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Surprise Attacks
By:  Scott Baker | Tennis4you  | Tennis Forum  | E-mail

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.

Good Luck on the Court!
Scott Baker