Learning how to hit the ball from tough positions. This is one chapter that I spent a lot of time on, being that my movement was never from the top shelf. I follow a couple of basic rules.
1. Watch your depth. The deeper you hit it, the less chances you give your opponent to attack, the less tough positions you will have to worry about.
2. Practice your defensive shots often. I go on and on about this, but the better the opponent, the better they will be at attacking you and getting you off balance. Making sure your deep cross-court, your lob over the backhand side, your dipper, and your defensive slice are well grooved, is essential.
3. When in trouble- defend, don't try to use brilliance to get out of tough spots.
4. Keep the ball out of the strike zone. High backhands, low slices, short angles, very heavy spin, all are attempts to make your opponent lose ten or fifteen percent of their maximum strike zone, thereby reducing the quality of their ball, and leaving you less defensive work to do.
5. Don't kid yourself. The return can be the ultimate defensive shot, practice it often, make it super consistent.
6. Do some crazy feeding drills- tell your coach to feed the ball as randomly as possible, and try to get thirty balls back from all kinds of weird and wonderful spots.