I've had a few days to recover from the epic 2+ hour league match from the other day that we reviewed here.
Coming from clay, my poor legs got smoked on that hard court. I even found a few sore muscles that I didn't even know I had before.
During this healing time I thought of a few things that worked in the match, and things that didn't work. I think it's good to go back through and pick out a few things so you can learn from them.
Finding things you did right allows you to develop weapons and increase confidence in those weapons so they are there for you to rely on.
And finding things you did wrong provides a clear path for what you need to work on.
So let's figure out what worked, what didn't, and what we're going to do about it.
Worked: hammering to the backhand
I quickly picked up that my opponents weakness was the backhand side, and that's my favorite part of the court to hit forehands to.
So I went all in. When in control of the rally I only hit forehands to his backhand.
Like a broken record I just kept going for that same wing over and over and over - and most of his errors came from that strategy alone.
Worked: applying pressure to his 2nd serve
He had an excellent 1st serve, but I quickly noticed the 2nd was attackable.
Now our biggest problem with these is that we go for too much and don't actually get these in the court. Wasted opportunity.
So one tip I got recently from Feel Tennis on second serve sitters were these two words:
The goal is not clobber these for outright winners. It's to apply pressure on the return that will force errors or set you up to finish it off.
So when I lined up for the 2nd serve return I told myself "apply pressure" and looked for safe targets ahead of the serve. He also explains in the video that you'll still hit winners too with this strategy because you'll miss a little and your shot will be more aggressive than you were thinking.
It worked, and it set up some easy points. Thanks Tomaz for the tip!
Worked: Mental game
Even though I lost by two points I did a lot better than I expected for my first match at this level - with both teams watching and heckling above us.
Using the mental strategies I discussed here, I felt good the whole match.
I used the mental serve strategy here to stay focused on serve, and only had 2 double faults the whole match.
I was having fun, playing some quality competitive tennis.
Focusing on the right things helps you avoid going to the dark side in times of pressure. The mental stuff is working.
"I’m watching a lot of tennis right now. It’s so mental. It’s all in your mind. Winning vs. losing, success vs. failure is mental. It’s #mindset." - GaryVee
Needs work: Lob struck
A few times I found myself in an uncomfortable situation. He was throwing up lobs when I would approach, and I didn't know what to do.
They were good lobs, but able to be chased down.
I was stunned a bit because I wasn't used to it, I hesitated to hustle and get back to the baseline.
So this this week, I'm going to work on recognizing the lob, taking that quick initial first step, and setting up to roll it back heavy and deep.
Needs work: Errors on the slice backhand
My slice bh although horrible looking is usually my safe place to get everything back on that wing.
But this player was bringing me up mid court, closer to the net, and different areas of the court that were a little unfamiliar.
I dumped several into the net - in attempt to hit too much spin when I should have recognized the type of slice I needed to hit.
I framed a few when approaching - less than clean positioning and also lifting my head up from contact. Thinking about the next shot before I hit the current.
This week I'll work on staying with the shot (not pulling off of it), being smarter on stroke selection, and getting more comfortable with low balls when pulled close to the net that you have to lift up and over.
Needs work: People serve and volley?
That's right, people do serve and volley, and I was a bit shell shocked when my opponent started serve and volleying.
I was stumped and clueless on ways to handle it. Just wasn't prepared for that kind of thinking - it all happens so quick.
My targets weren't clear and I hit some whacky stuff to try and pass him. He got a few nice overheads from attempted lobs.
But I know there is a smarter way.
This week in practice I'll ask my buddy to do some s&v and we'll come up with a few ways to counter it.
The only way to win is to lose
One of my favorite quotes from Gary Vee, an eternal optimist, is "learn how to love losing"
Meaning to do anything great you are going to be met with a ton of obstacles, losses, adversity, "No's", and failures - and when you can own your losses and accept that they are 100% your fault and grow from them, you won't fear losing.
You'll understand you need to get better, you need to learn, you need to put the work in.
Let's sharpen our blades sharper than our opponents, find ways to exploit weaknesses, and elevate our games to the next level.
So get out there, make some mistakes, learn from them - and win.
Thanks for reading, and see you on the court.