PDA

View Full Version : First singles match tomorrow night! Tips, suggestions?


sonnylax
08-31-2004, 08:42 AM
My first ever singles (USTA league) match is tomorrow evening at my home courts. I've played doubles for a little over a year now and I'm playing on two leagues this fall (men's doubles and singles) for the first time.

I'm a little nervous and excited about playing solo in singles competition, especially my serves. I have a flat, medium strength serve that I plan to stick with until I lose multiple service games. I've been experimenting with a slice serve, but I would rather not use that in competition until I'm a little more comfortable.

Any suggestions/tips for a first timer? I feel kinda of like a little kid on Christmas eve. :)

doubletrouble
08-31-2004, 11:45 AM
My advice and this is something I do every time I serve is to visualize my entire serve from the start of my motion on through the racket striking the ball to exactly where the ball will land. This will give you confidence.

On the other end when returning I do the same thing I visualize my return exactly how I will hit it to where it will land. I will play out the entire point in my head.

Visualization helps me stay focused through out the match. So good luck!

kevhen
08-31-2004, 11:52 AM
Have fun, enjoy the match and figuring out your opponent as you unwrap your Christmas gifts and see if you have found something you like (singles matches). Go with the serve you feel comfortable with and if you are way up or way down in the game score, try throwing in the slice to see if it's there yet. Sometimes mixing things up can throw your opponent off if he gets used to your flat serve.

Chanchai
08-31-2004, 11:58 AM
Hope you have a wonderful time. Good luck with the nerves if they creep up.

I recommend practicing to a full warmup a couple hours before the scheduled match time. You might not get warmed up enough during the warmup, and you might be just loose enough on the court by matchtime.

Definitely don't forget to bring water. And if you play best when serious, I recommend presenting a serious enough image that is either intimidating or just sends the message to your opponent not to talk to you during the changeover.

If gamesmanship is in question, don't let it bother you, but also make it known that you are suspsecting it. Better to take care of it earlier than later.

-Chanchai

goober
09-01-2004, 05:25 AM
Hope it is an enjoyable experience.

I am starting play in a couple weeks in a league myself after years of just playing with friends and family.

8)

sonnylax
09-01-2004, 06:48 AM
Good tips all. Thanks.

Can't wait for tonight's match!

penpal
09-01-2004, 07:02 AM
Be patient. I'm not sure what your level is, but I'm guessing 3.0 or 3.5 if you've only been playing for about a year. It will be VERY tempting to go out and try to hit winners and get the point over fast, especially since you're used to doubles. Avoid this temptation. Be content to hit deep, medium-paced balls and wait for your opponent to make an error. If your opponent is a net rusher, don't go for the killer passing shots, just focus on keeping the ball low over the net, even if you hit right at him (of course, well-timed and well-placed lobs can be very effective too if he's getting a little too close to the net. If you do lob, try to lob to his backhand side).

Oh, also, remember to recover towards the middle. I've played a lot of former doubles players who tend to hang out on one side of the court when they play singles.

Have fun.

sonnylax
09-01-2004, 07:49 AM
Be patient. I'm not sure what your level is, but I'm guessing 3.0 or 3.5 if you've only been playing for about a year. It will be VERY tempting to go out and try to hit winners and get the point over fast, especially since you're used to doubles. Avoid this temptation. Be content to hit deep, medium-paced balls and wait for your opponent to make an error. If your opponent is a net rusher, don't go for the killer passing shots, just focus on keeping the ball low over the net, even if you hit right at him (of course, well-timed and well-placed lobs can be very effective too if he's getting a little too close to the net. If you do lob, try to lob to his backhand side).


Great tips. I'm a "net rusher", so I will have to pace myself for sure. I just plan to make most of my returns to his backhand and see how the match progress from there. Hopefully, my wide serves to the Ad court will be good tonight!

Ace
09-01-2004, 10:11 AM
Be sure to post your results tomorrow!
Let us know how the match went.

sonnylax
09-02-2004, 12:56 PM
Well... that was one tiring match. I won: 7 - 5, 3 - 6, 6 - 4. Very tiring.

We were out there for 3 hours and 15 minutes. Some long points, games, and obviously sets. I seriously don't know how the pros play best out of five. I was dead tired after the match and I'm really good shape. We were pretty evenly matched and my opponent could have won last night just as easily as I did. It took me a while to get warmed up, coming from a pure doubles background.

