Tuesday, May 14, 2013


This morning I have been reading through notes I have systematically made regarding my tennis progress over the past three years, and some startling observations come to light!

It is definitely spring tennis season, and so far the weather has been cold and windy. My match experience has been quite varied, and fortunately each competition does get better for me.

I have had immense struggles over the past years with my tennis game, and reviewing my notes has given me a wide smile on many levels.  Firstly, I am a computer rated 3.5 USTA player, who has improved from a 3.0 about 4 years ago. Over that span of time I have not competed a lot, but enough to raise my rating and improve my game.  I am thankful for my coaches, my opponents, my Monday contract players (quite a tough bunch!) and anyone who has had to suffer with my endless excuses, because my excuse list IS endless...

But, really folks, not anymore!  It is correct to say NO EXCUSES, because truly, your opponent has the exact same conditions you have. Fine, maybe the wind DID blow profusely only in your direction for two hours, changed direction each time you switched sides, each time you went for a winner, each time you.... yes, you get the message! Excuses are actually quite silly. No more.

Instead, improve upon your game.  One shot at a time.  I am quite actively working on this, and someday hope to raise my rating one more notch.  We shall see.  Meanwhile, my growth curve continues.  I have not looked at most of these index cards for up to three years. Some of these cards I tossed out today, because the information was necessary at the time, but no more.  Others I have saved and will yet refer to, these are the ones from tennis lessons, books I have read, specific matches that were difficult on many levels.

The most startling insight is this~ going through my notes, I realized that my tennis game has progressed. The basics that I wrote down are no longer necessary to refer to on paper, instead these lessons are ingrained in my psyche for match play.  These lessons are now automatic.  Do something long enough, and it becomes a part of you.  Such is true in learning any new skill.

Trust is so important.  I chose to trust my coaches, and work through the incorrect thinking of my own choices, which seemed in my mind to help at the time, and maybe they did to a certain degree, but going to a master will give you the quickest route to learn the right way. Then, you trust and you practice. And practice some more.

So, I am happy to say that by following the correct way of doing things from trust and lots of practice, from a smashing serve to a slice backhand helps, really helps! Yesterday I played in two matches first a singles match for 105 minutes (yes, I wear a watch on court and only regard the time before and after a match), then took a 25 minute break, ate a banana and small sandwich, changed my socks, and back out on the courts for a doubles match, which my partner and I won in 90 minutes.

The singles match was difficult for me because my opponent was physically strong and had a fabulous 'wheelhouse' topspin forehand and great net play.  I thought I was finished before the match began!  I still dug in deep, and played the first four games with focus, calm and at 65% level.  Not forcing winners, simply getting the ball back one more time and varying my serve. I was able to pull out the first set at 6-3. I was still quite worried, thinking, oh my goodness, she is just getting warmed up, we will go to three sets.  But then, something happened in the second set. I was down 0-2, and somehow turned the match around to take the second set at 6-3.  How did I do this?  I kept watching my opponent, I continued to take away her topspin forehand, even though a few times she readily placed the shot in the far corners, and I continued to focus on her weaker side, the backhand.  I could tell she was quite uncomfortable with this shot as she had tight returns with it, albeit some good returns, but others not, and the ones that did not work for her I simply tried my hardest to keep from returning that tennis ball to her forehand. And that strategy is what shows up in my notes time and time again~ rob thy opponent of their strongest shot, capitalize on their weakness.

After my short break and fresh tennis socks, back on the courts, and I followed that same strategy in doubles.  The same plan worked.  6-3, 6-2. Very nice players, but we took away their best shots.

The moral here? Keep good notes, trust them, and see what develops! You will soon recognize that your learning will pay off as long as you give it time, time to test the data and time for it to become a part of your playing, to the point where you do not have to look at notes but instead use the knowledge in a split second.

Now, on to the Kick Serve, a new goal in mind!

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