by Gigi Fernandez
There are three match situations you will face every time you get on the court. Each requires a different mental strategy to help you close the match!
1. Your team is better than the opponents
If your team is better, this is a time to play steady tennis. If you play your game and they play their game you should win since you are the better team. You should not try risky shots, instead you should play “vanilla” doubles and let the opponents beat themselves. At the same time, do not commit the cardinal sin of underestimating your opponent. Being the favorite does not mean you should be too relaxed because it is easy to get careless and suddenly find the match tighter than it should be. You should still focus on playing the next point…one point at a time!
2. Your team is worse than the opponents
If you are worse than your opponents, then you have to take risks and try different things. Go for all your shots, take chances, play different formations, mix up the sides you play each set, and do anything you can to disrupt the rhythm of the better team. There is always a way to get yourself into a match and at least compete effectively. Even if you’re a 3.5 team against a 4.5 duo, you have a better chance of wining more points if you mix it up. Pay attention to being consistent. It is very important to generate positive energy with your partner. A point here, a point there and well, who knows what might happen? Know that the lessons you learn from playing this way against a better team will help you significantly when you compete against peers at your level. Even if you lose, learn from it… It will make you a better player!
3. You are even or very close with your opponents
Tennis is a game of errors! At any level, the partnership with the least amount of errors tend to win the matches. If you are closely matched — this is often a good starting assumption for most competitive situations — then you have to carefully calibrate prudence and risk!
Most of the points you play are going to end in an error. Yes, there are the winner returns, the ace serve, the poaches put always, the drop shots winners, the slamming overheads, but it is mostly errors that will dictate the outcome of the match. The trick in this matchup is to execute your shots just forcefully enough to compel your opponents to try for more thus making them generate the error. When you are even with your opponents it is important to not take risks on the big points. There is a small fine line between not taking risk and pushing the ball. Stay mentally strong, focused and positive on key points and that will help you seal the deal!
For more tips, trips with Gigi and DOUBLES.TV go to gigifernandeztennis.com