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December 1, 1998
Approach shots

Welcome to the tennis lesson hotline, sponsored by Tom's Tennis Tapes, "educating players one mind at a time."  I'm Tom Veneziano.  This lesson lasts approximately 2 minutes and changes on the 1st of every month.

In doubles there are three ways you can take the net.  Number one, you can serve and run to the net.  This is called serve and volley and is definitely the most difficult of the three.  Number two, you can return serve and run to the net.  This is the one I try to teach my students to do the most.  And third, you can serve or return serve, rally for a while, wait for a short ball then hit what's called an approach shot and come up to the net. 

Now, let's show you what each method has in common. The serve and volley is the most difficult, but one of the keys is to hit the first volley without going for a winner. After you have served and you're running up to the net, the first volley you hit should be used as a vehicle to get you to the net, not as an opportunity to win the point outright.  The second way to take the net, return serve and run in, should eventually be used on all slow second serves.  Why not, it's a perfect ball to come in on.  Again, do not try to hit a winner, instead go for a medium pace, deep approach shot keeping your opponent back as you advance forward.  The third way, serve or return serve, rally, wait for a short ball then come in, should also be with the same mind-set.  Hit the short ball deep and come into the net.  Again, you're not trying to hit a winner.  

Here's the point.  Notice the similarities with all three. You are not going for winners, but setting yourself up for the win.  Most people are in a hit winners mind-set all the time and take most of these shots and hit the back fence.  Take for instance the slow second serve.  I know if you're the person returning serve you think, this is it, I'm going to wallop this slow ball home for a winner.  And you do, about four miles down the road where you live.  Mission accomplished!  You knocked it home! 

The next time you're playing, select one of these shots, let's say the return of second serve.  Hit it without going for a winner and advance to the net.  Stay ready for a return and you'll be surprised how many times you'll have an opportunity to then win the point!  This is a simple strategy, but you'll be surprised how this strategy eludes most people. 

Copyright © 2000 Tom Veneziano.  All rights  reserved.

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