Because Fink has
committed himself to crowding the table, he, too, has a time disadvantage. For
instance, if you can find a weak spot in his defense and can hit the ball there
sharply enough with an element of surprise, he may not have enough time to
maneuver his wall-like racket into position. The problem is to find his weak
It exists. It is
the same weak spot all blockers have. It is the area in the neighborhood of the
right hip. Any ball hit there, even softly, becomes awkward for the blocker to
handle, for the right hip marks the no-man's-land between the forehand and
backhand block. For him to hit a backhand requires a contortion, but to switch
from backhand to forehand requires the reflexes of an Olympic fencer, and even
then the forehand will be cramped. Either shot figures to produce an error or a
So your strategy
against the blocker, though not necessarily easy to execute, is theoretically
clear-cut. On each point you will wait to single out one of his returns that
gives you enough time to turn sideways and take it in your forehand driving
stance. Then hit your drive to that no-shot-land, that gulf at Fink's right hip
between his backhand and forehand block.
The best procedure
is to begin each point with a series of pushing exchanges, your push against
his block. Your own shots can go anywhere on the table. At this stage of the
rally the only important thing is to keep the ball in play. Meanwhile, Fink
will probably be crowding you into your backhand corner. Never mind. As soon as
you have the rhythm of the rally and feel ready to make your move, take one of
Fink's returns and push back at him a relatively slow-traveling ball, this
time, however, making sure that your push has been angled from your own
backhand court deep to his backhand court. And, as you make your return, step
around your backhand to your left and into your forehand driving position.
Notice that it is the slowness of your own push shot that gives you the time to
get into position.
maneuver leaves your forehand side unguarded, but if Fink does block there his
angle is limited (because you have pushed to his backhand) and you can still
reach the ball with your forehand. More likely, he will again block to your
backhand—but this time you will be waiting with your forehand drive to attack
his weak spot. Your first forehand need not be a kill, it need only be severe.
But it must be well placed. Top-spin it to that break-off point between
forehand and backhand. It is your second drive—presumably on Fink's weak
return—that wins the point. If you blast it hard enough you can afford to hit
it anywhere on the table, but once again your best target against a blocker
trapped at the table is that undefendable forehand-backhand area.
One last thought.
You are not irrevocably pledged to attack just because your slow push shot got
you into position. If your nemesis blocks the ball back too low, too fast or
uncomfortably wide to your forehand, do not panic. Just push the ball back and
start the whole maneuver over again.
Now, to really
send your Fink home a broken man, let me finish by showing you two spin serves
that are easy to execute but tend to demolish the average basement player.
You know, of
course, that the service rule states the ball must be thrown into the air from
your open palm. Well, now you know. Moreover, it must be struck as it descends.
This eliminates the chance of applying spin by rubbing the ball against the
racket with palm or fingers, or achieving speed by throwing the ball into the
racket. (If Fink is swindling you on his serve, quote the rule.) But even
within these limits a little know-how and a sponge bat can produce half a dozen
aces a game.
One of the easiest
serves to learn, though quite potent, is the forehand sidespin serve. The spin
is achieved by dragging the racket across the ball from right to left. You
should stand sideways to the table, feet apart, with your left foot pointed
toward the net and your right foot perpendicular to the table. Your racket is
held out far to your right, and your wrist is well back so that the back of
your right hand and your forearm form a V. The wrist maintains this position
throughout the motion. Toss the ball about six inches into the air.
The swing is a
right-to-left grazing motion across the back center of the ball. The grazing
action cuts down the ball's forward motion and keeps it on the table. The
faster you swing and the finer you graze the ball the more spin you will get.
At first, in trying to slice the ball thin, you may miss it completely, but an
hour or two of practice should produce a Fink-shaker of a serve.