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The Half Volley

Paul Fein

Printable Version

Roger Federer hits an incredible half volley return, the so called SABR attack.

The half volley has become rare in elite tennis, apparently close to extinction as a regular shot. But recently it has made some dramatic reappearances.

In the 2015 US Open women's semifinals, Roberta Vinci massaged two half-volley, drop shot winners to close out her win over Serena Williams. And Roger Federer has resurrected the half volley in the men's game with his SABR returns, marveled at across the tennis world. (SABR stands for Sneak Attack By Roger, but you knew that right?)

But is the term half volley even an accurate description of the shot? Some coaches contend the shot is not a volley at all--that it's really an abbreviated groundstroke. Others say it's a form of a volley.

What everyone agrees on is that the half volley is a ball hit only a few inches off the ground, and that it is one of the most difficult shots in tennis.

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Paul Fein is an elite USPTA teaching pro and the number one super senior player in New England. He is the author of three books: Tennis Confidential: Today's Greatest Players, Matches, and Controversies. You Can Quote Me on That: Greatest Tennis Quips, Insights, and Zingers. And Tennis Confidential II: More of Today's Greatest Players, Matches, and Controversies. Paul has received more than 30 writing awards. His websites are and Write to him directly at:

Tennis Confidential

In this collection of essays and interviews, Paul Fein takes the reader into the world of the pro tennis tour with inside scoops about the game's greatest stars, past and present. Tennis Confidential includes interviews with such all-time greats as Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Arthur Ashe, and Jimmy Connors along with essays about the careers of other stars like Andre Agassi, the Williams sisters, Jennifer Capriati, and Anna Kournikova. Fein also reviews the careers of pioneering players like Martina Navratilova, Bjorn Borg, and Rod Laver. A unique perspective on the game and its history!

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