We traded games to start the first set, but I got up a break and carried that through most of the first set. He broke me back when I was leading midway thru the set. I then rallied back to break him and won my next service game after I was down Love - 40! I broke him yet again to avoid a tiebreaker and take the first set. I was fairly certain that we were headed for a tiebreaker at that point, so beating him in that final game was pretty huge.

Felt like a huge pressure was off my shoulders after winning the first set. Mentally, I guess I quasi-checked out of the match at this point. We split the first six games of the 2nd set, but I was down in most games (even the ones I was serving). He then won three in a row to take the 2nd set. Mentally, I just wasn't there.

I lost the first game to start the 3rd (and final) set. I ended up chasing him all the way to 4 - 3 in his favor. He was serving the next game with a chance to go up 5 - 3 in the last set. I ended up breaking him after ~8 duece points in another long game to even the set. I then won my next service game... Adding in an ace to finalize that game to give me a 5 - 4 lead. I broke him in the final game. I just kept the ball in play mostly and let him make the mistakes. We were both pretty damn tired by that point in the match.

He played a lot of serve and volley type points. I had OK lobs to beat him some of the time, but didn't get comfortable with hard passing type groundstrokes necessary to beat a volley-type player. I'm not comfortable enough with consistent, strong groundstrokes and immediately when defensive (i.e. lobs) when he would attack the net.

I played to his backhand mostly from the baseline. He would cheat toward that side eventually and then I would try and whip down the alley to beat him. That worked OK mostly. His second serve was a far weaker then his first, so I was able to return that ball 85% of the time where I wanted.

THINGS I LEARNED -

1. I've got to focus and make everypoint count. I can't take service points/games "off." I've got to have a plan each time I serve the ball. (I can now see why "holding serve" is so critical in pro matches.)

2. My overheads are horrible! I mishit at least 5 overhead shots that I should have ended points on. My timing is just off and I get too ansy waiting for the ball to come down. I've got to work on that to improve my game.

3. I've got to attack the 2nd serve. Hit it hard and deep to pin him on the baseline, each and every time.

4. Overall mental toughness. See # 1.

I'd appreciate your input as to ways I can improve from this point forward. I have my 2nd singles match next Wednesday night. Thanks!

kevhen
09-02-2004, 01:24 PM
Nice analysis. Sounds like a good match.

Work on that overhead. Always hit at least 5-10 overheads in every warmup, more if you can practice it sometime. You want to be able to put away every overhead at match time or at least hit a deep, but safe overhead to keep your opponent on the defensive.

More importantly, don't relax when you are winning, but keep applying the pressure so he doesn't come back and force the third set. Your opponent will adjust and get used to your game so don't let your guard down.

Either attack the 2nd serve or just focus on getting all of them back so he knows he will have to work for every point. But see if you can attack them with success and then he might scale back his first serve.

Nice job, nice win. A 3 hour match is nothing to sneeze about. Lots of energy expent both mentally and physically and you came through with the win on your first singles league match. Next opponent might be totally different so don't expect everything to be the same. Be ready to adjust if need be. Thanks for the update.

thehustler
09-02-2004, 11:47 PM
Personally I try to play best of 5 whenever I can. Normally I don't lose a set so I'm used to playing at least 3 sets. This always keeps me prepared for those long matches that can go a few hours and helps me keep my endurance up. I play only singles and I can see why you're tired since you play doubles and are used to having that extra person there.

I agree with what is said above. Personally one thing I do that I don't think a lot of people do is try to attack the first serve. I'll try to put it right back at the server or down the line to send a message. Sometimes I goof and I dump it into the net, wide or long, but when I miss it's not by much. I try to tell my opponent that his first serve is weak and he'd better improve quick before I destroy him. This way I force more doubles since they're so concerned about not floating that 2nd serve.

Another thing I can suggest is try mixing things up. Throw in a serve and volley or a drop shot here and there. If you're just a pure baseliner this will help confuse your opponent. Try to apply all the pressure you can from the opening serve to show your opponent you mean business. Try the slice serve as well. Take a little pace off it, but place it well and you can jam the guy as well as getting some cheap S & V in. I use this serve a lot and it helps me get quick and easy points because a lot of people try to float their returns instead of crushing them back. Good luck with your next match. Hope all goes well for ya.