First match last night

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by brook196, Sep 9, 2006.

  1. brook196

    brook196 New User

    Jul 16, 2006
    I am a new player. I have only been playing about 5 months. I am on a team tennis team in a league of 2.5 ladies. My first singles match was last night. Although I hit nice groundstrokes from the baseline with lots of pace during practice, last night I found myself just constantly 'dinking' it over the net?? It was like everything that I do in practice just went out the window. I am not sure why I did this or what I can do to prepare myself better so that it will not happen again.
    Also, the match ended up going two and half hours for 3 sets with the 2nd into a tie break. By the third set I was totally out of gas. I drank only water during the breaks and am thinking that I may need to change what I drink (and possibly eat) during the match to avoid this. Any suggestions?

    Thank you for everyone's help.
  2. ceejay

    ceejay Semi-Pro

    Aug 24, 2006
    United Kingdom
    The 'dinking' thing sounds familiar to me. Its usually down to nerves. You've just got get enough confidence to open up more and start hitting to a proper depth early on.

    Opting to receive serve first might give you a bit of help, as there isn't much pressure that early in the game. It won't matter too much if you hit long a couple of times whilst you find your range.
  3. Swissv2

    Swissv2 Hall of Fame

    Oct 19, 2005
    Tennis Courts!
    First off, welcome to the Talk Tennis forum! You will get a ton of recommendations from users on these boards, so read carefully and choose wisely. The best advice comes from either those who have taught the game at a particular level for some time and those who have had your same experience and have figured it out.

    It's common for one's mentality to change from practice (where points don't matter) to matches (where points do count). Maybe you also notice that the pace of the ball is different from practice to the match? Generally, at your level, the balls tend to go slower in match play. This forces you to stay in preparation longer once you get to the ball. Your goal is to get to the ball, prepare your stroke, and be patient. If any suggestion can be made to help you not dink the ball, focus only on the ball and go for placement, not winners. Do not focus on the opponent; instead, aim towards a spot on the court. Aim 1-2 feet above the net, and ease up your stroke and do a full follow through.

    This is partly conditioning of your body. When you first start, the fatigue sets in and is very noticable. After a while your body will get used to it. Drink water or gatoraid. If you do not already do so, sit down for your breaks! Your opponent may want to take a quick sip of water and rush off to the other side of the court, but make this your game and control the pace. They cannot play the game unless you are out there. But remember, pay attention to the time so you are not taking too long. Bananas are good for food, but not much else. Stay away from heavy foods because the blood will go to your stomach only making you more tired. Plenty of advice on what/what not to eat will probably be offered by other members of this board.

    walks or jogs outside of tennis will assist your conditioning. Stretching is important to prevent minor injuries.
  4. mahouFuji

    mahouFuji Rookie

    Aug 18, 2006
    take some bananas fast to digest u get lotta energy from the little guy
  5. tennus

    tennus Rookie

    Apr 3, 2006
    Well done. I can see you will improve rapidly in your game because you are already problem solving. When you dink and you don't do it intentionally it's because you are concerned about making unforced errors. Force yourself to hit out a little more and not worry too much about the score. You may lose a few matches this way but you will improve at a faster rate. Puddling does win many games at this level but puddlers rarely become serious players. As for the energy issue; snack on a banana or energy bar on changeovers and sip on a gatorade and water. Always drink something on changeovers as this will help in avoiding the affects of dehydration in those 3 setters. :)
  6. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

    Jun 2, 2006
    The Great NW
    I disagree with the emphasis on hitting out during matchplay at your level. As a 2.5 you are playing against other beginners who are dealing with the identical mental/emotional issues as yourself. It is natural to try to minimize errors at this level. And doing so will lead to more victories, since more points are lost than won in the 2.5's. You will have plenty of practice time to hit out on the ball, matchplay is probably a small amount of your court time, after all you only played 3 sets in five months. Managing errors is an important skill, hitting winners will come soon enough. I would hate to see you lose a bunch of matches (and enthusiasm for the sport) that you could have won by playing within your skill envelope, by instead overreaching.
  7. Bagumbawalla

    Bagumbawalla Hall of Fame

    Jun 24, 2006
    This same kind of thing also happens to much more advanced players, even pros.

