I often play tennis against opponents that I THINK I should beat. Opponents that I'm younger than. Opponents that I'm more fit than. Opponents that I'm skinnier than. Opponents that I'm wearing less medical devices than.
And yet, on many occasions, I either lose to these opponents or I win only after a long, drawn-out, ugly battle. Beating these seemingly weaker players should not be as much work as I’m making it. And, by the way, I get it – they're obviously not weaker since they can beat me, they just seem like they out to be weaker.
So, to help you and me out, here are a few tips I've come up with to make our tennis lives easier when we come up against “weaker” tennis opponents.
1. Don’t underestimate your opponent. Sure, the lady across the net is 30 years older than you and outweighs you by a good 75 pounds. But don’t be fooled. In tennis, looks are often deceiving. The out-of-shape opponent is invariably the master of placement. Or lobbing. Or bullet serving. Always be ready to play a good game of tennis, no matter who shows up on the other side.
2. Be prepared for inconsistency. Maybe the hardest thing about playing a weaker opponent is that they just don’t have a plan. You really don’t know what is going to happen next because there is often very little if any logic to their shots. And it is well known that mis-hits and frame shots can produce all kinds of winners. So be on your toes and ready for just about anything to come back across the net.
3. Be patient. You may like points that are quick, with short rallies and someone hitting a definite winner. Well, with a weaker opponent, you need to be very patient and wait before trying for the winning shot. Since all kinds of things may be coming back at you, it may take a few more exchanges to get the right shot that allows you to put the ball away. Don’t rush the point. Wait for your opportunity.
4. Be prepared to work hard. Even with a weaker opponent, especially with a weaker opponent, you have to do your job. And that means you may have to chase a lot of balls down. It can feel like you’re doing all of the work while your opponent is just happily getting the ball back. And she probably is! But keep up the work and win the match point by point by point.
5. Just relax. Finally, calm down. Relax. Enjoy yourself. Tennis is a game after all and getting stressed about it will only lead to you tightening up and playing badly. So loosen up and realize that it may take you a little while to beat the weaker opponent, but ultimately, you will!