| By Geoffrey Jagdfeld
To become a better tennis player you need to know which of the four game styles you fall into. This will help you better understand what parts of your game will win you points and which parts you need to work on.
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To become a better tennis player you need to know which of the four game styles you fall into. This will help you better understand what parts of your game will win you points and which parts you need to work on. Once you know what your trying to do on the court you can then analyze your opponent’s game style. You can then determine what you will need to do to compete against their style.

There are four characteristic styles of game: Baseline Player, Aggressive Baseliner, All-Court Player, and Serve and Volleyer.


Baseline Player Characteristics

►Good physical condition

►Strong mentality

►Good movement

►Disciplined

►Patient and consistent

►Reacts, does not dictate

►Good ground-strokes

►Strong returns

►Good passing shots and lobs

►Attacks the weakest side

►Plays from behind the baseline

►Generally, uses a Western or strong Semi-Western Grip

 

Preferred Surface

►Clay

►Slow Hard

 


Aggressive Baseliner

►Has a weapon—usually the forehand

►Opens the court

►Dictates the point

►Aggressive ground strokes

►Controls the center of the court

►One the rise

►Plays on or inside baseline

►Goes to the net behind a good shot

►Attacks movement

►Has good passing shots, angles and lobs

►Generally, uses a semi-Western Grip

 

Preferred Surfaces

►Clay

►Hard

 


All-Court Player

►Has a good serve and volley

►Is solid at the baseline

►Attack short balls

►Comfortable on any surface

►Moves well in all directions

►Generally, uses an Eastern Grip or a weak Semi-Western Grip

 

Preferred Surfaces

►Hard

►Grass

►Indoors

 


Serve and Volleyer

►Consistent first serves

►High stature

►Solid first volley

►Returns and goes to the net

►Takes advantage of short returns in order to go to the net

►Presses constantly

►Moves forward and back well

►Attacks opponents second serve

►Is not very comfortable at the baseline

►Generally, uses a Continental or Eastern Grip

►Prefers the chip and charge

 

Preferred Surfaces

►Indoors

►Fast/Hard

►Grass


 

Now we’ll list some quick tips to use against competing games styles once you are adept at identifying both yours and your opponent’s style.

Baseline Player

1) Against the Baseline Player

►Your opponent doesn’t have big weapons

►Keeps the ball in play … high percentage of shots

►Be prepared to spend all day on the court

►Be prepared for a mental battle

►Be more patient and tenacious than your opponent

►Make less errors

►Hit drop-shots and angles

►Move your opponent back and forth across court, taking them out of their comfort zone

 

2) Against the Aggressive Baseline Player

►Vary your shots, topspin and slice

►Avoid hitting the ball strongly

►Let your opponent develop their own force in their shot

►Maintain the ball in play, forcing your opponent to lose control

►Exercise patience and tenacity

►The key is to be patient without giving your opponent any rhythm or speed

 

3) Against the All-Court Player

►Keep the ball deep

►Vary the speed of the ball

►Move the opponent controlling the center of the court

►Get your first serves in

►Vary the passing shots with low balls and lobs

 

4) Against Serve and Volleyer

►Good return, low and to the weaker side

►Use lobs early in the match to keep your opponent from getting too close to the net

►If your opponent is serving well, change your position on your return

►If you are returning well, force your opponent to remain at the baseline

►When your opponent has gone to the net, force them to volley

►Put the return in play

 


Aggressive Baseline Player

1) Against the Baseline Player

►Be patient: The baseline player does not have any strong weapons

►Take your time: Don’t throw the match early trying to win every point

►Use drop-shots and the angles

►Control the center of the court

 

2) Against the Aggressive Baseline Player

►Take the initiative in each point

►Neutralize the return of the first serve

►Attack movement

►Be prepared to play defensively if your opponent takes the initiative

►If your opponent hits the ball harder than you, move two steps back

►Use your weapons and hide your weakness

►Open the court by using all angles

 

3) Against the All-Court Player

►Dictate and control the point

►Keep your opponent at the baseline: Hit deep on the court

►Hit your first serve in

►Have a deep second serve

►Neutralize serves with good returns

►Be aggressive with second serve returns

►Attack movement

 

4) Against the Serve and Volleyer

►Return low and consistently

►Vary court positions on returns

►Attack the second serve

►Put the first serve in

►Maintain the deep ball

►Play on top or inside the baseline

►Use angles to prepare the way for an effective passing shot

 


All-Court Player

1) Against the Baseline Player

►Exercise patience

►Move your opponent around the court, until you get a short ball and can attack

►Attack the weaker side

►Approach down the middle to take away your opponent’s angle shots

►When you serve and volley, vary the placement of both the first serve and the first volley

►Attack your opponent’s second serve by going to the net.  (chip and charge)

►Go to the net as soon as possible

►Play close or inside the baseline, do not go back

 

2) Against Aggressive Baseline Player

►Vary your game: Keep your opponent guessing

►Take the initiative, go to the net

►Control the point with power

►Put the first serve in and go to the net

►Attack your opponent’s second serve and go to the net

►Keep your opponent at the baseline, attacking movement

►Change the rhythm

 

3) Against the All-Court Player

►Dictate the point: Take the initiative

►Attack short balls going to the net

►Serve and volley

►Keep opponent at the baseline

►Use different spins

►Play the least possible defense

 

4) Against the Serve and Volleyer

►You must go to the net first

►Hit the ball early in the return

►If your opponent goes to the net, make them volley

►Keep your opponent at the baseline

►Defense is a must when your opponent goes to the net

►Assure the return

►Put the first ball in

 


Serve and Volleyer

1) Against the Baseline Player

►Vary placement of the first serve

►Vary placement of the first volley

►Keep your opponent off balance

►Attack the second serve, going to the net

►Take advantage of all short balls going to the net

►Go to the net with deep approach shots

►Hit your first volley to the baseline, the second cross court angle

►Never fall into the trap of staying at the baseline.

 

2) Against the Aggressive Baseline Player

►Vary placement and spin of the serve

►Get to the net early in the rally

►Dictate the point

►Serve and volley: Put the first serve in.

►Attack your opponent’s second serve

►Keep the ball deep

►Place the approach deep

 

3) Against the All-Court Player

►Serve and volley with all first serves

►Vary your second serve: Serve and volley, stay behind your serve

►Attack your opponent’s second service

►Try to win the battle at the net, keep the ball at the baseline

►Dictate the point and the game

 

4) Against the Serve and Volleyer

►Short, intense points

►The key is in the serve and return

►The first shot will determine who controls the point

►The first serve is of great importance

►Win the battle at the net

►Attack your opponent’s second serve with power

►Use the defensive lob

 

 

Geoffrey Jagdfeld's picture Geoffrey Jagdfeld

Geoffrey Jagdfeld is USPTA Eastern President and currently Tennis Director of Solaris Sports Clubs. He is a USPTA Elite Professional and USTA High-Performance Coach who serves as USTA Junior Team Tennis League Coordinator for Westchester. He is the Head Coach of the Men’s and Women’s Tennis Teams at St. John Fisher College, and played collegiate tennis at Michigan State University.