In past articles, we’ve covered the whens and whys to lob, but what about after you lob? What do you do then?
Because the lob takes so long to get to the opponent’s racket, it allows you some time to figure out what your opponent will do before they do it, giving you a slight advantage in the point. But it’s what you do with that time that makes all the difference.
But before I get into what you should do, I’ve got to point out one thing you should NOT do, and that is, watch your lob. So many recreational players have the habit of hitting their lob and then just standing there in the same spot, watching from when it goes up until it lands, looking to see if it’s in or out before making any move.
Peeps… Whether or not the ball is in or out is not your call to make…it’s your opponent’s, so standing around watching your shot is only going to end up with you scrambling defensively when your opponent returns it. Instead, watch your opponents, as their reactions will tell you everything you need to know about your lob. And if you’re playing doubles, it’s important to watch both opponents, because if you hit a short lob, the one closer to the net might be able to get to it first, giving you much less time to react.
After you hit your lob, observe your opponents closely and act accordingly:
- Is your opponent running full speed from one corner of the baseline to the other, or perhaps doing a one-eighty to hustle back to the baseline? Then you’ve hit a good deep lob and you and your partner should capitalize on it by moving closer to the net (but not too close) in the direction that they are moving. Right behind the service line is the perfect place to be because more than likely their return will be short, giving you the opportunity to take it as an overhead or to move in and volley for a winner. And should they get lucky and return your deep lob with one of their own, you won’t have far to move back to get it.
- Does your opponent have enough time to get into ready position to let the ball bounce and return it as a groundstroke? If you see that your opponent is planted and waiting for the ball, and their racket head isn’t pointed downward in preparation for a lob, then they may be preparing to take the ball on the rise for a groundie. In this case, just stay where you are and be ready for a passing attempt either down your line or up the middle. Even if the returner is near the baseline, he/she can still fire off a bullet which you might not be able to react to if you’re too close. And if you try to back up, you might get caught in no man’s land, with their return at your feet.
- But what if your opponent only takes a step or two back and raises their racket over their head? Then you’ve hit a bad lob; it’s short, and the opponent is preparing for an overhead or at the very least, a high volley. When you see this, both you and your partner need to immediately start backpedaling (don’t turn your back to your opponent) to the baseline so that you at least have some chance at making a return. And whatever you do, DON’T give up and assume that their overhead is going to be a winner because many times it’s not. So be ready to go after a miss-hit or poorly placed shot.
Of course, tennis doesn’t always play out as I’ve described, but for the most part, if you apply these DOs and DON’Ts every time you lob, and you will find that you’ll win more points, and hopefully more matches!