On September 18th, I wrote about the importance of being a “Killer” on the tennis court if I wanted to win more often. But it is proving unimaginably hard to be so “mean.” When I am ahead, I even feel sorry for my opponents, and it sometimes actually costs me the game. Below is Joe Marshall’s wise counsel and comment on that article . You can search above for other Joe Marshall posts that are full of wisdom and good advice about playing tennis after decades of winning experience. Check out his original story here , and don’t hesitate to contact him at joemarshall63@aol.com if you’d like some lessons or advice. He lives in upstate New York, near Western Connecticut.

Tennis will teach you many lessons, Grasshopper. You will doubt yourself. You will doubt your spirit. You will doubt the laws of physics. But persevere. Don’t judge yourself by results. Always remember, you are not invincible, but neither is your partner. Humility is your best friend, because only IT leads to true confidence….(Meditate on THAT mystery, my friend……)

I would bet that each time you got ahead, two things happened. You said to your self, “Don’t blow this.” And your opponent said to himself, “Ok, tighten up, stop experimenting. You know you can beat this guy, so focus.”
And these thought patterns led to his comeback.

Next time, say to your self, “This is fun! There’s nothing like hitting a tennis ball….it feels great!” And then concentrate on hitting your best shot (your forehand) to his weaker side (usually his backhand), as much as you can. And keep those feet moving! Hustle everything down and give him the chance to blow an easy shot. Judge yourself on whether you did those things. If he beats you, tip you hat to him; if you win, don’t get too excited.

Chris Evert was known as the Ice Maiden because of her steely determination and her ability to come up with pressure passing shots in tight situations…..But a lot of it was just technique. Her Dad had told her that in nervous situations, do two things….aim HIGHER, and swing HARDER.

Why did that strategy work? Because in pressure situations, we are inclined at first to be cautious….we slow down our feet, we try not to make mistakes….we go into slow motion…we hesitate……but Chris’s dad’s advice counteracted that….Aiming higher gives us more net clearance…..Swinging Harder give us more consistency, and frees up our tightening muscles….it also gives the opponent a different bounce to deal with.

If you are feeling sorry for your opponent when you get ahead, this is a false pity. It means that you must feel bad when you are trailing, so you assume that he must feel the same way. But it may not be true. So stop feeling bad when you are behind; keep fighting, even if to win only one point. If someone beats you 6-0, thank him for not beating you 6-1. No courtesy games. Just tiny let downs or adjustments can turn the tide at any moment, so, above all, be consistent.

Last idea…….a soft, deep ball is more difficult to hit aggressively than a hard deep ball. Don’t worry if your service returns are soft. Concentrate on getting good net clearance (6 feet or so) on your shots, and hitting the ball deep…..taking the return early robs the opponent of time as well.
I want to have tee shirts made….TENNIS: IT”S NOT ABOUT MERCY!

One last thought….tennis is about healthy competition, which teaches both competitors important lessons about life and health, and cooperation vs competition. Both people come out better for it, and hopefully, better friends.

War is about dehumanization, hate and death……Forgive yourself for being caught up in the war frenzy; after all, you were just an innocent kid. Thank goodness you survived and can play tennis. Peace.

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