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Hardscrabble Scramble
August 1999 Article

Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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Make Your Volleys Automatic

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Mike Whittington

Do you ever get to the net in a doubles match and go completely blank as to where to put the volley? Or do you have that put away volley at the net only to find it sizzlin' back at you? There are a couple of basic rules that you'll see most top players follow.

When you are in a good position at the net, have good balance, and get a high floating volley, you should drive the volley into an open area for a winner or at the feet of the net player. When all conditions are correct and you get such an opportunity, you don't want to hit the ball to a player at the baseline if possible. A baseline player will usually have time to prepare for your volley and lob over you. An aggressive volley hit at the net player's feet will usually prevent them from hitting a good shot back if they get it back at all. A few good volleys put at the net person's feet will also make that person a little cautious about moving forward on some volleys.

Now the opposite also holds true to help you from being attacked at the net. When you are taking a volley that has dropped below the level of the net, you must pop the ball up to some extent for net clearance. A good rule of thumb is to hit that ball back to the baseline player. A popped up volley to the net player could lead to disaster. If you have the ability to hit a drop volley and there is an open court, then that might be an option as well.

You might hear some instructors refer to this as "short to short and deep to deep." In a nutshell, it means that on an easy volley close to the net you should hit to the closer person and on the deeper volleys hit to the deeper person. Knowing what to do with your volleys without really having to think about it can be a real asset. Once you can determine quickly if a ball is to be hit aggressively or more conservatively, your whole net game can turn around.

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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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