When and How to Approach the Net

tennis net playRecently, as I was watching a local tennis tournament, I noticed that many players did not know how and when to attack or move up to the net.

Many kids grow up over-practicing serve and ground-stroke technique but unfortunately they get little instruction on how to recognise opportunities for attacking their tennis opponent.
Court Coverage Strategies

Therefore, below, I am listing some of the situations that should allow you to move up to the net and what kind of shots to use to put yourself in advantage for the next shot:

1. When your opponent’s serve return is slow and high over the net
Even if you don’t like to serve and volley you should step inside the baseline and attack your opponent’s weak wing. Don’t be passive when facing a weak return!

2. When you have a powerful serve and you know the returner will have troubles with it
In this case you should serve-and-volley. Hit your first volley to the open court and get your opponent stretching to hit the ball.

3. When you hit a good drop shot and see your opponent will barely get to the ball
You must move forward (at least step inside the baseline) to close the angles and defend against an eventual drop shot return.

4. When your deep ground-stroke makes the opponent stretch to get it back (or you get him/her off the court) – most of the time the ball will sail high and slow back to you. A drive or high volley will make the job of finishing the point easy for you.

5. When you receive a mid court “sitter” and you posses an aggressive attacking forehand – do not retrieve back to the baseline! Rarely your opponent will be able to reply with an aggressive shot back when you attack from the mid court.

Technically, you should consider the following:
– If your approach shot is a slice (low) it will give you better chances for a high first volley. The problem with the topspin approach shots is that they can bounce high for your opponent to hit down at your feet.
– There is a good reason why slice approach is the choice for most experienced players: the low bounce and back-spin forces the opponent to hit up on the ball and makes the passing shot difficult.
– If you do decide to approach the net behind a topspin ground-stroke, make sure your opponent struggles to reply: either force him/her to hit the ball on the run (send it to the open court) or aim right at your opponent (in this case he/she hits the ball off balance and does not have too many angles to pass you).

Cosmin Miholca