Defending Against Slammers
There comes a day when you’ve become accustomed to a higher level of play in which the typical rally starts with two formal deep shots – a deep serve and deep return of serve. The third shot is generally dropped into the kitchen, and then a gentle dink rally ensues until someone makes a mistake.
Once you get to this level of play, you may be frustrated by the former tennis players just below your level, who still think the best way to play is with long, hard forehand topspin shots, typically from the back court, and aimed at your back court.
This can be frustrating until you learn to defend against these slamming shots. It defeats what you’ve recently learned is a ‘higher level’ of play. In fact, even though you are on your lofty high level, these slammer players are making a mockery out of your style, and quite possibly winning the matches, also.
Here’s what you do: You and your partner should maintain a wall just behind the kitchen line. You know you’ll be getting slams. Watch the slammer’s eyes if you can, and the slammer’s stance, and you’ll soon start to recognize where the slam is being aimed. Just hold your paddle in the right place, and the ball will deflect back to your opponent’s court, with nearly the velocity it was aimed at you. Quite possibly, the slammers won’t be able to deal with their own medicine.
Now, you may find that trying to simply deflect slams doesn’t work as well as you’d like. Quite often they are hit at you with such force, that when mirrored off your paddle, they go out of bounds behind your opponents’ baseline.
So, don’t swing your paddle. Just hold it loosely, and let their hard slams deflect off it and lose power so it drops meekly into their kitchen. You might even back up the paddle a bit as their ball hits, helping to take off some of the bounce.
A big help in this strategy is to tilt your paddle forward a bit, or try to aim the deflection down. It won’t generally hit on your side of the net, because their power prevents that. Instead, as you deflect it downward, it will really and truly fall into their kitchen.
Yet another strategy is to hold the paddle very loosely, but tilted slightly upward, imparting a backspin on the balls that are slammed at you. These will tend to bounce a bit higher, being certain to clear the net, but land so close to the net in the kitchen that the slammers won’t be able to deal with them.
Now true slammers will then try to slam that weak deflection back at you, only then discovering that they are too close to the net, and your ball will bounce too weakly to be hit with a forehand topspin. These slammer people will consistently hit it into the net and lose the point. It becomes fun to watch.
You may never have to say a word. The slammers will start to copy your style, if that’s what is winning every match.