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All-Court Game
By:  Scott Baker | Tennis4you  | Tennis Forum  | E-mail

I watched a match recently on the ATP tour and was very surprised at what I saw. I watched great baseline rallies with both players moving each other around like pieces on a chessboard. Whenever player "B" would hit a deep ball that he knew player "A" would struggle to get back, Player "B" just stood on the baseline and waited to see what would happen. Most times Player "A" would somehow get the ball back and they would continue the rally. When Player "A" would hit a deep ball that Player "B" would have a hard time getting back, Player "A" would quickly rush to the net and volley the weak return into the open court. One player was not afraid to play the net, the other seemed terrified. Player "A" easily won the match.

Great players are able to play from anywhere on the court in any situation. Back when I played in high school you could not get me to play the net if you tied a rope around my waist and pulled me towards the net. Soon after high school I started playing the net and became very comfortable with my volleys. I became so comfortable that I now serve and volley most of the time. As soon as I was more confident at the net my overall game play improved immensely and I started beating people I never had beaten before.

My point is simple. If you are not comfortable somewhere on the court then you need to work on that area until you are comfortable. Do you dread playing at the net or being stuck on the baseline hitting rallies? Both are a huge part of tennis, and if your opponent sees that you are uncomfortable and weaker in one area you can bet that those weaknesses will be exploited by the better players!

Being able to play from all court positions allows you to take advantage of several situations. If someone hits a drop shot and you chase it down, you are now stuck at the net. If you're net game lacks confidence and you are nervous and apprehensive about hitting volleys the odds are not in your favor.

Another example is the short ball. When your opponent hits a short ball it is an open door for you to attack. Hitting a ground stroke and then back-peddling back to the baseline is not a good option. Your best option is to continue to put the pressure on your opponent and close into the net looking for volley put away.

Great players can comfortably play anywhere on the court, just look at Roger Federer. Regardless where he is on the court he has great confidence and several options. Closing the door on your own opportunities by only being comfortable playing certain situations limits your game and limits your ability to win. Being able to take advantage of all situations will take you to a whole new level. Be honest with yourself and work on the weaker parts of your game and force yourself to become an "all-court" player.

Good Luck on the Court!
Scott Baker