Basically, a tennis court measures 39 feet from its net to the baseline; and a player awaits the ball in one of two positions within the court.
The first position is at a point near the center of the net (court) at a distance of about 3 feet from the baseline (or 36 feet away from the net).
The second position is to stand roughly opposite the ball at a distance of about 8 feet away from the net (or 31 feet from the baseline).
While all baseline players occupy the first position, net men take up the second position, which is known as the net position.
You would of course be drawn from any of these set positions to return shots of the opposing player; but after you return the shot, you must regain the original position as fast as possible
The area of the court from around 10 feet of the net to the baseline is known as the “blank” or the “no-man’s-land” where you should never linger; since if you do linger, the chances are that a deep shot by your opponent would land at your feet; that is very difficult to pick up.
If you make a shot from the no-man’s-land as you are most likely to very often (since this is the main area that your opponent would be targeting his shots to land in order to cause you the maximum problems), you should go back beyond the baseline to wait for the next salvo and come forward again to meet it. However, if you are unable to retreat beyond the baseline after having been drawn short for the earlier shot, you should immediately exercise the other option of taking up the net position instead.
If you keep standing at the position you last struck the ball to watch its progress, you will miss the bus to take up your anchor position at the baseline or the net as the case may be in time for your next shot. Always strive to anticipate where your opponent’s next salvo will land and try to make it to that point in advance of the ball. Your running to and from between points should take place when the ball is still in flight, so that you would not be hurried into playing a bad stroke after the ball bounces.
Your anticipation will improve with time and experience, and it plays a major role in the success of the game you play. You should watch and learn from some players who move into correct position almost by instinct well in time for their next shot. It is in this context that I recommend the court position of coming in to strike the ball from beyond the baseline since running forward is much more preferable to running backward.
A very tricky position to be caught in is at the net after possibly returning a short shot at our opponent. If you stay put and stranded at this position, your opponent will go to town passing you at will. This is a time you have to make a very quick decision and jump to that position in the quickest possible time as he swings. In making this split second decision, you make a guess as to which side he will put the ball. If your guess is right, you win and if it is wrong, you lose; but you will be no worse off for your wrong decision, since easy kill of it would have been made by him anyway.
Plan your court position well so that you would not have to compromise on safety while also covering the greatest area possible. This is very important since you have to be able to invariably cover any straight shot from whichever position you are anchored to; for it is the surest, and yet the most dangerous shot. Finally it boils down to a question of what additional area of court is to be guarded than the area towards the net from of the ball.
A good ground knowledge of court positions would save many points for you apart from conserving your energy by minimizing the necessity for long runs within the court consequent to hopeless shots.