Match Strategies

Beating Pushers

The key to beating "Pushers" is PATIENCE! First of all, pushers want YOU to go for winners and low percentage shots...So you can try for winners, or try to win the smart way. The smart way may take a little longer, and a little more effort but there is a good chance you will win.
  1. You have to show them that you have patience and are willing to rally the ball a little. A pusher usually won't hit many winners so there is no rush. This will put into their head that you are not stupid or impatient and it won't be an easy day for them, possibly even causing them to change their game.
  2. Ultimately, you do want to attack, but you can't do it until there is a "short ball" around the service line. So rally with them, plenty of heavy topspin down the middle of the court pushing them back until you get that short ball.
  3. Now with a short ball you have a few options:
    1. quick dropshot, since you are close to the net this is a good play as long as the a dropshot anywere short should work if your opponent is behind the baseline.
    2. approach shot and look for a a few options:
      • if they try to hit a passing shot you will want to look for a soft, short, low volley into the open court.
      • if they pop up a lob or floater you can take it as an overhead or a swinging topspin volley.
*** Always remember to practice plenty of overheads and swinging volleys so you are always ready for the final put-a-way shot! ***

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Playing Lefthanders

When returning the left hander's serve...

it is important to stand to the left by at least one foot to account for the left hander's opposite spin, which will run away from you if the angle is not covered. On the "deuce" side, the left hander will have a more difficult time hitting the ace to the forehand (right hander), over the high part of the net, so you can cover the "T" serve a little more. On the "ad" side the "T" serve will be a little easier to hit for a left hander. Note especially, that because of that different spin, the return can be difficult to handle, and can "fly" if you hit the return towards their forehand, by going long or wide. By returning towards the left handers backhand you will be neutralizing the spin and will make a high percentage of returns, over the low part of the net, while keeping the ball to their backhand.
  1. In the rally... you will want to pick on the backhand with your cross court forehand. If they are running around to hit forehands you can hit them one forehand to open up the backhand side again and possibly sneak into the net if they are out of position to the backhand.
  2. Don't be tempted to come in to their forehand unless you know that they can't hit a good shot. You don't want to get passed by an on the run forehand. Wait an extra shot and come in on the next ball to their backhand.
  3. Body serves work well against left hander!!!, especially body forehand. Your right handed spin will jam them so that they can not get a good swing on the ball and you cill stay out of too much trouble.

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Playing Server and Volley

The key to beating a good serve and volleyer is to hit a good "low" return of serve to set you up for the next shot. It doesn't have to be a winner, but it does need to stay low in hopes of your opponent popping it up giving you an easy second shot to pass them. Once the return is hit your job is to make a good "split step" and wait to see where your opponent hits the ball, and moves to after their first volley.
  1. If they have moved in close to the net, the easy play is to lob or pass down the line. They will easily cover a cross court pass if they are close to the net, so don't try it.
  2. If they are a slower mover and don't get in close to the net the cross court pass works well. No lobs in this case unless their overhead is terrible.
  3. Once you show them you know how to beat a serve and volleyer, they may have to change their game and stop serve and volleying.

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What if I start to choke?

First thing to realize is that "choking" is a natural thing to happen, especially when you care about winning. Everyone feels the pressure, but the better players know how to deal with their emotions. If you are nervous, chances are that you are close to winning a game, set or match. 1. Play agressive but conservatively, meaning good racket head speed and spin but hit only the shots that you know will not miss. Even if you do have to "push" a couple, it doesn't matter. Just don't leave any balls short, with no spin. Winning is what is most important, not how you win. 2. Hit body serves and rally down the middle to stay away from the lines. 3. When you are close to winning there is pressure on the other person too even though it may not feel like it. So don't make any foolish errors, which will give your opponent a little hope. Make them play every ball and don't get discouraged when you miss a few. 1. It's very important to keep a "poker face" so not to give them any sign that you are vulnerable. If your opponent senses that you are falling apart emotionally then things will get even tougher for you. 5. Pick on their least favorable side; backhand, forehand, high balls, even bring them into the net if their volleys stink. After playing a few games you should know what kind of player you are facing and what their strengths and weaknesses are. 6. After you win a match in which you have been choking and you do it the right way, your confidence will get better under these circumstances.

