I love catching my opponent(s) off guard and taking an easy
point. In this article we will look at 2 different ways
to catch your opponent off guard and how to take advantage
in a game of singles.
I am a big advocate of learning to play an "All-Court" game.
To much dismay, many players do not like to volley.
To be the best tennis player you can be however, you need
to get to the net and practice your volleys. Being able
to execute your shots from anywhere on the court is vital
to any well rounded game and will help you improve immensely.
Some methods of surprise attacks force you
to come to the net to finish the point. What makes these
attacks so effective is that everything happens so fast because
you are at the net and your opponent will not expect you to
be there. Your opponent will have much less time to
react and may not be ready to defend your offensive position.
Attack 1: For the first method
we will take a page out of the Andre Agassi book (a pure baseliner).
This attack works best for baseliners, which most people are
these days. Try mixing in the serve and volley play
every so often. This works great because your opponent
might be getting a little lazy on the return of serve. If
they start returning your serve down the middle of the court
you should know that this is a good time to sneak in a serve
and volley play. This is a good way to catch them off
guard and walk away with an easy point. I love to see
Agassi serve and volley. He is not as graceful as a
true serve and volley player, but he does not have to be.
If you watch Agassi try the serve and volley you will notice
he wins the point almost every time. His opponent, and
yours, will never expect it. This also works well on
big points when your opponent might be known for getting tight
in these situations and likes to just "get the ball back over
the net" and does not hit anything fancy. Usually by
the time they realize you came to the net to hit a volley
it is too late for them to do anything about it.
Attack 2: Another way you can
effectively attack your opponent is to sneak into the net
when they are chasing a deep ground stroke into the corner.
What this does is forces them to hustle to the corner and
possibly take a few steps back to hit the ball since it was
hit so deep. You should come to the net as they move
to the ball. Many times they do not even notice you
have moved forward and they hit a defensive ground stroke
which you can knock into the open court with a volley.
This is very effective if your shot is not only deep in the
court but will bounce high enough that it forces your opponent
a few feet behind the baseline to hit the ball. This
type of surprise attack does not happen off of approach shots
as your opponent already knows you are coming to the net.
This is more of a regular baseline to baseline exchange of
shots. When I execute this play I like to hit the ball
with heavy topspin to the backhand side (or their weaker side).
I am usually at the baseline when I hit the shot. The
second I hit the shot and realize I hit a nice deep shot,
I close to the net quickly. Another key element is your
footwork, not the speed of your feet, but the sound of your
feet. I know is sounds odd, but if you can sneak in
quietly you will have a better chance of your opponent not
knowing that you are coming to the net.
Attack 3: In an era where baseline
tennis is dominating the drop shot can be a very effective
attack. The drop shot does not sound like the kind of
shot you would attach the word "attack" to, but you can catch
players off guard and surprise them with this shot.
The drop shot becomes painfully effective against baselines
who like to stand well behind the baseline to hit their shots.
If you catch your opponent far back and they hit a fairly
short shot make them pay with a good drop shot. When
they are so far behind the baseline they have a lot further
to travel to get to a drop shot and you are also forcing them
out of their comfort zone (from behind the baseline).
A well rounded player will use all of the
above methods fairly regularly and it is to be expected of
the better all around players. These plays become very effective
for those of you who play most of your games from the baseline.
Attacking your opponent when they least expect
it is a huge advantage to you. The key is getting to
the net when they are moving to the ball and moving towards
the net early. If you hesitate to move to the net you
could get stuck near the service line to hit a volley and
you want to be much closer to the net to be aggressive.
Luck on the Court!