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Fool Me Twice
By Tony Severino
Certified Instructor 4A
Professional Tennis Registry

Tony Serverino Photo
Tony Severino

A popular saying goes: "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice shame on me."

You can apply it to your tennis game, especially recreational tennis where you play frequently with the same group of players.

For instance, Louie hits three shots cross court, then comes down your alley. Book it. He already did it once. If it works again, shame on me.

Louise hits her backhand sharply cross court every chance she gets. She loves that shot and she's good at it. You can set her up for it. Hit a short cross-court into the Ad court and move in. It's coming. Bet the rent money on it. She can't resist it. Otherwise, shame on you.

Nick is certain to come down your alley before long into any rally. He does it to win the point. It's also a good one-time investment which sends a message to the net person to stay put. Since he's prone to try it, count that as once - shame on him. Shame on me if he gets away with it.

Roger lobs over you whenever you are close to the net. He does it with incredible accuracy again and again and again. No shame on Roger; you know he's going to do it. When do I learn? Shame, shame, shame on me.

Neil has a drop shot to die for, but you shouldn't let it be the death of you. Expect it. Look for it. Don't let that be your shame.

George loses his serve after leading 40-love and flings his racquet. Close, but it misses me. Fooled me once, George...

Dave hits down on any short ball that sits up chest high. His swing pattern and footwork telegraph it. It's virtually unplayable. Don't give him one. Shame on you already.

Al is 87 years old and has concrete knees. He hits everything within his swing radius, in or out. He'd rather hit a tennis ball than holler "out." We rally until someone wins the point. Al out hits me most of the time. I could drop shot him, but then double shame on me.

Chuck has a drop shot serve. Believe me, it works. What can I say? Shame on him? Shame on me?

"Cross Court Eddie" is 85 and you can see where he got his nickname. Watch for it. He's good at it and, for sure, it will come. If he gets away with it twice, shame on me.

Andy has a forehand chop that will eat you alive especially if you try to answer spin with spin. Expect it on a knee high forehand. Watch his racquet. It's a tip-off. First time, shame on him. Second time...

Robbie still hasn't learned to cope with the sun. I lob over him. It's fair game. Shame on both of us.

Any of these shots can catch you by surprise the first time they happen in a match; no real shame there. Should they happen a second time, unchallenged, then shame on you.

Tennis is as much a mental game as a physical one. These guys and girls have the physical aspect of the game fairly mastered. They play the mental game like chess gambits.

They have the shots and they are trying to outfox you.

So it comes down to "fool me once shame on them; fool me twice, shame on me."


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