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Hardscrabble Scramble
August 1996 Article

Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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Think Back For Improvement

Mike Whittington Photo
Mike Whittington

Recently a student came to me for help with his volley. He told me stories of how his volley had failed him time and time again in crucial match situations. After several minutes of watching his volley, it was obvious he had a very nice volley with good technique. There was very little backswing, the wrist was firm, and he made solid contact.

We started a few multiple shot drills and I had him hit a few approach shots and move in to hit the volley. After just a few approaches, the problem became clear. My student constantly struggled with depth and placement on his approach shot. Therefore he was constantly giving his opponent easy balls to pass him with at the net or shots that he really couldn't hit with his strong volley.

My student was so wrapped up in the shot that ended the point that he neglected the shots that lead up to the final put away. He had been beating himself up mentally for the wrong reason.

Let me give you another example. You are playing doubles and you really nail that big first serve and force your opponent into a powder puff return for your partner. Do you think of the great volley your partner just hit or do you realize how much your serve made it easy for him?

The next time you play a practice match, try to analyze exactly which shot started you on an offensive or defensive path for the point. Start thinking about how you can set up a point by several good shots to make your final shot a breeze. Of course we all notice how the pros make it look so effortless and put away ball after ball. But if you watch closely you'll notice that many of their put aways are a direct result of a well set up point.

Think back on what won or lost the point for you and you might find a few secrets to help lift your game up a notch.

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This column is copyrighted by Mike Whittington, all rights reserved.

At the time at which he wrote this column, Mike Whittington was a USPTA pro in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he served as director of tennis at the Hardscrabble Country Club.


 

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