Playing The Percentages...
"Taking The Risk"
With all the changes in the game today, one thing has remained constant... the court dimensions. Singles court is still 27' wide and 78' long, the net height is still 36" in the middle and going up to 42" at the net posts or the singles sticks, and the doubles alleys are still 4.5' wide on each side. The diagonal distance measures 82.5' from the singles corners. Hitting the ball down-the-line or along the shortest possible distance is a much riskier shot, especially when done in combination with changing the direction of the rally, and over the highest part of the net.
One of the biggest risks is changing the direction of the rally unless the ball is hit short and there is adequate time to set-up for the shot. By hitting down-the-line where the net is higher, you increase the risk of either clipping the net or hitting long trying to avoid it. When the ball is hit deep, go for the maximum distance by hitting cross-court. When in a point involving an extended cross-court rally, you can bait your opponent to hit down-the-line, forcing him/her to hit to hit over the highest part of the net. Hit deep, creating a defensive shot selection and then bait them into an offensive shot by getting them to hit into the open court.
Remember, many times when a player chooses to hit down-the-line, all risks come into play... direction change, height of the net, and the distance. So bait your opponent into taking risks to increase your chances of winning more points. Each individual risk factor may work in isolation, but by baiting the opponent into a combination of risks, his/her chances of being successful are reduced and often that is all it may take for you to win a close match.