Coaches often communicate to their players to “keep the ball deep” when advising them how to get their opponent on the defensive. It might not seem that keeping your shots deep can be the key to winning a tennis match. However, if you hit your shots consistently deep, your opponent will likely be pinned behind the baseline, resulting in a lot of short replies and an invitation to take control of the point.
One of the best ways to achieve consistent deep play is to pay attention to the shot you have just hit. If it lands shorter than you planned, remind yourself to hit the ball a little higher over the net and try to step forward slightly as you are executing the shot. This will likely increase the penetration of your shot, and help you control the court position. Your opponent will either have to move back more in the court or attempt to hit the ball on the rise.
Both of these options can be beneficial to your goal of winning the point. It is tough to hit the ball solid on the rise and it is even harder to hit a good deep shot from way behind the baseline. A shorter ball that is hit, once your opponent has moved back, is not an easy situation either. If you have pushed them back with the depth on most of your shots, the court becomes even bigger since they now have to move both sideways and forward to get to your shorter ball.
Establishing these deep shots can be as or more effective than hitting the ball hard, and can become a major weapon when you are trying to problem solve in a tennis 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