I ask this questions of our adult and junior players …… “What is the shortest most attackable you consistently receive from the opponent?”
When stumped I ask, “Why do players try to keep the ball deep??”
My final cue, “If you hit a ground stroke in the service box would the coach commend or criticize you?”
The second serve is the most predictable, shortest, most attackable ball you get time and again from the opponent.
Consider the third ball attack in ping pong or in men’s tennis – in ping pong the server spins the ball to arrive very low and short to neutralize the receiver, and then the server tries to attack or even end the point with their third shot, in most cases their big forehand.
Same in tennis – when Rafa or Roger open the court with a very wide serve (generally to the backhand) in either the deuce or ad court) they will attack on the third shot of the rally, as often as not stroking a winner into the open court.
But there is another side to this – in some instances the receivers groundies are stronger and more offensive than the servers delivery – and this goes for junior tennis, club tennis, and now in many instances the women’s professional game.
Christopher Clary recently posted in the New York Times – “As the Return of Serve Gains Importance the Third Shot is the Charm“. As the WTA Finals will probably continue to make clear this week, the return of serve is ever more a trump card in women’s tennis – a big, increasingly irresistible opportunity for the likes of Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova or Petra Kvitova to crush a ball and snuff out hopes for an extended rally.
“The women have always returned well, but now they return incredibly well,” said Todd Woodbridge, the former star who once headed Tennis Australia’s player-development program.”
Third shot attack of you have a very very good serve. Third shot defend is the receiver is very very good.
The questions for you dear reader are the following:
- Are you comfortable taking the ball on the rise from on or inside the baseline?
- Do you regularly pressure the server on their second serve?
- Do you take advantage of the short balls or hammer away from behind the baseline?
- Do opponent’s ever tell you they have “never played or served worse”?