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Caesar

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Thread starter #26
My approach shots are okay on quick surfaces because they are mostly slice. I really need a good topspin approach though. I am find I am playing more and more on hard courts which is an issue.

I wouldn't say I am a real complete player. Baseline rallies are bread and butter for singles, and if I got into them with someone like you I would lose a lot more than I would win. My flatter groundstrokes don't have enough margin, and I am not that great at constructing points. That's a killer on slow surfaces where you can't hit a lot of winners and it's hard to get to the net. When I lived in Victoria I had to play a lot on ETC and it was hell. I lost all the time.

We would probably make a good doubles team.
 

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Ah okay, see I have a very weak forehand slice and a low, slow backhand slice that would be useless as an approach. I'd rather hit winners from the baseline than approach, but when I get the opportunity I'll generally go for a big cross-court forehand as an approach. I'm not a bad volleyer, I just lack confidence in myself at the net so I'm far too hesitant to move forward. Nine times out of ten I'd rather have a few big swings, hit a drop shot and bring them to the net since I handle volleyers pretty easily.

You're a lot more complete than I am, though, I'd say. I developed power first and am still working on consistency, so it's shank city every now and then. I don't play with much margin so I'm very off and on. My greatest asset on the court is court vision and reading play; my cross-court backhand and forehand are very good but apart from that I honestly don't have much of a game. I've only been playing about four years altogether and was in B- grade when I played my last junior season last year, so I would barter that you would destroy me in singles actually. :p

I am awful at doubles, haha. I'm too much of a court hog, and I don't really have the same ability to read the play in doubles as I tend to avoid it.
 

Caesar

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Thread starter #28
Even if you hit them well, cross-court approaches are pretty tough because it gives them a lot more court to aim for with the passing shot. Being a lefty, my preferred approach is backhand slice down the line to their backhand. In general, DTL is a good approach because it means the high-percentage pass option (cross court) involves redirecting the trajectory of the ball, increasing the chance of errors. Also, if they have a double-handed backhand, getting a lot of angle cross-court against a DTL approach is often hard (because of the closed stance). It's easier to close it down, maybe show them a little bit of space on the outside and tempt them to try and hit over the high part of the net. If it's a good approach, most players trying to paint the lines on their weaker wing will more often than not come up with an error.

My court vision is bad and really I seldom dictate points from the baseline. I struggle to create opportunities to hit angles and I'm not really sure how players do it - I generally have to wait for an opponent to give me an opening before I attack. Do you have any particular strategies you use?
 
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Yeah, I don't like playing cross-court approaches, but it gives me a lot more margin for error. Most of the time with those shots I'll put it really deep and with a lot of top spin so it kicks up and makes it really difficult to pass. Most of the time I'll get them to either stab at it or play a weak lob which I can put away. It's not the ideal way to approach, but unless I've got a forehand down the line on the ad court, or a backhand down the line on the deuce court, I'm less inclined to hit the ball down the line. As you can probably tell, my biggest issue on court is lack of confidence in some of my shots. When I open up my shoulders and relax I tend to be difficult to beat, I just have to work on doing that more consistently.

I feel the same way about how players own the net, it's like a foreign language to me. I can hit volleys fine, but in a match scenario I just feel lost at the net and find myself constantly being lobbed or passed despite not being short, which is why I tend to avoid it.
In a rally situation, I play a little like Tomic, a little like Tsonga and a little like Rafa. Tomic in that I love to use my court vision and ability to read the play to make sure my opponent doesn't get into a rhythm, Tsonga in that I love to step around the ball and dictate with my forehand, and Rafa in that I'll grind people down with heavy top spin.
My go-to strategy is always to step around the ball, hit a deep off-forehand and then either a cross-court forehand or a drop shot depending on how deep they've been pushed. The drop shot is probably my favourite as I can hit them really well from the baseline. People don't expect a drop shot to come from the back corner of the court. :p
How about you?
 

Caesar

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It sort of depends. During the warmup I will feel them out. To work out which side they favour I'll hit balls straight at them and see which way they try and run around them. Then I will hit a couple of low slices to each side, see what their knee bend is like. Then a couple of high bouncing ones, see whether they like them or if they drag them down into the net. That sort of determines which types of shots I will favour.

