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Hardscrabble Scramble
December 1997 Article

Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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Don't Change Directions

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Mike Whittington

One of the most common errors I see in doubles is when a players tries to change directions of a shot off of an offensive shot from their opponent. Let me give an example of what I am talking about. You are in the one up one back position in doubles and so is your opponent to start a point. You miss your first serve and your opponent hits a nice offensive return of serve deep to you at the baseline. Although the receiver's partner might have moved to the middle of the court, the down the line pass is probably not the shot for most players. Your best shot off the deep ball is probably to go crosscourt or throw up a lob.

To change directions of the ball requires more precise timing, control, and hopefully an opening your opponent has left for you to hit. It is much easier to place the ball on a shorter shot that you can control rather than on a shot that pushes you back on the defensive. Many times after a player misses this shot they are upset because they hit the ball in the net or wide. As a teaching professional I try to let my students know that they can hit down the line and they can change directions of the ball but they have to wait for the correct time to do it. The more advanced a player is the better they can change directions of the ball in tougher circumstances.

So they next time your opponent puts pressure on you, remember to remain cool and wait for that perfect time before you go down the line. I have found that most of the matches I watch during team tennis, the person or team that tries to first change directions of the ball off of a ball hit deep to them usually loses the point. Hitting the ball back in the direction it came from, as pointed out in the example above, will reduce your errors and increase the number of points you win. Think before you change and I bet you'll find your opponent missing that shot instead of you.

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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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