"Elevating the Game
One Player at a time"
John Millbank

Published in Platform Tennis Magazine January 2003
In competitive play points may last 100’s of hits, a big reason for this is that both partners are always in position to play every ball. The following lessons discuss specific positioning for the “Trailer” (the person not hitting the ball).

1. Blitzing and drop shot recovery
There are often times during a point when your partner may decide to blitz. Many players follow their partner when this happens. The problem that exists is neither player has access to the screens. Furthermore, your opponents may be able to volley down at you or your partner's feet. Advanced play requires constant opportunity to use screens. Having constant access to the back screen is why so many points at the tournament level may go into the hundreds of shots. When your partner blitzes or runs up to cover a drop shot or drop volley you should immediately position yourself at the middle of the baseline. You would like for your feet to be set before your opponent makes contact with his next shot. If your opponent gets the ball past your partner you will easily be able to hit a good enough lob for your partner to retreat back to his screens.

2. Digging out balls low and deep in the corners
There will be times during a point when your partner has to dig a ball out of his corner. All he can do is flick the ball out. The best thing that can happen is he hits it high enough so a drop volley does not burn you. Many times however, the ball barely clears the net. This is what you do in this very specific situation. When you see your partner is going to struggle with the dying ball deep in his corner, immediately move two steps inside the baseline. Watch your partner the entire time to see how effectively he is getting the ball up. If he hits it at least two feet high you can back up for easier use of your screens. If the ball stays low your opponent will be less inclined to drop a winner because of your position. He might wack it at you but at least you have a play on it. If it is hit very hard you should be able to use your screens. If it has slower speed take it off the deck and get back in the point. I learned this positional strategy while playing with a great player, Steve Baird.
3. Playing the “Nick”
All too often in recreational play points end if a ball hits in the corner of the side and back wires. Most of the time the ball will come back out along the side screen, the person playing the ball should move up the side screen. The “trailer” can be a big help by moving over and being prepared if the ball comes out along the back screen.
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