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decent players can switch from offense to defense (or push and counterpunch) during certain times at a point.. they'll watch your reaction and if they see the chip short and slice bothers you - you'll see it more. How's your fitness? Patience is also a key. it's fun playing against defensive players because you get to learn from them. Get to the net is exactly right but bring your monster overheads to end the points. try not to get passed by a backhand or a forehand slice chip shot and practice your backhand overheads since you're going to see a lot of those too.
If you can serve and volley and have a good read at net like John S, you'll be smiling while playing that match. Or, Mr. Wagner's height and reach for the overheads and net coverage that's good too!
One of my good friends and hitting partners is a defensive player, especially when we get into the later stages of a friendly match. It kills me when he gets into this mode because every one of his returns is a slow moving slice shot which can be very hard to do anything with.
After playing matches against my friend for several years, I've found two strategies to be very effective to beat him. The first has already been stated which is serving and volleying. I've found that doing so on totally random occasions during a game can be a great way of getting ahead in games by ending points early. It is also a great way to get inside your opponent's head as he or she will have trouble predicting what you will do on the next serve.
The second strategy that I have employed is what I call "aggressive patience." To implement this, I make sure to get into a long rally with the defensive player (in this case my friend). Usually the player slices back all my shots which I return steadily with control making sure that my shots are landing in. Then once I have lulled the defensive player into a nice easy rally I throw in a low drop shot or rush the net which usually breaks the defensive player's rhythm and allows me to win the point. Defensive players love getting into a rhythm by using shots that they are comfortable with, and the key to defeating them in match play is breaking or throwing off this rhythm.
Go on the attack, whenever you have the opportunity.
Be patient but attack !!!!
Mske them move to hit balls, and if they lob - smash it !
Dont push with a pusher.