A little advice on my first league match...

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Surecatch, Aug 20, 2012.

  1. Surecatch

    Surecatch Semi-Pro

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    ...tonight.

    I had a great lesson on Saturday. The guy showed me how to semi-westernize the sitch' for heavy topspin and how to use a more continental-ish grip for serving. Him feeding me balls, man I was dialed on on the forehand...felt great. Problem is, I played against my daughter's boyfriend yesterday...a non-tennis player, but very athletic...and I couldn't execute anything I'd learned, especially the serve. I resorted to punching the ball in to avoid doubles, and I couldn't get the forehand stroke down at all because he gave me no pace whatsoever...major pusher game. He just blocked everything back with two hands, but I mean everything. And at his age, (eighteen) and build, (6'-3" and very thin), he got to everything. With his long stride and youth, he just got everything back, and then I started to press, getting impatient, and then I got tired at 5-5 and I lost.

    So after feeling so great about my tennis lesson on Saturday, I am very discouraged going into my first league match. Why am I scared to let 'er
    rip?

    So here is the question...the guy I'm playing tonight, I'm not going to beat. Sure, I'll give it my best, but he's a perennial champ in this division...I know I'm not ready to beat him. Not yet. My fitness isn't there yet, among other things. So I'm thinking I should just throw all caution away, not worry, and let 'er rip, results be damned.

    I have this sense that I will never improve if I don't get over the fear of going through a learning curve in match play.

    Thoughts?

    TIA.
     
    #1
  2. Mauvaise

    Mauvaise Rookie

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    Number one thought: never blame the person across the net for your losing unless it's because you were simply outplayed (and there's no shame in not being the better player on the court that day).

    When you're playing a match, you're not going to get perfect feeds to groove on. You need to be able to adapt your skill (no matter what level it is) to the balls that are coming at you from the other side of the net. If you have trouble with low pace balls, have your pro work on feeding you those kinds of shots until you know how to handle them.

    As for your upcoming match: when I go into a match where I think I have no chance of wining (ex. when I'm unseeded playing a number 1 or 2 seed) I focus on the little things: watching the ball all the way into the strings, footwork, follow through, PATIENCE (you do not want to go for too much too soon - wait for your perfect shot). Be the pusher - just get everything back - for at least a few games until you can evaluate your opponent and develop a strategy. Who knows? You may even win!
     
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  3. josofo

    josofo Semi-Pro

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    play the best match you can. its really hard to get better.
     
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  4. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    Don't think too much and have fun.

    Being your first match you will be tight. Heck, most of us get tight during matches even after years of experience. When you get tight, you just can't execute as well. Accept this, realize it may not be pretty, and then be ok with it. Have fun; remember why you play tennis. Do the best you can during the match but don't get down on yourself whatever happens.
     
    #4
  5. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Great question!

    It sounds like you are a developing player. You don't say your level or how long you have been playing, but presumably you are taking lessons because you want to improve. You're at the very beginning of a long and demanding road, then.

    There's no shame in that. Welcome to the club!

    I would find the answer to your question by working backward. Say the worst happens and you get destroyed. When you see your coach next, what would you like to be able to say?

    Will you feel good about, "I knew I probably couldn't win, so I just let 'er rip."

    Or will you feel good about, "I did what you showed me last lesson. I used that new Conti grip for every single serve even when I was behind, and I used my new FH grip for every ball. I tried to set up on every ball as best I could and I hit the best quality ball I could hit the way you are teaching me to hit it."

    See, if you are going to improve, you are going to have to do what you are paying your pro to teach you. You will lose a lot before you get the hang of it.

    But if you revert back to your bad old ways (frying pan grip for fear of a DF), it will take much longer to groove the new things you are learning. If you are going to lose, you might as well accomplish something meaningful in the process (getting used to your new techniques and seeing how they hold up under pressure). And if you win, that's a bonus.

    Good luck, and please let us know how it goes.
     
    #5
  6. Surecatch

    Surecatch Semi-Pro

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    Gotcha... and great advice. The kid beat me fair and square, no question about it. I just have trouble with pusher games, but I'm not one to complain about it too much. If it works, there isn't any reason not to employ it. I was just frustrated because it was my first time after the lesson and I just couldn't set up my strokes etc. I was constantly running up for a little dink or his blocked back shots. But yeah, good on him....he got everything back and it was good practice. My serving woes was another story. I was just flat out scared to put into practice what I'd learned after a couple of doubles.

    Thank you for the response, sir.
     
