Thursday, November 12, 2015

10 Things to Notice About Your Tennis Opponents

It is very important that we learn to read our opponents and understand their strengths and weaknesses on the tennis court, especially during the warm-up. All players have tendencies and patterns that they repeat throughout the match and the sooner you uncovered these, the quicker you will be able to take advantage. Ask your partner what he/she noticed about the player they were hitting against and compare notes.  Not to oversimplify, but below are 10 things to notice about your opponent and expose during a match.
  • Who has the weaker overhead? Lob this person, especially on the backhand side.
  • Is one opponent weak in returning serves? Poach more against this person.
  • Does either have a weak second serve? Stand in and take advantage of it. Take it on the rise and "steal time" from your opponent.
  • Which opponent is the weaker volleyer? Play this person at the net. Shots at the body will test them and likely produce good results for your team.
  • Is one person slower? Play this person out wide or work your drop shots.
  • Which are their favorite strokes? Play all others, not these. Also pay attention to where in the court they like to hit their favorite strokes, everybody has patterns.
  • What are their favorite positions on court? Make them play other positions. Baseliners are weaker around the net and vice-versa.
  • What is the weakest stroke they possess? Play this one, time and time again until they prove you wrong.
  • At what height do they prefer to take shots? Give them all other heights based on the limitations or their swing and grip. If a player has an extreme grip (semi-western/western) then shots played at the feet will become more difficult.
  • What pace do they prefer? The difference between each playing level is the ability to control pace and depth. Vary your speed and spin to keep them off balance and make yourself less predictable. Need more doubles strategy?
Most importantly play within yourself. Play your game. Just because your opponents have a big serve or big forehand, don’t try and show them how hard you can hit it unless that is your weapon. Being the bigger hitter doesn't matter, the final score does. Don’t let your ego get in the way of you winning the match. Your ability to identify their strengths and weaknesses either in singles or in doubles will determine the outcome of the match. On the changeovers, make sure to reevaluate your initial analysis to make any necessary strategy changes. Be aware, make a strategy and you will play better tennis and more importantly win more matches. Good luck and have fun.