Slice baby slice - only if you can learn it well

atp2015

Hall of Fame
#51
Hsieh would be an excellent role model for 90% of the tennis playerbase to follow. Consistent, great hand eye and ball skills. tactically sound. She has no power but most rec players with "power" can't control it. Developing more finesse to their game would save them I'm sure.

Most of the senior 5.0's I've come across play a very similar game to Hsieh. It's all about placement and keeping it out of the opponents wheelhouse. Deep slices, deep moderate paced topspin, angled slices when coming in, great disguise on the droppers. Just makes a lot of power hitters look foolish.

Anyways, Slice is an underutilized shot in tennis. One of the pros who's won our club championship before tells me his first groundstroke lesson is the slice. It is almost a necessity as you advance as there is no other shot that adequately defends against someone else's deep low bouncing slice.
The vast majority of rec players play the way Hsieh plays - I agree she is the one to follow.
 
#53
I'd say the vast majority of rec players only wish they could play the way Hsieh plays. The woman's in her 30's with spindly little arms and looks like she has no right to be on a tennis court but then makes some WTA pros look downright foolish.
Yep...everyone focuses on Hsieh's offense. However, she's also handling the shots coming back from the other side. That's a key difference between a pro and a lower tier player...the ability to not get overwhelmed by the pace and spin coming from across the net

We had a poster here who is a pretty solid rec player mentioning how he was being overwhelmed by a 40 year old Seles and the remarkable consistency with which she was drilling her shots. Imagine now having to do that against much younger, faster, stronger pros. Hsieh has the anticipation and skill on defense to do that. If she were not able to do that first and foremost, her offensive junkball style would be meaningless.
 
#54
I don't normally interact with the wildness of this forum very often but I feel like sometimes posters here don't even play tennis in actuality. There's a lot of mental simulations and not much actual matchplay besides @Curious. If anyone doesn't think a deep xc slice on a neutral rally is a good play they don't play tennis enough. Not sure 4.5's could take advantage of a slice on a consistent basis unless they are the 3rd Bryan Bro (aka Jack Sock) at the net. Really enjoying the discussion here.
 
#55
I don't normally interact with the wildness of this forum very often but I feel like sometimes posters here don't even play tennis in actuality. There's a lot of mental simulations and not much actual matchplay besides @Curious. If anyone doesn't think a deep xc slice on a neutral rally is a good play they don't play tennis enough. Not sure 4.5's could take advantage of a slice on a consistent basis unless they are the 3rd Bryan Bro (aka Jack Sock) at the net. Really enjoying the discussion here.
I liked the 3rd Bryan Bro for Jack Sock, he really is the long lost third bro they wish they would've have :p

I agree with the cc deep slice for neutralizing the match dynamics, it is very very useful to pull your opponents out wide, and since I'm a lefty the cc deep slice is even better if I can execute it perfectly :)
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
#56
I don't normally interact with the wildness of this forum very often but I feel like sometimes posters here don't even play tennis in actuality. There's a lot of mental simulations and not much actual matchplay besides @Curious. If anyone doesn't think a deep xc slice on a neutral rally is a good play they don't play tennis enough. Not sure 4.5's could take advantage of a slice on a consistent basis unless they are the 3rd Bryan Bro (aka Jack Sock) at the net. Really enjoying the discussion here.
The question is not whether slice is a good play or not - the hypothesis is that it's a difficult shot to make it a good play. Checkout this warm up video. He was making all shots until he tried a slice ( starting at 1:28).
Nadal of all people misses the very first bh slice in casual warmup. And he misses his second bh slice he tried after couple of minutes. On top of that, he misses the subsequent forehand, I argue it's because it hurt his rhythm a bit trying to hit a slice.

 
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atp2015

Hall of Fame
#57
I'd say the vast majority of rec players only wish they could play the way Hsieh plays.
The woman's in her 30's with spindly little arms and looks like she has no right to be on a tennis court but then makes some WTA pros look downright foolish .
I'm not sure what exactly you meant. If I understand it correctly, it could be your experience. The vast majority of rec players (in fact everyone) that I know wish they played like Federer, served like Isner or fought like Nadal or Djokovic.

tbh, I don't think Hsieh makes anyone look foolish. I do believe they are smart folks and understand that she can't be a top 50 player in the world without some world class skills to compete at the very top level.
 
