Unlike most major sports, tennis allows you to warm up with your opponent instead of doing it alone or with just your own team. This unique difference gives an advantage to those who use the warm-up not only to prepare physically but also strategically. Here are three matchmaking strategies you can use based on what you learn in the 10-minute pre-match walkthrough.

Simply keep the ball in play longer than your opponent – The first strategy you should try to use is to simply keep the ball in play longer than your opponent. Let’s say during the warm-up you notice that your opponent is spraying balls everywhere and is very inconsistent. If you find that you can keep more balls in play during a play, then you instantly come up with your first game plan. Remember, the scoring system in tennis is different from almost any other sport. Can you imagine how different basketball would be if missing a free throw resulted in the other team’s score being increased by one point? What if kicking and missing a field goal in soccer gave the other team three points? I think we can all agree that if these scenarios were true, the strategy of each sport would change drastically. Well, in tennis, the equivalent is true. You receive the same number of points whether you hit a winner or your opponent makes a mistake. So if playing it safe wins point after point due to your opponent’s constant mistakes, then keep playing the ball in play and watch your opponent end up beating himself.

Pick your opponent’s obvious weakness – Now let’s say that during the warm-up against a different opponent you realize that he has clear strengths and weaknesses. Using a strategy as simple as ‘keep it in play’ won’t work as well as it did against your other ‘inconsistent’ opponent. You will now need to place the other player in your least favorite position as often as possible. But how do you know what that is? Well, for starters, look at what they do well and not so well in the warm-up. Most people like their forehand better than their backhand. If you send a ball into someone’s backhand and they try to dodge it, that’s a sure sign that they don’t want to hit backhand. Therefore, during the match, do your best to serve, return, rally, get close, and volley as many shots to your backhand (weakness) as possible. Or, let’s say you offer to warm up your volleys and you only hit two or three, miss them all, and quickly go back to serving. This is very common and tells you that they don’t like being on the net. This is your invitation to hit dropshot after dropshot in an attempt to get them off the baseline (where they feel most comfortable) and into the net where they feel much less safe. This strategy really frustrates your opponent because he really wants to make the best shots of him, but he can’t, because you won’t let him.

Work The Angles And Dimensions Of The Cut – Finally, you’re warming up against a third opponent and you notice that they’re very consistent and don’t seem to have any glaring weaknesses. This is when you will need to use real tennis strategy and hit a variety of shots. First, make a high percentage of your serves and service returns. Then attack all the short balls and hit them to a corner of the court. Look to make your approach shots to the side your opponent hits higher over the net, then move forward preparing to tip the short volley to the opposite side. If your opponent reaches the net, do your best to hit the ball close to his feet. Most people hate hitting low volleys and you might get a short ball that will make it easier to pass them. And lastly, mentally prepare yourself for a match with ups and downs. It’s not over ’til it’s over and there is always a way to win if you keep your mind focused and your strategy evolving.

So the next time you step onto the court, don’t just warm up your body; warm up your strategic mindset too. Your opponents will give you hints on how to play them if you just pay attention. Give it a try… I bet it will result in less frustration and a lot more wins.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *