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Pick on Someone Bigger Than You

If you find that looking your opponent in the eye is especially difficult in the midday sun, here are some tips that might give you new reasons to keep that chin up.

In some sports like basketball and volleyball, the advantages of increasing height substantially outweigh the disadvantages. In tennis, as a player's height increases above six feet or so, s/he continues to gain some advantage on certain strokes, especially serve, but significant vulnerabilities also begin to appear. We'll take a look at a few tactics that might introduce your tall opponents to a new sensation - wishing they were shorter.

Even though a player's height is a concrete, measurable characteristic, the way each player handles her height varies considerably from one individual to the next. We can make useful generalizations, but we'll always find exceptions.

Speed is a good example. In general, the tallest tennis players tend to be slow. Lindsay Davenport, 6'3", used to be a perfect case in point, but with a lot of hard work, she is now only slightly slow. Most of the other very tall players, current and past, such as Richard Krajicek, 6'5", and Helena Sukova, 6'2", range from very slow to moderately slow, but then Venus Williams, 6'1", is phenomenally fast. Make your tall opponents chase balls left, right, forward, and even back (if you can lob over them), and you should usually have good success - unless you're playing Venus.

One great way to make an opponent run is to hit crosscourt toward the "side pockets" on the court, the outer corners of the service boxes. This shot is not easy to execute: the hitting window over the net is fairly small even with good topspin. It's best to try this shot when you're hitting from a fairly wide position. If you make the shot, you'll either win the point outright or pull your opponent way beyond his sideline. You'll usually have an open court for your next shot, unless your opponent gets to your side-pocket shot in time to answer with one of his own.

Next page: . . . and you thought you'd never use physics or geometry

Additional Resources:

Super Shots: Slice Backhand

Singles Maze

How to Beat Four Major Player Types

Get Shorty

How to Beat a Two-Hander

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