What is the definition of Cross court in tennis?
Cross court in tennis refers to a shot that is played diagonally from one side of the court to the other. This type of shot is crucial in tennis strategy, as it allows players to hit the ball away from their opponents, making it more difficult for them to return it. The cross court shot can be played using both forehand and backhand strokes, and it is an essential skill for players of all levels to master.
One key aspect of understanding cross court shots in tennis is familiarizing oneself with the tennis court layout. A standard tennis court is rectangular, divided in half by a net. The court features a variety of lines and markings that dictate how players can score points and impact their game strategies. Notably, the cross court shot can be employed when returning a serve, in a baseline rally, or during aggressive plays at the net.
- Cross court shots are played diagonally across the tennis court, helping players to hit the ball away from their opponents.
- Familiarity with the tennis court layout is important for mastering cross court strategy.
- Both forehand and backhand strokes can be used to execute effective cross court shots in various game situations.
Tennis Court Layout
The tennis court is divided into two halves along the length by the net. On each side, there are two service boxes (right and left) which are created by the division of the court with the center service line. The service boxes are where the ball must land when a player serves. Each service box measures 21 feet (6.4 meters) from the net to the service line and 13.5 feet (4.1 meters) wide.
Baseline and Service Line
The tennis court has horizontal lines called baselines, which run along the width of the court at the back. The distance from the baseline to the net is 39 feet (11.89 meters). The lines that run parallel to the net and create the service boxes are called service lines. The service lines are drawn 21 feet (6.4 meters) from the net and run from sideline to sideline, dividing the court into back and forth, creating four equal sections – two service boxes on each side.
Singles and Doubles Sidelines
The sidelines are the vertical lines that run along the length of the court. There are two types of sidelines: singles and doubles. The singles sidelines are closer to the net and define the playing area for singles tennis, while the doubles sidelines are at a wider distance, extending the playing area for doubles matches. The additional width introduced by the doubles sidelines is the doubles alley, which measures 4.6 feet (1.37 meters) wide on each side. The total width for singles play is 27 feet (8.23 meters), while for doubles, it is 36 feet (10.97 meters).
Defining Cross Court
Direction of Shot
Cross court is a term used in tennis to describe the trajectory of a shot that goes from one player’s side of the court to the diagonally opposite side on their opponent’s half. This type of shot is strategically advantageous because it forces the opponent to cover a greater distance, which can result in them being out of position and giving the player hitting the cross court shot more time to prepare for the next return. The Merriam-Webster definition refers to it as “to or toward the opposite side of a court (as in tennis or basketball).”
The contact point for a cross-court shot may vary depending on the type of stroke being executed, such as a forehand or backhand. In general, the contact point should be slightly later than when hitting the ball down the line, which allows for the racket face to be slightly closed, imparting the necessary spin and angle to direct the ball cross court.
For a forehand cross-court shot, the contact point should be slightly to the side of the player’s body, with their arm extended out but not fully straightened. The racket face should be slightly closed, and the follow-through should naturally move across the body. A similar contact point and technique can be applied to backhand cross-court shots.
In the modern game, players often use topspin when hitting cross-court shots to keep the ball in play by clearing the net with a higher trajectory while still landing within the boundaries of the court. This heavy topspin also creates a bounce that can be more challenging for the opponent to handle.
Using tables, the contact point for different cross court shots can be illustrated as follows:
|Slightly to the side of the body, arm not fully straightened, racket face slightly closed.
|Similar to forehand, but depending on one-handed or two-handed backhand, slightly different body positioning.
It is important to practice cross-court shots to develop consistency, accuracy, and control, and mastering this skill can lead to a significant advantage in match play.
Strategies of Cross Court Shot
One of the primary strategies of a cross court shot in tennis is playing angles. By hitting the ball diagonally across the court, a player can create a wider angle, forcing their opponent to cover more ground. Since the ball travels a longer distance on a cross court shot than on a down-the-line shot, it also provides some additional time for the hitter to recover and prepare for the next shot. A well-executed cross court shot can put an opponent on the defensive, making them vulnerable to a follow-up attack.
Forcing Opponent Movement
Another crucial aspect of cross court shots in tennis is forcing opponent movement. Cross court shots require the receiving player to move laterally across the court. Particularly effective cross court shots can make the opponents change direction quickly, causing them to lose balance and make errors. Additionally, players can use cross court shots in combination with down-the-line shots, alternating between the two, to keep their opponents guessing and increase the chances of catching them out of position.
In a cross court game strategy, a player can capitalize on their opponent’s weaknesses by forcing them to move extensively, often making them return shots with their weaker hand (forehand or backhand). Successfully executing cross court shots also helps players wear down their opponents both physically and mentally, eventually creating opportunities for winners and forcing errors.