Start Slowly

In “Winning Ugly,” Brad Gilbert reminds us, when playing a Big Match (and for us, ANY tournament match is a Big Match), start slowly and don’t go for any big shots for the first few games. I tried that in my opening round singles match at Sterling Oaks today.

My opponent was Jim Johanson, a steady baseliner from the east coast of Florida. So after a controlled warmup, I committed to “just get the ball back in play” and develop a rhythm for at least the first two games.

I did. He held his serve for the first game fairly easily; but I served and he gave me a few unforced errors (which is what I normally do for my opponents).

And then, as the match wore on, I gradually stepped up the depth and pace of my shots – still keeping them under control, but building some aggression.

With that style, I was able to take the first set 6-2; and was serving 5-2 for the match in the second set. Then, as we have all seen before, a losing opponent starts going for – and making – his shots. Jim breaks me and then holds serve, to bring it to my serving now 5-4 for the match.

Walking to the baseline, I think of another tennis book, Jeff Greenwald’s “Fearless Tennis,” which reminds us, “THIS is why we are here. THIS is why we play competitive tennis… to be in situations just like this.”

So I suck it up and serve out the match. 6-2, 6-4.

Tom McCune also won his first round singles match, 6-3, 6-3. And we both play seeded players tomorrow at 2 p.m. … he plays Fong and I play Gary Wilson (again!).

The rest of the match results won’t be posted till this evening; but the full brackets + the doubles draws can be found by clicking HERE.

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