• The most important thing to remember in tennis is to “look at the
ball”: point of contact concentration. (There comes a time when in
order to win you must forget about how you’re hitting and
concentrate on where you’re hitting. Don’t work on strokes when
playing an important match. Concentrate on point of contact and
where to hit. You have to assume your strokes are right. “You can’t hit
well when thinking about how to hit.”
• Correct one error at a time. Don’t ball up your mind trying to do too
many things at once.
• Move in as far as you can on volleys. If you can get on top of the net,
be there. Don’t hit it up if you can take one quick step in and hit
• Volley low balls deep. Angle high volleys.
• When playing at the net and on the right-hand side use a continental
grip. Many good players volley on both sides with a continental grip.
• Use your left hand to adjust your grip from forehand to backhand. It
is good insurance.
• Don’t cut your shots too fine. Or, don’t try to hit within six inches of
the line when a ball inside three feet will do. Don’t make it any harder
than you have to. Many players do all the work to get the set-up shot
and then blow the shot by trying to hit a great shot. Finish the point.
Put the cap on it. “Good players don’t miss easy shots.” Short over
heads are the most common spot for this error.
• You can work on your weaknesses by forcing yourself to execute
them in play or practice situations. For example, if your second
serve is weak, play your practice matches with one serve only. Or, if
your patience and consistency is hurting, force yourself to practice
without coming to the net. For backhand problems, avoid running
around it in practice. Force yourself to execute your weakness.
• If a player is a weak volleyer yet strong baseliner, you can often draw
him in by hitting short balls. His backhand approach probably will be
weak. Hit a short ball to his backhand. His weak backhand approach
might give you an easy pass.
• Decide to play offensively or defensively. Many college players can
be beaten simply by keeping it back in, or “skyballing” them to death.
Develop a game suited to your ability. Don’t try to do things you
can’t do percentage-wise. Then add new wrinkles when you’ve
mastered your play.
• You can open the way to a weakness by hitting to a strength. For
example, a player with a weak backhand will often run around it. If
he overplays the forehand hit it sharply to his forehand for a
placement, or perhaps to move him wide to the forehand, thus
forcing him to hit a backhand on the second return.
• Often a player’s apparent strength is actually a weakness. For
example, many players have a weak looking but steady, deep
backhand; and, while their forehand is well paced and looks good, it
is actually a poor percentage shot because the player tries to do too
much with it.
• One strategy that works well, particularly against slow, lazy
opponents, is the “drop-shot and lob” strategy. Drop-shot them and
when they lope up to the net simply lob over their heads. Do over
and over again.
• “Never change a winning play—always change a losing plan.”
• Pressure pays off. Some players can’t stand it. It takes a lot of ability to
apply constant pressure, but it pays big dividends. Take the ball on
the rise to apply pressure. Move in and take the court away from him.
• Some players employ the “center theory” against certain players. If
you approach down the center you eliminate the passing angle.
This often works against weak but accurate angle hitters. Some slow
court players hit well on the run but can’t get anything on a ball hit
straight at them. Players with a great return of serve should often
be served at “down the center.”
• One of the most difficult shots to get any pace on is a high- or
medium-lofted backhand that is deep. Matches have been won in
this one strategy. The best place to return a high backhand is to a
high backhand. Some big hitters are completely frustrated by this
• Low chips with angle often frustrate net rushers. If you can chip it
low, they often have to volley up, and it opens them for an easy pass.
• High spin serves at the backhand are often effective (Roswell vs.
Roche, U.S. Open 1970).
• Welby Van Horn: “Balance is the clue to tennis.”
• It might be good to approach on your short forehands only. If your
backhand approach is weak, cross court it to eliminate angled shots
as you back up.
• Cross courts get you out of trouble.