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Har-Tru return of serve?
I layed off tennis, except for a couple months 6 years ago, since the early 90's - yes that makes me old].
I started a month ago, back playing, and enjoy it now more than ever. However, I am playing mostly with guys who don't have much on their serves, and we mostly play on Rubico/Har-Tru. In Saturday matches, we have played 2 weeks in a row at least one person on the other doubles team a guy with more action on his serve than I see in practice.
Most don't have that much pace, but when I run across the guy with a serve that kicks up high to my backhand, I am having trouble making good contact or putting anything on the return, sometimes putting my side on the defensive.
If I back up far enough to give me time to make a full swing, if the server can move it to the other side of the box, I won't get to it, of course most of the guys I am playing can't do that. It was especially frustrating yesterday - not much pace, but it jumped up after hitting the court and was unpredictable [just enough] to throw my return off.
What strategies or practice should I employ to help on this, long ago, my return of serve was second only to my serve in terms of helping me [mistakes on groundies was my big trouble back in the day]? Thanks.
In tennis the addict moves about a hard rectangle and seeks to ambush a fuzzy ball with a modified snow-shoe. Elliot Chaze
I would suggest widening your stance before the return. This will give you a better base to start from. Two good examples of a wide stance on the return are Djokovic and Hewitt. Let me know if this helps. And if you get a chance watch how wide the pro's stand before the return on clay. Good Luck!
I would aproach this in a way that is kind of old but it works. I would use a wide stand only if you are used to hit open stand. other wise you are going to have one more thing to slow you down and that is to bring your legs over to get sidewides and to hit the ball in front. So if you do not hit open stand the first thing that you wanna do specially on clay is to have a short back swing. Second you want to always move forward so you can cut the angle of the server and try to get the ball comming up and at you weist height. And you need to have a good follow through after you make contact with the ball. Two players that I can give you as an example are John Mac and Andre Agassi. Bith of them have shorth swings and are always trying to get the ball when is going up. If you want you can visit my website
and send me a video and I will send you a video back showing you what I mean.
Good luck and keep practicing.
If its slow and kicks high. The best is to take it early with a short swing: like catching the ball. If its fast and kicks high then move back two steps and blast it with a full swing. To train for the high balls try using a plastic bottle and place it on one side of the tennis net posts. Now place a ball onto the bottle. Stand three metres away in the ready position then repeatedly try to hit the ball without knocking the bottle over. Is good to fill the bottle first otherwise the wind gets the better of it.
I like the early swing method and stepping into ala Agassi.
But as you know top players like Federer have problems with kicking serves on clay from Nadal. you must be in the southeast with har-tru courts.. wish I could play more on that being on the west coast.
I would take the serve off the rise. By taking it off the rise, the ball will not have as much of a chance to spin in a way that messes with your stroke too much. Taking it off the rise takes a little bit of skill. If you can do it, then you will hit a better return off of the spinny serves.
YOur best bet is to take the serve early but your footwork to the ball is important...open stance step with the "wrong" foot, meaning for a backhand step in with the left, a FH step with the right. Timing your split step nicely will also help your returns. Best service return pratice is this: Have your practice partner hit serves to you from the service line, because the server is so close, you have no time to take a big backswing, you must take the serve early or it will get away from you.
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