2018-03-01 / Community

No man’s land exists on the court, too


Starting with World War I, there was a major shift in wartime battle strategy. Earlier wars saw soldiers lined up in a straight line across a battlefield taking dead aim at the enemy in a straight line across from them. Eventually, the sheer madness of this was seen and soldiers started digging trenches, and trench warfare became the norm. With the introduction of trench warfare, the only place you became an easy target was the area between the trenches, commonly known as no man’s land.

Why the history lesson? There is an area on the tennis court called “no man’s land” and it is just as deadly to the tennis player as the battlefield version was for the soldier. Where is no man’s land on the tennis court? That is the area in front of the baseline (trench) and behind the service line (trench). There are several reasons you don’t want to be there:

Any ball hit at your feet or behind you will be struck falling backwards and off-balance. This will result in your shot coming off weak and a sitter for your opponent.

More often than not, you will be hitting the ball up and your opponents will be able to keep you on the defensive.

Confusion: A lot of times players hit the ball out of the air in no man’s land and shots that would have gone out are played. If the player were behind the baseline he certainly would have let the ball bounce and won the point.

Occasionally you will have to move into no man’s land to hit a ball and that is OK, but after you move forward to hit the shot, do not stay there. Your next shot should be struck either in front of the service line or after you retreat back behind the baseline.

A great drill that we use at Bonita Bay is to start all four players in no man’s land, and the team cannot hit the ball in no man’s land twice in a row. This teaches players to hit the ball and then either go forward or backwards and out of no man’s land.

This drill really reinforces moving proactively after hitting the shot and moving out of no man’s land.

In the next issue I’ll discuss an easy way to help you decide if you should charge the enemy or retreat to the safety of your own trench (baseline).

Adam Lane is a tennis professional at the Bonita Bay Club. He can be reached at Lane@swspotlight.com

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