Playing competitive tennis singles matches can be quite daunting for many tennis players at the recreational level as they feel extra pressure when playing a competitive match.
Many players who I have spoken to, say they never play as well in a competitive match as they do in practice and they feel like they aren’t playing well at key points in a match and are in essence beating themselves.
There are many reasons why you might not play your best in a competitive situation and this article will look at some of the tennis singles strategies recreational players can use to win more singles matches at their local tennis club.
Top 5 Tips on How to Win More Tennis Singles Matches
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Lose
The main reason tennis players don’t perform as well in competitive matches when compared to practice is that during a competitive match, they start taking on less risk as they are afraid of losing the match.
This might be a conscious or subconscious decision on behalf of the player but the result will be that you hit more balls down the middle.
If you are playing a good player then this will lead you to lose more of your matches as you are not putting your opponent under any sort of pressure.
Instead, you should try and not think about the end result and instead just go point by point.
If you want to start winning more tennis singles matches then you are going to have to try and play your normal game during a competitive match.
By doing this you may hit more errors but over the long term, it will lead you to win more of your matches.
2. See if your Opponent will Beat themselves First
A good strategy to use at the start of a match (especially against someone you haven’t played before) is to play a solid game where you aren’t going for too many winners and you are mostly hitting the ball crosscourt.
By doing this, you will find out if your opponent has a high shot threshold and whether they like to go for winners after X amount of balls.
If they aren’t very patient then you may find that they hit more balls out than they hit winners against so they will end up beating themselves rather than you having to do anything spectacular on your side of the court.
You may find that the opponent is happy to have long rallies with you.
If this is the case, then you will need to be more aggressive and use different strategies against them.
3. Don’t Beat Yourself
This is the flip side of tip number 2, so don’t be that player that is consistently going for winners off the wrong balls and making a ton of unforced errors.
Instead, work on developing a high shot threshold where you only go for winners when your opponent gives you a ball that you can attack.
If you think you might be this sort of tennis player, then one tip I can give you is to keep a mental note of how you are losing your points in your next tennis match.
By doing this, you will find out whether your opponent is winning mostly winners against you or if most points end with you making an unforced error.
You will probably be surprised by the number of points that end with an unforced error rather than a winner or forced error.
4. Limit the Number of Times you hit Down the Line
Hitting the ball down the line too much is probably the biggest mistake I see recreational players make and it leads them to give their opponents so many free points.
By hitting down the line you are giving yourself a smaller target to hit into and if you don’t hit a good enough shot then you are leaving yourself in a poor position for your opponent’s next shot as you will have further to run to get back in position than if you hit the ball crosscourt.
Instead, you should look to hit the ball down the line only when you have a ball that you can attack and you believe your opponent is out of position on the other side of the court.
In this scenario, it is also good to follow your down the line shot into the net so you are in a position to hit an easy volley.
5. Target your Opponent’s Weaker Side
Targeting your Opponent’s Weaker Side might seem like an obvious tip but it is amazing how many recreational tennis singles players simply don’t do this.
Most players have a preference for one side over the other (usually the backhand) and it is usually easy enough to find out which side that is, in the first couple of games in a match.
A common thing I see in recreational singles matches (especially in men’s matches) is that the player will have a great forehand but will most slice when they get a ball to their backhand side.
Many players like this will also do everything they can to hit a forehand rather than a backhand by running around shots hit to their backhand so they can hit a forehand.
This will often lead to the player being out of position for the next shot so smart opponents can take advantage of this by hitting to the opposite corner on their next shot.
Although it is good to target an opponent’s weaker side, that doesn’t mean you should hit every single shot to that side.
Instead, I would mainly hit to that side when I have a ball that I can attack or if I am in a defensive position myself.