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#58
The vast majority of rec players (in fact everyone) that I know wish they played like Federer, served like Isner or fought like Nadal or Djokovic.
The term “only wish” is different from”wish they could”. The former is used more sarcastically as in this case to correctly point out that most rec players don’t have the talent to do what Hsieh does on the court whether they wish to do that or not.
 
#59
The slice is a shot used in a variety of ways at all levels of play. It’s not just a shot of last resort. Don’t limit your game by giving up on trying to get better at it.
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
#60
@atp2015 - a recent video of Nadal practicing slices at Indian Wells.

He does miss more than you might expect, especially on the topspin balls that Moya is feeding him from the service line starting around 1:00...

 
#61
At my meager level (I am guessing like 4.0), I think is really useful to have in the toolbox. Like, I often play this one guy one level higher (we are in the same coaching group, we get to play a few games at the end of the session), who I sometimes can play equal with from the back of the court (topspin ground strokes on both wings) if I serve well. He is more experienced, and his topspun groundstrokes have great depth and placement. So he likes the back court top spin play, that's his main thing. Good driving slices keep the ball low (more difficult to play from low bounce with modern topspin grips), short slices take him away from his home base, dropshots are good for occassional variety if he is far behind, even high slices with good depth are sometimes more difficult (less comfortable) to hit a topspin drive from, driving slices or sidespun slices as an approach shot make passing shots and lobs more difficult to make... etc.

So while I am not the best slicer, it certainly has uses. Some guys are bred on top spin groundstrokes, so slices might make all the difference in making them feel uncomfortable.
 

jga111

Hall of Fame
#62
I played against a guy last week who only hit topspin. We were talking about his OHBH and he said he struggles to play it with pace, and when doing so he gets tired.

Well, what a great time to play a neutral energy efficient shot...I said to him, SLICE more!
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
#63
@atp2015 - a recent video of Nadal practicing slices at Indian Wells.

He does miss more than you might expect, especially on the topspin balls that Moya is feeding him from the service line starting around 1:00...

A good slice is a tough shot against "neutral balls" - Nadal finds it a bit challenging too. Slice a tempting shot - because not much effort is needed at first glance. But a good slice requires more use of body and shoulder and it's not a whole lot easier than a topspin shot (especially 2hbh). But has more chance for error.
 
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IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
#64
A good slice is a tough shot against "neutral balls" - Nadal finds it a bit challenging too. Slice a tempting shot - because not much effort is needed at first glance. But a good slice requires more use of body and shoulder and it's not a whole lot easier than a topspin shot (especially 2hbh). But has more chance for error.
Nadal also appears to be practicing the down-the-line slice (against those topspin balls starting at 1:00). Presumably Nadal is practicing that since it's to a righty's BH.

DTL slice is tough for 2 reasons: you're hitting over a higher part of the net, and the court is shorter.

Against a fellow righty, I almost always slice CC, unless I'm approaching the net on a short ball, hitting a slice dropper, or trying to mix it up somehow. CC slice gives me more court to work with and a lower part of the net to hit over...
 
#65
A: so nobody knows how to win at rec level. Just keep the ball in somehow.
The 'somehow' part is a secret to be discovered. Rec tennis is essentially an uncharted territory for all practical purposes because of many unknowns.

To be continued...
"There are 3 secrets to good writing; unfortunately, no one knows what they are." - W. Somerset Maugham
 
#66
1) CC no matter what
2) Stay 2-3 feet behind the baseline when you are not attacking
3) Hit to their backhand
4) Just make sure you serve in and hope for the best
 
#67
I've been beaten by three good slicers the season. The ball is either low and skidding or low and side spinning into the ground. that's most reliable shot is a counter slice so I think this is terrible advice. The good slice keeps you so many more options I would say work on it. Especially for us OHBHs
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
#68
I've been beaten by three good slicers the season. The ball is either low and skidding or low and side spinning into the ground. that's most reliable shot is a counter slice so I think this is terrible advice. The good slice keeps you so many more options I would say work on it. Especially for us OHBHs
Did they slice from back of the baseline? Or was it from near the service line or closer? "beaten by good slicers" is an extremely loaded phrase. If all it takes is a slice shot to beat you, you got to wonder if you have developed basic, good quality shots in the first place- or just push the ball from the baseline and nothing else. What's the net clearance of typical shots you hit and how deep do they land?
 
