A tournament tennis friend wrote that he was frustrated, perplexed, and beaten recently by a Moonballer; and is looking for help on what he should have done.
He emailed, “I’m writing partly as therapy and partly because you’re a tennis ‘doctor’ who writes about making adjustments during a match. Maybe you’ll have some suggestions as to how the outcome of my loss to a ‘moonballer’ may have been different.
“I won the 1st set 6-2 and I got ahead 4-2 in the second set; and then lost the last 10 games in a row.
“It was because I was being pushed back especially with moon balls on my backhand side. I started trying to hit too many of them on the half volley or as the ball was coming up after hitting the court near the baseline. And I just plain missed some of them ugly.
“I was unnerved. The rhythm in my stroke production was broken. I was beaten. And, I will appreciate any thoughts you may have on how to beat a moonballer.”
I wrote back to my friend: As I read your report, the two things that jump out at me are:
1) What’s happening and what should I do about it? Those were the two key questions in a blog post a couple of weeks back. I would think as the second set was slipping away from you — or surely, after you lost it and got ready to start the third set — you would have sat yourself down, realized that whatever you WERE doing was not working, and try to figure some strategy out to change what was happening.
2) What to do against a moonballer? In my opinion, the last thing you want to do is back up on that moon ball and try to play a high back hand (one of our weakest shots). I have tried the short-hopping solution, and it is just too difficult for me to pull off consistently. The solution? According to Larry Turville, you should take the ball in the air and play aggressively.
The bottom-line for me is: change the game so that your opponent cannot do whatever he is doing to beat you. Stand inside the baseline, take the ball in the air, come to the net … but take away that deep moon ball to your backhand.
Any other words of wisdom from those who have played moonballers (or if you ARE one)?