Sunday, October 24, 2021

No more volleyball – We’re supposed to be playing tennis!



By Doug Browne

Let’s face it, most tennis enthusiasts love to watch a fast volley exchange during a great tennis match. Most of us get transfixed when we witness a player’s fast-hands, quick feet and razor-sharp accuracy. However, I am not referring to a fabulous fast net exchange; my criticisms stem when four players are well positioned at the net and fail to hit a volley with a good purpose. In other words, one should not venture into the net if he is not intending to hit a winning volley.

As a rule, if a player is a bit tentative, stand back at the baseline and wait for your opponent to make a mistake. This cautious strategy works well in our southwest Florida environment as opponents must contend with rising temperatures and high humidity. But, when singles or doubles players move forward to the net, careful approach shots and fearful volleys can get one in serious trouble.

Now, the reason so many doubles players do not put-away their volleys thus ending up in a long volley-volley exchange is due to two distinct reasons: One – Many players just do not have the  reflexes to do much more with the ball. Two – Too many players fail to know their target early enough to change the direction of the ball. To me, most of the problem lies in one’s inability to be fully prepared before they come into the net and volley.

We all know the expression about failing to prepare…but in this case it spells out the problem. The key is to understand what the opponents will do with either the approach shot or the first volley. If the net-rushing team is cognizant of the opponent’s intentions, the volley or overhead is an easy proposition. But, if a team comes to the net and has no idea where the opponent will place the ball, forget it!

So, here is my plan: Learn the tendencies of your opponents in the warm up – and that involves conferring with your partner about his experiences with the other player. If you desire to serve and volley, one must have a solid serve and the proper footwork to move forward. If you are not sure where to serve to the opponents, consider staying back in the beginning. Talk to your partner as often as possible so each player is on the same page.

The more information a team can compile, the more prepared they will be for the next point. For example, if the advantage court (backhand court player) can easily go crosscourt on the return, learn to make adjustments or your volley may be weak. The bottom line for a good net rushing team is to have so much information about your opponents that the volleys will be more forceful. If a team is on automatic pilot and just hits balls and runs to the net, you will see more volleyball than tennis. So, in summary, have a strong idea what your opponent’s tendencies are and then move in and hurt a penetrating volley.  Good luck!

Last week,  the Hideaway Beach Club presented service awards to their employees for years of service and Doug Browne was honored for 25 seasons at the prestigious Hideaway Beach Club.  President John Barto and the Board of Directors were on hand to give out 19 different awards to employees for their contributions to the club.   Doug’s assistant, Tad Connerton, was given an award for five years of service at Hideaway Beach.

Doug Browne is the Hideaway Beach Tennis Director and the new Collier County USPTA Pro of the Year.  Additionally, Doug has been the International Hall of Fame Director of Tennis this past summer.  Doug has been writing his tennis column for the past fifteen years and welcomes your feedback.


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