Tips to Beat Juniors (might work on some Pros too)

General discussions about the version 2006 of Tennis Elbow

Tips to Beat Juniors (might work on some Pros too)

Postby Forehand » 18 Oct 2006, 05:31

I pretty much breezed through the Beginner and Club levels. Junior level was the first point where the simple approaches used in Beginner/Club no longer do the trick. I lost most of my Junior matches at first. So I had to try new stuff, and see what works. After a slow start, I developed three new plays that, when added to the basic plays developed in Club level, allow me to own all the Juniors, from the lowest to the highest. These new plays are:

1.The Accelerated Slice Serve.
2.The Aggressive Lob Return (vs Volleys and Varied).
3.The "Down the Line" Return.


Slice Serve

Holding serve is important. One key to holding serve is to either ace your opponent, or put them off balance so you can use your normal tricks to force the winning shot. Learn and practice the accelerated Slice Serve. The accelerated Slice Serve is accomplished by executing an accelerated serve (b1+b2) and pushing up and right or left. You have to practice on the timing to avoid the net or avoid faulting wide or long, but when you hit it right, this is the best way to ace your opponent. Against Junior players of all caliber, you can get both outside as well as middle aces. Even when you don't get an ace, the opposing player often has to reach for the return, resulting in a slow and centered return which keeps the initiative in your court.

If you can hold serve, all you need is one break, and you win! But how do you break a Junior Server? Well, most folks who do well at Club level can use many of the tricks from that level against Punchers and Defenders. But Volley or Varied players can give you fits. The tried and true tactics from Club level just don't work here.

The Aggressive Lob Return (vs Volleyers and Varied)

The low end Junior Volleyers (to include Varied players on first serve) have a difficult time smashing an aggressive lob service return. For some it just drops over head. For others, they hit it, but can't get it over the net. Hence, master the service return agressive lob, and you can pretty much break all the low end Junior volleyers ALL THE TIME!

As the skill level increases, the Junior volleyers begin to return those lobs. However, even the best Juniors occassionally have difficulty with aggressive lobs aimed across their serve. Basically, I'm talking an aggressive lob aimed back toward the direction of the serve. This requires a volleyer to stop charging the net and back up for the slam. The good Junior players can return them, but quite often the return is soft and to the center of the court, or within easy reach. This sets up an accelerated crossing shot that can often beat the player as he charges the net after returning the lob.

The lob strategy isn't a sure win. Sometimes the volleyer unloads on the smash and gets the point. In fact, your opponent can put a few of those smashes togther, so you may lose a set here or there. But don't despair. You will eventually break them. I've found that consistent use of the aggressive crossing lob on service return will set up the conditions to break my opponent's serve about half the time. That is more than enough for the win, even providing for your own errors.

Returning a Serve "down the line"

If your opponent faults on the first serve, you have a great opportunity to set up a winning return. This works on anyone who stays back, but is especially brutal to varied players who stay back on second serve as they aren't particularly good baseline players. I haven't fully tested it on pure vollyers, as they will charge the net on the second serve, so I tend to use the aggressive lob on those players, as described previously. The second serve is often aimed to the inside of the court. I seldom see a Junior player hit an outside second serve. Therefore, before the second serve, I take a few steps toward center. This sets me up for a "down the line" shot that will travel away from server. The trick is to begin applying the accelerated return shot down the line opposite the server just as the server hits the ball. There is a desire to wait and see the incoming trajectory of the ball before setting up the shot; that's too late! You apply it just as the server strikes the ball. That little extra fraction of a second you hold the acceleration is enough to push the ball that much more to the outside away from the server. Many times your opponent simply can't close the distance, and you will get an instant return winner. If your opponent does get to the ball, many times their return will be soft and to the middle of the court, and their momentum will carry them away from their shot. In this case, an accelerated shot into the opposite corner will win every time.

Recap

There you have it. Three relatitvely simply plays that will make you master of the Juniors. I've yet to try these on Pros, so I don't know how well you'll fair there. But learn these tricks, and all Juniors are at your mercy.
Forehand
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