55%

If you can win 55% of points in a match, the page that led you here talks about how you will dominate in matches and how our team will win.  But there is another very important lesson.  Simply put, you don't have to win every point.  You only need to win 5 out of every 9 points to achieve 55%.  That means you get to lose 4 out of every 9.  You don't have to be perfect.  I saw the defending state champion against a girl who barely made her varsity team.  She tried for a Golden Set (not losing a point).  Not even she could do it.

Lessons to take away from that:

  1. When you lose a point, don't dwell on it.  Your opponent will hit great shots, you will miss shots, you'll get unlucky when they hit the net and it rolls over, and you'll even miss some really easy shots.  Don't let it bug you.  You can lose 4 out of 9 and win.  One point is one point, even if it is an important point.  Dwelling on it and letting it bring you down will cost you several future points.

  2. If something goes wrong once and you lose a point, that's fine.  Don't let it stop you from trying again.  The #1 place this matters is being aggressive at the net, and taking chances moving to the middle to attack cross-court shots.  If you decide to make a move and your opponent burns you down the line, don't let it stop you from trying again.  Make them burn you at least 3 times without missing a few before you even think about stopping.

Story Time:

This was arguably the best match in Sherwood Tennis history.  The level of play by all four players was truly impressive.  SHS's Erica and Alli vs Lakeridge's Anna and Rileigh.  Anna was the best player on the court and playing at the top of her game.  But Alli and Erica each had a decent edge over Rileigh.

The SHS game plan:  Keep the ball away from Anna.  Duh!

The Lakeridge game plan:  Rileigh would work to stay in the point long enough to give Anna a chance to get involved and win it.

The match starts:  Lakeridge jumps out to a lead early.  Lakeridge is accomplishing their goal with Rileigh staying in 3-4 shot rallies and Anna moving across the net to pick off an SHS groundstroke to win the point.  Erica and Alli could crush their shots, but Anna was on fire and won about 80% when she made that move.  She was unstoppable.

First set to Lakeridge, despite really great hitting by SHS.

SHS changes the plan a bit.  To quote coach Craig, "There are a million ways to lose a tennis match.  You might as well try them all."  Erica and Alli start to take a few more risks and hit shots up the line instead of cross-court since Anna is moving to the middle so much.  It went about like this:

  • Winner!

  • Missed

  • Missed

  • Winner!

  • Right to Anna to get killed

  • Missed

  • Right to Anna to get killed

  • Winner!

  • Missed

  • Winner!

  • Right to Anna to get killed

4 winners, and 7 lost points.  Not exactly a success.  Not even close.

But wait.  Anna and her coach got a bit tired of watching her get burned down the line.  They didn't pay attention to the rules at the top of this page.  They were still winning way more than they were losing, but they paid too much attention to the lost points.  So, Anna stopped moving to the middle and covered the line instead.  That left cross-court shots open for Alli and Erica.  So, it now wasn't enough for Rileigh to just stay in the point for a few shots waiting for Anna to take over - now she had to try to beat them by herself.

She couldn't.  Once Anna left the middle open and left Rileigh to fend for herself, SHS had the edge and could implement their plan (keep the ball away from Anna) and came back for a 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 win.

@2017 by Sherwood Tennis