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#69
They sliced from everywhere. And could use it as a ridiculously good drop shot. I've got a big forehand and a big serve. At 4 to 4. 5 level doesn't matter. What is going to win me more matches is developing my OHBH slice and lobs. because both of those shots are effective against baseline and net players. I play with a better partner sometimes. One of the things he does I want to copy is with slice. when he stretched against a net player he ll often just hit a slow slice away from them with a very short swing. The combination of stretching to get it side spin and having to make their own pace means they most often net dump or pop it up. He s a 5. 0 and has a bigger serve and forehand than me
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
#70
They sliced from everywhere. And could use it as a ridiculously good drop shot. I've got a big forehand and a big serve.
Big is relative. If someone can effectively keep slicing your big forehand and big serve, time to question if big is a question of perception. It's pretty hard to slice high bouncing top spin balls as a neutral shot. An equivalent topspin shot will gobble up a slice easy.
Fed of all people could not deal with lefty topspin.
 
#71
Not quite how it went down. All 3 are what I call aggressive junk ballers. Good serve good TS forehand and top slice game. I could match the FH and serve. I was outclassed by their slice.
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
#72
Not quite how it went down. All 3 are what I call aggressive junk ballers. Good serve good TS forehand and top slice game. I could match the FH and serve. I was outclassed by their slice.
Any ball that stays inside is a good ball and you need to treat it as such. You could match well hit fh and serve, but they caught you with off speed and spin shots? Time to understand your game better, I know what's going on. You are a passive player who just redirects opponent's balls and can't generate good shots on your own pace. Footwork issues and suspect technique.
Poor approach and net game. Essentially a baseline pusher.
 
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#73
No. I definitely attack sitters. U don't understand how to use slice on offense. They do. I play the same game. They played it better

My top weakness is my net game approaches r fine volleys r rubbish. It's improving I often will hit two vollies and get passed or error on the 3rd. A year ago I couldn't hit any volley.
 
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#74
They had a great short long game with the slice. Most of the rallies were them drawing me in short with an angled slice. My counter slice wasn't good enough. then they would either drop or slice long and I would be trying to pick a fast low ball up off my shoelaces.
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
#75
They had a great short long game with the slice. Most of the rallies were them drawing me in short with an angled slice. My counter slice wasn't good enough. then they would either drop or slice long and I would be trying to pick a fast low ball up off my shoelaces.
Why are you letting them hit shoe lace slices? You think you hit great. But in reality, you are generating weak shots and they can pretty much do anything they want. Since your mid court and net game is non existent, easy to beat you with short slices. You have a very passive, pushing game from the baseline. You think, oh I have a great baseline game, how am I loosing? Well, your game is still very basic. Only thing you can do effectively is block back good balls from bl. No tools to compete with someone who knows how to play tennis with some thought - slow place balls mid court, short slices. I would focus on mid court shots that you can swing fast and complete, and keep the ball in court and finish off with volley.
 
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atp2015

Hall of Fame
#76
No. I definitely attack sitters. U don't understand how to use slice on offense. They do. I play the same game. They played it better
No, I don't. It's a difficult shot to hit good enough at high percentage in my book. I won't use it on critical points if I could avoid.
 
#77
I played against friend this weekend - He has a huge 5.0+ Delpo style forehand. I noticed that mixing in a slice forehand 1 out every 3 balls or so threw him off by forcing him to recalibrate his racquetface angle. If I give him the same type of spin every ball his flat forehand gets grooved and he pummels ball after ball into the corners. When I mix up the spins I can frustrate him.

I think players who rely more on spin with more margin are less bothered by slice.

