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Hardscrabble Scramble
July 2000 Article

Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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Think Your Way To Better Tennis

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Mike Whittington

You've heard the expression "play smarter not harder" but do you think you are putting those words into play? One way to think your way to better tennis is to have a game plan that fits your capabilities and score. Many times we admire players that hit big shots but you may not realize that these shots might have been set up through a smart game plan -- a game plan they developed before the point began.

Playing good tennis requires a sound game plan as well as good mechanics. Your game plan is your map and although there may be detours, the overall objective is to get you to a certain place. One of the common faults I find with many students is a lack of any type of game plan. A bad game plan is better than none at all! A great example is serving at 30-40 in doubles. A good plan might be to kick in a serve deep to the backhand and charge the net. Suppose you don't think about the score and you just go for the big flat first serve. The payoff with this serve could be huge with a service winner or even an ace. But remember the score is 30-40 and you are one point away from having your service broken. Being forced into hitting a second serve on such a big point could be disastrous against an aggressive returner. That is when you have to consider if it is worth taking the chance. You have to think about your weapons, limitations, and those of your opponent. You also have to think of the importance of the score to formulate a good plan for the upcoming point.

The next time you play a practice match try to visualize exactly what you want to happen before each point. Consider the score and what your options are for that point. You'll be surprised at how many things you can think about that will have an impact on the outcome. You'll love it when you successfully execute your plan and when you do you'll be thinking your way to better tennis.

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Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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This column is copyrighted by Mike Whittington, all rights reserved.

At the time at which he wrote this column, Mike Whittington was a USPTA pro in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he served as director of tennis at the Hardscrabble Country Club.


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