Today was a great experienceâ€¦ my return to the singles court! I played two good sets against my 39-year-old â€œgazelleâ€ friend, Marc Vandam. And what made it more fun for both of us was the handicap.
Since before my operation we were playing about even â€“ with Marc having the slight edge â€“ he would have a BIG edge today. So we determined to use the tennis handicap system and he gave me four points per set.
How it works:
- You determine the handicap by the difference in level of play.
- You can use the rating system: if you are a 4.5 and playing a 4.0, the lower player would get five points per set.
- Or you can look at previous set scores: if you had been winning regularly about 6-2, 6-2â€¦ the lower player would get four points per set.
- And the player getting the points can take them at any time; and in any combination.
So it is not only using the points that can make the difference; but just the threat of using them. Whenever Marc was serving and the score was something like 30 all, he knew that the next point was potentially game point. If I won it, I would surely use one of my points to break his serve.
As it turned out, â€œthe elephant in the roomâ€ of my having the points was my biggest edge in the first set, which I won 6-3. But in the second set (when fatigue/age/conditioning started to become a factor), the four points made us perfectly even. At 5-5, I was running out of time (and gas); so we played a tie breaker, which I edged out.
If you want to have a way to play a tennis match with a friend at any level (higher or lower than you), try the handicap system. It makes it fun and competitive for both players.
Marc admitted that the pressure of the points was great practice for himâ€¦ it will force him to continue to play aggressively and not just push the ball back. And for me, it felt great just being out there and being able to run corner to corner, win or lose (really).