's doubles match at a 15K, player A was angry (about the sunrising or something equally irrelevant, as usual) said he was going to try to hit one of the opposing team members...and when he got the chance he, at full strength and rage....
(this is a Pro player mind you, one who has played at the Futures, Challengers, and Tour Level and has quite a few titles, although now he is in the twilight of his career)
....he hit an overhead with no more that 10 feet between himself and his opponent and struck him in the groin...the player went down...had to retire and visit the Emergency Room.

The player who did this is an Ass, and a well-known at that, if you've been to a Futures event in the U.S. in last couple of years I'm sure you've seen him.

I've seen players hit before, but this one stands out.
Yeah thats not right, its a smart play when its a shot that will win you the point, but you should never hit any overhead at someone, or a shortball with the intent to injure them
 

user92626

Legend
Hitting at someone as a legitimate tennis strategy (like, as people have pointed out, when it's the optimal shot for the situation) is perfectly fine. It's really hard to be injured by a tennis ball. Hitting at someone (especially the head where it's unlikely to be a good shot) just to peg them is very poor sportsmanship. There's a big difference. In doubles, I aim at spots on the court, not people, but if people occupy the spot I'm aiming at, I don't necessarily hit somewhere else just to avoid them, either. I don't end up actually hitting people very often, though (maybe once or twice a season). I don't mind people hitting at me, either. In fact, I try to guess where opponents will be hitting sitters and get to that spot to get in the way. You can block a ball back that's coming right towards you, but you can't for one that he puts out of your reach..

Yeah, I don't see any issue with that. In fact I play that kind of shot relatively often too. I rally hard, wait for a short ball (window of opportunity for baseline player like me), and hit toward the net person. But here is my test of whether such shot is appropriate in the given context:

If the netman dodges, my shots will hit the court for winning 99% of the time. Or whatever the percentage that well convinces people that my shots are meant to win by virtue of technique and zero of the bad blood.

If the netman doesn't dodge and accidentally gets hit, he will get a sincere courteous apology from me. Usually most people can tell if a good shot or a bad shot is made, which is quite important in justifying the shot.
 

Dartagnan64

Legend
I'm 100% behind the post above by NTRPolice. Very reasonable and well rounded.



It's no small injury or pain when the ball hits you at certain places. Such size of injury/pain is completely unjustifiable in the context of this sport.

I'm not sure I understand your conclusion. Is it or is it not wrong and should be stopped?

Lots of things are legitimate tactic in rec tennis but they are plain wrong to do. For example, you can set your mind to call all close shots out in your favor and know nothing the opponent can do about it. You likely don't want anyone to do that to you. It's plain wrong. But it's still a very good tactic to tilt the game in your favor.
My conclusion is hit at opponents if its going to win you the point just don't aim at their heads. The only serious injury I've seen from a tennis ball was a retinal detachment from hitting someone in the eye. I can't recall anyone getting more than a bruise from being struck in the body by a soft fuzzy ball. Of course gonad shots are pretty nasty, but if you are worried, wear a cup like hockey players do.

As I said, I grew up playing hockey, football and lacrosse (and have the surgeries to prove it). The concept that you can be seriously hurt playing tennis is ludicrous to me.

Pros hit at each other all the time and they know it so they will frequently turn their backs on any sitter. Rec players need to learn how to bail.

I've played all racket sports other than the abomination that is pickleball. I've been hit by tennis balls, birdies, squash balls, racketballs, ping pong balls. It's part of all those sports. I'd say racket balls and squash balls hurt the most. Then tennis balls. Birdies and ping pong balls are pretty wimpy unless you take them in the face.
 

user92626

Legend
I generally agree that it's poor sportsmanship to head hunt and try to intentionally hit someone. However there are a lot of 3.0 and 3.5 guys who have no tennis skill other than camping out on top of the net and poaching everything. IMO there's nothing wrong with a few well placed shots at their head/body to move them back a little.

If they dodged these shots, would these shots be in or (way) out?

People usually can tell if you hit with the intention to make a good shot or to peg them. If it's the latter, you are clearly in the wrong even if you claim to do it to move them back. That's intimidation and not tennis, and to boost, very far from recreational tennis.
 

user92626

Legend
My conclusion is hit at opponents if its going to win you the point just don't aim at their heads.
Agreed.

It's wrong to aim at anyone's head in recreational tennis even if it achieves your goal of getting the opponent to release the net or shaken, mess up their play.

I don't think the comparison with the pros is valid. Pro's action is justified given the stakes on the line.

As for what does hurt or hurts more, while it still hurts a lot, but you neglect the potential consequence/escalation. Men would understand this.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
I had to bail out of the way from one earlier this week. I thought it would sail long, but it had enough topspin to catch the baseline. It was a great shot.

Same guy beaned my partner later in the match. Needed the full injury time out span to shake it off and get back into action. Happened so fast, little time to react. I served up the sitter (oops).
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
hitting a screamer at the net guy is perfectly legit. as Lendl said, I never invited my opponent to the net.
McEnroe I believe was winning a lot of points when Lendl tried to pass him on relatively close in shots. So Lendl decided the best thing to do was to aim right at his body.

I used to hit with this strong female player who used to occasionally test out the opponent in doubles but blasting her forehand at the net player's gut. If the net player missed or hit a sitter volley she would continue at times to do it. It doesn't bother me if a player blasts it as me. To me it's a part of the game. No one ever tries to hurt the other player.

The worst thing that happened with me once was when I had a short overhead and my buddy couldn't get out of the way. As you may guess I hit him on the back! I connected pretty solidly on the overhead also. The audible thud was pretty loud but my buddy just shrugged it off.
 
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