Up here in the woods of New Hampshire, not only do I have access to a neighborâ€™s beautiful clay court, but there is a great cadre of solid singles players for challenging singles play each day. One is my New Hampshire Nemesis, Bob Wilkie, who is my regular Friday lesson in humility.
A week back, we played indoors on a faster clay court; and even though he had only played a couple of times over the winter, he STILL beat me. 6-4, 6-4 (second set started at 3-3). Now granted this lefty is: younger, taller, faster, AND better than me; but I truly believe there must be something I could do differently to give myself a better chance each time.
My basic strategy (like Federer vs. Nadal) is to hit deep to his backhand and try to take the net; but like Federer, there is a difference between strategy and execution. If I do not get that ball deep enough into the corner, Bob steps in and hits this incredible crosscourt slice backhand that exits the court somewhere around the service line.Â His forehand is devastating.
So this past Friday, we played outside on the lake-side (and slower) court.
Two friends had given me two different pieces of advice: one, take away his angles by hitting down the middle; and the other, keep the ball deeper, so that Bob cannot step into the back hand. I tried both; but when my execution is just a little off (I am human), he had that nice ball sitting there that he can choose any number of options for winning shots.
So I went to Plan C, as our Newk Camp Coaches have preached: take away the shot your opponent wants to hit. I did that by standing inside the baseline during rallies and â€œcheatingâ€ towards the right side of my court. When Bob had that nice backhand sitting there that he wanted to slice low and cross court, I was either able to get to it, or he hit it wide/in the net, or was forced to change his shot and go down the line.
End result? He won again; but this set and a half took an hour and a half and the score was 7-5, 7-6.
More to come. Advice is always welcome.