Then I will play a few common strategies. Serving: About 60% of my serves will go to their weak wing, probably 25% into their body, and the other 15% will intermittantly go to their strong side as a changeup to stop them cheating across. I go to the net pretty much 100% of the time on my first serve, and half the time on my second serve.

Groundstroking: If they are a right hander with a weaker backhand I will try and get them in a FH to BH rally as often as possible, and wait for them to either error out or go DTL to my BH. If their shot to my BH drops short, then it's a quick slice back DTL and get to the net. If it's too good, I will usually float a slice crosscourt. My BH is okay so I can hang into a BH-to-FH rally for a little while - usually lots of junking up the pace/bounce, because most people play a topspin heavy FH and they hate variable stuff that stops them getting into a rhythm. But I am always looking for an opportunity to either get to the net or get back onto my FH, because if I stay too long on that side I will always lose. I will often go for an inappropriate BH winner if I feel too tied down on that side.

Like I said, my big problem is adapting during the point. If someone is good enough to dictate the baseline play and systematically break down my backhand, I really struggle to get out of trouble. My return also goes to shit against other lefties, because their serve breaks away from my FH and cramps my BH, which is a big problem with a one-hander.
 
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I'm a bit of an ass when it comes to the warm-up. Generally I'll hit all my shots with a normal grip and flatten them out without putting much power on them. I make sure to get a feel for their shots but will spend most of it throwing them off. It's not really the greatest sportsmanship I suppose, but I'm at my best when I'm confident - and doing this helps me get a break early on and let me open up my shoulders a bit more.

I play a lot of serves into the body as my serve is very, very weak and inconsistent. I have a few different serves but it's just not a shot that I'm comfortable with just yet.

It sounds like we're pretty much opposites in most things, as with lefties I'll always try to get them in a BH to my FH rally and make sure they don't have much of an opportunity to get into the net. Lefties with a weaker backhand really play into my strategy as I love the cross-court forehand rallies.

Generally I'm in trouble if someone is very, very aggressive towards my backhand. Having a one-hander if any side is going to break down it's that one.
 

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#32
Unfortunately, due to my not being very tall, I find that the ball hit to my backhand with a decent amount of loopiness and topspin is the hardest for me to deal with.

My serve used to deplorable and nigh on useless aka 'just-hit-it-as-hard-as-possible-and-hope-it goes-in,' but through one on one coaching I've managed to turn it into a very solid shot.
 

Caesar

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Thread starter #33
I find that with a heavy topspin shot to my backhand, I just have to step in and take it on the rise. It's hard, and it's usually more of a block/chop, but it's the only way I can get an effective return on it.
 
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Moderator #34
Heavy top spin to my backhand, oh the frustation that has caused me over the years. When I had a one handed backhand it's alwyas a hellish shot to try and get back, usually I would just hit a horrific slice
 

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#35
I do try to step in more often in those circumstances, but compared to hitting a FH in reply to the same sort of shot it's a nightmare, but I'm most likely stating the obvious here. Much of the time the best thing I can do with the topspin to the BH is to hit a loopy shot deep into the court, but I haven't played competitively in over a year. My BH has improved from then so the next time I play I think I'd be able to deal better with it.

I've never really bothered with the one handed BH, I could only imagine mine being more wayward than accurate.
 

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#36
Reading this thread got me thinking. I haven't played in over a year. Went out with some mates during the week and played a doubles match. My partner had never played before. Against 2 guys that hit but don't play competive. Me and my partner ended up winning 7-6 6-1. My backhand and serve is my strengths.

After that I really wanna get back into competive tennis. Just sucks I don't know anyone in the area to team up with.
 

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Caesar

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Thread starter #37
Well, I just came runner-up in a charity tournament despite losing 80% of my baseline rallies.

Learn to serve and volley, kids. Nobody these days has a clue how to play against it.
 
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Well, I just came runner-up in a charity tournament despite losing 80% of my baseline rallies.

Learn to serve and volley, kids. Nobody these days has a clue how to play against it.
Yep, I've noticed that too. I'm bordering on incompetent as a serve and volleyer (being the weakest two aspects of my game), but I still tend to win the point whenever I do it. Hilarious stuff.
 
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Love somebody going to the net, can go for a pass or a lob, love a target to try and hit past. This is singles though, a good competent doubles volleys drives me inane
 

Caesar

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A lot of people are a bit clueless about coming to the net in singles. If you hit a good deep approach, follow the trajectory of the ball, and watch their shoulders so you know which side of the court they're hitting to, then it is very hard for them to peel off a winner.
 