I lost a 5.0 league match last year against a guy who had a huge lefty Nadal style forehand. My slice forehand was ineffective against him because it just made it easier for him to wind up and rip.
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
#78
I played against friend this weekend - He has a huge 5.0+ Delpo style forehand. I noticed that mixing in a slice forehand 1 out every 3 balls or so threw him off by forcing him to recalibrate his racquetface angle. If I give him the same type of spin every ball his flat forehand gets grooved and he pummels ball after ball into the corners. When I mix up the spins I can frustrate him.

I think players who rely more on spin with more margin are less bothered by slice.

I lost a 5.0 league match last year against a guy who had a huge lefty Nadal style forehand. My slice forehand was ineffective against him because it just made it easier for him to wind up and rip.
Yep, slice forehand , I would be smacking my lips at the sight of it.
 
#80
Yep, slice forehand , I would be smacking my lips at the sight of it.
Doubt it. It is an effective shot at all levels all the way to pro. It won’t win you many cheap points but the reality is a higher level player will more easily kill half decent topspin shots than half decent slices.
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
#81
Doubt it. It is an effective shot at all levels all the way to pro. It won’t win you many cheap points but the reality is a higher level player will more easily kill half decent topspin shots than half decent slices.
I don't know what you are doubting. if it's such a great shot, then why don't you see forehand slices as a rule? you probably will go find 1 exception in 10000 and claim it's done all the time.
Folks who hit forehand slices have no real ground shots and I'll be parking at the net all day long to put away the volleys and smash the ohs.
 
#82
I don't know what you are doubting. if it's such a great shot, then why don't you see forehand slices as a rule? you probably will go find 1 exception in 10000 and claim it's done all the time.
Folks who hit forehand slices have no real ground shots and I'll be parking at the net all day long to put away the volleys and smash the ohs.
More should try it. Most folks get coached a certain way from a young age and become mindless robots. Topspin is fine to get more easy points, but the reality is that as you run into higher players, they can kill your topspin shots too. They see that all the time and are better at it. Yet people persist with that knowing they will lose 100% against guys who have better topspin shots than them. Why not mix it up?

You're thinking in terms of all or nothing. No one is saying to go to fh slices or bh slices exclusively.
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
#83
More should try it. Most folks get coached a certain way from a young age and become mindless robots. Topspin is fine to get more easy points, but the reality is that as you run into higher players, they can kill your topspin shots too. They see that all the time and are better at it. Yet people persist with that knowing they will lose 100% against guys who have better topspin shots than them. Why not mix it up?
You're thinking in terms of all or nothing. No one is saying to go to fh slices or bh slices exclusively.
Are you saying because higher level players can punish lower level top spin shots, it's better to get used to getting punished at the current level by employing weak shots?
or you are likely to win against higher level players by mixing up good shots with weak shots because they are not used to weak shots? that's some real outside the box thinking - and also outside the tennis court thinking.

sort of guerilla warfare technique on the tennis court - surprise attack by the weak against much better force??
 
#84
Are you saying because higher level players can punish lower level top spin shots, it's better to get used to getting punished at the current level by employing weak shots?
or you are likely to win against higher level players by mixing up good shots with weak shots because they are not used to weak shots? that's some real outside the box thinking - and also outside the tennis court thinking.
I'm saying there's no weak shots or strong shots. A topspin shot against someone who is better than you and has seen better topspin shots can also be called 'weak'.

Why not mix it up and have it in your arsenal? As @travlerajm said it worked against one high level player and not against another. Why not try it out?
 
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IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
#85
I played against friend this weekend - He has a huge 5.0+ Delpo style forehand. I noticed that mixing in a slice forehand 1 out every 3 balls or so threw him off by forcing him to recalibrate his racquetface angle. If I give him the same type of spin every ball his flat forehand gets grooved and he pummels ball after ball into the corners. When I mix up the spins I can frustrate him.
Dzumur did this in his recent win against Tsitipas. He used a slice FH more than I have seen most ATP pros use in recent decades, yet it was neutralizing Tsit in the rallies.
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
#88
I'm saying there's no weak shots or strong shots. A topspin shot against someone who is better than you and has seen better topspin shots can also be called 'weak'.

