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How to Play Against Serve and Volley Players
By:  Scott Baker | Tennis4you  | Tennis Forum  | E-mail

Do you like playing a serve and volley player? Being put under immediate pressure on your returns and having to come up with passing shots almost every point? Some tennis players do not mind it at all, however, I think that most tennis players hate it

With today's generation of boomin' baseliners it is easy to get into a groove of not being pressured from the net too often. Since there are less serve and volley players out there, I believe it makes it tougher for some club players to have to face a serve and volley player since they are not used to it. Many players are comfortable just staying on the baseline and hitting ground strokes with another baseliner. However, most of these players do not fair as well when they are put under immediate pressure by a serve and volley player.

Beating a serve and volley player can be tough but if you stick to the basics you can find yourself on the winning end. Let us look at some of the strategies you can use to give a serve and volley player trouble.

1. Patience:
One of the main things to remember when playing a serve and volley player is to not be pressured into hitting a big shot every time you swing the racquet. There is a time and a place for a good passing shot against a serve and volley player. If you try to hit passing shots every point you will most likely be drawn into hitting a lot of errors. You do not have to hit a winner on the first shot. Be patient and look for the openings and do not give away free-bees because of the style of game your opponent is playing.

2. Returning serve:
Most players who serve and volley have good serves. If you are not able to stroke the return of serve you can block the ball back. This is different from just blocking the ball back against a baseliner with a big serve because there is less immediate pressure. If you are going to block the ball back, aim low at their feet or down the line. A cross court block will most likely not work well since the pace of your shot will most likely be too slow to get past the approaching serve and volley player.

If you are an advanced player you may be able to step into the serve and take the ball early and drive the return back. By taking the ball early will you give your opponent less time to get to the net and force them to hit their first volley deeper in the court than they would like to be.

3. Do not be afraid to lob:
A lot of players think all of the glory is in the passing shot. A good lob will do more than force your opponent to have to hit a defensive overhead. A good lob does a few things. A good lob tells your opponent you are willing to lob. This makes your opponent think twice about getting too close to the net and maybe a little tentative about closing in where they want to be (The closer to the net they are the better chance they have at putting a volley away). Even if your lob was short and gets slammed, it still sends a message that you are willing to lob.

4. Look for their strengths and weaknesses:
serve and volley player is just like a baseline player. Look to see if they are a stronger forehand volley or a stronger backhand volley. Treat their volleys just like a ground stroke, pick on the weaker side if they have one. Also notice if they have a good overhead. Typically they will but you never know, you could luck out. Also notice if they like to hit low volleys of high volleys. Some players have problems bending their knees to hit the low volleys and other have a problem controlling the high volleys, especially to the backhand side.

5. Dictate when they can come to the net:
When you are serving your opponent is forced to stay back on the baseline unless they chip and charge. If your opponent opts to stay back at first, keep them back. Hit your ground strokes deep in the court not allowing them to hit approach shots and get to the net where they are most comfortable. Another thing you can do to throw off a serve and volley player is to get to the net yourself. If you can get to the net either by serve and volley yourself (if comfortable) or off of any semi-short shots, you take their most offensive position away from them. Play it smart and look for the right opportunities, if you rush the net too early they can make you pay for it.

Serve and volley players are becoming a rare breed these days. But that does not mean you will not run into them from time to time. I played in a winter league recently and 5 of the 6 guys I had to play at singles played a serve and volley game. So rest assured, if you have not played a serve and volley player recently, you will run into one sooner or later. If you ever happen to play me, you will be playing a serve and volley player.

Good Luck on the Court!
Scott Baker
Tennis4you.com