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Dodgy opponent

Published: 20 Mar 2006 - 06:32 by SamBWFC

Updated: 24 Sep 2008 - 12:31

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There's a player in my club who I play quite regularly, and he usually plays strange shots during rallies. The worst one is when I serve, he plays a volley drop quite frequently, and it's really hard to get to. You would usually expect a service return into the back corners, but he doesn't seem to do it. How do I get round this kind of problem? It's really annoying because I can't improve my game against this kind of player.

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From rippa rit - 26 Mar 2006 - 12:46

aprice - I understood from what Sam described was -
  • now he has been able to improve his service and is overcoming the problem he had with the volley drop. Good work, and that has fixed that bit for now.
The next problem against his crafty opponent is when:
  • Sam does a short drive, landing in the service box area, his opponent then hits a drop off that half-court drive, and Sam feels his opponent is in the way when he tries to retrieve the drop, and asks for a let.
  • the crafty opponent is saying it is no let as Sam should have been able to play the ball.
Of course the ultimate strategy would be to not hit half court shots - but that is not realistic.
However, if that should happen -
  •  watch the ball carefully all the time,
  •  as the ball travels, move into such a position as to be able to see the ball clearly at all times, then be ready to run.
Never hit the ball, and just charge into the T area without first watching and moving as the ball travels. 
As the ball goes behind to the back of the court turn and watch the angle and speed of the ball, and move out of the way.
Of course if the shot is light and difficult, move into position according to the depth and accuracy of the shot.  The better the shot the more of the centre court you can command.
If the ball is overhit and rebounds into the middle, you have really lost the right to stand at the T and should move aside, watching and being prepared to run.
By drawing a line between the position of the ball the opponent is about to strike and the front wall, and if you are within that line, you stand a fair chance of being hit.

I hope you understand what I say when I say "travel" as the ball moves around the court?


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From aprice1985 - 26 Mar 2006 - 08:14

I have to agree with rita if your shot puts you in that position you have to accept that and stop playing that shot, the rules say you must make every effort to play the ball.  To me it is sometimes best to try in this case to guess where it is going, if he is flat on the T move a bit to the side where you think it is most likely to go, it is a risk but may be worth it.  If this is off a straight drive then get the width right and he will have to step off the T to one side and the you can be on the T and move to it.  How short is you drive, is he going to be getting it before it reaches the halfway line of the floor?  If so you might be able to call a let as he will have to step forward and be close to the front of the court to be between you.  A diagram of where your drive goes and where he is positioned to play the drop would be helpful.  Also how tight is his drop cause if it is tight to the floor you will have problems!!

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From rippa rit - 26 Mar 2006 - 07:50

Sam - good reporting.  Very encouraging too that you are creeping up and also getting crafty
If your shot is half court, and he is dropping, there must be a fair bit of space between your opponent and the ball (unless his drop shot is RS that is).
If that is the case, I would say you have to make the effort to go around him.
Remember it was your lousy shot that put you in that position and I suppose you could say this is your penalty for doing so! 

So we agree now, unless the ball comes back on top of him, and provided there is room for you to play  the ball, you must go around him, and smack the ball away or lob it into the opposite back corner.  In fact a little boast off that drop would be good occasionally as he is probably sitting waiting for a volley (or a penalty stroke). 

If you cannot see the ball, it is good court movement to place yourself so you can see what is going on, and then be ready to run. 

Sam, once you start retrieving these shots your opponent will have to change his position on court to counteract your moves too.  When he does this, that will leave other openings for you.

This is a "cat and mouse" game - love it.

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From SamBWFC - 26 Mar 2006 - 07:30

Ok, back on about this guy again, sorry to keep going on about him but he's the craftiest and strangest player I've ever played.


I've conquered his volley drop service return now, he very rarely does it, thanks a lot! However, there's a few more shots he plays. Say he's on the T and I play a shot, say that doesn't gain enough length on the drive, he'll hit a drop shot into the corner, but stand in front of the path that the ball is travelling, so I can't really see the movement of the ball. I call for a let and he says "why is it, you're nowhere near the ball" I explain to him that he's made no attempt to move out of the way and I could have easily got it if he'd moved, but there's none of it. I've tried getting round him and everything, but the ball's out of play by the time I'm there.


I think this is basic gamesmanship and I don't think its fair at all. Am I right to constantly call lets on these shots, or should I find away around it to return it?


I'll eventually start hammering this guy 9-0 each game soon with your help, because I know technically and physically I'm a better player than him, he's just very crafty.

