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The Shortest Distance Between Two Points...
By Tony Severino
Certified Instructor 4A
Professional Tennis Registry

... is a drop shot.
You may think the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but let's take another look at that, a tennis look. A straight line has the connotation of distance. The longer the line the more time it takes.
So the issue here is really time and distance. If you serve and volley the concept of time and distance becomes important to your game. Some argue that you must get at least to the service line for your first volley. Distance!
Not so! The truth is it is not how far in you get, but how much time you have to get there. If you serve with pace you have far less time since the return will coming to back sooner, after only a few steps. A softer serve allows you more time to move in closer to the net.
In a rally, a ball hit deeper into the court usually takes more time to arrive at the hitting area and allows the opponent time get to the ball. That begets the beginning of a rally.
Rallies are exciting and wonderful remembrances of a well played match, but winning a point early with a well executed shot is also satisfying, like a sharply angled, top-spin cross court or a drop shot. Both travel a short distance in minimal time. The drop shot travels the shortest distance and therefore the ball is available the shortest amount of time.
Time and distance come into play with the lob as well. You can buy time by throwing up a lob. But that can be a two way street.
The lobber buys time by driving the opponent back in the court, usually, but has to plan the next move carefully by taking up a defensive position.
The receiver also has been awarded valuable time to plan the return, which often results in a series of dueling lobs until someone decides to change the program or a short lob results in an overzealous smash to the back screen, or a well controlled overhead hit to the right spot, or, you guessed it, ... a drop shot.
Close volley is another time, distance situation, but where time and distance are at a minimum. You hit and react virtually immediately. It's bang-bang and react! There's very little time between hits. You have to look for an opportunity or plan two shots ahead.
Chess is unquestionably the hardest of all games to master. Tennis is no doubt the next. Both entail offensive and defensive strategies. Both employ a series of steps to set up a favorable position, called gambits. Chess employs angles and positions. In tennis you maneuver your opponent to a court position that leaves an open court. Tennis adds time and distance to these strategies. The shorter the distance, the shorter the time.
Since the drop shot increases the distance the opponent must travel to arrive at the ball with less time to get there, who can deny that, in tennis, the shortest distance between two points... is a drop shot?


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