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.
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.
Luck on the Court!