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Hardscrabble Scramble
July 1997 Article

Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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Drop Your Opponent

Mike Whittington Photo
Mike Whittington

Do you have a pesky opponent that is a consistent baseliner but has shown weaknesses at the net? If your opponent is better than you at the baseline then you don't want him doing battle with you from there! The key is to bring him out of his comfort zone so that you can exploit his weak volleys.

But when and how do you bring the baseliner to the net? Sometimes it can be difficult to find the right ball to drop if you get into baseline rallies with a deep hitting groundstroker.

One idea I like to teach is to take your opponent's serve and hit a soft drop just over the net. Your goal is not to necessarily win the point off the shot but to force your opponent to get out of his comfortable hitting area and also to make him pop the ball up on his next shot. Think of hitting a volley with very little backswing or follow through and use only the pace of the incoming serve. A harder serve might require you to have soft wrists when hitting this shot. Once you hit this nice shot you might consider moving into mid-court to anticipate your opponent popping the ball up for you.

With a little practice you can make this an effective shot to use in singles or doubles when your opponent is trying to avoid the net. It should also open up more court for you to lob over your opponent or at least force the baseliner into covering your passing shot attempts. The drop return is definitely a feel shot that requires practice and confidence. But you can drop this new weapon into your arsenal against the pesky baseliner.

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Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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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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