First Tournament/Real Match Jitters

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by SideSpinPDR, Apr 24, 2007.

  1. SideSpinPDR

    SideSpinPDR New User

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    Columbus, Ga
    I just began playing tennis late last year. I have probably been playing a total of 6-7months. This weekend I am playing in a Doubles tournament with a friend of mine that started playing around the same time I did. He took lessons and I just asked him for a lot of help and we've progressed together. He has played USTA league tennis(2.5 and moving up to 3.0 next season). We signed up to play in the 2.5 Men's doubles division. We are the only team in there so we're most likely going to bumped up to another division, just to make me even more nervous! I've only played practice matches and have always been really relaxed because they didn't count. Is there anything that I can do to shake the jitters beforehand and shake them come match time? We played a 6.5 team on Sunday and we lost 7-8(corporate league scoring). I was nervous in this practice match because they were so much better. I held all of my serves though and actually had a really good 1st serve percentage! I'm hoping that the nerves will help me play better but just in case they don't anyone else have any ideas what I can do? Anyone have any first match/tournament experiences that may help or may just be entertaining to read?
     
    #1
  2. Jack the Hack

    Jack the Hack Hall of Fame

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    I've been playing tournament tennis for over 20 years now, and I've won over a thousand matches in this time. However, I do remember my first tournament, and what it was like... so I've got some advice. (Most of this information isn't just for your first tournament, but probably for your entire competitive tennis career.) Here goes:

    First of all, nervousness is normal. No matter what level you play, if you aren't feeling a few jitters before a "big" match, you probably aren't getting excited or care enough about the match to win. Therefore, it's OK to feel this way... as long as you don't let it debilitate you from performing.

    Second, I am a big believer in practice. If you want to perform well in a "real" match, you must practice performing well in "fake" matches. The more sets you play, and the more times you reinforce good behaviour (ie, hitting the shots you do well and minimizing errors), the more likely you will be to reproduce that same performance under pressure. If possible, you can try to simulate pressure on yourself in your practice matches by modifying the rules (like only allowing 1 serve, or starting the set down 0-2), or by making a bet with your practice partner (the loser must buy the post-match Gatorade), or by making bets with yourself (if you lose, you must run 2 miles).

    Third, examine your goals and motivations in tennis. Since this is a competitive sport, often you can not completely control the outcome of your matches. Your opponents might be having a great day, or your partner might not be playing well. Therefore, don't focus completely on winning or losing, but how well you can perform... especially with the things that are under your control (like serve placement and percentage). Make continuous improvement your main goal, and look at your tournament matches as a way to get better.

    And finally, learn to love good competition! Matches that are close and where the obstacles are the hardest to overcome offer the greatest rewards in the game. Having the chance to beat someone as good or better than you is something to relish. Truly close matches (like tight 3 setters in a tournament) usually only happen a few times per year for most players, so learn to enjoy those moments when they occur.

    Have fun and good luck! :)
     
    #2
  3. max

    max Hall of Fame

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    That's really great insight from Jack. Hard to beat that. I would add that "the more tournaments you play, the more tournament-hardened you are, so your nerves decrease."

    I used to play a lot of tournaments. Invariably, the first one of the season was toughest with nerves; the more you do, the easier it gets.
     
    #3
  4. MariaS

    MariaS Semi-Pro

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    Go play in the Tournament and enjoy every single moment of it. You will never forget the memories. It's so different than anything else you'll ever do. :smile:
     
    #4
  5. SideSpinPDR

    SideSpinPDR New User

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    Apr 23, 2007
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    Location:
    Columbus, Ga
    Awesome replies, thanks so much everybody! We just got the draws today and the tournament will be played in a round robin style. We have been bumped up to the 3.0 division. It is split into two groups of four teams (a red and blue group). We are in the red group and we play matches at 9am,10:30am,and12pm. Does anyone have any experience with this type of tournament set-up? I don't know if we can get through a match in an hour and a half.
     
    #5

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