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Tennis Anyone
February 2022 Article

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Use What Is Working

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John Mills, USPTA

Sometimes in a tennis match one or more of your usual shots might not be working. What do you do? You might keep trying to work on those shots instead of focusing on trying to win the match. What should you do instead? Quit working on improving those shots that have left you. Pretend they are gone. Substitute other shots or strategies. For example:

  • You are making too many unforced errors. Slow down and try to stay in the point longer. Think about hitting at least three balls before trying to win the point.

  • You are double faulting way too much. Forget your first serve. Just start the point with your second serve.

  • You are staying back and hitting the ball well but you are still losing. Obviously, your opponent is not feeling threatened by you. You must change something. Alternate coming in to the net or hitting short and forcing your opponent to come to the net. Remember, change a losing game.

  • You are playing, staying in the point, but are not able to win doing this. Take some chances. Attack the big volleys and attack the short balls going for the winner. Force the point.

  • You are playing doubles and your partner is hitting poor weak shots and you are getting the brunt of it. Stay back on the baseline with your partner until you receive a shot that you can command the offence with and go forward and attack. Stop being a target.

  • You have been learning a new shot, but it is not working. Forget about it now. Find something that works. It is okay to keep working on it in a practice match, but not in a tournament. In a tournament always go with what naturally works for you. Keep working on your new shot later.

Remember, if it's working, leave it alone. If it is not working, change it. The change might be a change in strategy or a shot selection change. Do not be afraid to make the change!
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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