Tennis is a game of perpetual motion and if poking the ball down the middle is your idea of fun, it's time to take up golf. Once you clear the net and consistently keep the ball in play, work on controlling the ball -- instead of the other way around.
This art of placement makes it possible for weaker players to beat stronger ones. Chris Evert Lloyd, who admist that she is not a natural or very strong athlete, has used it with considerable success.
Placement does not mean going for broke on every shot or trying to hit each line on the court. But it does mean placing the ball into the area of the court that will give your opponent the most trouble.
The key to good placement is developing "court sense." This means a fast-acting feel for what part of the court is opening up as your opponent returns your last shot and good anticipation for where he or she will be going to recover for the next one. If you can catch your opponent going the wrong way and place the ball behind him, that is excellent placement. It is called "wrong-footing" your opponent.
To set this up, you have to move your opponent around. The bread-and-butter shot of groundstroke placements is the deep cross-court shot. Your opponent will be forced to hit a cross-court right back to you or go for a more difficult down-the-line. Take the initiative and try to move him from side to side. If you cannot draw an error this way, go for the juglar with an unexpected, sharp down-the-line shot.
The down-the-line shot is like threading a needle. Not only is the margin for error much smaller than on cross-courts, but the stroke also must be more finely executed. While the hips and shoulders swing around on the follow-through of the cross-court, the body must stay sideways to the net with the feet firmly in place throughout the down-the-line shot. While the cross-court is best hit with topspin to achieve depth, the down-the-line shot should be flat or sliced. Q. Where should I place the ball against an opponent who hits very sharply angled cross-courts? A. Keep the ball deep and pretty much up the middle to reduce your opponent's angles. Q. I have trouble hitting a down-the-line backhand. What is the secret? A. No secret, but make sure your body is fully at right angles to the net and you hit through the ball with a firm wrist. Q. How many cross-courts should I hit before trying d down-the-line shot? A. About three cross-courts will usually set up a chance for a down-the-line switcheroo.