Great tennis champions such as Andre Agassi, Roger Federer and Pete Sampras used a highly specific and targeted set of tactics of tennis that resulted in wins on a consistent basis.
More than just tactics of tennis, every player must learn how to win against those with different styles of play.
In order to succeed as a tennis player, you must learn to play against all types of players with different styles of playing. Ideally, your game plan for every match should allow you to use your strengths as much as possible and expose your opponent’s weaknesses to the full extent.
At the same time, you must protect your own weaknesses while minimizing the damage from your opponent’s strengths.
Tactics of Tennis: Working on High Percentage Tennis Strategy
There are two key words that need to be defined: strategy and tactics. Strategy refers to your general approach to playing a match. The tactics of tennis are the specific shots and your court positioning that will help you execute your strategy successfully. This varies according to the strategy being used.
Four basic playing styles are identified based on the major strategies of playing tennis. The first playing style is the counterpunching defensive style. A counter puncher is a reactor. He or she responds to whatever his or her opponent does on court instead of really taking the initiative. This does not mean that the counter puncher is an unintelligent player. In fact, some of the smartest players in the world are counter punchers.
Counter puncher: Another Viable Set of Tactics of Tennis
They are usually able to hit the right shot that neutralizes or even beats their opponent’s best shots. Additionally, counter punchers usually have great stamina and are able to simply outlast their opponents. The tactics of tennis used by the counter puncher are usually the following:
- Stay back on or behind the baseline to retrieve all of the opponent’s shots.
- Use high heavy topspin, floating slices or low skidding slices to keep the ball deep and prevent the opponent from attacking.
- Feed off the opponent’s pace to hit hard shots that surprise him or her.
- Hit lobs against aggressive, attacking players.
- Get a very high percentage of first serves in by not going for too much.
- Be very mentally tough, patient and willing to stay out on court for as long as it takes to win the match.
Tactics of Tennis: The Aggressive Baseliner Mentality
The second playing style is that of the aggressive baseliner. This is the most common style you see on the professional tours today. This player has several big shots, usually the first serve and the forehand.
Their main strategy is to overpower or out hit their opponents. These players are willing to take the risk and go for big shots to hit winners, force errors or short sitters that can easily be put away. The tactics of tennis that this type of player commonly uses are:
- Hit big first serves and put away the short return off the bounce.
- Hit deep and set up their big inside out forehands.
- Rally cross court and pull the trigger by going for a winner down the line.
- Aggressively return the second serve, looking to put it away immediately.
- Hit sharp angles to open up the court.
- Hit passing shots or hard body shots against a net rushing opponent.
- Hit drop shots as a surprise tactic.
Tactics of Tennis: The All Court Player
The third type of player is the all-courter. This player is comfortable in all areas of the court. He or she can hit all kinds of shots from anywhere, but these players still have some weaknesses in their game. Sometimes, they can hit everything well but don’t have one shot that can be called as a real weapon.
The tactics of tennis that these players use vary according to their individual abilities. But because they are usually the most versatile players, what they usually like to do is to keep their opponents guessing with what they are going to do form point to point. If they are executing well, they give themselves a very good chance of winning.
- Use variety in the rallies. Mix up the spin, pace, trajectory and direction of ground strokes with the intention of opening up the court for a winner, either from the baseline or the net.
- Defend against aggressive players just like a counter puncher, using consistency, depth and retrieving ability.
- Attack against a passive player by hitting big shots and approaching the net to knock off volleys.
- Bring the opponent to wherever he or she is not comfortable. For those who are not good at the net, drop shots can be used. Net rushing opponents can be kept back by hitting deep, moving forward and taking the net away from them.
Tactics of Tennis: Playing against a Serve and Volley Player
The last type of player is the net rusher or serve-volley player. The strategy they use is to constantly put pressure by coming to the net on almost every point.
At the professional level, this style of play has largely gone by the wayside because the modern equipment and court conditions have made it easier for the baseline player to hit clean passing shots.
But in doubles, this is still the best way to play, though gradually, baseline play is creeping in to take over that as well, especially in the women’s game. The tactics of tennis that a serve-volley player uses are:
- Serve hard and wide to open up the court and volley into the space.
- Aggressively take the second serve early and chip it deep to approach the net and volley.
- Combine deep volleys with angled or drop volleys to make the opponent run forward and diagonally instead of just side to side.
- Hit short and low volleys to make hitting passing shots more difficult.
- Aggressively put away lobs by crushing the overhead.
There are several keys to remember when playing against all types of players.
Tactics of Tennis Against a Counter puncher:
- Mix up hitting hard and deep with short angled slices to force him or her off the baseline.
- Hit drop shots and then lob or pass.
- Be very patient in constructing points. Expect everything to come back and don’t be surprised if the shot you thought was going to be a winner gets returned.
- Attack the serve, especially the second serve.
Tactics of Tennis Against an aggressive baseliner:
- Get a lot of first serves in.
- Try to return the first serve deep.
- Keep the ball deep and mix up the spin, trajectory and pace of your shots to keep him or her from developing a rhythm.
- Hit short, low angled slices to force him or her off the baseline and hit awkward shots.
- Hit drop shots if the player is uncomfortable at net.
- Surprise him or her from time to time by coming to the net.
- Feed off the pace and create big shots of your own.
- Be willing to defend by hitting high, heavy topspin or deep slices to stay in the point.
- Analyze what kind of shots make him or her uncomfortable and prone to error and keep hitting those shots to draw even more errors.
Tactics of Tennis Against an All Court Player
Against an all court player, the tactics of tennis will greatly vary according to his specific strengths and weaknesses stroke-wise. Since this type of player is comfortable in all areas of the court, his or her weaknesses tend to be technical. For example, if this player is generally good on the baseline but has trouble hitting backhand passing shots, then he should be attacked on this side. Here are other guidelines:
- Focus only on the ball and try not to be confused or surprised by what your opponent is doing from point to point.
- Hit deep consistently and use variety in spin, trajectory and pace.
- Use your own strengths to create openings on the court.
- Be alert and aware as to what kinds of shots cause him or her more trouble. Make him or her hit more of these shots.
Tactics of Tennis Against a Serve and Volley Player:
- Get a high percentage of first serves in.
- Return low at the feet.
- Hit lobs early to keep him or her from crowding the net and open up the passing lanes.
- Set up your passing shots by hitting low to his or her feet first.
- When he or she is at the baseline, keep the ball as deep as possible and test his or her patience in a long side-to-side baseline rally.
The tactics of tennis you use also depend greatly on your own ability and aptitude with each particular type of shot. This is why it is always advisable to keep learning and using new shots so that you will have a better chance of winning against all types of players.
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