Often an opponent serves short backspin or no-spin serves to the middle or backhand, and all you can do is push it back. If so, you should develop your flip. But there’s an alternative that’s often overlooked – a simple quick, deep push to the wide backhand.
To do this, you take the serve right off the bounce, aiming it wide to the server’s backhand. You can either hit it relatively fast to the wide corner, or (often better) hit it a bit softer (with a slightly downward stroke to keep the ball low), but outside the backhand corner – essentially, you chip it back. Give it a good backspin, though placement and consistency are more important. The result? First, it pretty much takes the server’s forehand attack out of play. (If they do step around and forehand loop, next time try the same receive, aiming to the backhand again, but at the last second push it quick to the forehand.) Second, even if they have a strong backhand attack, they will be rushed, angled, and have to move sideways to make the shot. In most cases, since they are being rushed, jammed, and forced to move sideways, their attacks will be inconsistent or weak, along with putting them out of position – and so it’s likely they’ll just push it back. Congratulations, you’ve just disarmed their service game!
As a corollary, it’s helpful to develop your backhand loop as this tactic will often lead to a serve and push to your backhand. A consistent, spinny backhand loop against backspin is a huge weapon as a “four-ball” attack – opponent serves, you chip it to their backhand, they push it back to your backhand, and you backhand loop.
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