I played him again tonight.....

For those of you that read my last post about my match I played a couple weeks ago against a guy whom my friend works with, I played him again tonight. Last time I lost 4 and 4 but it was mostly because of my poor serving %, errors trying to attack his weak second serve, and not being able to handle his high bouncing balls. I received some great advice from some of you who taught me about taking the ball on the rise, among other things.

I knew yesterday that I was going to play him tonight, so I went over to the courts this morning and took a basket of balls with me to hit some serves. I really concentrated on every aspect of my service motion, making sure I was gripping my racket firmly but allowing my arm to be loose, tossing the ball nice and high and out in front of me a bit, striking the ball at the peak of my forward lunge into the court. I probably hit about 150 serves total and was really starting to find form the more I did it.

Anyway, we were to meet at 7pm at our local courts, I got there around 630 and hit against the wall for a little while. (if you cant tell, I really wanted to beat this guy tonight) He showed up with a few of my other friends who came to watch and hit around too. (which made me a little nervous cause I tend to not play so great when people I know are watching me) Anyway, on to the match.....

He served first and held, then broke me in my first service game. I think my shoulder was a little sore from hitting all those serves earlier this morning. I broke back in the next game followed by a hold to make it 2 all. We really played some great rallies, he is better at net than I am, but I hit a few really good passing shots, and he hit some great volleys as well. It was a much higher quality match than our first one. He broke me again with me serving a 3-4, then served it out to take the first set 6-3. The first set was a decent set from both of us, but the second set is where I feel I played the best tennis Ive ever played in my short tennis career of 5 1/2 months.

I served to start the second set. I was a little discouraged from losing the first set, I was going through my last service game in my head and how i could have easily won it had I done a few things differnt. While I was thinking about that, I dumped my serve again to go down 0-1 in the 2nd.

That must have been my wake up call, cause thats were I really turned it on. I broke him at 15 the next game, including 3 consecutive forehand winners off his second serves. I held my next game at 15, got all my first serves in, including an ace down the T from the ad court (first time Ive aced him) Now we're on serve, with me up 2-1. From that point on, we both stepped it up a few notches, I was hitting the ball HARD. hitting clean winners down the line. Completely schooling him from the baseline. I even finished a few points at the net, including a couple volley ball matches with both of us at the net blocking the ball back and forth, and I won most of those net battles. I was holding serve with ease and putting pressure on every service game of his. We had 3 straight games going to multiple deuces on his serve. I could tell he was going to fall apart at any moment.

Then he was serving at 4-5 when I pressured him to a set point at 30-40. I had never been so focused on a Tennis court and I was so looking forward to forcing a 3rd set. He aces me, best serve all night. Deuce. Fault. I stepped in and completely destroyed his second serve down the line for a winner. I was in the ZONE BABY! Set point #2. Netted returning his first serve. (all of a sudden he starts ripping first serves down set points) Deuce 2, he doubles. Set point #3, I went after another second serve and hit it long!

Then something happened after I wasted that 3rd set point. I completely fell apart. I shanked the next two returns to make it 5 all. My last service game of the match, at 5 all, was the worst serving I'd done in several weeks. Double faulted twice, and made two UE's to hand him the break at love. 6-5. I try one last time to pull myself together by smacking another forehand return winner off his second serve to win the first point 0-15. I netted the next return off a first serve that wasnt even hit that hard. Then he aced me back from the deuce court to make it 30-15. Guess what? Yep, another error from me on the next point to give him match points. And you can pretty much guess how it ended, another weak second serve, I went to smack a forehand cross court behind him and hit it wide. Game. Set. Match. Just like that.

What irritated me so bad is that I completely outplayed him the second set, I punished him on so many second serves pressuring him to deuce on all his service games. But I choked on the points that mattered most and handed him the match. Even he admitted that if I had played the whole match like I played the second set, I would have beat him. So the final score was 3-6. 5-7. Sorry this post is so long, but I needed to rant and maybe you guys can give me some feedback too.
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Winning matches is all about winning the points that count the most. You don't have to be better, you don't have to be the one dominating. You just have to win the big points. Simple fact is that when it did not matter as much, you played better than him, but when it mattered, you didn't show up.

I like to think of the movie Unforgiven. It is not easy to kill a person in cold blood or to be able to shoot straight when the shiatsu hits the fan.
I wish I could say I have never done the same thing. Yet, every tennis player has experienced the same thing.

I do not know what level or experience level you have, but Ihavenoticed as as I have improved my exoerience that when I cotnrol the match I usually win. When I was young, I would controlmatches and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I now win more ugly matches than when I was young. The negative... now that I am older I do not control them matches as well.
What level are you?

