Before I start this article I would like
to make one thing clear. I stand a whopping 5'-4" tall (Maybe
5'-5" with my tennis shoes on). I am short, very short! Especially
for a male tennis player. So if you want to pretend that this
article is entitled "How to Beat Scott Baker," go for it if
it makes you feel any better. However, do not worry if your
not 6'-0" tall, we will pick on the tall players in "How to
Play Against Tall Players".
I will start with what I feel is the biggest
weakness of shorter players, the high ball. Any ball that
is above shoulder height can cause any player some problems.
Above the shoulders is higher than the preferred hitting zone
and makes it tough to return the ball offensively. Obviously
the shorter you are the higher the ball gets relative to their
strike zones. If you are taller, the ball does not get as
high relative to your hitting zone and you should be more
comfortable hitting those types of balls. There are a couple
of ways to do this effectively to shorter players. The easiest
way is to do it with your ground strokes. Lot of topspin deep
into the court can really push a player back deep and force
them to hit a less offensive shot than they may like. Another
way to do this is with your serves. Use lots of topspin (and/or
kick) and make the ball jump high. Again, this forces your
shorter opponent deeper in the court to return the ball in
their hitting zone, or forces them to try to take the ball
off of the rise which is extremely difficult when returning
Quick note: If you are playing an
opponent with a one-handed backhand, high balls to the backhand
side are difficult to handle for them. If they are a shorter
player with a one-handed backhand that can spell double trouble
for that opponent. Keep the ball high and to their backhand
as a good strategy.
Another strategy is to force them to play
the net. A quick player can compensate for their lack of wingspan
at the net, but still has more open area to cover because
their reach is just not as long. If your short opponent likes
to play the net, the lob is a good strategy. Again, speed
can catch up with a lob, but a good topspin lob is a deadly
weapon against a shorter player at the net.
Players that are shorter will most likely
have serves that are not as hard as the taller players. You
will encounter shorter players who have big serves, or are
great at using lots of spin and great placement. However,
if you are not playing those opponents, look to attack a weaker
That was a look at shorter players' weaknesses,
now let's look at shorter players' strengths so you can try
to avoid them during a match. Shorter players can be extremely
quick. What shorter players have the ability to do is to start
and stop very quickly since their center of gravity is lower
and they have less weight/momentum to stop. Hitting behind
a short player can be effective, but not as effective as hitting
behind a taller player who will have a tougher time stopping
and changing directions. Shorter players have less momentum
to stop and start, so they may be able to stop and change
directions in the blink of an eye.
Shorter players also have an easier time
with balls that come right at their body and try to jam them.
They have less body to get out of the way and shorter arms.
It may be a better strategy to stretch your opponent rather
than try to jam them. Of course mixing it up and keeping them
guessing is important as well.
Low (slice) balls are easier for shorter
players to handle because it takes far less effort to get
That's a look at playing shorter players.
Just because a player may be short does not mean they will
be vulnerable to any or all of the weaknesses listed above.
However, these are good tactics to try. Be aware of what your
opponent has trouble with and be sure to exploit their weaknesses.
Good Luck on the