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Sherby: Can you rally in the alley?
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Directional control on your ground strokes comes mainly from sending your racket face down the court and toward the intended target. Swinging in a circular fashion, around your body, provides high racket head speed but at the expense of accuracy.

On your forehand, move your flattened palm through the air toward the target in a simulated stroke to get the correct feel. On the backhand, move the knuckles of your hitting hand out toward the target.

It’s also beneficial to shift your body weight in the intended direction. This most easily done by stepping into the shot like a baseball batter. You can also hit open stanced forehands but you must lean forward, into the ball.

Practice all this on the court with a simple drill called "Rally in the Alley." Trade ground strokes with a partner across the net but restrict your shots into the doubles alleys only. Begin your session by playing gently, near the net and then gradually move further back into your court as you gain control while maintaining your consistency.

It’s more difficult than it sounds, especially when hitting full speed from behind your baseline.

Gary Sherby is tennis director at Racquets and Togs Tennis Center, 115 Bradford St., just off the downtown square. His tennis tips appear Sundays.

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