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DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - FEBRUARY 22: Catherine Bellis of United States plays a forehand during her match against Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland on day four of the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship at the Dubai Tennis Stadium on February 22, 2017 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

Joel Drucker: The Single Volley - Huh?

“Good manners reflect something from inside -- an innate sense of consideration for others and respect for self.” -- Emily Post

Emily Post was not a tennis player – or at least, not a tennis player of significance. But certainly this woman associated with the concept of etiquette would have had much to say if she’d watched a lot of tennis.

Here is a situation that often occurs among many recreational players. Two players are hitting groundstrokes – one we’ll call Bob, the other Mike. Back and forth go the groundstrokes, forehands and backhands. This is the equivalent of two baseball players playing catch.

Bob now hits one short, his ball bouncing on the service line.

Mike runs up to it, drives it deep and comes to net.

Bob replies with a groundstroke.

Mike dashes extremely close to the net – less than two feet away from it – and thumps a volley. In some cases it goes for a winner. Or he misses it.

And then Mike returns to the baseline.

Huh? Did you just hit a winner? When did we start playing points? Are we keeping score now?

For all the energy recreational players put in to studying the techniques and tactics of the pros, have they ever noticed how pros practice volleys?

You want to hit some volleys, come up and stand near the T. Stick around. Hit a few dozen volleys. Most of them should be hit from that area either at the T or 1-2 feet inside it. This is where the entire body must be used to strike the ball. Really, what is truly practiced when you stand virtually on top of the net? Surely the legs don’t enter the picture.

Where did this practice of hitting one volley and returning to the baseline come from? Is it the result of clinics, where players line up, hit a groundstroke and then dash forward for a single volley? Does it derive from the desire to compete, even during a hitting session? And why have so many players taken lessons, but apparently never been told where to stand when practicing volleys? Perhaps all teaching pros should prepare a notecard-sized, laminated document that details the protocols for rallying. Rest assured, there will be more on this topic.

Read more articles by Joel Drucker

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