    #6
  7. Surecatch

    Surecatch Semi-Pro

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    This is great advice too.....that is what I aim to do, just start playing and stop being scared of making bad shots. Falling back on the old bad ways is the definite obstacle and I just have to do it. At least I'll look like a tennis player, even if I lose, instead of a weekend warrior with no game.

    Thanks for the response, great insights! I'll let you know how I did.
     
    #7
  8. PushyPushster

    PushyPushster Rookie

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    Don't just "let er rip". Play smart tennis and make your opponent earn his points. All of his points. This will start developing a part of your game just as important as your strokes - a tough mental attitude. And these are the best matches to develop that attitude ... when you're playing against an opponent who is clearly superior and the temptation to Just Give Up exists. Being mentally tough may not pay off in this match, but it'll pay off in the future.

    Also - good luck!
     
    #8
  9. Surecatch

    Surecatch Semi-Pro

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    Also great advice. "Let 'er rip" was bad terminology. What I meant was stop falling back on old habits and doing what I've learned, no matter how the match was shaking out. I just feel like I have to do that or I will never get to the next level. I play in 3.5 leagues now and want to move up to 4.0 leagues eventually. I don't think I'll ever do it if I don't tough through the learning curve in matches.
     
    #9
  10. Spokewench

    Spokewench Semi-Pro

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    What you need to do is give yourself a break. Just taking a lesson and learning what and how to do does not make this second nature. Give yourself some time to learn this new way of hitting.

    It does not happen in a week. You must practice something in order to make that motion a motion that you can do over and over.

    So, give yourself a break. Go play the best that you can. If you find you are not hitting just like the pro told you, that is okay. Just keep working on it.

    If we could all go take a lesson and get it the next day; there would be no reason for taking any more lessons and we would all be pros!
     
    #10
  11. floridatennisdude

    floridatennisdude Hall of Fame

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    Control the things within your control. Focus on the ball and not the opponent. Drink enough water to stay hydrated. Enjoy the event for what it is...a fun game!
     
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  12. JRstriker12

    JRstriker12 Hall of Fame

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    1. Concentrate on playing your best (play smart, try to limit errors, stick to your game plan). Don't worry about winning.

    2. Take it as a learning experience -It's funny how a USTA match can feel different from a competitive match with people you know. It may take a few matches before you become "battle hardened." Just figure that this is your first step in learning to compete in this situation.

    3. Try to have fun. Yes, FUN! The reason why you play. Yes, everyone want to win, but I find playing become easier if you take the attitude of going out there to enjoy the tennis and play your best rather than trying to crush the competition. In the end you can feel good about your effort on court, win or lose.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2012
    #12
  13. Surecatch

    Surecatch Semi-Pro

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    You're probably right. Thanks, man.
     
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  14. gmatheis

    gmatheis Hall of Fame

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    When you practice you focus on the ball, on making good contact because there is no point/game/match on the line.

    When you play a game you have a tendancy to take that focus away from your shot to see if your shot stays in or goes long, or where your opponent is moving to etc...

    Force yourself to focus on the shot all the way through your swing, and dont let your attention be drawn up to your opponent, or to see if your shot lands in etc until well after you have struck the ball.
     
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  15. Surecatch

    Surecatch Semi-Pro

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    Fantastic advice from everyone. Thanks a mill'...I knew this forum would come through. Here is my game plan.

    1. Stick to your service grip and motion.
    2. Stick to your forehand grip and motion.
    3. Don't try and go for too much, hit down the middle.
    4. Keep moving and practicing conscientious footwork.
    5. Depending on how things are going, maybe try hitting behind him when he comes back from going wide.
    6. Have fun and be positive. Don't worry about final results, just your game. You'll probably get better final results that way.
     
    #15
  16. IA-SteveB

    IA-SteveB Professional

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    Every match is a learning experience and you will definitely take something away from each match to use in another. Keeping it simple can be so hard!
     
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  17. Surecatch

    Surecatch Semi-Pro

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    I lost 1-6, 4-6, but I am very happy with what I accomplished, which was sticking to the above things. I was a bit tentative on my grounds, but better. I need to develop pace on my serve but I stuck with the grip and motion. I had him down 4-3 in the second set and had leads in the last three games that I ultimately lost. Fitness issues.

    Overall though it's something to build on and I drove home with a smile on my face. I put worry into him in the second set, and being my first match in almost four years, that's victory enough for now. We play again later in the schedule. He'll see me again and maybe next time it'll be different. I believe now that it can be.

    Thanks to everyone for your thoughts on the matter. I took a little bit from each piece of advice and applied it to positive results.
     