    Mentally, they know that they should just "play their game", but when the player on the other side is the #1 player in the world and this might be their only chance to make it to a major final, everything becomes magnified in their mind. Stress increases, They get tight. Shots that are normally simple for them seem impossibly difficult. Arms/legs get tight, they think too much. It feels like they are playing under water. They say that there is "no pressure", because they have nothing to lose, but they don't really believe it, themselves.

    So, even they (pros) sometimes have to trick themselves into thinking "it's just another practice game"-- and somehow dismiss the fact that it may be the most important moment in his/her life.

    The irony is that, not wanting to fail, may be the cause of doing just that.

    Swissv2's advice was good, and explained very well.

    The little bit that I can add is-- don't feel bad, it happens to everyone, even players who do it fo a living. Play in more tournaments-- as many as you can. Experience will help you get over the tightness.

    Good luck,

  8. Trinity TC

    Trinity TC Semi-Pro

    Jul 28, 2006
    Way to go! Takes tons of guts to enter a tournament for the first time! It's not surprising that you ran out of gas as "first tournament nerves" can burn up a lot energy. You did really good for the first time out and will be just fine next tournament now that you've had the experience of three tough, competitive sets.:cool:
  9. mahouFuji

    mahouFuji Rookie

    Aug 18, 2006
    look if u really think u cant win (i dont do this cuz its dirty) but just do high and deep lobs all the time they gonna get pissed unless theyre like pretty good ur screwed O.O or alternate topspin and slice i do that do mess their timing up
  10. Surecatch

    Surecatch Semi-Pro

    Aug 22, 2005
    You sound like me last fall when I started in some men's 3.5 leagues. Mostly what I can suggest is to realize how mental the game of tennis is. Of course you tighten up in matches (as opposed to practice). Those points mean something....the practice rallies don't. It's a process of learning not to think "too much" and learn to just hit the strokes you know how to hit. It's something that I'm still struggling with myself...hell, everybody struggles with the mental aspects of tennis. Just keep at it and good luck.

    Oh yeah also I always take water AND gatorade with me when I play and I almost always eat a banana between the first and second sets. I'm a firm believer in the power of the banana when it comes to an instant burst of energy and concentration. Trust works.
  11. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Aug 31, 2006
    I was a 2.5 player last year; now I'm 3.0.

    Regarding the mental aspect of this, you have to get used to hitting when you're nervous about the score and under pressure. When you practice with friends, keep score. That will best duplicate match conditions.

    I was pretty successful with ladies 2.5 singles. Someone told me that your goal has to be to return the ball three times. If you do this, your opponent likely will flub up and you'll win.

    Lastly, my coach told me to hit in a match the way I hit in practice. In other words, don't "dink" or "push" or chicken out of your shots. You may lose more, but you will develop better habits, he thinks. If you never use the skills you are learning in a match, that's the same thing as not having those skills.

    Regarding running out of gas, I drink water. Before the match and between sets, I use that liquid goo, PowerGel. Drink plenty of water with it. It gives quick energy and mental focus.

    I have had some spectacular comebacks using that Powergel.
  12. Geezer Guy

    Geezer Guy Hall of Fame

    Feb 17, 2005
    Big Canoe, GA
    I like the Powergel stuff too, but I can only stand one of the flavers and always have a hard time finding it. If I'm expecting to play a long tough singles match outdoors, I drink Gatoraid. For doubles or playing indoors, I just drink water.

    What you experienced about "dinking" the ball in match play has happened to a lot of us when we first started. You want to do so well in the match that you get ultra-conservative and just poke at the ball. You've got to get over that to improve! I'm not talking about swinging wildly and going for winners on every shot, but you do need to hit with the strokes you've practiced, and go for high-percentage shots that not only put pressure on your opponent but keep the ball in play deep and usually cross-court. You almost need a bit of the "I don't care" feeling when you hit your shots.

    The best way to develop this is to set up some matches that really DON'T count for anything, and play those matches the way you WANT to play matches. Hit out on your first serve. Try to rip a winner after constructing a solid point. etc. This is just a PRACTICE match, so it really doesn't matter if you win or lose. Don't be afraid to lose a few matches while you develop your game. It'll pay off in the long run.
  13. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

    Feb 20, 2004
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Nerves and your opponent's consistency can cause you to push the ball more which is not always a bad thing if you are keeping it in play more but not something to turn into a habit. Drink powerade or something like it for the 3rd set if you are getting tired. Welcome!
  14. mahouFuji

    mahouFuji Rookie

    Aug 18, 2006
    see i told u bout eatin banana even tho i dun.....

Share This Page