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The Tennis4You Workshop - "Develop your Approach Shot - Defend Against the Approach Shot"
By:  Dan L. Salinas

This practice is for two players. They should each stand on the baseline tee and one should begin a rally. Each player should be aiming baseline strokes at the other working together to keep the rally flowing. This is the same way most people "warm up."

Eventually, one player hits a soft shot, either accidentally or deliberately; most people let it bounce twice and just keep the rally going. However in this practice, the point begins here. One partner (the attacker), who received the soft ball may aggressively attack it and hit a strong approach shot into any part of the singles court he wants. His odds are best down the line, but if both players are hitting exactly to each other, he has a choice of hitting left or right, ie: the inside-out shot. Remember to "follow towards the side you attacked to close the court and make it hard to be passed on that side. But now the defender is no longer bound to hit it directly to his opponent, unless he wants to drive it to his feet. After one makes the attacking approach shot, the players now play full tilt as if this were their set and match point until the point is played out.

The other player (the defender) who made the soft shot, whether deliberate or not, should immediately recognize it, and prepare himself for the attacking approach shot. He should decide whether to try to attack it and go for the pass, hit at the attackers feet or go for a lob, his choice. Either way the game is on and their abilities will decide the outcome.

I really like this because I feel I am attacking in a real rally. It also forces me to keep my balls deep so that I can play "attacker." With the exception of a lob, which usually becomes an overhead for me, the "defender" usually fires a passing shot that hits close to my feet. I have learned to play very well at the service line tee and scoop up balls in the air down low below the net or just after the bounce and "finesse" them to an obscure corner of the court.

Also, attacking is an option. I have a friend that fakes me with a pseudo soft ball that looks like it hits shallow, who then kills me on my "poor" attack. Knowing when to attack and totally committing will be a skill you will develop with this drill. Play points if you want, just find a comfortable way to start the drill, like each hitting 2 times to start. This one is a lot of fun.

Work hard, play hard.

Dan L. Salinas