Do Not Approach Down the Line

by: Ed McGrogan | July 14, 2009

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If you approach to your opponent’s forehand, he may carve you up.
There’s no more frustrating feeling than hitting a shot that puts you in charge of a point only to have your opponent’s feeble return turn the tables. Here’s a common scenario: You hit a big serve or forcing ground stroke into the deuce court (the ad court for lefties) and your opponent can only muster a squib reply that barely crosses the net and bounces short and low to your backhand. You have no choice but to rush up, hit an approach, and follow it into the net. The conventional tactic is to slice the ball down the line and move forward. But since your opponent isn’t out of position, you’re playing right into his hands if you hit a slice from just off the ground, over the high part of the net, and to his forehand (assuming he’s a righty), which is typically the more dangerous shot. He can take that floating slice and rip the ball down the line, dip it crosscourt, or lob over your head.

The way to deal with this situation is to hit your approach 2 to 3 feet from the center of the court toward your opponent’s backhand side. This way you’re using the low part of the net, which should help you keep your approach lower. Make sure not to hit too far crosscourt, as this will open up both the down-the-line pass and the sharp angle crosscourt. Keeping the approach centered will force your opponent into an uncomfortable down-the-line, inside-out backhand pass in which he has to come up with all the pace. And if he goes crosscourt he’s hitting the ball right to you. This puts the point in your favor.

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