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7833 Hwy 65 NE
Spring Lake Park, MN 55432
Tennis Tips
9/01/10 :: Tony Larson on Hitting the volley

Today's tip will focus on hitting the volley when at the net. If you can volley effectively you will be able to win and end alot of points much quicker and easier. To start with, make sure you are using the continental grip. To find the correct grip, place the base of your index finger knuckle pad on the second bevel to the right from the top if you are right handed. This grip allows you to hit a strong volley for both forehands and backhands without switching. Many players however will use their groundstroke forehand grip on their volleys, which is usually held further to the right than the continental, and this creates problems with the backhand as well as handling low volleys.

Once you force yourself to get used to the correct grip, an important rule of thumb is to keep your racquet head above your wrist. The positioning of your racquet in relation to your forearm should be in a "V" for in-range volleys. Another way to think of it is to keep your wrist somewhat flexed rather than in a weaker position. This is important for low volleys, as these shots often are missed when players bend at the waist or drop their racquet head. Instead, keep the racquet head up and get down low with the legs, and maintain the "V" by bending the knees.

Another important volley concept is to not swing or slice the ball excessively. When you are closer at the net, you have a smaller court distance to hit into. When taking a large swing, you may hit a great shot but you will also hit many more volleys long and wide. Smaller compact swings without a take-back get the job done while maintaining control and consistency. Good use of the legs by stepping in and turning will help you get the ball deeper and on target. Also, while it does help for depth and control to get underneath the ball and impart a little slice, some players will take this lesson and exaggerate the slice with a racquet face that opens up too much at contact. This causes the ball to fly up resulting in either a long volley or a short loft that can be attacked. If this is happening to you, try to see if you are twisting the racquet face open at contact, and instead drive through the ball with less slice while still getting underneath the ball to achieve depth.

Playing the net is fun because you are in an aggressive position! Make sure you are active with your feet and closing in, but let the racquet and the opponent's pace do the work for you while not getting over anxious with a swing follow through.

3/27/10 :: Tony Larson on Doubles Positioning

Today's tip is concerning how to position yourself correctly at the net in doubles. Usually, if you are the first team to get both players to the net during a point, your opponents will either have one or both players at the baseline. Getting into the correct position and covering the court will increase your chances of winning the point.

In general, as a doubles team you need to move together. If you are too far apart at the net, your team will be vulnerable to a passing shot. I sometimes see both players standing too far out wide covering the alleys even when the ball is down the middle of the opponents' court, and this leaves a large hole to hit into. Both players at net are responsible for covering the gap between them, and should be close enough together to reach and cover this area.

Another way to put it, is that your team should be ready for and respect a shot down the middle if you hit the ball to them in the middle of the court. It is unlikely the other team will be able to hit an outright pass cross-court to the outside of the court from there. The other situation then is when your team has hit a ball that is out wide. You both will again need to move together, and both players should follow the ball. The key here is for the player on the same side of the ball to slide over and cover the straight-ahead alley passing shot, while the other player slides over and closes hard on the middle. Your team is now covering the most likely responses of the opposition, and you will force them to hit an extreme cross-court angle shot that stays very low to get by you. In effect, you are playing the percentages by forcing the most difficult shot in a given situation. If the opponent tries a cross-court lob here (which is often a good play when two are at the net), the player covering the alley, who should be further back off the net than the closing middle player, will be ready to attempt to track it down.

When you are in good position laterally, also be ready to close in to the net off of your attacking shots, and back up when you are more on the defensive. When all these things are in place, it is just a matter of executing your volleys! Have fun and good luck on the court!