Joe: High percentage tennis is selecting the shot that has the highest chance of success. Kirk, why don't you talk about a few things that you have in mind?
Kirk: I like to tell people there are two general rules to play tennis. We have this canvas of a tennis court here and some people get pretty good at hitting the ball over the net but really don't know how to play efficiently from the stand point of covering the court and how to open up the court, so there are two general rules.
From behind the baseline when in doubt, you should hit the ball cross court. If there is no obvious shot that makes more sense, when you don't know what to do play the ball back cross court, hopefully deep, this way potentially you take your opponent off of the court. You make him potentially run into the alley to get to the ball. That is rule number one. Once you open up the court then you can do other things but open the court vis-à-vis cross court plays.
The second rule is when you finally get a short ball from your opponent and you want to come to the net hitting what we call an "approach shot" when in doubt hit that ball down the line. We hit it down the line because the whole theory of net play is to follow the ball, so if you are hitting down the line you are running straight in and you will get in a little closer for that first volley. Once you hit cross court, if you are following the ball, you are moving at an angle, you are creating angles for them to respond, you are making your life a little complicated. Joe?
Joe: Yeah, so high percentage tennis is exactly what Kirk just said, I agree with him 100%. The reason that you want to choose cross court on a ground stroke when in doubt is what part of the net does the ball travel over? It travels over the highest percentage, the low point of the net. The center is the lowest part of the net and it is also a cross court shot you are hitting on a diagonal which means it's the longest two points on a court are from corner to corner so your chances of keeping it in the court are higher; higher percentage.
You also have the chance of getting your opponent off the court, okay? And for the down the line, I agree again, you want to follow that approach shot. When you get a short ball hit it down the line, don't hit it cross court because when you hit it down the line you are following the ball but you are also on the correct side to volley. When you volley a ball at the net you want to be on the same side as the ball so why not hit it down the line, which is the side you are beginning from?
So, cross court on a ground stroke, down the line on an approach. Great percentage tennis. Let your opponents take the risk. Let them think about going down the line. If you hit a nice cross court, they choose to go down the line, they are just setting themselves up for another cross court from you and a lot of road work for them.