The Junk Baller, also know as the Spin Doctor, is one of the seven styles of tennis, but one that is least common, and so most intriguing. They are usually not powerful players, but their style can beat so many players. Roger Federer, Marat Safin, David Nalbandian, all must have wanted to check themselves into psychiatry after being confounded and beaten by tennis’ magician, Fabrice Santoro. Coach Ten Rapeepat shows you the Keys to this style of tennis.
The Junk Baller has the goal of keeping you off balance, by jerking you around through last second changes in direction, and disturbing your rhythm with the change of spin and speed of the ball. You will be exasperated by their variety and use of the court as they change spins, pace, footwork, mechanics, everything, with no rhyme or reason with the ultimate goal of getting you off of your game. They will undermine your confidence, sense of rhythm, and ability to execute your shots.
They are also extremely good at using the front and back of the court, making you cover the much longer diagonals from a short drop and a diagonal lob of great distances, rather than the usual two steps left or right of the baseline which are much shorter distances.
The reason for the confusion, I think, is that Hsieh is perhaps the most pure junk baller I’ve ever seen, and many people who have watched only the modern game are unfamiliar with this style. So I decided to make a post on the day off to explain the style (source: I am a junk baller when my S&V game doesn’t work).
Junkballers usually use a lot of backspin, and varying the amount of spin, height, speed and placement of the shot in unpredictable ways. To play this style of tennis, these are the key points you must observe:
- The Junk Baller or Spin Doctor ensures each shot is sufficiently awkward for his opponent, so that they can strike the ball properly for a winner.
- The Junk Baller uses a shot selection that will catch you by surprise, meaning you will chose to hit a shot that your opponent will not be expecting with either the speed, spin, shape, or placement. You will carefully craft each shot so that your opponent will keep having new looks.
- The spin doctor tries to throw off your timing. Sometimes the take the ball early, sometimes the take it late, with big power, or very slow, or with wicked spin. This keeps their opponents so off balanced that they are so frustrated at not having a proper engagement, and covering so much court, which results in frustration, error, and even giving up and making a lot of unforced errors.
- Junk Ballers tend to have great touch, so that they can time and hit, or change to slice at the last moment.
- Spin Doctor have the experience to know which is a least expected shot, and throw that to their opponent.
- They own a huge variety of slice shots from very open racquet face to the hard slice to the short draw.
- They almost always have awesome disguise to the opponents cannot predict the shot from their set-up.
- They are very unorthodox (often can play with one or two hands), and play very close to the baseline.
- They have a repertoire most do not have, which is the side spin, which is created from carving the side of the ball. Most players only own topspin and backspin shots. These arching, curving “snake-balls” are extremely hard to judge in flight, and worse, after the bounce.
- Junk Ballers tend to have unconventional technique such that they are very deceptive of their set-up, and usually have very good hands that can impart huge amounts of spin even at the last moment.
- The Spin Doctor uses the forehand slice a lot, which is a rarity in today’s game and hence many players do not have the experience or the shots to counter this play.
- They are also very good at giving short balls below the net in no man’s land that are extremely difficult to be offensive on, and any less that well struck response will be terminally death with with an other accurately placed shot or put away ball, or to have you scrambling back with a topspin lob.
- They are also very good and giving deep moonballs or long flat balls with no pace which are extremely difficult to attack off, resulting in their opponents making many errors when trying to create a play or going for too much.
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