Sunday, March 24, 2013


Sharapova + Li Na Australian Open 2013 Photo Julian Finney/Getty Images
I have been thinking about the built in mechanisms of the game of tennis and its reward system, which if observed and followed will yield positive results on multiple levels. I have determined that this wonderful game is a positive force, if we would only let it be! 

Tennis is not only a game of risk and reward, it is so much more than that. It has a built in reward system such that if you look for certain telltale signs and cooperate accordingly as a player you have a greater probability of winning a match. How do I know this? I have made every mistake imaginable, and these are my conclusions over a long time of playing tennis and observing professional matches.

1. How is it that the the so-called weaker player can win a match over a much more seasoned player? The less experienced has nothing to lose and all to gain, as long as she does not get cocky and truly think she will beat the advanced player ( then she will lose), or if she feels so inferior, which is a mistake, then she won't give herself a chance (then she will lose). Two things are occurring here~ The weaker player stays focused on the game and is relaxed because there is no pressure to win, get a few points? Fine, she can learn from this. Just by being on the court and somehow qualifying to be in a certain match gives her confidence because she got there, she is a qualifier and already has the built in self esteem to play her best.  She is respectful, and the game of tennis will reward her. Now, the stronger player~ she has more to think of than she realizes.  She is under more pressure not to mess up, not to lose focus, not to be cocky and arrogant, she needs to retain her ranking and will be punished by this game of tennis if she loses to a lesser ranked player too many times.  Defending a ranking or title creates huge pressure on the incumbent (unless you are in politics, then the reverse is true).  Thus, the weaker player if she is observant and seasoned at her own level will know this, and tennis will reward her if she plays well, steady and takes calculated risks with her shots.

2. Know and appreciate the scoring mechanisms of tennis. This tactic seems so trite, but beware, already then you have fallen into the trap of hubris, there is more here than meets the eye!  Example- you are serving and down 5-40.  We have all been there, and understand your opponent has too. THEY think you are caving, unsure, under pressure (to a small extent you are) BUT if you get that next point, you are back in the game!  And back in a big way, too.  This is how tennis rewards you, from 5-40 there is a huge leap in scoring to 30-40, you are not only back in the game but with one more winning point, you are at 40-40 and the game now belongs to anyone. However, if you lose at 5-40, well then you have lost in a big way and tennis turns its back on such poor playing, it gives the game to its rightful owner. But, if you get that next point tennis claps its hands and really wants so see you win! Truly a spectator sport.

Caveat~ remember, the game of tennis is the third person on the court, it is not just you and your opponent. Show your awe and respect for the game of tennis.

3. At all costs, be the first server if you win the toss. It does help if and when you score a few games. When you serve first in a particular set, and win all your service games and break your opponent once, you win the set at 6-3. If you serve second, win all your service games and break your opponent once, you still win the set, but this time at 6-4. You are at greater risk of your opponent catching up and winning the set. At least at 6-3, you have some wiggle room if you mess up or simply have a tough set to deal with. Let's say you are serving first, and lose the first service game.  Not to worry! You have a chance to break your opponent when they serve next as the match is still fresh, or they will win at 6-4 allowing each player wins on subsequent service games. If both players are breaking serve and it's a crazy match, then as first server, you have an opportunity to take the lead again to close out the set. Sounds a bit confusing at first, but really listen to the commentating in Slam matches, observe for yourself and you will begin to get the feel of this tennis opportunity to be first server. Tennis has offered you this opportunity to take the first step and be first server, and if you do, you are rewarded.

4. Have a controlled, smart warm up. How many times have I gone out on a court, only to shank a few balls out, make my opponent run before the match begins, tank my serve practices, net a few overheads, fail to feed good overheads, the list goes on and on.  No big deal, right? On the contrary, your warm up is critical to your match play. if you get out there on court and give a nice, controlled presentation of your tennis skills, ( but not overdoing, you want to save your fancy surprise stuff for tough points) your opponent will be impressed and quite possibly put off by your clean introduction of yourself as a contending tennis player. You are also being respectful to the game. Remember, tennis is your best fan, it wants you to do well!  Show your appreciation and respect for the game with a clean, controlled, correct warm up. Then you will be rewarded by putting your mind in the game and match early, remember~ early, early, early is the key word in tennis play, it applies to your warm up as well.

Show appreciation for this wonderful game, and you will be rewarded.

Kate Somerville - Golden glow on the go! Get a streak free, healthy looking tan every time.

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