TAG Coach Parekh Pratim is the former Under 18 Number 1 tennis player in India. He is also a Singapore Open Champion. Being a left-handed tennis player, or Lefty as it is called in the tennis scene, Coach Parek Pratim takes advantage of this as a strength to handily beat opponents of the same or even higher level than him because of his Southpaw tactics. A search on the internet reveals many articles and instruction manuals on how to beat left-handed players (indeed only 10-15% of the players are Lefty and so most articles are written for a right-handed tennis player audience), but Left-handed tennis players deserve to top quality tennis instruction too. In this article, Coach Parekh Pratim, well known to be Singapore’s best Indian Tennis Coach, shares his tactics as a left-handed player.
Capitalise on your Opponent’s relative lack of experience against a left-handed tennis player.
Since only about 10-15% of tennis players are left-handed, lefties are uncommon in the game. 85-90% of the tennis players (right-handed tennis players) will thus mainly play other right-handed players most of the time. As such, their default shots and safety shots and tactics are mainly designed to attack or “seek safety” or reset to their opponent’s often weaker side, the backhand side, or the relatively “weaker” side of right handed players, the advantage side or left side of the tennis court. This ball will be to the Left-handed player’s forehand, and the majority of your tactics should be designed around this fact. Just from this fact alone will cause a right handed tennis player to feel cery unformtable, as they mentally have to switch their default and subconscious tactics and shots and habits to the Deuce court to the Lefty’s backhand, resulting in many errors, or weaker and shorter replies, or an lack of follow-up shots from their lack of playing experience and their discomfort to override their natural tendencies so as to force the diverting of the ball the ball to the deuce court section of the court in a defensive situation.
Serve to the backhand with aggressive side spin
As a lefty, it will be relatively easy for you to hit a side spinning ball to your opponent’s backhand with a wicked curve that not only continues to break away from your opponent but also stays low. This must just in the advantage court to pull your right-handed opponent very wide into the doubles alley and beyond, compromising his court position.
Your opponent will be faced with the difficult decision of hitting the ball back cross court where you are waiting with your strength, where you can use your left-handed forehand to hit an easy winner down the line into the open court because your opponent is so far off the court. After a few times, your opponent will be forced to charge into the opponent space to cover your down the line response, you can hook it back behind the opponent for a wrong foot winner or forced error with a crosscourt forehand. Nadal uses this play a lot.
The Lefty can serve with a high first-serve percentage, with large variance to change-up targets
The lefty can serve a very high first serve percentage, because the attack is from a curving side spinning ball to open the court to compromise your oppoent’s court position, rather than by overwhelming the opponent on the return with power. The serve can be hit relatively relaxed and easy, focusing on imparting good spin and thus resulting in a very high first serve percentage. This is outstanding because the mentality of returners is to reset the ball and get into the point in the first set, but are almost always mentally poised to attack a second serve.
The need of the returner to cover the side winder serve means after a while, they will start shading to the backhand wing. This makes they very susceptible to a change-up serve to the right-handed opponent’s forehand, when hit with reasonable speed usually results in a winner or forced error from the opponent as they are mostly anticipating a ball to their backhand and leaning that way.
Thirdly, in the deuce court, a lefty’s flat serve out side to the opponent’s forehand, whether expected or unanticipated, is difficult to return with any amount of safety, and is almost certainly going to go to your forehand. In the rare instance that it goes to your backhand where you are not able to run around your forehand, you will have a relatively easy backhand to “baseball” the ball easily down the line into the open court for a clean winner, or a “delayed” backhand crosscourt to wrong foot your opponent for a winner back behind.
The Lefty Aggressive Topspin Forehand Cross Court King
You must learn to develop an effective forehand crosscourt where you are able to impact the ball on your contact slightly to the outer and lower side of the tennis ball. This allows you to create a ball that is not only is going cross-court, but curving and breaking away, with a heavy and high bouncing ball that not only kicks out, but kicks “up” to the backhand that forces your opponent have to triangulate 3 difficult decisions each time of needing to to hit very early to prevent it from going over his shoulder, hitting it about his shoulder from his usual court position, or moving very far back and wide to hit it in his comfortable hip to chest height but very from a very compromised position far behind the baseline and in the doubles alleying, leaving you with a lot of tactical options. Rafael Nadal has so many tactics in his arsenal, but when he really needs the point, once he is in the alley, he so often uses this tactic to “beatdown” his opponent’s backhand till he gets the error from the opponent not being able to deal with it and worn down, or doing too much and resulting in an error, or because his opponent is so far back, it results in a short ball that you have many options to put away the ball. Just keep doing it and the opportunities will come.
The Lefty inside Out/ Inside In Forehand that is Unreadable will Win you many points
On the deuce side of the court, when you step around to hit a forehand instead of a backhand, because of the threat of an inside-in ball up the line that continues to have the quality of the ball breaking away, it “freezes” your opponent in the dead centre of the court to bisect the possibilities. From a higher up court position on or inside the baseline, your arc of fire is very wide and very difficult for the opponent to cover effectively, so just pick your spot either inside out cross court out very wide, or the inside in up the line with wicked curving spin for a clean winner, forced error or a weaker response, and repeat till you win the point. You won’t win all the points, but you will win many, and in tennis where it is a game of fine margins, you only need to win 4 out of every 7 points to emerge the winner.
The Baseball bullet rocket “backhand” cross court is a very safe, effective and potent way to many winners
As you wear down your opponent with the aggressive, heavy duty, high kicking topspin forehand crosscourt, you weary opponent will try to escape this “backhand cage” by trying to change the direction of the ball with their own backhand down the line. This change of direction of the ball off an aggressive cross court ball, over the highest part of the net, into a short part of the court will result in many errors into the net, out the sideline, or beyond the baseline. Of course, some ball will make it to their intended target, but because it is the common opponent tactical intention, you are already covering it.
A change of direction ball down the line that is not well struck enough presents the lefty with a treasure trove of tactical options. The most effective is the Rafael Nadal, where he just absolutely pummels the ball straight and hard crosscourt because he has so much court to hit into for a clean winner or a weakest response from his opponent from a dead run from the advantage court to the deuce court.
From here, Coach Parekh Pratim can step into the court and anticipate a short ball that he can take on the rise into the opponent court for a clean winner, or if he senses a floater instead, can close the net quickly for a gentle and unspectacular easy volley into the opponent court for the easiest and most demoralizing point wins against his opponent.
As before, repeatedly cycling this play will create the “Pavlov” effect, where the opponent will be “conditioned” to expect this play, and thus charge out of the advantage court to anticipate the backhand drive to his own forehand. This opens up the backhand up the line for Coach Pratim behind his opponent for an easy winner, or a last second opening of his racquet face to come under the ball for the most delicate drop shot that his opponent usually will not even start running for as his body weight is charging into the open court, resulting in yet another effective and demoralizing winning point for you.
Left-handed tennis player tactics – Wrap Up
Of course, tennis is not just about theory but also the ability to execute. If you are a left handed tennis player, the best way to improve your tennis game is to hire a left handed tennis coaches in Singapore such as Coach Parekh Pratim, Coach Dave Regencia or Coach Ten Rapeepat from one of the best tennis academies in Singapore and do plenty of drills and live point plays till you master each of these shots and then put them together into the tactical patterns explained above.
For tennis lessons with Coach Pratim, please contact us at +6598395232 or contact us HERE.
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