Sunday, June 1, 2014

How to beat junior tennis players

Kristianne Bontempo | Towpath Tennis Employee | Online Store Manager

These days we're all too often finding ourselves across the net of opponents who are fresh out of high school or college. And if your first thought is 'oh crap', then you're already falling into their hands. Nobody's jumping for the chance to play some kid doing high kicks at the baseline, but you should not have to overcompensate or dumb down your game just because you're playing somebody in a different age bracket. So here are some tips on the most common mind games you might face when playing a junior tennis player in regular league play.

Not all junior tennis players have an attitude.
Whats up with the 'tude? - Not all junior players are as immature on the court as you might assume. Many are actually quite courteous and show more sportsmanship than those twice their age, however that doesn't discount the few that can't remember their manners. Whether they feel it was provoked, junior players tend to deal with adversities on the court by defending themselves with their words and actions instead of through their game, so try not to take it personally. Instead of stooping to that level, kill them with kindness (real kindness, not the overly fake stuff), because you'll find yourself in a much more positive mental state-win or lose. 

The temper tantrum - It's embarrassing for somebody at any age to throw their racquet or shout out angrily, but we can almost expect it with a youthful player who tends to be less experienced in controlling their emotions. Depending on the severity, avoid getting rattled by your opponent's self-wallowing by continuing to play your game in a quiet, mature manner. Even after making a few errors, if your opponent sees that you're unfazed, they'll most likely fixate on wondering why they're still in a funk and further self-destruct. If their temper becomes so intense where you fear for your safety (ie. your opponent smashes balls at you or punches a hole in the wall-hey, it's happened!), then stop play and seek out a captain or umpire to officiate the rest of the match. 
Let inconsistency shine through - Even if they have a strong game, you won't typically see a lot of seasoned junior players in regular league play. More often than not, the secret to winning is keeping the ball in play! Younger players have a difficult time staying patient and want to rush the point while forcing their own error. So gear up for the long haul and be ready for some rallying. Think of the match as a game where you count how many times the ball crosses over the net, and then try to beat that record. If you feel in control, try taking the ball for a spin by moving it side to side and back and forth. Your opponent may be young, but can they outlast the Energizer bunny?

The feather/cannon game - You will most likely face two types of games when playing a younger opponent, the 'let's hit as hard as we can' game, and the 'nothing's working so I'll just tap everything over' game. You might even experience both in one match! The junior player thrives on hitting a hard ball, so simply take the pace off. You may hate having to adjust your game but your junior opponent will hate it even more. So when the balls are flying out, younger players will sometimes back off the pace completely by pushing the ball with a feather-light touch. When playing against a pusher, you can try adding topspin and move those feet so that you can 'punch' the ball back.

Cheater, cheater - Too many times we see junior players get chastised for cheating -or- we're accused of cheating ourselves. The thing about cheating is a lot of the time nobody is actually cheating! Adults are to believe that junior players cheat because it's the easy way to beat an adult, and juniors are to believe that adults cheat because they're sore losers and have bad eyesight-neither one being true. Always give the benefit of the doubt after a questionable call. Question them after a second call (without the 'tude), then ask your captain/umpire to officiate the match after any subsequent calls. Request the later if you're being continually accused of cheating, otherwise aim well inside the line. 

Intentional or not, junior players will play head games with you, but it's up to you to keep your emotions in check. Stop hoping to at least win a game or two, or swear you'll quit if you lose to some kid. What many junior players have in power and imperial confidence, they are lacking in consistency and experience in tough match situations. It's not the end of the world if you lose to a player who could easily be your own child. If they're a good sport, be a good sport in return. Ultimately, we're happy to see a larger younger generation of tennis players emerging. No matter the outcome remember this, the majority of junior players are just as grateful for the opportunity to play with the big kids.

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  1. A game where you count how many times the ball crosses over the net, and then try to beat that record. If you feel in control, try taking the ball for a spin by moving it side to side and back and forth.

  2. We should learn perfect game techniques to beat our competitor in tennis; it is quite fair to learn tips from experts and follow the game bit by bit. A professional tennis player is completely involve in the game and playing according to the game plan; through which he or she can able to won the match.
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