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Taking the ball on the rise
Backstory: I'm a freshman in high school. Last fall, I played #2 singles JV for our high school team. I'm really focusing on working as hard as I can to improve my game and make varsity.
Something that I've noticed is that I fare extremely poorly against people who consistently hit the ball very deep with lots of top spin. My natural stroke is a lefty forehand with a slightly exaggerated backswing that produces quite a lot of top spin and power, and a backhand that is a little flatter (with a quicker backswing) but generally the same idea. So a coach that I was talking to said I needed to work on taking the ball on the rise, and it sounded sensible to me. I realized that I never actually do this- when the ball comes very deep with top spin, instead of stepping into my shot, I just back up until it settles into my target area, causing me to lose tons of power and control, as well as giving my opponent considerably more time to react.
However, I've been trying to consistently take deep balls on the rise lately and it's really just not coming at all. It's almost humiliating, haha. When I try and do this I've whiffed balls entirely, often shanking them, and the shot is consistently...well, awful. I'm not really sure what I'm doing wrong. Anyone have any tips on improving this, or other methods for dealing with these deep, heavy balls?
Thanks in advance.
High Hope (s)! just a rookie here, but i'll throw in my opinion. i know exactly what you're saying. several months ago i had the same problem. to deal with the weight, i hit a very flat line drive crosscourt shot. though my method is ugly, most of the time the ball does make its way back into play. my knowledge of tennis is very limited. you are probably playing with 4.0s or better; somebody here will answer you with a little more insight. welcome to TennisW!
Try concentrating on shortening your swing, to reduce chance for errors, and treat the shorthop deep ball like you are returning a fast first serve. Like Agassi, it's the technique that works for most against the deep, high bouncing balls.
If you have time, turn shoulders fully and flatten out your shot, since you are now taking it in your strikezone height. Worry less about topspin, and the shorthop add pace, so you don't need to swing as fast to hit a forcing ball.
Try not to plan
I normally wait for the ball to get in my comfort zone before hitting it. I can also take it on the rise but if that is what i try to do on every shot it seems to backfire as it seems to burden my being relaxed.
So maybe a mixture of both would be in order.
The secret is waiting. The longer you wait the more time you have to correctly set up and respond. The ball decelerates 60% from baseline to baseline and particularly with incoming topspin balls you have to be sure not to prejudge!
Find the ball really well, moving however necessary to get your hands in close proximity with open stance whenever possible. This will give you more control, better balance and more power in your shot.
Wait until after the ball has bounced, keeping your racket out in front of you stalking the ball like a hunter, then take the racket back at the last possible moment, approach the ball with your racket slowly then pull across your body rapidly using your biceps and pectorals, finishing over your shoulder. Keep your eye on the ball until impact, which is difficiult at first because we tend to look up to find the target or see where our ball is going, but not looking up will yeild incredible results. This is how the pros play.
This waiting helps you time your swing perfectlly, the rapid acceleration and change of direction at impact imparts speed and control, while finishing over the shoulder provides more topspin. Don't be afraid to put topspin on your forehand and backhand shots. With it you can hit harder while having the confidence the ball will stay in the court, plus you will deliver to your opponent the very thing you are currently struggling with! Look at how much trouble opponents have with Rafa's topspin! You too can play like the pros this way. If you do you'll make varsity for sure!
Last edited by Tennis Angel; 05-06-2009 at 12:13 PM.
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Thanks for the input guys, I'll keep it in mind at practice tonight.
how did practice go? we'd like to hear all about it.
Originally Posted by -Hope-
It went great. The "waiting" tip was key for me- it really, really helped me out and once I got into a rhythm about 15 minutes in, I found that I wasn't even getting that many extremely deep balls from my opponents any more because my shots were so much crisper.
Originally Posted by Lawn Tennis
I just try and take the ball before the top of the bounce or right at the top of the bounce - gives the opponent less time. I just do what feels natural.
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