It has become more and more difficult to serve and volley successfully at all levels in a tennis match. This can still be an effective strategy but the server has to be very good at placing the serve and mixing it up.
As an alternative, a great way to get into the net in the modern tennis game is to develop a good, wide serve to both sides of the court. This will push your opponent of the court and leave a big area for your next shot.
Novak Djokovic likes to use this when serving to the deuce court. He gets the opponent off balance away from the court and hits an inside out or down the line forehand to the middle of the ad side of the court. The opponent is on the run as Djokovic moves towards the net in the direction of the ball he just hit. If the player makes the attempted passing shot it tends to go right towards the net player and he just directs it back to the deuce side of the court. I would recommend keeping the first shot after the return deep to the ad court and then hitting the volley shorter (in the service box) to the deuce court.
This same strategy can be used when serving to the ad court (kick serve works well but any serve can be used) and hitting the forehand inside in or a backhand down the line before moving forward. Keep in mind that the key to the effectiveness of this play is the placement of the serve. If you can hit it so that the second bounce of the serve would be outside the doubles sideline, the court will be wide open and the next shot will not have to be hit close to the sideline.
Remind yourself that you are hitting the first shot after the return as an approach shot, not a winner, and expect the ball to come back.
Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Pro, is the Director of Annacone Tennis, www.annaconetennis.com and MyHamptonsPro, www.myhamptonspro.com in East Hampton, NY . Steve is also a tennis professional at Ventana Golf and Country Club in Tucson, AZ. In addition, Steve and Miguel Coelho have introduced the JET (Junior Elite Tennis) program at the Tucson Jewish Community Center for high level players ages 8-18. Please contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org