Net Rushers are a dying breed at most tennis clubs, which makes them especially difficult to play against as recreational players aren’t used to playing against this style of a tennis player.
The aim of this style of a tennis player is to close on the net as quickly as possible so that it puts pressure on their opponents to hit a good passing shot or lob, which leads to the opponent going for too much and making an error on their passing shot or lob.
This article will look at some of the tactics and strategies you can employ when playing against a player who likes to approach the net at your local tennis club.
5 Top Tips on How to Beat a Net Rusher in Tennis
1. Don’t try to go for a Winner off your First Shot
Going for a winner off the Net Rusher’s approach shot is probably the most common mistake I see recreational players make.
By doing this, you are just playing into your opponent’s hands as you will make far more errors than winners, if you attack on the first ball.
If your aim is to hit a passing shot when your opponent approaches the net, then instead of going for a winner off their approach shot, I would try to hit the ball as low as possible toward the feet of my opponent which will force them to hit up on the ball.
I will then attempt a passing shot on this weaker second ball from my opponent.
By doing this, you will be cutting down on the number of errors you give your opponent and you will be placing doubt in the mind of the Net Rusher as they aren’t getting those easy points anymore.
2. Throw in a Lob Every Now and Then
A defensive or offensive lob can be another good option to use against a net rusher, especially if you can hit the ball high and deep enough that it forces your opponent to retreat to the baseline.
This is also a good tactic to use if your opponent hits an aggressive approach shot to your weaker side (usually the backhand) as it will give you time to get back in the proper position for the next shot.
The one caveat I would give would be to not go for lob every time as hitting a good lob consistently is not easy to do.
It is also better to keep your opponent guessing as to whether you will hit a passing shot or hit a lob.
It is best to have a nice mix between hitting passing shots and hitting lobs as your opponent may not approach as close to the net if you show them that you can hit a good lob.
As they are further back, this will make hitting passing shots easier because your opponent is not right on top of the net.
3. Concentrate on Keeping your Groundstrokes Deep
By keeping your groundstrokes deep you will be reducing the opportunities your opponent has to approach the net.
If you find that your groundstrokes are all landing around the service line then you are just asking for trouble as your opponent will have an open invitation to come into the net.
You should also work on having a good enough first and second serve that makes it harder for your opponent to chip and charge their returns.
4. Go Crosscourt more often than down the line on your passing shots
Following this one tip will greatly reduce the number of errors you make when playing a player who likes to approach the net.
However, most recreational players will go for the do or die shot down the line shot every time without considering the other options they have e.g. hitting crosscourt, hitting a lob, or hitting the ball low to the opponent’s feet.
On important points like break points or set points, I will always go for the crosscourt passing shot and make my opponent beat me rather than taking on the risk of hitting a winner down the line.
You will be amazed at how many times hitting crosscourt will either end up with you hitting a winner or your opponent making an error on their volley on crucial points like this.
5. Practice Hitting Passing Shots and Lobs with a Hitting Partner
As you won’t play against many net rushers, it is a good idea to try and find a willing hitting partner that you can do drills with, where they can put you in a position where you have to hit a passing shot or lob, when they are at the net.
The more you practice being in these situations the more relaxed you will be when playing someone who likes to come into the net in a competitive match.