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Tennis Coach's Corner

Tennis Tip

Presented by Billy Pate, Co-Director
Lawrenceville School Nike Tennis Camp

Tennis Tip: Match Preparation


Being prepared for competition starts well before the first ball is struck.  

We have our college players start thinking about the upcoming matches well ahead of time. The day before a competition we might have a light practice, but with focused points where we stress tactical points (like a walk through in football or basketball).  If we’re on the road, it’s important to get used to the courts and surroundings.  How fast/slow are the courts? Are there unique sightlines or spectator areas near the playing surface? Indoors or outdoors?  All of these require some additional consideration.  We will then get a longer stretch and of course talk about hydration and nutrition.  Naturally, that should be something every player is doing throughout the week, but the day before competition is critically important.  

The players make sure their racquets are strung to their desired tension and are weighted/balanced properly.  An hour before a match we start our dynamic stretching. We ask our players to already have their racquets gripped and equipment in order, prior to the warmup. The best players always have their own routines they repeat each match (music just before warm up, timing of going to the restroom, mental focusing/meditation, etc). Once the players have a full warm up of each stroke we’ll go into fast-paced doubles drills.  Since dual matches in college tennis start with doubles – and it’s a set with no ad scoring – it’s crucial to come out of the gates quick. Therefore, we try to get our feet moving and the energy sky high right before the match begins.  

Another unique aspect of college dual matches is that there is no warm-up with your opponent so our players really need to walk onto the court with a light sweat.  We might talk quickly about a strategy (where to serve or which player to attack) or if we should serve first or defer.  I fully believe if junior players can incorporate some of these routines and ideas they will be taking control of their preparation and giving themselves the best opportunity to be successful!

For more great tips from Coach Pate and his amazing staff, get in on the action this summer at the Lawrenceville School Nike Tennis Camp!

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