Why not mix it up and have it in your arsenal? As @travlerajm said it worked against one high level player and not against another. Why not try it out?
Yes on the first thing you said.
On getting it in the arsenal, I tried and could not make it reliable in more than year.
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
#89
Exceptions are the new rule in town!
Not a rule, they just show that even the biggest hitters in pro tennis (Tsit and Safin) can't always handle slices. Zverev is also often bothered by low slices to his BH, and many players slice often to Djokovic BH as well (Dimitrov and Fed, for example).

Whereas some other pros like Nadal really aren't bothered much by slices (his success against Fed being case #1, and I have seen Nadal devour numerous other players' slices). Slices didn't bother Agassi much as well, I remember a couple of matches where he gobbled up Edberg's slice approaches.

So, you shouldn't be so quick to dismiss either a FH or BH slice as an effective tactic, depending upon the opponent :)

It's just one more weapon in the toolbox...
 
#90
Yes on the first thing you said.
On getting it in the arsenal, I tried and could not make it reliable in more than year.
Understood, but that's your personal thing and it doesn't mean it's not a good shot to have.

As far as exceptions, is travlerajm also an exception? There are lots of folks especially at the rec level who use slices on both wings judiciously. There are pros who do that too. I forgot the name of one of the pros that someone on this board had recently hit with, and he mixes up fh slices with topspin. It seems over the last decade as pros have increasingly just used topspin shots, many rec players also somehow feel that anything else is a poor shot or a weak shot.


A topspin shot can be categorized as a weak shot if it sits up just as a slice that sits up is a weak one. Both executed reasonably well (doesn't even have to be great) are good shots. If you see some of Brent Abel's matches the old timers mix it in a lot. If they still had their wheels from a few decades ago, they'd be beating a lot of 4.5s and 5.0s with their versatile games.
 
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#91
Floating slice can be really a pain in the arse, if it sits low. However, mostly slice is a matter of touch and soft hands, which a lot of rec hacks lack.

A slice drive to attack the net is really an excruciatin weapon, but requires bold swinging and determination to put it into the corner. There is basically no other shots most can do, but either try to lobb it or the squash fingers crossed slice to tremble the man attacking the net.
 
#93
This is about rec levels, but...

My mrs - not my wedded one, but someone I go together nowadays - doesn't hit but flat shots. But they are heavy. She's probably "ladies 4.5", but her weapons are fast feet and consistency with the shots, she really master. 2hbh and flat fast forehand. She's not a tall lass, but her ability to move makes her shots accurate and she plays the game. Given the opportunity to come in and hit that flat fh cc around the service line, she crushes it every time. She does not struggle with slices, but hit them back with authority, Her Achilles heel is high topsin balls on the backhand wing, cause she cannot hit proper slice bh, cause the flat understanding of racket face orientation and switching from 2hbh to 1hbh for slice, so she's the kind of lady, OP is refering to, when saying "only use slice in defence".

However we have practiced rallying slices of different trajectory and she's getting better little by little.

At rec levels above maybe 3.0 - 4.0 slice is under rated, cause it is considered a death roll save and pushing. Nobody at 4.0 likes consistent pushers, cause they win matches.
 
#94
The question is not whether slice is a good play or not - the hypothesis is that it's a difficult shot to make it a good play. Checkout this warm up video. He was making all shots until he tried a slice ( starting at 1:28).
Nadal of all people misses the very first bh slice in casual warmup. And he misses his second bh slice he tried after couple of minutes. On top of that, he misses the subsequent forehand, I argue it's because it hurt his rhythm a bit trying to hit a slice.

To my eye he seems to hit a lot of other shots too in the net... Trying maybe hit low er than the usual trajectory, but ends up hitting the net.
 
#97
If anyone can hit a decent slice consistently, I'll say go for it. I find it extremely hard for the vast majority. If someone loves to slice like Fed or our own iowaguy, I'll say good going !

For folks who find slice a hard thing to be good at, slice only if you have been put in a really tough spot and been heavily neutered in your court positioning.
Players of the yester era used to slice a lot. Now hardly anyone is taught slice and after trying to incorporate slice for more than a year, it has become clear to me that you want to slice only as a last resort. So slice is for dealing with a losing situation no matter how good of a slicer you are. There's no way slice can beat a topspin or a flat shot on a consistent basis. Unless you are planning to drop shot every time, just keep the slice in your back pocket safely tucked. I have adjourned my slice project indefinitely!
Then you agree its great for defense? Slice has a later contact pt, why people often find it better.

