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Sun, Sept. 15

Singles strategy;<BR>USA Tennis leagues forming

Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose, if you can handle that aspect of tennis, then you can start thinking about strategy. Fifty percent of us lose each match, damn.

Anyone who tells you they play tennis to relieve stress doesn't know what they're talking about. How many tennis players do you know that warm up like they could do damage to their opponent, but when the match begins so does their confidence. If we could just put our brain on the bench while we play, this problem wouldn't exist.

Early on in our tennis careers just getting the ball back over the net and developing solid fundamentals for all the strokes is the strategy.

Every step we take to get to the next level provides us a new level of anxiety as well, even though it really isn't our opponents that do it to us, it's self-imposed. There are some things we can do to help alleviate those feelings of unrest, doubt and nervousness:

•Practice your shots until you own them.

•Watch the ball and forget your opponent.

•Give yourself positive feedback, only.

•Don't over-think the game, rely on your game plan and instincts once the game begins.

•Outside distractions can blow you apart, so tell yourself that you will not let those situations take control of you … before they take place.

•Get in good shape. (Nothing worse than being able to win, and then to run out of steam).

•Make sure your equipment is in excellent condition.

•Work your weaknesses more than the good parts of your game in practice.

•Don't get stale by sitting in the sun watching two hours of tennis before your match is to begin.

•Be realistic about your ability level, do the best you can and enjoy the challenge.

•If you get a chance to scout your opponent, make mental notes on how you can best play them.

•Keep your match in perspective; if your opponent was that good, he wouldn't be playing you … he'd be on the tour.

•Try to become "process-oriented" as opposed to "outcome-oriented."

•Don't be afraid to lose, as long as you've given it your best shot. Only one person wins each tournament. Who really cares other than you anyway?

•Stay with a winning game. If you're beating someone badly, finish him off quickly and then go buy him a beer afterwards. Feeling sorry for them during the match won't help either of you, especially if the momentum changes and you end up losing.

•Play tennis for your own enjoyment, not your spouse and not your parents or coach. Smile, compete, take the net or stay back, the best strategy of all if you have a choice … pick your opponent wisely.

***

ALL TENNIS PLAYERS WANTED … If you're a tennis player, we want you. You may not be very good, but we still want you to join us on a USA Tennis Senior League (men and women 50-years-old and up). The league ability levels range from 3.0 to 4.5. It's all doubles, and we only need eight players per team.

Team registration has begun, but the deadline to have all players officially NTRP rated and team rosters in is March 5.

Hey, it's fun and there's no time like to present to get started. You play within your ability level. The cost is minimal and once the league begins you will have a set schedule of home and away matches in the Northern Arizona region.

Contact me at 778-7071 if you'd like to be placed on a team and we'll see if we have enough players to put some extra teams together.

Tennis is the game of a lifetime.

*Note: Our very own Gene Scott had heart bypass surgery recently and is recovering in California. We hope to see him back out on the courts soon, "Right Gene?"

(Chris Howard is a local USTPA tennis professional with over 25 years in the fitness industry).

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