I have often mentioned that tennis has become a power game, basically at all levels. The equipment is better, the players are better, and the ball is going faster. This makes us want to try to hit the ball through our opponents.
A better idea is to hit two or three deep shots at your normal speed, and then try to hit a shorter and angled crosscourt ball. This type of strategy will work whenever you are facing a player who tends to play most of their shots from behind the baseline but it can also work against the aggressive players as long as you set it up with the deep balls at the beginning of the point.
Using this mentality, you are likely to make fewer errors and you will have a better chance of establishing your timing and rhythm from the baseline. Your opponent will have to deal with the depth of your shots and the court will feel much bigger because they have to move side to side as well as diagonally (into the court), in order to get to your shorter angled shots. You can do this same type of thing in doubles and just adjust the last shot so you are hitting the ball up in front of the player who is back at the baseline.
You may not hit as many clean winners, but your opponents will feel like they are working harder, which will take its toll and give you a great chance to win the match.
Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Pro, is the Director of Annacone Tennis, www.annaconetennis.com and MyHamptonsPro, www.myhamptonspro.com throughout the Hamptons, NY. In addition, Steve and Miguel Coelho have introduced the JET (Junior Elite Tennis) program at the Tucson Jewish Community Center (Tucson, AZ) for high level players ages 8-18. Please contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org.