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Unforced Errors

Double Faults and ANY error when you are not in trouble is basically just "GIVING" the point to your opponent. Don't make it easy for them, or else it's going tough on YOU!...So rally the ball, cross court with enough topspin, net clearance, and safety inside the lines, and make them work for the win. CROSS COURT is always the safest, away from the lines over low part of net. Next, the chances of winning the point after a first serve is twice as much as winning the point after a second serve. So MAKE YOUR FIRST SERVE!!! Body serves are very effective and underused. You stay away from the sidelines, and second you jam your opponent so they can't get a good swing at it. Aiming for the lines only leads to errors and having to make second serves where the chances that you win the point are 50/50 at best. So do yourself a favor and make the first serve, and then if you start feeling good, maybe you can go for a few aces.

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Handling High Balls

High balls are tough for anyone! Even the pros pick on each other, or just stay neutral in the rally with a high topspin "rally ball". If you get a ball that is going to bounce over shoulder level you have three choices: 1. Take the ball right off the bounce, below knee level with a compact backswing and short follow through. Getting enough topspin. 2. If you want to be aggressive...get to the ball so it can bounce above your waist and not higher than your shoulder for a backhand, and your head for a forehand. With a ball at this height a side-topspin, or "sidespin" must be generated by hitting slightly down and across the ball in order to handle the ball correctly. Hitting low-to-high on these balls will cause them to fly longer than wanted. 3. If the ball is slower and higher bouncing deep you may have time to back up far behind the baseline and let the ball drop to desired height.

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Using the Slice

Slicing the ball can be very effective if hit correctly, and kept low, by not opening the racket face on impact. It can be short or deep. However a high, short slice that usually is not effective. When hitting the slice you must realize that it is a "finesse" shot and should NOT be hit really hard with a big swing. It is more like a volley with a longer backswing and shorter follow through. Playing someone with a extreme western grip is a good time to use your slice if you do have a good, consistent, low slice. If your slice is not very good and consistent you sholud only use the slice in when the ball is out of reach. Otherwise, stick to your best shot and save the slice for practice until you master it. The three spins on a slice... 1.Inside out on low balls 2.Regular slice on waist high balls 3.Carving around the side on high balls

