Ten Ways to Slay a Dragon (or an Opponent with an Overwhelming Net Game)

  1. Beat the dragon to the net. Seize the initiative and come to the net whenever you can behind your serve, serve return and well-placed approach shots.
  2. Use the lob effectively and often (even if the dragon can fly or soar pretty high). If possible, lob to the backhand wing of the dragon to force the dragon to hit high backhand volleys or better yet, to overextend his/her coverage and force the dragon to hit off-balanced (inside/out) overheads.
  3. Mix up the location and direction of your passing shots to disrupt the rhythm of the dragon. Utilize cross court angles, down-the-line drives and shots hit at the body.
  4. Mix up the spin of your passing shots to disrupt timing of the dragon. Hit topspin (preferably topspin that dips at the feet of the dragon). Chip or slice your passing shots forcing the dragon to reach and hit volleys from an off-balanced position. Occasionally tee off and hit your passing shots with pace right at the dragon and to his/her left and right wings.
  5. Mix up the pace of your passing shots. Vary the pace of your shots to disrupt timing, rhythm and flow.
  6. Pin the dragon to the baseline with an arsenal of deep and heavy groundstrokes.
  7. Play the numbers game and make the dragon hit shots. Don’t fall into the trap of always trying to hit the perfect lob or passing shot.
  8. Focus on holding your serve. Control the point and dictate play on your service games with a game plan that includes serves hit with varying spin, pace, location and spin.
  9. Don’t succumb to the fearsome display of the dragon and play too defensively. Attack when you have an opportunity to attack.
  10. Don’t play the dragon in his den (a “fast, hard court”).

Steve Gallagher

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