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Hardscrabble Scramble
December 1998 Article

Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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The Approach Volley

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Mike Whittington

Recently I had a student that has an excellent lob but wanted to become better at the net. The more and more we worked on coming in the better she got and gained a tremendous amount of confidence in her volleys and overheads. She basically had been a counter puncher her whole career and decided it was time to take a little more control with the points. I thought we had made great progress and her scores had been much better. Then she ran into the same type player she had been a couple of months earlier - a steady counter puncher that hangs around the baseline. If this happens to you, there are a few things you can do to combat that style.

The player that just lobs the ball without putting very much pace on it can be very frustrating. The first thing you have to do is realize that using that style of play doesn't mean they have an inferior game. You have to concentrate on control rather than overhitting, which is often what happens against this type of player. The next thing you have to realize is that if lobbing is not your cup of tea then don't get in many lob exchanges with someone who is better at it than you are!

So how do we not overhit and get to the net against this type of player? One way that I thinks works well is to hit the ball deep to the player (their backhand if possible) and move in to take an approach volley. The approach volley allows you to get to the net without having to let the ball bounce and move you back. You will be taking the ball at mid-court and you will need to remember that depth is very important on the approach volley.

Hopefully if you have hit your opponent a deep shot you can get your opponent on their back foot and that will make your volley even easier. Now if they hit a lob you will be in position to hopefully hit an aggressive put away overhead rather than lobbing again from the baseline.

The next time you play that pesky pusher try using the approach volley. You might find that this shot will allow you to be more offensive and put the counter puncher on the run!

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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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