First tournament

abd123

New User
So, I am a 14-year-old who started playing tennis about a month ago, I have been playing pretty much every day now for about the whole month, including a few lessons, and I just entered my first level 8 USTA Juniors tournament. I have been told by the coach I was taking lessons with that I should get practice via tournaments and matches, and should try for the HS team at my local HS next year when I go. Based off of my EXTENSIVE research, (like seriously I have been nonstop on this site and YT vids), I am about a level 3.5 NTRP player, and the coach I was working with confirmed that. I have a decent serve, proper form but cant hit with too much power and have slight consistency issues but can get it done, a pretty solid 1HBH, but my main weapon is my forehand. I can absolutely crush my forehand that I have tried to almost completely base of Thiem and Nadals, tons of topspin and depth, and I can consistently hit them for winners. I mainly play like an aggressive baseliner, working my opponent, and my favorite thing to do is construct a 10-12 shot rally that I can end with my big forehand either after drawing my opponent out wide one way and smashing it cross-court the other, or DTL. I play considerably worse in doubles, I lose faith in my serve and start double-faulting like Zverev ;), and simply missing shots that in singles I would easily hit. I play with a Pure Aero 2016 edition, with Hyper-G 16 at 54 pounds, and I just wanted some feedback on how to overcome my mental blocks and play well in the tourney and not let DF's and other simple mistakes cost me.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading, and I hope you have some good feedback!
 

Cobaine

Semi-Pro
But on topic, just have fun. It’s your first tournament. Enjoy it and try to play your game. Don’t go for outrageous shots unless you’re up 40-0.
 

Stratotanker

New User
Good luck! Try to play normally like you would with your friends at your usual courts. Remember to breathe! Have fun!

If you can get yourself on video, it will be really valuable for the forum's feedback, but even more valuable for you. Just set your smartphone up at the back of the court. Seeing yourself play on video is a 100% difference maker for your tennis. And despite what Col Jessep might tell you, you can handle the truth.

Edit:
To be clear, not during the tournament - don't complicate anything by trying to film a match for the first time at a tourney!
 
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Dragy

Hall of Fame
and I just wanted some feedback on how to overcome my mental blocks and play well in the tourney and not let DF's and other simple mistakes cost me.
You’ll definitely get some tightness and have some DFs. It’s part of tennis, not the least one - facing mental challenges, dealing with them, failing at times and coming over. Playing your first tournament try to notice those and to avoid getting frustrated. Accept the fact that at lots of points things won’t work best, but at some they will. Enjoy the process and competition, it’s fun!
 

abd123

New User
I really tightened up and played too passively and let my opponents really control the point. I lost all 3 matches, but I rematched I of the people I lost to after and beat him pretty easily so yeah, I mostly lost because of nerves i think.
 

fuzz nation

G.O.A.T.
I really tightened up and played too passively and let my opponents really control the point. I lost all 3 matches, but I rematched I of the people I lost to after and beat him pretty easily so yeah, I mostly lost because of nerves i think.
There's absolutely no substitute for match experience. We need to practice our match management just like we need to continually brush up on our spin serve, backhand, yaddah-yaddah. Keep up the good work with that and keep your expectations under control as you build more familiarity with playing your game in those settings.

One idea that might be useful: I coach high school teams and something that can be a big difference-maker for my singles players is getting used to the mental ritual of planning a point before you play it. Not planning it from start to finish, but just thinking about what you're fundamentally going to do for this next point to help you control the action. You can use this when you're serving or when you're returning.

You might decide that you're going to hit every shot at your opponent's weaker backhand. You might decide to chip and charge behind a return of a weak serve (maybe once you get more cozy around the net?). You might simply decide to hit every ball cross court - high percentage shots that might eventually force an error from the other guy.

Learn from your earlier points - what's working, what's not - and then decide what to do for this next point. Is this a little repetitive? Yes. But if you can get more comfortable with this mental ritual, you can give yourself the chance to control the action more often. This is a much better place to be compared with what you described with your matches where you were too passive. When we fall into that mode, we're not much more than racquet wielding Labrador Retrievers chasing ever ball sent to our side of the net.

The other benefit of planning only this next point is that we can be less affected by the match score. If we're using this focus on the next point, we're less likely to let up in a match when we get up a set and a break, but we can also play smarter and tougher if we're trailing. A comeback starts with one point, right?

I also learned a healthy tip from another coach a couple years ago. He tells his players to avoid assuming that feeling the nerves shouldn't happen during a match. They're gonna happen sometimes - certainly when we're working really hard to try and earn an important win. If we understand this, we can be a little more immune to letting them cripple us if they show up. It may sound simple enough, but if you think it through you may feel more settled and focused from one match to the next.
 
I also learned a healthy tip from another coach a couple years ago. He tells his players to avoid assuming that feeling the nerves shouldn't happen during a match. They're gonna happen sometimes - certainly when we're working really hard to try and earn an important win. If we understand this, we can be a little more immune to letting them cripple us if they show up. It may sound simple enough, but if you think it through you may feel more settled and focused from one match to the next.
Completely agree: some believe that if they experience nerves, it means they are weak. I believe if you experience nerves, it means you care about the outcome. How one deals with the nerves is the key. Suppression or avoidance has never worked very well for me.
 
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