Aug 26 2013

One Simple Tip to Win Close Matches

Doubles | League Tennis       Clif Render      

The other night I was engaged in a real battle. We were very evenly matched with our competition. We had traded games back and forth and were all tied up at 2-2 in the first set when, all of the sudden, it happened. We got broken. We had lost focus just for a moment on my partner's serve, and that was all it took. We were now down a break. We were really close to breaking back during the next game but just couldn't convert. They consolidated and were now ahead at 4-2. We got broken again, and it was now 5-2. The wheels were really beginning to fall off, and I had absolutely no idea why.

That was when my partner realized what was happening and summarized both the problem and the solution in one simple phrase. He hopped over to me and said "Hit good shots, not great ones." That one sentence stopped me in my tracks. "Hit good shots, not great ones," he had said. Thinking back, I realized that he was right. We were very evenly matched with our competition but, because we were so evenly matched, both my partner and I were trying to make great shots and failing. In a situation where any little thing could mean the difference between winning and losing, we were simply trying to do too much. We were actively giving the match away. He was exactly right. Ugh.

Well, it was time for us to get back to the basics and start hitting good shots again. We would go on to win that serve repeatedly reminding each other to, "Hit good shots, not great ones." A few good serves later we were back in business. It was now 5-3. They would win their next serve and the set, but we weren't worried. We had finally realized that we were the ones in complete control of this match. Our play would dictate who won and lost this match. We just needed to make sure that we dictated properly. The second set started much like the first; we were all tied up at 2-2 again, but this time there was no lapse in focus. We kept our head in the game and finally at 5-5, we had our opportunity and broke them to go ahead 6-5. The next serve was ours, and we had taken the second set 7-5.

We would carry our momentum into the third set tiebreaker and and win both the tie break and the match 10-8. It was a great match with good competition and a favorable result. "Hit good shots, not great ones." Awesome!

So, the next time you find yourself inexplicably losing a tough match where you feel like you are fairly evenly matched or even a little better than your competition; keep in mind this one simple rule, "Hit good shots, not great ones." It could make all the difference.

Comments (2) -

Kim Kim says:

That would have stopped me in my tracks too!  What a great tennis mantra - you're lucky to play with someone who gets it and can convey it quickly.  Great post!

Clif Render Clif Render says:

Absolutely right, Kim. I was very fortunate in that respect. Thanks so much for the comment, and thanks to you, Donnie, for your keen insight and encouragement!

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