Low Volleys.—For these strokes the head of your racket should be above your wrist, your elbow low down, and your knees slightly bent. You should, in fact, stoop so that your eye is level with the flight of the ball. The late Mr. H.S. Mahony used to say that if girls would only bend down more to the ball they would be able to volley much better. You should not swing back as far for a volley as for a ground stroke, nor relax a firm grip of your racket, remembering to follow through to the place you wish the ball to go. In overhead work it is most important to remember the oft-repeated maxim: “Keep your eye on the ball.” Watch it up to the moment of striking. Do not always “smash” every overhead ball when a well-placed volley will win the ace just as well. It is a waste of much-needed strength, and there is a greater risk of making a mistake. For a smash the right shoulder should be down and well under the ball, the head and weight well back, the weight transferred at the moment of striking from the right to the left leg, the body balanced with extended left arm, and the body-weight brought right on to the ball as it is hit. Finish to the left of your left knee as in the service.
MATCH AND TOURNAMENT PLAY
When you have acquired a certain knowledge of the game and can play the various strokes in the correct way, then, as I have said, tournament and match play is the very best method of improvement. I would emphasize the need for a certain standard of efficiency, because I am convinced that at the present time there are too many weak players competing at open meetings. The style of these players has only to be watched to be condemned, and their knowledge of the game is hopelessly limited. Invariably making strokes in a wrong way, tournament play only serves to consolidate weaknesses and check advance.
But assuming you have practised on sound lines and are fit to take part in what, after all, should be a test of trained skill, tournaments will then be a great help to you. You will more often than not play against better players than yourself—an advantage denied you in practice—and against all varieties of attack and defence. You have the chance of watching first-class matches and learning at first hand how the different strokes should be played. You should be careful, however, to limit the number of your tournaments, especially when the excitement and strain are new to you; otherwise you will do much more harm than good. I am convinced that, generally speaking, players attend too many meetings. Instead of their play improving, it may deteriorate. They run the fearful risk of staleness—one of the greatest dangers to a lawn tennis player—and they become physically worn out. As soon as you find you are losing interest in the game, when it becomes an effort to go into court, give the game a rest. It is clear you have overdone it and need a period of recuperation. One or two tournaments at a time, and then a rest to practise the new strokes and tactical moves you have learnt and seen, would, I feel sure, be much more helpful to your game than tournament touring, week-in and week-out.