The most frustrating thing about losing a match, is having that sinking feeling you could have won. When your loss is a matter of a few points you wonder “What could I have done differently?”
Was it your backhand? Forehand? Net game? Breakfast? Or was it something more sinister… Was it your opponent getting into your head?
You may not even know it’s happening, and then suddenly your healthy lead turns to dust. Or you are so aware, that it’s pushing you over the edge and causing one unforced error after another. What’s a girl to do?
Here are some horrible, terrible, no good ways doubles opponents can drive us into a frenzy (often unintentionally)… and some basic tips from the pros on ways to turn it around in your favor:
When an opponent…
...is late to the party. Opponents showing up late to a match could throw off the whole rhythm. Try to shake it off and imagine your match started during the warm-up, giving you a “head-in-the-game” advantage to the late arrival.
…says “I hope this match is short, I have a meeting right after.” This is truly irksome and makes you feel as if you need to hurry as well. If you feel rushed, try to slow yourself down mentally and physically. If you’re serving, bounce the ball a few times and focus on the toss. In the game, bring your awareness to your position, the ball, the racquet. Take your time, it’s not your meeting.
…is a pick and sticker. This is a tough one. A good player who returns hard and sees you as the weak link, can shake you down until you forget your own name. Try to mix up the play… lob, avoid hitting to her and look for opportunities. Return the favor by beating her at her own game, put away a high slow ball, or go down the line. Just remember, it’s not personal. She’s not out to get you, she just wants to win and you are the low hanging fruit. Change what you are doing. Just don’t give in!
…has fallen but still gets up. After enduring a sprain or injury an opponent may choose to tough it out and stay in the game. Suddenly they have a license to disrupt play. They can stop in the middle of the game to check their injury, pause longer than usual between games, chat with their partner about the injury, etc. This can be very distracting. Although this sounds harsh, she now becomes the lame duck. She chose to play and it is your job to make the tough shots in her direction. However, this is a time to use finesse vs. power. There’s no need to whack the ball at her, instead, if her injury prevents her from running, use drop shots, short balls and lobs depending on her position. So instead of being distracted by the time out, use it to plan your next crafty shot.
What’s said behind the fuzzy yellow ball,
stays behind the fuzzy yellow ball.
…whispers sweet nothings. Communication is awesome. But when opposing players stop and whisper behind the ball, they make you believe they have an amazing scheme up their sleeve that will simply ruin you. This forces you focus on guessing their plan vs. having one of your own. Be ready, but stay on course. Or why not mimic them? Every time they talk, you do the same with your partner. Don’t have a plan in mind? Still huddle, and say things like: “Where did you get those cute sneaks… Want to grab a coffee after this?” or “We got this! You rock!” Just say anything and make it look like you mean business. What’s said behind the fuzzy yellow ball, stays behind the fuzzy yellow ball.
…thinks the lines are out. Bad line calls are…well, bad. They make both sides boil over. Avoid making them yourself at all costs, it’s the worst kind of sportsmanship. And, in fact if it is too close to judge, call it in. If the other team makes a bad call, let them have it. Karma will do the job for you. If it persists, just pretend you’re playing singles and aim three feet inside the lines. Fighting about a line call will just ruin the match for both sides.
Did the mean lobbers get you all
…is a lobber not a fighter. When your opponents hit weak shots and lob every point, even if you’re a better player… this could break you. They are trying to take away your advantage, and get you stuck playing their game. Take a few out of the air, throw-in some short balls, be more aggressive and mix it up. Did the mean lobbers get you all discombobulated? Challenge yourself to make unexpected shots. At least you can expect it’s going to be a lob almost every time. Take care of it!
…all just can’t seem to get along. When the opposing partners have a fight and look annoyed, the stress carries to your side and now you become annoyed. Their negative energy is sapping yours and messing with your mojo. Redirect positive energy and be light on your side of the net. High-five your partner and be gracious; get into your own happy place. It might rub-off and lighten the mood on the side of doom.
Just keep it together, keep it together…
…is in Lala Land. The score was announced and you’re about to serve. Nearly mid-toss the opposing team player asks you to announce the score again. Right after the point is played, they ask you to call out the score. Even after you call the score, they don’t pay attention and question you over and over. Take a deep breath. Slow down and be diligent about calling the score when both opposing players are paying attention. Ask your partner to chime-in and repeat as necessary. Just keep it together, keep it together…
Ever get all fired up during a match? We’d love to hear about it…what happened how did you handle it? Vent on Twitter @cg_courtgirl or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Big thanks to all the pros who contributed to this article!