When I first started playing wheelchair tennis competitively, I went to a tournament in Lehigh Valley. My opponent was into hitting lobs* (also known as moon balls) for almost any shot. She liked to hit the ball high over my head so that it would land behind me since, as a newcomer, I still had the bad habit of moving forward on the court. I'd watch the ball sail past me, grimacing.
It was during that match that I finally figured out how to handle a lob. If I worked the court like an NFL receiver, watching over my shoulder, I could catch the ball either in flight or after a bounce. Of course, when I hit the ball back triumphantly, my opponent just hit another lob. She was like a wall.
I began to lob back at her, except I aimed my lobs to land deeper than hers, right on the baseline. This forced her to move so far back on the court that if I hit wide on the next shot at the point farthest away from her, she was hard pressed to get to the ball.
After three hours of this, we were both exhausted. Although my duct tape had wilted on both my racket and my arm, those shots left me with more energy and I went on to win the match.
"Those lobs are hard to get," my opponent told me.
I didn't have the heart to tell her that she gave me the idea. If I hadn't been on the receiving end of so many moon balls, I wouldn't have figured out how to place my offensive shot so well.
Years later, a coach told me lobs were a desperation shot for a player who wasn't in the right place set up for a better shot. I shifted my duct tape a bit and smiled, thinking of how many matches I won hitting moon balls.
I still smile thinking about it.
Knowing how moon balls work can come in handy in real life too.
*A lob is a ball that's hit high and deep and can be hit offensively or defensively.