Why would a major league baseball pitcher throw a 70mph pitch?

Slice is great unless your opponent knows its your only bh.
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
#98

Not saying I can do that, of course. But my opposition is not going to be that good either. IME, it translates very well down to the rec level.
Barty's progression at 0:20 is one of my favorites!

Slice deep CC, hoping to elicit a weak slice in return. If they return a weak slice CC, then slice dropshot DTL. I find it easier to hit droppers on weak slices - generally you will be inside the service line and the ball at its apex after the bounce won't have much spin or pace on it.

Alternatively, I will slice approach DTL on a weak/short slice from my opponent, to mix it up so not all droppers.
 
#99
Barty's progression at 0:20 is one of my favorites!
IMO, Barty is one of the few women who uses the slice for more than just a desperation lunge or when the ball is too short/low to easily hit TS [is Vinci still playing? And of course there's Niculescu but that's on the FH, which makes her even more of an outlier].

Slice deep CC, hoping to elicit a weak slice in return. If they return a weak slice CC, then slice dropshot DTL.
Another pattern she uses is to slice CC several times and then slice DTL [assuming a righty oponent] with some sidespin so it's trailing away from the opponent. The resulting CC FH is usually not strong and Barty then takes control of the rally with her FH. Dimitrov does this also.

I like the fact that she has a good 2HBH drive but her use of slice elevates her game.

And she's already had great success in doubles.

I find it easier to hit droppers on weak slices - generally you will be inside the service line and the ball at its apex after the bounce won't have much spin or pace on it.
Interesting: I find it easier to DS when the incoming has TS.

The main reason is spin: when I hit a DS, it has backspin on it. From the ball's perspective, the ball is rotating the same direction as it comes towards me as when it leaves my racquet. The ball itself is travelling opposite directions but the spin is the same.

Conversely, if the incoming has slice, I have to reverse the spin direction on the ball. If I fail, my shot will go into the net.

The second reason is height: incoming slices typically sit lower than TS. I find it easiest to hit a DS when the ball is around chest-/shoulder-height; hitting one when it's waist-height or below is more difficult, IME.

Alternatively, I will slice approach DTL on a weak/short slice from my opponent, to mix it up so not all droppers.
One thing I haven't tried yet is making it look like I'm going to slice approach DTL but hit a DS instead. Federer did this to Berdych and, even though he hit it quite high, he completely froze Berdych because Berdych was expecting something deep.

FF to 9:18:

 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
Interesting: I find it easier to DS when the incoming has TS.

The main reason is spin: when I hit a DS, it has backspin on it. From the ball's perspective, the ball is rotating the same direction as it comes towards me as when it leaves my racquet. The ball itself is travelling opposite directions but the spin is the same.

Conversely, if the incoming has slice, I have to reverse the spin direction on the ball. If I fail, my shot will go into the net.

The second reason is height: incoming slices typically sit lower than TS. I find it easiest to hit a DS when the ball is around chest-/shoulder-height; hitting one when it's waist-height or below is more difficult, IME.
Well, I also hit droppers against topspin, but IMHO, that only works if the TS is very weak. If facing a good 4.5 or 5.0 topspin, it can be difficult to stand inside the baseline to hit a DS, except on very short balls. Conversely, those same players (if they don't have a great slice), in response to my low deep slice, will often cough up a weak slice around the service line which I can then hit a DS on with my feet inside the baseline (I try to only hit DS if I'm inside the baseline - higher % that I hit my target, and also less reaction time for my opponent).

Also, a weak slice will generally have no spin on it at all (or very little at least) after it bounces and reaches its apex. This is essentially like hitting a hand feed for a DS - very easy in my book (maybe because I've practiced it a ton!).

Next time you're out, try standing slightly inside the baseline and hitting dropfeeds for a DS - I think with a little practice you'll find that it's a very easy shot, and you don't have to take into account any spin like you do with a TS, plus you'll generally be further inside the court since a weak slice doesn't travel through the court like a topspin does... YMMV....
 
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