"Taking The Risk"
With all the changes in the game today, one thing has remained constant... the court dimensions. Singles 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 doubles alleys are still 4.5' wide on each side. The diagonal distance measures 82.5' from singles corners.
So hitting the ball down-the-line or along the shortest possible distance is a much riskier shot, especially when it is done in combination with changing the direction of the ball, and over the highest part of the net. One of the biggest risks is changing the direction in a 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 the ball long trying to avoid it. When the ball is hit deep, go for the maximum distance by hitting the ball cross-court. When in a point involving an extended cross-court rally, you can bait your opponent to hit down-the-line and forcing him or her 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 three risks come into play... direction change, height of the net, and the distance. So bait your opponent into taking these 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 or her chances of being successful are reduced and often that is all it may take for you to win a close match.
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