The following article is by guest contributor, Steve Torres. Surviving a lob over your partner’s head requires both quick thinking and a solid plan of action to emerge back in control.
In this lesson you will learn not only how to survive a lob that requires your partners’ attention to retrieve, you will learn how to turn the situation around to retain control of the point.
You have two basic options when your partner covers a lob that makes it over your head.
- Switch and run like hell for the baseline.
- Switch and try to retain your net position.
If you’re in the habit of heading for the baseline and giving away the net, don’t wonder why you are frequently victimized by lobs! Lobs are the opponents’ way of getting rid of your net presence. My suggestion is that you don’t make it easy for them.
When the net player gets lobbed, the partner covering the lob has two main options for response
- 1. Lob back.
- 2. Keep it low.
Lobbing will suggest to their net player that it’s time to vacate the net position. Keeping the ball low will enable the net player to stay in the net zone. Staying in the net zone is preferable.
The key to executing this response rests in your ability to move behind your partner and return the lob with a low down the line reply. Keeping the ball low reduces the opponents’ power. Hitting down the line usually finds the lobber’s feet and requires less switch movement from your net player.
Once lobbed, there’s no need to feel foolish. Lobs happen. However, if this becomes a habit, wake up and do something about it. The opponent only has three ways to avoid you when you’re in the net position. They could hit to your left, to your right, or over your head.
Make sure you cover one of them. If it wasn’t the lob you covered, perhaps you were poaching because you anticipated a cross-court return. In any case, participate in the point and your partner won’t mind covering a few lobs for you.
Once your partner has successfully returned low and down the line, you go to work as a net player. Find the action. Move out toward the side of the court where the ball is and help cover the middle. If successful, you will end the point with a volley and thwart your opponent’s attempts to get you off the net.
In conclusion, the ability to return a lob with a low down the line reply is not a shot that comes with the racket, balls and sweatband package. This shot requires practice and, even with practice, it’s difficult. However, if you want a plan to turn this situation around, you and your partner can work this play into your book of tricks.