Helpful Hints for Match Success–Performing Under Pressure, May 2018

by Ravi Tewari

Tennis is a uniquely pressure filled sport.  Any of you that have played singles or doubles competitively know that being able to produce your best tennis at key points or moments in the match is a huge advantage.  Many of our tennis members are involved in USTA leagues or tournaments because it’s a fun way to build mental toughness and competitive strategies. I hope some of you can use these small tips that have helped me gain a mental edge in high pressure situations when I’m competing.  

Preparation

Starting a match loose and warmed up is the best way to be ready physically as well as mentally.  Even if you don’t have time to get a complete hitting warm up in before the match time, a dynamic running/stretching warm up can go a long way.  Starting a match with a little bit of a sweat developing helps the body accurately and effectively deliver oxygen to your muscles right from the first point.  Being thoroughly warmed up can also help significantly with pre-match nerves. Try to make this warm up regimented; pick your favorite 5-8 stretches and do those, every time in a similar order.

Service Ritual

Serving is arguably the most psychological shot in tennis.  Rhythm is also incredibly important for a good server, so it’s important to start a match with a high service percentage.  Preparing for a serve should involve some sort of ritual to prepare your body and mind to start the service motion. This can involve bouncing the ball, looking up and locating your target, and deep breathing in any order.  Making sure that you follow the same ritual for every serve will ensure that you’re mentally prepared before you start every point.

Use Time Between Points

If you feel a game or set slipping away, or you feel nerves coming on make sure you take advantage of the 20 seconds you are given between each point.  The best thing to do when you feel your rhythm is off is to slow the match down, so don’t be hesitant to take your time between points. Have a towel sitting back by the fence so you have a way to mentally regroup before starting the next point.  Nerves generally cause people to rush and a tennis match can fly by so make sure you are utilizing the time given to you to regather your thoughts between points.

I hope you can use some of these tips to help in your next match, best of luck to all the Southern Village teams and players competing this season and beyond!

-Ravi

Slice Backhand—Change up the pace, March 2018

Nelson Hughes, USPTA Certified Professional

While there are a variety of uses for the slice in today’s tennis world, the one reason I think the slice is so important to learn is the ability to create off-pace shots that are still difficult, and perhaps even more difficult than hard shots, for your opponent to handle.  Most players tend to assume that the harder the shot they hit, the more effective it will be.  This, however, is not always the case.  Some opponents love playing someone with a power game because they can use your pace on their shots.  This means they are simply using the power you generated and redirecting it effectively to their advantage.  When you find an opponent is doing this, one of the most effective things you can do to counter it is to throw in the slice ball.

The slice ball forces an opponent to generate his or her own power instead of simply getting to use yours, and it is also gives you more time to get back in position.  When the slice is hit correctly, it starts with the racket preparation at a high angle so that you can strike the back underside of the ball in a slightly downward and forward swing of the racket.  Therefore when the ball bounces on the other side of the court, it is going to lose speed rapidly, forcing your opponent both to move to the ball and predict which way it is going to bounce.  It also forces your opponent to really explode into the shot if they want to get the ball back.

Anatomy of the Slice

Grip

Notice that Coach Ravi uses a continental grip and lays the racket back to rest on his left hand.  This helps ensure he keeps his racket head up when preparing for the slice.

Preparation/Backswing

As the ball approaches, Ravi steps to the ball with his left foot so that his body is essentially pointing at the ball.  Notice that his entire body is rotated into a closed stance, with his shoulders and hips running parallel to the singles line.

Swing Path/Contact Point

Ravi brings his racket slightly downward and forward to strike the back underside of the ball.  Notice he meets the ball in front of him and ensure that his swing is more forward than downward.  If the swing is too much downward, it will result in a “chopping” of the ball that will cause it to sit up for your opponent.

Follow Through

By driving the ball forward, he ensures it stays low and goes deep into the court.  Notice in the fourth image that Ravi’s racket head continues forward even after striking the ball.  This is essential to ensure the ball is struck cleanly.

Extension/Finish

Finally, as his right arm brings the racket forward, his left arm moves backward.  This contributes to his exceptional dynamic balance, which means that he stays on balance throughout the shot.

The slice is an effective weapon that can be used to throw off your opponent’s timing. By adding the slice to your game plan, you can stop your opponent from stealing the pace of your shots. Hit the slice and make them create their own.

-Nelson Hughes