Countering “The Can Opener”

john mcenroeWhenever John McEnroe got behind in the score, he could always rely on using is lefty, “Can Opener” serve in the ad court to take his opponent wide and open up the court. What should you do against that – and other lefty shots?

Take Their Shot Away

As Hank Irvine counseled me after losing to lefty Don Keenan, I should have moved way over toward to ad alley to take away his favorite serve. Sure, he could try to hit the new opening down the middle; but that is not what he wants to do + it doesn’t give him the angle he wants.

Deuce Court

Playing a singles match at Newk’s one year vs. crafty-lefty Joel Drucker, he was pounding me down the middle in the deuce court on his serve. My coach, Brian Gottfried advised the same solution – move toward the middle to take away his favorite shot.

Play The Reverse Spin

And on all “their” strokes, you have to remember the spin will be coming in the opposite direction you are used to. So a serve to your forehand will not be sitting out there where you expect it; but it will be curving into your body. Therefore, you have to stay on the balls of your feet and continue to move out of the way to hit the stroke.

At The Net

And remember, remember when you lob “them” or hit at the net during doubles, that they are lefty! How many times have we all lobbed over the wrong side and gotten a lefty overhead smash back in return?

What else to “they” do that we need to counter??


Speaking of crafty lefties, Congrats to Joel Drucker, who has just been named “Historian-At-Large” by International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Ron and Jeff
Ron and Jeff
Also, congrats to Ron Tonidandel and his son Jeff, who just the 2016 USTA National Ultra Sr. Father-Son Grass Court Championship
Sept 3 at the Piping Rock Club in Locust Valley, Long Island.

They also won the Nat’l Hard Court in June in Claremont, CA; so in Nov they’ll be seeking a sweep of all three 2016 Ultra Sr. Father-Son
Nationals when they play in the first-ever Nat’l Ultra Sr. Father-Son CLAY Court Championship in Sarasota at the Landings, Nov 15.

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5 thoughts on “Countering “The Can Opener”

  1. Thank you, George, for your kind words. Hope to make the most of this opportunity with the ITHF. See you soon at Newk’s.

  2. Unless you are really adept at hitting a good inside out FH return I think it is preferable to hit as many backhand returns as you can as the spinning ball hits the strings in a more perpendicular fashion. You can go either under or over without much difference. For the body serves I find it easier to slide across is a similar fashion as when you are jammed on a volley

    A step or two over the the BH side is good if you’re being taken off the court. Also remember that for most players the T serve in the AD court will have less spin.

    Chris, i agree… taking more backhands is smarter. thanks, george

  3. All of the above are great ideas. I have the luxury of having a 4.5 left handed son to practice with me. So lefties are not as daunting as they once had been. I have no qualms
    of reminding him of countless rides to games and practices.As you can see I don’t mind using guilt. LOL

    Ron, works with your son; but not strangers! thanks, george

  4. Congrats to Joel and Ron!

    Lefties should not be allowed to enter righty events.

    Took me a good while to learn that the spin off the lefty serve wants to come off yer racket to the right – like over to the next court. The book sez to swing harder or catch the ball more to the right of center.

    Kevin, i never thought about the impact of their spin on your raquet. tks, george

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