|“Houston, we have a lob!”|
For some reason, I never think to hit a lob return until well into a match. And it can be a really great shot to use for many reasons:
1. It mixes things up which is often all you need to do to win a point.
2. It can put the brakes on, or at least slow down, a serve and volley player.
3. In doubles, it keeps the ball away from a net opponent who has been poaching well. Done enough times, it may force him or her to back off the net.
4. If you're returning serve from the deuce side and the server is a rightie (or if you're on the ad side against a leftie), a deep lob return down the line and over your net opponent forces the server to run down the ball and take it with her backhand. This is not an easy shot even if the server moves well. It is very difficult for a server who has trouble on the run or avoids his or her backhand.
Now, I'm not saying that every return should be a lob return – I've actually played opponents who think the lob return followed by the short shot is the key to victory (and it may be at lower levels but not at OUR level, right?). But I am saying don't avoid this return just because you think it's not a serious shot or it's not real tennis. The lob return can be a great shot if hit well and used at the right time. So don't forget it!
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