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WHAT TO DO WHEN OPPONENT HITS YOU A SHORT ANGLE SHOT
In a Doubles Setting, by TennisTom 2010
A short, angle shot just clears the net and forces the baseline opponent to run forward towards their alley in order to retrieve the shot. It is most effective when hit like a drop shot, softly with backspin (slice).
On-court scenario: You are playing back at your baseline and your crafty opponent hits a soft, short angled shot towards your sideline.
Although there are a number of player variables involved, most baseline players can at least get to the offending angle shot. Obviously the quality of the shot will affect your options for returning the ball. Unfortunately for you, if the angle shot is soft and low, you will be forced to hit upward when you get to the shot because the ball will have dipped downward below the net cord and will not have bounced very high.
OPTIONS For Returning the Short Angle Shot
If the opponent’s ball bounces up but below the level of the net cord, returning the angled shot with much pace is usually not a good idea, so hitting your groundstroke hard is generally not a reasonable option, the exception being if you hit directly at their net person.
If you hit your return straight back to the opponent near the baseline, then you have fallen into the intended trap because the smart opponent will then hit your return between you and your partner, which often results in your team either losing the point or hitting a weak return. This is an example of your opponent playing to set up to win the point.
If you hit your return upward anywhere near the opposing net player, this will usually present a good opportunity for their net player to volley your return for a placement or a winner. This is usually not a good option unless their net person has a weak volley. In the rare case where you decide to hit the ball right at their net player, this is still a risky shot because you are hitting upward.
BEST SHOT RESPONSES TO A SOFT, SHORT ANGLE SHOT
SITUATION 1: Opponent is at the Baseline. If the opponent has lingered in the backcourt then your best option is to hit a soft angled shot in return. This will make your opponent run forward quickly in order to get to your shot. (This amounts to giving the opponent ”some of his own medicine,” which admittedly is sort of fun.)
SITUATION 2: Opponent is at the Net. If you opponent has closed to the net, or if the opponent net player threatens to poach toward the center of the court, then your best option is a medium-high lob, over the opponent’s backhand side if possible. If your lob is a good one then you have changed a defensive posture into an offensive one.
If the opponent’s short angle shot is unintendedly deep or bounces high, then the tactical advantage of the shot has been lost and this puts you in a position to play to win the point at whatever level your game is. Irregardless, your least effective shot is to hit your return straight back to their waiting baseline player.
[15-What to Do When Opponent Hits You a Short Angle Shot] [Rev 12-12-10]