The Erne Shot
I found this video by Jeff Shank from The Villages in Florida in which he illustrates The Erne Shot. One can step up very close to the net, as long as one is outside the kitchen, to return a ball that has not bounced.
He makes it look so easy as he casually steps to the side of the kitchen to return the ball. More often, you’ll see the player who is going to hit the shot fly through the kitchen, ending up outside the kitchen to the side of the playing area to hit the ball.
It is absolutely dumbfounding to the opposing player who has never seen this done. The person hitting the Erne shot seems like they are right in your face, and everything happens so quickly, you don’t even know what to think.
If you are the one hitting the Erne shot, keep in mind:
a. It is totally fine to walk or run through the kitchen, as long as you are not in the kitchen when you hit the ball, and don’t step into the kitchen after the hit.
b. You cannot cross the plane of the net with your paddle.
c. You cannot touch the net or net post with your paddle, or any part of your body or clothing.
d. Be careful of injury. Your foot could catch on the net post. You could fall, not being used to the unusual foot work. Or, you could suffer what happened to me one time. As I finished the shot, my momentum carried me past the net post. This particular post had a bolt sticking out of the side where one can attach a crank to tension the net. My leg brushed past that, and I got a four-inch long cut on my thigh. It was just a scratch, but it could have been much worse.
There are really only two conditions in which the Erne shot will work. One is when an opposing player has sent a very extreme diagonal to you. This is a hard one to manage. The other is when the player directly opposite you gives you a shot that is intended to pass along your sideline or make you struggle with a backhand response. That’s the one to which an Erne response works best.
You can set that up yourself by starting a dinking rally with your opponent that goes straight back and forth across the net, near the sideline. Assuming you are right handed, you’ll play this along your left edge of the net.
You’ll probably want to avoid the temptation to respond to any possibility with an Erne. I’ve done this like a thousand times: I’m thinking of the glory I’m about to attain by hitting an Erne, so I start moving through the kitchen in anticipation too soon. My opponent sees this, and simply puts the ball where I was, because I’ve left my entire half of the court wide open. So, just take your time, waiting until an obvious opportunity comes along, using ordinary dinking moves until then.
Remember to aim either for your opponent’s feet, or place the ball low and deep, like an around-the-post shot. You do want to avoid hitting your opponent in the face!