Written by Scott Perlstein
On ESPN they have talked about how some players are or are not afraid of the net. Although there are almost no serve and volley players left you must at any level want to play the net.
Why has the serve and volley game gone away?
In part because the need to develop this style has been greatly diminished. Pat McEnroe has pointed out that there used to be 3 slams played on grass thus you needed to develop the serve and volley game. Now only 1 tournament is played on grass and the grass court season is basically 3 weeks old. Some pros don’t even play that part of the tour.
The year Federer beat Sampras at Wimbledon he played serve and volley all match.
Over the last few years the grass has been slowed down at Wimbledon and Federer in winning five straight title rarely serves and volleys.
Federer has said that the reason players don’t come in as much is that the combination of racquet power string grab and better shot making has made the serve and volley game very tough to do on a full time basis. Look at Taylor Dent who came in all the time on all surfaces and you see that this is a tough full time strategy.
Further on hard courts there has been an effort to slow the surface down. Indian Wells and Miami are very slow hard courts. The 2008 Aussie Open had a medium surface. This makes it harder for the volleyer to get that quick strike.
Stefan Edberg – Master of Volley and Serve
Can you serve and volley in this age of power tennis?
Granted they were exos and Federer’s effort was suspect; but Sampras held serve for 5 straight sets serving and volleying against Federer. Pete got plenty of volley chances and was very successful.
On a fast court, as Sampras proved, with a great serve and great volley this plan of attack can still work.
Mixing is the best way to go. There are days Federer does this more. So it depends on the opponent and your confidence level as a serve and volley person.
Coming to the net behind the approach shot
This is what Federer does better than any player. If you hit short he will punish you by stepping into the court and cranking the approach shot and following it in. Even some pros with less confident volleys stay back. Part of what made Tsonga’s run at the Aussie Open was his ability to successfully step up and continue to the net mixing power with touch volleys.
The key to getting the opportunity to volley is to come in only when you are invited. The pros do this wrong some times. If you can get in front of the baseline and go in instantly on your hit you will get very good volley position inside the service square. If you come in from behind the baseline or hit your shot and park and admire you will not make the service box. If you are volleying from past the service line you are not helping yourself. You are very vulnerable to the angle or low pass.
So coming to the net can still be an effective game plan. However you better be coming in behind some weapons and at the right time.
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