Yesterday, I played singles with Joe McAleer, a nationally ranked player who just came down from New Jersey; so as he said, I could have â€œthe Florida advantage.â€ Coincidentally, I was the first guy Joe played when he started coming down to Florida to spend the winter and play the USTA tournaments a few years back. He beat me in straight sets.
Joeâ€™s strength is his serve and his first volley â€“ he serves you wide in the add court and then can take even a low cross-court return and volley deep into the deuce court; and he has great variety to his game.
He did start off a little rusty on his serve: I broke him three times â€“ but he broke me back two times. So I was leading, with Joe serving at 3-5.
He was now serving and volleying on most points and winning his games easily. And he changed up his return game to use a drop shot off my serve and give me no pace on other shots. Soâ€¦ he held serve, broke me, held serve again; and with my game now struggling I went down 5-6, 0-30.
I paused and asked myself â€œWhat is happening here?â€ I decided to take away his short/soft stuff by serving and volleying the majority of the points, and come to the net and many others.Â I was able to come back and win my service game and bring it to a tie breaker.
Joe took the lead and I was down, serving 3 points to 6. Thinking of the Rafa Nadal philosophy, I just tried to play each point and won my two service points. He then served for the set 6-5 and went to his strength of serving out wide to my backhand and coming in behind it. I returned cross court and immediately started â€œsprintingâ€ toward the deuce corner, where his volley was going. Got there and could just loft a short lob; which surprised him enough that he blew the putaway to bring it to 6-6. Luckily, I was able to win the next two points and the one hour and fifteen minute set.
Points to remember:
- As Joe did, change your losing game to give your opponent something else to look at.
- As I did, react and ask yourself, â€œWhat is happening here?â€ to come up with your own strategy.
- Play every point â€“ you never know what will happen.
- Get â€œone more ball back,â€ even if it just gives your opponent â€œan easy shot.â€
P.S. to Joe: Thanks for the permission to post this one and I look forward to playing again soon.
P.P.S. Joe is a very talented professional artist. His website is: http://www.joemcaleer.com/joemcaleer/