Win that tennis
match by becoming ruthless
(in a nice way)
"Life of a Scrappy Player" Series)
Scrappy Tennis Player
by Rich Neher
So, you're stuck with
your game and can't seem to win against players you think you
should be able to beat? No, not against players who are clearly
better than you, like one or two whole ratings levels. Come on,
when you're a 3.5 and your opponent is a 4.0 it takes an act
of God to make you win that match. Does it not? Let's forget
the situation where you, the accomplished doubles player who
never plays singles, are forced to play an accomplished singles
player who is rated higher than you. Out of luck, sorry. You
can only pray that guy has a real bad day after a long night
of partying with very little sleep. It's not going to happen,
Now, you're on the court
with that opponent who you always wanted to beat but never could.
You're warming up looking for weaknesses. Can't find any? Forehand
and backhand look equally strong? Come on, you are not facing
a tour player here. That just never happens at the recreational
level. OK, then look at his strengths. Where is the killer shot
coming from. Ah, it's coming from his forehand? Here you go,
buddy. THAT'S where he's going to really hurt you in the match.
The back hand may look good and all, but it's not a killer shot
and he's not likely to hurt you with it. Got that? Just the thought
of taking an entire killer shot opportunity away from your opponent
should make you shiver with anticipation (Oh, hold, that was
Tim Curry in the "Rocky Horror Picture Show, haha, sorry!)...
Now here is something
you can practice, btw. How to concentrate on hitting just to
one side for an entire set. Once you know how to do this, you'll
get a lot of confidence in your shot making and that could make
a big difference in your game.
Here's our scrappy player
now, playing this guy who he always lost to. Strong serve and
killer forehand. During warm-up Mr. Scrappy didn't see the danger
of the forehand, and the first game he lost to love because he
was just happy to return his booming serves and everything landed
just the way his opponent wanted it - on his forehand. Mr. Scrappy
had no chance getting any of his powerful cross court shots.
From now on almost all
of our scrappy players serves, returns, and volleys went
to his opponents backhand. He couldn't hurt him from there
at all. Then the player on the other side became a little frustrated
and began to make mistakes. On the rare occasion of Mr. Scrappy
hitting to his forehand he hit one long, and then one into the
net. After our scrappy player broke him in his next service game
he began to systematically dismantle his game and that was the
end of it.
What is there to learn
from this example? When your opponent doesn't show you a shot
making weakness look for his strong side and then choose the
other side. Be ruthless! Hit to this other side relentlessly.
Come in after a good approach shot or after a short return and
put those volleys away. Then hit to "the other" side
It worked for Mr. Scrappy
many times before. He is not known to be a ruthless guy, but
when he sees a weakness in his opponent's game, hell exploit
it! However - still be nice to your opponent. He may do the same
to you next time. No?