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Tennis Anyone
January 2014 Article

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Think Like The Pros

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John Mills, USPTA

Have you ever noticed how calm the pros are under pressure? Why, because they have learned to make very basic decisions. They are not "thinking" about all the possibilities of shots that are coming. They are "ruling out" possibilities.
For example:

  • In doubles you are on the baseline. It is not a surprise that the ball will come deep to you. The surprise would be that the ball is hit short to you. Remember, you have all the deep shots covered just by being back. Expect the short ball.

  • You are in the "transition" part of the court, half way between the baseline and the offensive position at the net. You are moving forward toward the net. What should you expect? You should expect a low volley or half volley. Most opponents' will not lob over you when you are in the "transition" part of the court.

  • You are near the net and your opponent, near the opposing baseline, has the ball. What should you be expecting? A lob. You should not be surprised that the lob is coming. Moving back is more difficult than moving forward. So, expect a lob first.

  • You are near the net and your partner on the baseline is hitting a lob. What should you think? That the lob will be returned with an overhead right at you. You are the closest player to the ball. Expect the ball to come at you. Move back and try to stop and defend the shot the best you can. Remember, the farther you move back before they contact the overhead, the more time you have to hit it and they may over hit it out, because you are moving back.

  • You lob the ball over your opponent's head. It is so deep that they fail to hit it in the air. So, they go back and play it off the bounce. What should you expect? You should expect that they return the lob with a lob. So, when this happens, move forward to the service line where you can hit the returning lob with an overhead.

Remember, "think like a pro." Start ruling out possibilities. This will make your tennis life much easier.
Good luck on the courts!

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This column is copyrighted by John Mills, all rights reserved.

John Mills' experience includes four years as head pro at the Windemere Racquet & Swim Club, where he was responsible for organization of all tennis activities at the club. John also played college tennis at the University of Houston and has spent 20 years teaching tennis at the Memorial Park Tennis Center, the Pasadena Racquet Club, and as the head pro at the Bay Area Racquet Club.


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