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Getting Overpowered

Getting overpowered.... Big servers...Are they hitting too fast for you, or are they hitting big kick serves that are getting up too high on you. These are both tough to play against but they can be countered. ***If the serve is coming too fast: 1. shorten your backswing for early contact. 2. move back, cover the angle, and you still may have to shorten your backswing a little... ***If the serve has too much angle or "kick"... 1. stand in to cut off angle, shorten your backswing and take the ball early around chest level, before it gets too high, generating a "side-spin" by swinging across the ball, NOT low to high!!! Aim in the middle of the court. 2. back way up, covering the wide serve, so you have plenty of time to let the ball come down in height to your preferred strike zone which should be between waist and shoulder level. Either way, AIM IN THE MIDDLE of the court for the largest target to hit and less errors. Hit to the forehand to open up the backhand! Most Big Forehands are hit from the middle of the court, or where the player can "run around" the ball and get a solid "open stance", which allows them to hit a variety of shots with the same footwork which disguises the end result. When someone has to really move towards their forehand quickly they can't use the same dynamics which means it should be a less effective shot with less disguise. They still may hit a great shot but if they can hit on the run winners then they are pro. So the bottom line is that when playing a BIG forehand if you can't get the ball to their backhand, make them move to the forehand side once any time you need to open up their backhand. Last, don't forget to "change up" the pace with some deep, higher topspin, slower balls and force them to generate the power on a high ball. When your opponent is someone who plays heavy topspin with some angles, then you are in for a long day. This is the type of game that everyone should practice and be able to execute whenever needed. You need to hit a good solid topspin "rally ball", keep the ball just deep enough, past the service line, so to stay neutral in the rally. This wiil keep you out a trouble and if you can then force some short balls from them you will be the one in charge. Patience is a must, along with good conditioning, and playing all the right percentages. This will allow you to be able to be patient and stay in every point long enough to force some short balls or even some errors. The best players throughout history have also had the most spin on the ball to go along with any speed they hit, allowing them to hit heavy deep topspin and short agressive angles. First thing to realize is that someone who hits only hard and flat ia a usually a "1 Dimensional" player and they probably do not hit many angles or dropshots, so BACK UP! and AIM DOWN THE MIDDLE!!! when you can, make them run or get the ball out of the strike zone. By backing up you get plenty of time to: 1. see the ball coming, and 2. to get into the correct position with the correct footwork for the situation. With little time after your "split-step" to move to a fast moving ball, you may be forced to hit open stanced a lot, unless you can get "behind' the ball and step in. You may feel like you are on defense most of the time, but unless you can "out-hit" them and not miss, it's easier and smarter to rally with them and let them make some errors. You will have to hit quality "rally balls" but if you can stay in some rallies and get them to make a few errors they will have to slow it down. This is a tough opponent but there is only one way to play them. Get the return "down", cross court is safest, and force them into volleying "up" from below net level and back towards your direction. If you can accomplish this, preferrably getting the ball around their ankles, you will be in a good position even if you hit the ball right to them. Once you realize that your return is low, you can start to see what's going to happen. Your opponent will have 2 choices, play a dropvolley or try to play a deep volley. So you have to be ready for both with a perfectly timed "split-step". ...If they dropshot, you will want to get to it and go up the line 80% of the time. Cross court if you know it will be a winner. ...If they volley deep, assume they are moving in on top of the net and prepare to hit a topspin lob or pass down the line. Cross court if they don't move in very close to the net.

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Playing in Wind/Sun

Realize that it is ALWAYS going to be ugly playing in any windy conditions, even for the pros. Once you realize that, you won't try for too many unrealistic shots, and drive yourself crazy. The wind may move the ball at the very time you are swinging, so to compensate:
  1. figure out with direction the wind is blowing and keep track because as you change sides you will be playing with/against an opposite wind. Also, a shot that's good on one side may go way out from the other side and vice versa
  2. Aim your shot to a spot in the court where you are plenty safe even after the wind has effected it. This may be 3 feet inside the court.
  3. take shorter back swings.
  4. toss the ball a little lower on the serve
  5. playing with the wind requires less effort, but when things are not going well, or if you get nervous it's also easy to miss long so aim well inside the baseline.
  6. against the wind you don't want to leave balls short unless it is a low slice or good dropshot.
  7. against the wind allows you to swing out at the ball without much worry of it going long.
If you know all these things you will have a better than average chance of at least a competetive match, with plenty of opportunities. The sun is something that you have to deal with and something you can use to your advantage.

If it's in your eyes on the serve figure out which way to move the toss and just get first serves in. Make sure you use plenty of lobs on your opponent when they are on that side.

If the sun is in your eyes on groundstrokes just do your best and remember when your opponent it on the "bad" side make them look into the sun as much as possible.

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Dealing with Cheaters

Cheaters are tough to deal with because they get your emotions involved, even making you MAD!!! You don't want to play with anger, it will probably just lead to a quick defeat, and you feeling even worse after the match.
  1. DO NOT go for the lines, as even an umpire may make a bad call if it's very close and a cheater will surely call the lines out.
  2. Get an umpire after a two calls that you are sure were clearly inside the court.
  3. If you feel that you have to get the point back then go ahead and cheat them on the next point and let them get the umpire. If they don't get an umpire then YOU should, before you get cheated again, and become even more frustrated.
  4. DON'T get into a cheating match because no one is as good as a cheater, so if you are not one, don't compete at it!

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