There are three different errors that you can make on the tennis court. You can hit your shot too deep, too wide, or you can hit the ball in the net.
Hitting the ball in the net is the only error that absolutely gives you no chance of winning the point. The other two errors could always be hit out of the air (if they are within reach). In addition, it only makes sense to hit the ball in the net if you are trying to intentionally hit the ball low or short. This should not be your main strategy unless the player is coming in to the net a lot or is standing way behind the baseline. Even if this is the case, you can always use direction and hit the ball moderately low or short using an angled shot that goes towards the service line.
If your opponent stays back and is standing behind the baseline most of the time, use some deep shots early in the point to push them back even further. This will allow you to make it difficult for them even on your moderately low and short ball as mentioned earlier. Use both topspin and slice to give yourself more margin for error and take the net out of the equation.
Reducing the number of balls hit in the net will improve your consistency and your confidence and increase your chances of coming out on top in the match.
Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Pro, is the Director of Annacone Tennis, www.annaconetennis.com and MyHamptonsPro, www.myhamptonspro.com throughout the Hamptons, NY. In addition, Steve and Miguel Coelho have introduced the JET (Junior Elite Tennis) program at the Tucson Jewish Community Center (Tucson, AZ) for high level players ages 8-18. Please contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org