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#42
A lot of people are a bit clueless about coming to the net in singles. If you hit a good deep approach, follow the trajectory of the ball, and watch their shoulders so you know which side of the court they're hitting to, then it is very hard for them to peel off a winner.

That has a lot to do with three things:

  • Quality of return a player gets from the serve that limits the ability to come in for an easy volley put-away.
- The accuracy and effectiveness of returners these days restricts the server from serve and volleying, because players like Djokovic, Murray, Nadal and Federer return the ball with interest - making it difficult for success at the net.
  • Slowing of the courts and deflation of balls that allow for longer rallies.
- This is the obvious one. Courts are now slower than ever and a majority of players are calling for them to be sped up.
  • Lack of teaching - the art of serve and volleying isn't being exhibited by youngsters any more.
- Kids start young. By young, I mean those kids that aren't tall enough to reach over the net for a put-away. They learn the basics of tennis first, so you can't expect serve and volleying to be second nature to them.

Easier said than done.
 

Caesar

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Thread starter #43
Yeah, but we're talking about juniors and weekend players here. (1) and (2) aren't significant factors, really.

In fact I'd hazard a guess to say that most rec players these days have a relatively poor return of serve, because without S&V being common they are not used to being pressured on it. Against most players, putting the ball in is enough to get a reasonably neutral rally happening.

Hitting a good, well-placed pass or lob when returning a decent serve is not an easy thing to do - especially when you're not used to it.
 

bato

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#44
Yeah, but we're talking about juniors and weekend players here. (1) and (2) aren't significant factors, really.

In fact I'd hazard a guess to say that most rec players these days have a very poor return of serve, because without S&V being common they are not used to being pressured on it. Against most players, putting the ball in is enough to get a reasonably neutral rally happening.
Serve and volleyers do pressure the receiver, but so do 200 kmph bombs from someone like John Isner. Or serve placement by someone like Roger Federer. I believe that if a player can return either of those, then they can quite easily handle a serve and volley.
 

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Thread starter #45
You realise this is a thread about recreational/amateur players, right? Don't know about you, but I don't play against John Isner and Roger Federer.

Anyway, the point I am making is that returning a good serve is hard. If you S&V the returner not only has to make the return, but they have to hit a winner. That is not an easy thing to do, especially for rec players who are used to just being able to chip or block returns to the centre of the court.
 

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#46
You realise this is a thread about recreational/amateur players, right? Don't know about you, but I don't play against John Isner and Roger Federer.

Anyway, the point I am making is that returning a good serve is hard. If you S&V the returner not only has to make the return, but they have to hit a winner. That is not an easy thing to do, especially for rec players who are used to just being able to chip or block returns to the centre of the court.
My point is that the players that are playing professionally weren't taught the basics of serve and volleying at a JUNIOR level (therefore it's relevant to this thread).
 

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#48
I'm not sure I follow you.

I'm just talking about what works when you're playing rec tennis on the weekends.
I think I've made myself clear. Kids aren't taught how to serve and volley properly. It's easier said than done.
 

Caesar

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Thread starter #49
Oh, I agree kids aren't taught. I was lucky because I grew up watching Edberg and Rafter. I insisted that my coach teach me a one handed backhand, and I played S&V as soon as I could see over the net. It's all I ever wanted to do, even when guys were beating me all over the place.

But I disagree that it is difficult to learn, because it is more about tactics than skill. You just need to know how to do it. When I see people (rec players) get smoked over and over playing S&V, it is seldom because they don't have the skills. It's usually because they do two things wrong:

1) they come to the net on the wrong balls
2) they come to the net in the wrong place

Sure, if you are going to S&V on every ball you need to have good fundamentals (serve, volleys, overhead). But if you are just S&Ving judiciously, you can win a ton of points without having to do anything difficult at all.
 
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#50
A lot of people are a bit clueless about coming to the net in singles. If you hit a good deep approach, follow the trajectory of the ball, and watch their shoulders so you know which side of the court they're hitting to, then it is very hard for them to peel off a winner.
I just play weekends with mates, might try a bit more net play. At the moment I'm quite decent on the baseline but do need to work on the volley side of my game.
 
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