Josh's Fresh Take: October 2018 Edition

Top 3 Strategies for Beginner Singles Play!

Coach and Communications Lead, Josh Martin, weighs in on topics in the world of tennis and shares his two cents.
This month I give three basic strategies to beginner tennis players that will help them win some points and hopefully a match or two!
1. Find Your Opponent’s Weaknesses
When playing in a tournament and before you begin your match, one of the first things you have to do is warm-up with your opponent. This includes your groundstrokes, volleys and serves. This is a great opportunity to look for strengths and weaknesses in your opponent’s game. This may seem pretty obvious, however a lot of players do not seize this opportunity! Be observant! Most of the time a tennis player’s weakness is their backhand. But this is not always the case! Some players have a monster backhand and if you only assume that is their weakness and do not pay attention in the warm-up, you would be in trouble when the match starts. Do your homework before you start your match in order to avoid losing easy points.
Guess what? Your opponent is also scouting you! Try and mask some of your strengths if you can. For example, if you have a strong serve, do not unleash it completely in the warm-up. Bring it out during the match and catch your opponent off guard! This could work in your favour. Also, do not be afraid of your weaknesses in warm-up. In other words, do not favour your forehand if you have a weak backhand. This is more obvious to your opponent than just using your weak backhand… Think about the warm-up!
2. Play Deep
Try and pin your opponent back at the baseline. Hit deep shots that go beyond the service line – even if it is not exactly the hardest shot. If you keep the ball at the baseline, your opponent will generally only have a returning angle of about 20-30 degrees. This can be covered far more easily than if you hit the ball short near the net, which can give your opponent an angle of up to 180 degrees! By keeping the ball deep at the baseline, you can recover and generally stay in the rally more consistently. Giving your opponent a short ball essentially gives them more angles to work with. From that spot, you are playing a guessing game of where they might place the ball. This is a far more difficult point to battle for. Do yourself a favour and keep the ball deep!
3. Be Predictably Unpredictable
If you are up 40-0 or 40-15, be sure to take risks! This is a perfect opportunity to try that serve and volley you have been working on, or go for that down-the-line forehand winner. By taking these risks in situations where you are already dominating the lead, it will make you unpredictable in the eyes of your opponent. To you, you are already leading the game and will, most likely, win. But by taking a risk, it will keep them on their toes and keep them second-guessing what your next shot will be. This will work in your favour when the game is tied 30-30, or when you are losing, as your opponent may think you will go for that serve and volley where in reality you are going to be more conservative. By taking these risks when you are in the lead, you are helping your game in the long-run; your opponent won’t be able to predict what you will do next.
Josh’s Fresh Take, signing off.