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Sat, Jan. 18

My Point: How to choose offensive, defensive tennis strategies

Tennis comes down to two types of strategy, offense and defense. Which strategy is best for you depends on what weapons you have in your game, your personality type, your physical and mental condition, and one more thing ...the opponent you’re playing.

If you tend to be a defense player you probably have the following traits.

You will work hard to hit one more ball and are in pretty good shape to run.

You are as consistent as possible, doing whatever you can to jerk your opponent all over the court until they miss.

You have a bulldog tenacity, conservative, patient, and can concentrate better than most to fulfill this type of undertaking. Moon balls, lobs, spins, drop shots - high percentage shots to the maximum degree.

On the other hand an offensive strategic player relies on hitting winners and/or forcing their opponent into a position where their opponent needs to gamble with a difficult shot.

The points normally end quickly.

Nerve, reflexes, power, speed and accuracy are necessary assets for this type of player.

They have a tendency to take the net to put the ball away, or find a way to hit winners from the baseline, which in general is risky business for most.

So which of these strategies is best for you?

It boils down to what tools you own.

Can you put volleys and overheads away at the net? If the answer is yes, you are on the road to being a decent offensive player, but if it’s “no” - you’d better stay on the defensive side of the fence until you can comfortably practice more and answer “yes”.

Most tennis players with experience know the game is all about managing mistakes, it’s not who “wins” the most points, it’s who makes fewer mistakes, at least in matches of close ability levels.

No matter the strategy you use, hit the ball as hard as you can without reaching the point of many unforced errors. That’s a must for any successful strategy to work.

Did you know that dinkers have more trophies than any other type of tennis player? Here’s why:

A great hitter who misses every third ball, plays an opponent who can almost always get 10 balls back, who’s going to win? So now the better hitter has to hit a winner by the second shot, or it’s all over.

Be prepared to hit most of your shots at the top of your controllable power range, but never above it, says the great “Allen Fox.”

When you’re in trouble during a long rally, you can go for broke trying to hit a winner, but a high lob will get you out of trouble most of the time, instead of just going broke.

If you’re a defensive player, you have to be willing to stay out on the court all day if that’s what it takes. You’re willing to deal with a few out-right-winners in exchange for them making enough mistakes to win the last point of the match. Not a bad trade off, although you may have to spend some extra money on tennis shoes each month.

If you have the weapons to consistently hurt your opponent, that type of game and be fun and exciting. Nothing like a big serve and/or return of serve that sets up great cannon fodder in an easy approach shot, volley or overhead.

Both of these types of strategy make up the essence of what great tennis battles are made of.

Offence against offence, defense against defense, or offense against defense, it’s like making chess moves until you have a “Checkmate!”

Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 50 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or

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