Approaching and Poaching

Luke Jensen (Munson photo)

Day #4 of Newk’s camp again started out chilly (48 degrees) but turned sunny and nice again.  The morning clinic was given by doubles experts Luke Jensen and Peter Tracchi on the approach shot and poaching at the net with these highlights…

  • The purpose of the approach shot is NOT to hit a winner, but to place it well enough to get yourself set to hit a volley into the open court.
  • You also want to try to take your opponent off the court; so the angle approach is better than deep into the corner (which actually can end up right in your opponent’s wheelhouse to hit a passing shot)
  • Better to approach down the line than going crosscourt; because that will give your opponent too much open court.
  • In singles, you even approach down the middle, which will take away their angle.
  • When poaching at the net in doubles, be sure to move TOWARD the net and not laterally.
  • Use the angle volley to put away a winner.
  • Poaching helps to “create doubt” in the returner’s mind.
  • If it’s a big point and you may be a little nervous, hit your volley down the middle and divide the opponents.
  • Communicate with your serving partner either by talking or with signals.
  • If the returner is hitting wide serve (in either deuce or ad) the net man needs to favor the alley and the server covers the middle (crosscourt wide is “Nice shot”)

Wednesday Morning Matches

After the clinic, we started our morning singles/doubles matches with our Wankers playing against the Musclemen; and Newk’s (Willy’s) Kangaroos playing the (John Berry’s) Dunnies.

I was again paired with Jim Capito at #2 doubles vs. a solid 5.0 player with a recent hip replacement Dave Orton (CA) and Jeff Mackevich (IL).  Even though Dave wasn’t fully mobile, his powerful serve and more-than-adequate net play was excellent; and they cruised to a 6-2, 6-3 victory.

Match of the day
Our Joel Drucker played a monumental singles match versus one of the many Australians that are here. In the first set, his opponent served for the set of 5-4, but was broken and Joel took it to a tiebreaker, which he won.  In the second set, the Aussie again served for the set at 5-4, but Joel again broke him and brought it to a second set tiebreaker. During this one, Joel had three match points, that were unconverted and the Aussie took the second set tiebreaker 10-8.  Joel took an early lead in the 10-point Match tiebreaker and held on to win 10-8.

At the end of the morning session, Our Wankers had a solid lead over the muscleman at 16-9; and Newk’s kangaroos are dominating the Dunnies 14-8.

Afternoon Matches

I was again teamed with Adin Levine at #5 doubles vs. a very strong team of Tom David (Texas) and Dan Sinclair (OH).  We were hot in the first set and they were tentative, so we cruised to an easy 6-1 start.

But as frequently happens, the second set was the opposite… they took an early lead and we were serving at 2-5; but I said to my partner “only one break.”  We were able to hold, break serve and hold again to go to 5-5.

Both teams held and we went into a second set tie breaker.  They took an early lead and held on to split the first two sets and bring us to the all-important 10-point Match Tiebreaker and we found ourselves down double match point with them serving at 9-7.

But they double faulted for Adin to then serve at 8-9.  We won that point and switched sides at 9-9 (they don’t know from Coman format here).  We won the next point and forced them to now serve to me in the ad court down match point 9-10.

I ran around and drove my forehand return crosscourt and at Dan Sinclair’s feet as he rushed the net.  My partner saw him under duress, closed to the middle, as Dan poked the ball down the line for a match saving shot.

They then won the next two points for a well-played 1-6, 7-6, 12-10 victory.

Team Results

Our Wanker team only had to win ONE afternoon doubles match to clinch our victory for the day and go 2-0.  And we did easily; while Newk’s Kangaroos easily beat the Dunnies; so we will play the Dunnies on Thursday and a victory will mean the championship.  Meanwhile while i was 0-2 today, John Berry, Rich Tarantino (and his son Ken) and Willy were all 2-0!!

Wednesday Night

After a Mexican night dinner, the annual Australian Boat Race (the team beer chugging competition) Commissioner Doc Al Eden went over the teams and rules and was then held in the bar at the same time as the Cubs/Dodger game.  I went to bed, but I would assume it was won, as usual, by Newk’s ‘very experienced’ combined Kangaroo/Wanker team.

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5 thoughts on “Approaching and Poaching

  1. Good report of the Wednesday action!

    However, I think that your second and third bullets concerning the approach shot contradict themselves. Either you open up the court by going sharply crosscourt get an outright winner or forced error with your opponent on the run and perhaps get beat up the line OR you approach up the line perhaps into the opponent’s wheelhouse and he beats you with a cross court passing shot or lob. So if you are a good volleyer that can still cover court at our advanced age, then you approach up the line. But if you are a poor volleyer or cannot cover a lob, then you have got to try the crosscourt approach or hit a drop shot away from the side where your opponent is standing (either of which for better or worse will be your last shot of the rally).

    Great second day team result. Your chances should be good against the Dunnies as the Kangaroos appear to be the second best team. Bad luck on your match point in he afternoon doubles. Who would have guessed that Sinclair would have dug out a low volley and gotten it to go up the line. You played the percentages properly.

    Who is this Peter Tracchi guy? No photos of him? Is he not one of the coaches for the Wankers? Is he contributing? How come so many attendees from Australia this year?

    Tom, i had the same thought on the contradiction; but i think the angle option comes more on the approach from the middle. Peter is a former dubs pro (#45 in the world) is a Wanker coach and is Newk’s son in law. George

  2. Hi George!
    The name of your team must cause much sniggering amongst your British readers, as the word “wanker” obviously does not have the same meaning in the US as it does in the UK. It will be interesting to see if the British obscenity filters prevent my email getting to you!!
    However, keep up the good work, and I love reading the almost-daily tips to improve my play. Cheers, Andy

    Andy, the Aussies knew exactly what they were doing when they named our team!! george

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