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Sunday, July 7, 2024

US Sports Tennis - How to neutralize a lefty in Tennis


  • By Aiden Lefebvre

Why does it always seem like left-handed tennis players are tripping up the righty tennis players? The truth is, left-handed players inherently have an advantage over right-handed players. Generally speaking, athletes don’t train as much on their lefty game because there are just fewer of them. It doesn’t really feel worth devoting so much time and effort for such a rare opponent. Meanwhile, lefties practice against their counterparts all day, meaning they quickly gain an advantage over their more common opponent. But beating a lefty is totally possible and, despite common belief, doesn’t require some crazy training regimen. With the helpful tips of ATP coach Gonzalo Lopez, I’ll show you various ways that you can take back control of the court and dominate against lefties and righties alike. 

Oscar Wegner and Coachtube

Controlling the height of the rally

Gonzalo has some excellent points on the tactical structure of lefty’s that can help you navigate the challenges of playing a tough lefty. First, Gonzalo talks about the importance of controlling the height of the rally. He describes the height of the rally as the place that you are standing on the court while you are running laterally. Your height can change depending on if you are near the service line or near the net. Gonzalo says that the goal is to change the height of your opponent’s height of the rally while maintaining your own height. The purpose of this is to take an offensive position and control of the rally. If you need to constantly adjust your position on the court, it will be harder to control the rally. So making them adjust will put you at an advantage. 

While this can totally be used for both left-handed and right-handed athletes, it is especially important to remember against your lefty opponents since many tennis players have less experience defending against a lefty. Therefore, keeping an offensive position will ensure you the advantage. 


Dominating the diagonals

Next, Gonzalo mentions that oftentimes, the diagonal will be your best shot and your opponent’s worst shot, though not always the case. When you hit the ball at the diagonal that is on your stronger side, you have more control over dictating your opponent’s height of rally. When you can dictate your opponent’s height of rally, you can make them move more and tire them out over the course of the match. This is especially important if you notice that your opponent is a slow runner or is slowing down in the middle of the match. Because moving their height of rally will ensure that they need to keep chasing the ball and minimizes the chances of them standing still. 

On the flip side, if your opponent is faster than you, it will be easier for them to take control over your height of rally and therefore make you run more. That is why it is important to dominate the diagonals so that you can optimize your stronger side and have better placement of your shots.

Hitting at the diagonals is also an effective way to open spaces on the court, which is similar to moving the height of the rally, but along the other axis of the court. By opening up the other axis it provides you with opportunities to put the ball away, especially if your opponent has been running and is too tired to chase the ball. The sooner you can dominate one of the diagonals against a tough lefty, the less likely you are to be pinned into a corner, while the lefty pounds heavy forehands like Nadal did to Federer for the early part of their careers.

Hitting against left-handed tennis players can be a major challenge, especially if you’ve never faced such an opponent before. But fortunately, you can incorporate lefty-conscious strategies into your training regimen that is applicable to both left-handed and right-handed players. By manipulating the height of the rally and aiming for the diagonals, you will take control over the point and dominate your lefty opponents with ease.

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