Most of us play tennis with the idea that it would be best if the ball does not come back after we hit our shot, but it’s extremely important to think that the ball is always going to come back.
Try reinforcing this idea by actually hitting your shot so that the opponent is able to hit it back. That doesn't mean hit it soft, medium depth, and right into their comfort zone; instead, hit the ball medium speed and towards the middle of the court. Anywhere halfway between the sideline and the middle service line will be fine. It is not a bad idea to hit it slightly in the direction of their weaker shot. Try to start the point with a few balls like this and then make your target a little more away from the middle.
Another option is to use the rally ball on the first few shots and then add speed to the same area of the court. Too often we decide that our shot has to immediately go away from our opponent, which tends to result in a lot of early unforced errors. Show your opponent that you can hit three or four rally balls, and then put pressure on them as the point gets longer.
Always expect the ball to come back, and you’ll begin to accept that the rally is part of the development of the point in the game of a successful player.
Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Pro, is the Director of Annacone Tennis (http://www.annaconetennis.com) and MyHamptonsPro based in Sag Harbor, NY (http://www. myhamptonspro.com) and Tennis Professional at Ventana Canyon Golf and Racquet Club in Tucson, AZ. For details on lessons, clinics, or coaching, contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 865-300-7323