You’ve hit a strong approach shot and your opponent is scrambling. You move to the net, ready to end the point with a strong volley, when suddenly your opponent surprises you with a miracle lob. Now what? We’ve all been here before, but there’s no need to panic and give up the offensive position you’ve earned. As soon as you realize the lob is too deep to hit an aggressive overhead, try the high-five shot. Hit it well and you’ll remain on the attack. Here’s how it works. . . .
1. As always, just before your opponent hits the ball, take a strong split-step. As soon as you identify a lob, your non-racquet hand should point at the ball (to track it) and your racquet should go up. I tell students to bring it to the ear. Your first thought is to hit an aggressive overhead to end the point.
2. Once you recognize that the lob is too deep to play aggressively, shift into high-five mode. From a timing standpoint, the more you have to move your feet, the less you want to move your racquet, so keep your racquet up by your ear. As you’ll likely be off-balance, take short, quick steps and use a compact swing.
3. As the ball descends, keep your palm facing forward and, at contact, slowly push up, as if you’re giving someone a high-five. Bunt the ball deep to a spot where your opponent won’t have a natural angle to hit a passing shot. Regain your balance, switch back to offense and, when the time is right, end the point.
Greg Moran is the Director of Tennis at the Four Seasons Racquet Club in Wilton, CT, and author of the Tennis Beyond Big Shots books.