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I played a match with a 19 year old girl (division ? college player). During warm up we were hitting back and forth, she hit hard, had some spin, was pretty consistent, I thought this was going to be a good match.

But then, when we started playing, she couldn't finish the points. When we had rallies she did ok, but when it came to a short ball, or trying to put it away, she would overhit it, or hit it into the net. So it ended up being an easy short match. Maybe if she just stuck with the rallies more, and not tried being so aggressive she would have done better.

I have heard from some friends having problem with that too. They can rally, but then can't put away a short ball. Why is that?

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What you are describing sounds like a player that has trouble with their "transition" game - the shots and strategies you use when an opponent hits a short or attack-able shot to you and it draws you up to the net or puts you in a position to attempt hitting a winner. In my experience, players that have trouble with their transition game are your stereotypical "baseline basher" type players that have a pretty consistent and topspin-heavy stroke from around the baseline, but don't spend too much time developing other shots (slice, drop shots, volleys, etc.). Some players just don't develop an all-court game and try to get by on overpowering their opponent from the baseline. That type of game works up until a certain level of opponent, just not against better opponents that know how to handle power and can effectively defend against it.

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This is a very common problem for many players at the "club" level, and a typical reason I've seen is that the desire to put the short ball away or forcing a play creates tension in the swing/stroke and modifies it (unconsciously). The tension is greater during match play due to pressure so the strokes seem to work well during practice. It's not easy to fix: she can try to develop more variety as suggested by jamauss to play different strokes altogether on shorter balls, or she can try to address the fundamentals of her regular strokes so that unwanted tension is removed as much as possible - the aim here is to produce consistent swing regardless of ball position or mental pressure.

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