A lot has been said about tennis becoming a baseline game nowadays, with very few players venturing to the net to finish a point. However, it is still a definite advantage to hit the ball from a position closer to the net versus a long distance behind the baseline.
Even though you see Daniil Medvedev and Rafael Nadal (especially on the return of serve) standing way back initially, they are very good at recognizing when the opponent is in trouble and then improving their position. In addition, the best players in the world win more points when they are standing on or inside the baseline, as opposed to behind the baseline. Most modern day players are only consistently successful from behind the baseline when their opponent is also behind the baseline. The ability to hit the ball early and take time away from your opponent is still a great way to draw more errors and to keep them from taking the offensive during a point.
Challenge yourself to take a few steps forward if you feel like you just hit a good shot. Try hitting the ball just before, or right at, the peak of the bounce to encourage a more offensive court position. This will also help you make a smoother transition from the baseline to the net and improve your chances for success once you are there.
It may make sense to back up sometimes when you are in trouble, but try to recover that position if you are able to turn the point around. Pay attention to your court position and use your feet to help win the match.
Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Pro, is the Director of Annacone Tennis, www.annaconetennis.com and MyHamptonsPro, www.myhamptonspro.com in East Hampton, NY . Steve is also a tennis professional at Ventana Golf and Country Club in Tucson, AZ. In addition, Steve and Miguel Coelho have introduced the JET (Junior Elite Tennis) program at the Tucson Jewish Community Center for high level players ages 8-18. Please contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org