Tennisopolis : Tennis Social Network

Andre Agassi popularized a new and aggressive way to play tennis. He would stand close to the baseline and hit most balls as they rose from the bounce. We now call this “hitting on the rise”. The traditional method to hit groundstrokes was to let the ball bounce, reach it’s peak then strike the ball as it descended towards the ground. But Agassi’s incredible timing allowed him to hit the ball earlier than most players. This allowed Andre to move closer to the baseline which gives a player more angle to return the ball. It also creates a timing problem for his opponents by giving them less time before the ball returned to them.

To utilize this ability to hit on the rise one must have a proper understanding of the stroke. The first thing needed is the eastern or western grip. A grip which places more of the palm behind the handle. This allows a player to have a higher contact point since most balls hit on the rise are above the waist. The grip also allows for better topspin and a slightly closed racquet face, which is necessary to accomplish hitting balls on the rise.

The concept is the type of swing taken at the ball. A slight topspin swing of low to high direction is best. However, it is important that the backswing is just slightly below the height of the ball. Too much topspin when hitting on the rise creates very little pace, so the best swing will seem to be almost flat or straight.

The last phase of learning to hit on the rise is practice. Try to rally with someone and try not to move back on deep, high bouncing balls. Instead, move forward and start your swing earlier than normal. Practice hitting most balls before they reach the peak of their bounce. To do this requires a great deal of footwork and movement, so don’t be lazy. There is no substitute for practice, hitting on the rise requires great timing. Your timing of when to swing, how fast to swing, how big a swing, all comes from practice. The more you practice the better your timing becomes. So practice, practice, practice!

Doug Hofer, USPTA

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Comment by hofertennis on January 5, 2008 at 10:10pm
The western grip is good for hitting on the rise because the ideal contact height for that grip is between chest and shoulders. However, players with western or extreme grips usually play farther behind the baseline which is not good for hitting on the rise.
Comment by Mark / The Mayor on January 5, 2008 at 8:58am
Great instruction Hofer! I really liked that you point out that too much topspin when hitting on the rise can be detrimental. When Agassi first came up on tour, there were still a lot of pros with eastern grips. Now, when I see juniors, I see a lot of extreme western grips, a la Nadal. Does this grip limit their ability to hit on the rise?

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