* You do not need to be especially quick or fast to be an effective poacher. You have to pay attention to your opponent and to where the ball is coming from and where it is probably going.

* A good poacher does not even have to be a great volleyer to be effective. By moving and cutting off angles, the poacher can force the opponents into hitting lower percentage, more difficult shots, and can thus force them to commit more errors.

* Most often, an effective poacher is not "sneaking" over to cut off shots, not always trying to surprise the opponent. The stealth poach can be an effective move occasionally; most of the time you want the opponent to see or sense your "move."

* Speaking of "fakes," they can be very powerful, controlling weapons. Against certain players a lean or nod or step toward the middle can guarantee a shot down your alley. Hmmhhh.

* The choreography of a strong poach is a lateral move and then a step into the ball - a move parallel with the net to get into position and then a shift of your weight in toward the ball.

* If you decide to try and poach more, you will be "punished" and look a little foolish occasionally. You are experimenting with some new tactics. When you become a great poacher, you will also be "punished" and look a little foolish occasionally. That is okay because for every time you look "foolish" and "give away" one point, you will probably win five other points.

* Deciding to poach or cut off a shot after it has been hit is often too late. If you were not thinking about cutting it off before it was hit, you should probably let your partner play the shot.

* Never apologize for those frame-rattling winners that carom off your racquet when you cut a ball off. You were smart enough to be in the right place to make the play. You deserve the point.

* Direct your poached volley where it will be effective - angled into the open court, at the feet of an opponent, or deep right down the middle.

* If your partner feels the tennis court is divided down the middle line and balls that would land on one side belong to one partner and balls that would land on the other side belong to the other partner, get a new partner.

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Greater Vallejo Tennis Association
426 Mills Drive
Benicia, CA 94510