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From rippa rit - 23 Mar 2006 - 14:49

Good Sam - just keep at it. 
Your serves will also get better as you keep pracrtising.
Keep thinking of your serve feet positioning, the ball toss, and the front wall target, and you will soon serve more consistently too.
Watch the return of serve carefully and you should get/read  more clues to whether the ball will go short or long when the opponent returns the ball, so you will be ready to step forward a little earlier therefore making the recovery easier.
Sam, once you start getting to these short shots, the next  shot  to think about is a nice high and soft lob off the volley drop, with an occasional drop, to keep the opponent on their toes/guessing.
Once you start getting the short shots back that will also make your opponent think about their strategy.
Good luck.

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From SamBWFC - 23 Mar 2006 - 00:19

Ok here are the results!

I played a lot of high serves against him yesterday, and he did seem to cut down on the volley drops. The thing that really annoyed me was he did attempt them sometimes when the ball was high in the air, he didn't hit it properly, and it sliced and just landed in, pure luck. The positive is that he's cut down and I've started to win a lot more points against him on the left serve. Thanks everyone! 

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From rippa rit - 20 Mar 2006 - 13:41   -   Updated: 20 Mar 2006 - 13:44

Sam - it sounds as though you do need to just try serving from that lefthand box continually for a game, if you can find a mate who will practice with you, in that way.
  • Here is the serving link which has diagrams of feet positioning, so have a good read, including the "more" buttons for some ideas on how to make this serve more effective.
  • Facts to think about:
    • Stand in the same spot for every serve from that box.
    • Look at the angle of the feet and shoulders - shoulder to the target on the front wall.
    • The ball toss needs to be high enough to get the open racket underneath and lift the ball up high onto the front wall - do not hit the ball, but just lift it upwards to keep it nice and soft.
    • Experiment with the target on the front wall to get it just right.
    • Watch the serve onto your opponent's racket to get a few clues on the angle of the shot, etc. so you can step forward to reach the short shot.
  • As David said moving forward to the T can put pressure on the return of serve and if you can force a few errors it is likely the opponent will give it up for a while too. 

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From SamBWFC - 20 Mar 2006 - 10:52   -   Updated: 20 Mar 2006 - 10:56

In reply to aprice's question, I usually just play a normal serve that will land in the back corner. I am more comfortable with this serve, especially when I'm starting to feel a bit tired. Thanks for the information again people, I do occasionally put in the odd lob-serve anyway but I'm not too good at them, I'll give it a practice though.

It tends to be from when I serve from the left box to his backhand (he's a left hander) when he plays these drop shots. He doesn't do it on his forehand side. There's no doubt I'll be playing him on Tuesday so I'll let you know if I've conquered his little tactic!

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From dmennie - 20 Mar 2006 - 09:29

Hi Sam,

Ritas points are all very relevant, also make sure you are on the T when your opponent is returning as this will pressurise his return.

If his percentage return is short then this pressure will require him to hit it finer to the tin giving a higher error rate. Stick with the higher slower serve as this will give more time to get on the T and be balanced.  Look for the loose ball and hunt the volley.

All the best

David M

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From rippa rit - 20 Mar 2006 - 07:38

Sam - that is a good question.
  • A volley drop off a serve, especially if the return hugs the  wall,  puts you  at a disadvantage.  So, in a nutshell you have to take that shot out of their repertoire, as far as is practical.  How?
    • As Arthur suggested, change the serve.
    • Keep the opponent guessing where the serve will land, and also change the pace.
    • Try to make all the serves look similar with the ball toss and swing so there are a limited amount of cues, or your serve will not be such a surprise to them. The variety will allow less preparation time too.
    • It is more difficult to return a serve into a volley drop, especially if the ball is headed for the side wall.
    • A volley drop off a really high lob serve is more difficult than a volley drop off a hard serve that does not touch the side wall.
    • If it is the backhand volley drop that is the problem, serve from the other side to limit the opportunity.
That is enough for a start. 
Give us some idea how you get on with that in a week or so.
Good luck.

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From aprice1985 - 20 Mar 2006 - 07:08

Blast a serve straight at his body or lob it very high and deep.  The first may be too fast and tricky to get the raquet under but is easier to adjust to and the second gives you time to get to the T and be ready to recieve whatever he plays.  I would go for the lob most and occasionally throw in a hard one to keep him guessing.  What sort opf serve do you normally try?

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