Last updated on 30-Apr-2012 11:57:40 PM
An opponent served me off with high-toss forehand pendulum serves that landed a bit shorter than mid-length. The serves had heavy topspin and I couldn't get a swing at them. Push/chopping no go, as too much topspin. 3rd ball attack killed me.
I watched my coach. His opponent was doing much the same thing, generating incredible amount of top&side and making the ball even shorter than my opponent had. They were too short for him and he botched them up. He got a bat to the ball, but couldn't swing, and the ball flew high and off the side of the table.
Last night's opponent served me off with another variation of high toss forehand pendulum serve. The serves were again too short to hit. When I misread the topspin, I pushed and the ball went straight up, about table height. My opponent killed it. He did this repeatedly. I decided I've got to swing. When I tried this, he served short but with backspin, and it was so heavy that the ball was dragged backwards almost, so I only just got bat to ball and then the ball fell into the net.
I've noticed that top players have the same problem. e.g. William H. can't tell if Wang Liqin's short serve to f/hand is top or back-spin. And I saw Rosskopf killed my Chen Qi. Chen served with heavy top-spin f/hand tomahawks, Rosskopf guessed backspin and lifted them back, and did this time after time, losing every point. Also, I have seen Ma Lin's Chinese Super-League opponents having no idea what spins he's getting, despite them being world-class.
I cannot picture how these short serves can be returned. I've thought of Ma Lin standing left of the backhand corner to receive, and I wonder how he would treat short and funny spins wide to his f/hand.
If the ball is short with topspin the best solution is probably to flick the ball. If you are not picking the spin on the serve then it is a bigger problem.
To make the flick off a topspin make sure you get close to the ball with your nose and make the stroke.
Take a look at the lesson on the Forehand Flick again. Perhaps don't try to do too much with the return, just roll it back at first to get the feel of it and then work from there.
If the serve has backspin then you can push it but trying to push a short topspin serve is always difficult.