Recently, 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 groundstroke techniques but unfortunately get little instruction on how to recognize opportunities for attacking their tennis opponents.
Therefore, below, I have listed 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 know the returner will have trouble 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 (or at least step inside the baseline) to close the angles and defend against an eventual drop shot return.
4. When your deep groundstroke makes your opponent stretch to get it back (or you get them 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 possess an aggressive attacking forehand.
Do not return to the baseline! Rarely your opponent will be able to reply with an aggressive shot back if you attack from the mid-court.
Technically, you should consider the following:
– If your approach shot is a slice (low), you will get a better chance for a high first volley. The problem with the topspin approach shot is that it can bounce high for your opponent to hit down at your feet.
– There is a good reason why the slice approach is the choice for most experienced players: the low bounce and backspin force the opponent to hit up on the ball and make 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 them to hit the ball on the run (send it to the open court) or aim right at your opponent (in this case they hit the ball off-balance and do not have many angles to pass you).