“Levels of play” dictate strategy. Strategy is your “game plan”; tactics are
the tools you use to implement your strategy or plan. I have enclosed two
articles I wrote. Singles strategy draws heavily on “Wayne Sabin’s ABCs of
Basic Strategy Outline
(by Jim Leighton) SINGLES (From Wayne Sabin in Inside Tennis)
- Consistency. Keep it in. Crack your opponent with concentration,
hustle, and steadiness. This is by far the most important strategy
- Keep it deep. If it’s deep, he can’t get to the net successfully. There is
great tennis “virtue” in depth.
- Keep it at a weakness. Most often his backhand; backhand passing
shots are the most common tennis weakness.
- Position. Move them from side to side. Some can’t hit when running.
Also, this tires your opponent, and tired players lose concentration
and make errors.
If you can’t do number four, back up to number three. Can’t do
number three, back up to number two. No good even then? Back up to
The object is to use these four tools to force errors. Four of five points are
determined by errors not by great shots.
The next best thing to an error is a short ball. Dennis Van Der Meer
defines the strategy of tennis as “to attack the short ball.”
The short ball is the green light to attack. This varies from player to player
(and from opponent to opponent).
You transfer yourself from a baseline defensive player to a net offensive
player on the short ball. An approach shot is a specific and different shot,
best described as compact or shortened. It is often an underspin shot and
should be directed deep and down the line.
- Overplay to the same side you approach on. Bisect the angle of your opponent’s best two passing shots and then (as Jim Verdieck of Redlands defines strategy) volley away from the source, or passer.
A firm approach shot often results in an easy volley. A lousy approach is
usually “pass city.” Work on your approach shot.
Here are some quotes on singles strategy from people I respect. These
rang true for my many players in many matches.
figure 2• “Find out what your opponent can’t do, or doesn’t like to do, and
make them do that” –Jack Kramer. (Think Nadal over Federer in the
2007 French Open. Target? Federer’s backhand.)
• Don’t change the “line of the ball” unless you are sure you can make
the shot. Otherwise cross courts “ad nausea.” Two-handed backhands
down the line shots will “slide wide” too often, believe me
• When asked what he would do differently, Ken Rosewall replied, “I
would hit a lot more balls cross court.”
• Cross courts get you out of trouble. (Jim Verdieck demanded the
cross court ball from his team.)
• Get yourself in a position to “volley away from the source”
• Any ball hit extremely deep in either corner allows a good attacking
possibility –Jim Verdieck. (“2 and in”)
• The simple strategy of tennis singles: “Attack the short ball”
–Dennis Van Der Meer.
• Good approach shots make easy volleys –Jim Leighton.
• No shots in “no man’s land” is a myth –T. Parham.
• Rule 1: Find a good doubles partner. Rule 2: Get along with your