In the next month, many of us will be heading outdoors to start our spring/summer tennis season. Leaving the medium fast, climate-controlled true bounces of Sound Shore’s hard courts for outdoor play does present some challenges which are best dealt with by anticipating, preparing for, and even embracing these challenges.
First, if you are going on to clay courts, keep in mind they usually are quite soft in the early part of the season, as cooler temperatures, lots of rain, and only a few days of rolling leave the courts much softer than they will become as the season progresses: therefore, expect some “dead” bounces from time to time—position much closer in toward the net on most ground strokes, as balls will not reach you like you might expect them to. Second, any day that you play, there may be great swings in temperature, sun, wind etc., which can wreak havoc with your rhythm and timing. Always be prepared with layered clothing, hat, sunglasses etc. to deal with difficult environmental changes. Stay aware of the effect of wind, which can shift suddenly, even swirl, and adjust your ball toss, shot selection and placement accordingly.
I’m reminded of one of the great players of the recent past, Andre Agassi, who, in his glorious latter phase of his career, became the game’s most thoughtful and cerebral player. When asked about adverse conditions that were affecting play at a particular tournament, he remarked, in effect, “You want to make it windy? Bring it on, my toss is low on the serve and I take every ground stroke on the rise, so I will be less affected by the wind than my opponent. You want to make it tropical in heat and humidity? Bring it on. I’m one of the fittest athletes on the tour. I will not be the first one to wilt.” As the great competitor that he was, Andre recognized that tough playing conditions actually gave him an opportunity to gain an edge over the competition, thus allowing him to “embrace” these conditions.
Remember, tough playing conditions are the same for everyone–adjust better than the other player/team & you will have an edge on the opposition. Keep these adjustments in mind right away as you begin to think about the game even before you start playing.
And, of course, see you back at Sound Shore for the indoor season.
by: Lloyd Emanuel, Head Tennis Professional