This Week:

Amanda Rales

Bullis, Sr. Although she stands only 5 feet 4, Bullis senior tennis player Amanda Rales isn't content to sit back at the baseline chasing down balls in long rallies. She has emerged as one of the best players in the Washington area doing the exact opposite: wielding a deadly forehand that she uses to set up her strong volley game.

Rales, 17, is undefeated in eight matches this season with Bullis in large part because of her forehand. She has honed her technique to give her as much leverage as possible, helping her immeasurably against taller and more powerful opponents. And her versatility allows her to change things up on opponents.

"She can roll it. She can hit it pretty hard flat. She can step up and hit a winner," Bullis Coach Bob Pass said. "But mostly, it's a combination."

Since picking up a racquet at the age of 3, Rales said she always has liked working aggressively to get to the net and finish points early.

"I'm pretty competitive," she said. "I want to be the one controlling the point. I want to be the one making a point happen. I don't have the patience to rally from the baseline. I get bored."

Rales, No. 8 in the Mid-Atlantic Tennis Association's 18-and-under rankings and No. 127 nationally, said she likes some forehand shots better than others. If an opponent's shot is short, she'll try to make contact with the ball early and hit an approach shot that hopefully will result in a winning volley. She also mixes up her groundstrokes in hopes of catching an opponent off-balance -- then shooting a forehand behind her foe for a winner.

Rales also is willing to run around her backhand to hit the forehand in an inside-outside motion that presents two options for winners: a cross-court shot or one down the line.

The forehand "works for me in developing a strategy in a match. It's just a really good shot," Rales said. "The game is [about] strategy, where you have to figure out how to beat an opponent. It is so independent that you don't have anyone who can really help you. You have so many chances. If you're down, 0-5, it doesn't mean you can't win."

"I want to be the one controlling the point," said 17-year-old Amanda Rales. " . . . I don't have the patience to rally from the baseline. I get bored."