    #17
  18. JRstriker12

    JRstriker12 Hall of Fame

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    Not bad. You improved in the second set and made it close. It was a difference of only a break.
     
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  19. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    There ya go. Giving it your best shot is what matters. Every match is, or at least can be, a learning experience.
     
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  20. Surecatch

    Surecatch Semi-Pro

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    It was a pretty positive experience and I'm already thinking about ways to build on it.

    Thanks, guys/girls.
     
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  21. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Congratulations!

    Now . . . Come on. Out with it. Did you smoke a few sweet serves with that conti grip?
     
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  22. Surecatch

    Surecatch Semi-Pro

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    :). A couple, but I mostly just concentrated on the grip and the form and getting it in, (that's what she said), instead of the pace. I intend to develop it but one step at a time.
     
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  23. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Grip is, of course, important. But, imho, racket preparation is even more important. What's your opinion on this?
     
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  24. Surecatch

    Surecatch Semi-Pro

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    Agree totally. Ball toss too. The whole damn thing is just a chain of things that needs to all be "in alignment." I watch a ton of tennis and it always occurs to me that there is a reason the best players in the world spend so much time and are so deliberate with each and every serve.
     
    #24
  25. Surecatch

    Surecatch Semi-Pro

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    The day after the match, having slept on it, and I'm trying to think about what I can learn about my game from the match, and about him in particular since I'll be meeting him again later in the schedule.

    1. I need to continue to persevere with the grips and proper mechanics. It was getting easier and more comfortable by the end of the match. I need to be conscientious of continuing with it.

    2. I need to concentrate on the ball more, on watching it into my strings, seeing it, and keeping proper form while I do. I have started bouncing a tennis ball on my walk into work and catching it, dribbling it, ricocheting it against against anything in my path and catching it again...all the while keeping my eyes on it. I'm trying to train my hand-eye coordination specific to tennis into second nature.

    3. I need to strike the ball better, which I know will improve as I train myself to see the ball better. I framed more shots than I should...I might have gotten that fifth game break in the second set if I had better sight of the ball. I could have taken the set and then, who knows.

    4. I need to give him more pace. He thrives on lack of pace because he can use it to misdirection me and catch me flat footed. I was concentrating on the grips, form, and mechanics of my groundies as per my game plan, so I wasn't providing a lot of pace. I think if I did that, he would be forced into a defensive posture and then make more errors and not be able to dictate points.

    5. I need to step up my efforts on service. Same thing, I was concentrating so much on doing it right that I wasn't really hitting exceptionally hard. I could continue that, but I feel like I need to push it now in order to improve.

    Thoughts on my observations? I would welcome them.
     
    #25
  26. JRstriker12

    JRstriker12 Hall of Fame

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    Some good analysis!

    Just a few suggestions.

    1. In addition to watching the ball, also try to keep your head still as it will help you avoid framing the ball.

    2. Pace is good, but IMHO, I'll take a high,deep ball over a ball with pace that lands short. A high, deep ball will usually keep your opponent on the defensive or at least keep the rally neutral.
     
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  27. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Slow down, cowboy. :)

    Seriously, I wouldn't worry about pace. If you try to hit harder, you will likely miss more. As JR said, go for depth, height over the net. If you keep him back, he won't be able to hit misdirection or crafty shots even if he wants to.

    Congratulations on sticking with your correct mechanics. That is a big accomplishment.
     
    #27
  28. Surecatch

    Surecatch Semi-Pro

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    I think you're right to an extent, and I'll keep it in mind... I think deep shots is part of what I meant by pace. Sometimes I don't speak the language very eloquently here yet, mostly because despite my obsession with the sport, thinking about it practically for my game isn't second nature yet. Working on that too. I hit a good deep backhand slice and am trying to work on deep shots with the forehand too. Yeah, that's part of it no question.

    Thanks, Cyndy.
     
    #28
  29. Surecatch

    Surecatch Semi-Pro

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    Good advice, thanks, JR.
     
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  30. Littlemissball

    Littlemissball New User

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    Have fun and if you have been practicing like you play then everything is going to feel very similar to what you feel in practice. :)
     
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  31. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    This just means you're human. You just learned two new skills. Time to go out and practice them - a lot - over many weeks - likely months. Some days will be great, some not so much. Over time the good days will outnumber the bad. You might need to go back for a refresher lesson at some point too. After a while and some quality time with the new skills you can say you have them down, but not after the first day.

    Good luck.
     
    #31
  32. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    Playing a match and practice are two different mindsets. Everyone tightens up during a match. It's totally normal.
     
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