Im not really sure, based on the self rating chart from tennis.com, I think Im better than 3.5, but not quite consistent enough to be 4.0, so I dont know, form your own opinion I guess. (maybe a 3.75? LOL) I have only been playing for about 6 months now, not in a league or anything, just for fun. But Ive been a fan of the game for most of my life (Im 26 now) so I know the game well, and once I actually started playing, it started coming pretty natural to me.

johnny ballgame

Been there. Just a one-off case of the big-point blues. Get 'em next time.

Sounds like you play more aggressive than me, I try to remind myself to "make him play" a few balls on set points rather than trying to rip winners. Sounds like you were on fire though, so going for big shots might have worked.


Hall of Fame
You'll have a break through believe me! You certainly have the discipline to get out there and practice hard. Chalk this one up to "a learning experience" and have patience. We've all had them and still do; even Fed. How about taking some lessons?
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There are several things that you could've done.. like keeping the ball in play instead of going for winners. As what your story tells me, you're going after winners on his second serve but you end up netting the return or hitting it long. I agree that attacking a weak second serve is the right thing to do. But if you don't have the skill to do it consistently, then I suggest you need to rethink your strategy.

At your level (I'm judging that you a 3.0 .. 3.5 on a good day), unforced errors takes up the bulk of the points. Instead of wasting shots, try keeping it back in play -. try hitting with 3/4 pace and see where that takes you... go for angles - making him move.. hitting it behind the service line to keep him from coming in to the net .. simple shots like these (and it doesn't need to be hit with pace and authority.. but don't just dink it back in either) can put pressure on your opponent.

As far as practice goes .. try hitting some drills.. crosscourts, down the lines, inside-outs .. have someone feed you the balls if you can't find someone to hit with. Focus on your consistency instead of your power. Power looks nice and feels nice, but a 3 out of 10 power shot won't win you matches.

Oh, like the other guy said... taking lessons works great on developing players like you. You said you've only started playing for 6 months, taking lessons would remedy the bad habits you've developed learning tennis by your own.


Your loss came to you because your opponent is more mentally tough than you are. You can build this by getting a coach if you don't already have one or just through the experience of tennis. It happens when people start off in tennis.


What irritated me so bad is that I completely outplayed him the second set, I punished him on so many second serves pressuring him to deuce on all his service games. But I choked on the points that mattered most and handed him the match. Even he admitted that if I had played the whole match like I played the second set, I would have beat him. So the final score was 3-6. 5-7. Sorry this post is so long, but I needed to rant and maybe you guys can give me some feedback too.

Great story, thanks for sharing. I think the best advice I can offer is:
Don't hit 150 practice serves the day of your match.

If you are practicing your game, that is great. But putting in extra practice the day of the match is a bad idea. You can tire out or injure your shoulder and it is not likely that you will get much benefit out of one day of practice anyway.

Other than that, I would suggest that instead of going for winners off a 2nd serve, try hitting a 75-80% forcing shot and put him on the defensive. That way you are not going for too many winners right off the bat. Give the other guy a chance to miss and you will be surprised at how often they do. Even if he gets it back, chances are he will not put you in a bad position if you hit a good forcing shot. You will find you hit winners on the 2nd or 3rd ball without having to over-hit.

Just my $.02.



Hall of Fame
You said it yourself. You stepped into the ZONE for a bit, and that is how you were so competitive. As we all have found...the zone is a short lived space in time. It usually last about 4-5 games max. You have to know exactly what you can and can't do under pressure. Your opponent knew...kept his cool, and watched the errors pile up on your side at a typcially key point in any tennis match.

Hey, good job - that's tennis.

If it makes you feel any better----I was the guy who 'should' win last night in my league match, and my opponent had been chomping at the bit to play me and beat me for months. I stayed completely cool as I went down 1-6, in a superset. What did I do while he was beating the be-jabbers outta me? I watched his footwork, how his ball hit the court, adjusting my stroke to his pace (he hit very flat and hard), and getting my feet moving.

Insurmountable? Nope. I KNEW what I could do, made the adjustments, and ran off the next 5 games. I got to 7-7, and beat him in the tie-break 7-3. What I didn't do...was go for it on critical points. I pressured HIS game on critical points....made him move, made him 'think'. That forces errors. The first time they don't move well, they shank or hit long, or net it.

In the old days, I would look for the putaway shot (that wasn't there). Today, after losing a hundred matches, LOL....I just bide my time, and do what I need to do safely. BTW..when I cleaned up my game...he got tight as a drum because he felt the momentum shift, so his game dropped into error mode.

Learn what you can do under pressure without errors and still dictate if possible. Then play THAT game when it really counts on key points.