Fearless Tennis

Those who know me, know I have been trying to imprint the “Fearless Tennis”

mantra on my brain. It is not always easy to stay loose and really go for the shot you should … especially at a critical point in a game or match.

A recent example… Playing a doubles match against tournament player, Joe McAleer (now #1 in 65 doubles in Florida), I was serving to Joe in the ad court at 15-30 and 4 games to 4 in the set.

I had missed my first serve and was serving a second. Joe is an especially good return of server; and has a tendency to run around his backhand on a soft second serve (one of my weaknesses) and absolutely CRUSH a forehand return.

Rather than wimping in a soft second serve that might get me or my net partner hurt, I said to myself, “Fearless Tennis … go for a solid serve down the T.” I did and had a second serve ace.

After we won the game, at the cross-over, Joe said, “That took courage.”

But given the choice of regularly hitting a soft second serve that your opponents can really tee off on, it is really better to go for more of a serve – and accept the fact that you will occasionally double fault. I believe a double fault going for a good second serve is better psychologically than suffering a blistering return winner.

It is sometimes hard to accept making mistakes; but if it is the right shot, go for it.

4 thoughts on “Fearless Tennis

  1. Not only on particular points. In a match Thursday I lost my semi-final match 3-6, 4-6 and did not bring my best game to the match. While there may be variables that we cannot control in our “best game”, one that we can try to control is to be ready to play one’s very best right from the start and on every point. I didn’t and that was a main reason for a disapointing loss.

    Nick – still a good effort to get to the semis and win the third place spot. see you on the court soon! george

  2. While there are many factors that go into the decision to hit a slow serve or one with more pace or go to a side or into the center of the service box… or hit a ground-stroke with top spin or underspin or drop, lob or drive, I really believe the choice should always be based on what is the best tactical shot for setting up the next shot to win the point, and should never be based on the emotion of the moment. Like any other skill in tennis, the more you practice and apply fearless tennis, the easier it is to do so consistently. I do think the hardest part of playing fearless tennis is to recognize that you are going to lose some now and then and not blame the loss on being “reckless” when you could have played it safe and dinked in a shot. You simply missed the shot or your opponent hit a better one. If you are worried that a shot will miss, practice the shot more and make it a more reliable choice. Oh yeah… and try not to let others tell you that your choice to go for your shots is a stupid or bad choice. You might be executing the shot incorrectly or inconsistently, and that is fixable, the same as is taking fear out of the decision process. I do love, however, to play against opponents who play those consistently safe dinks at crunch moments. I know it is coming… that wimpy second serve at ad-out, and I AM going to go for my return.

    Terry – but you are The King of hard second serves! and when have you ever chosen to hit a slow second serve?! george

  3. speaking as the victim of george’s “fearless tennis”, there is an additional benefit to having the courage to hitting that shot. besides the immediate result of winning the point, he serves notice to the returner that you have that serve and are capable of hitting it when you have to. hence the returner (me, in that case), in future games, is more wary of leaving that opening when moving further over to go for a big return. so, keep it up!

    Joe – thanks. george

  4. An awful lot of this discussion is dependent on the situation. My thought would be to make sure it got to the backhand, which we should be able to do at our leve, perhaps by moving more to the outside of the court to get a better angle, or serve at the body which takes away most players ability to “clock it”. Three days ago I was playing against my Berlin team partner, Harald Elschenbroich.for a set and a half I was trying to serve hard (probably 65-70mph:) and was having a really hard time holding serve. I will say that Harald lost 7-5 in the 5th to Lew Hoad at Roland Garros a while back with wins over Cliff Richey and lots of Davis Cup wins. Back to the topic, I decided to take the pace off and make him have to swing more to get a big return. All of a sudden I won a few more games and the next day took the first set 7-6. Of course you have to occasionally throw in a harder serve, like Jomac says, to let them know you have that shot, but we’ve all been in the situation where we hit our fastest serve and it’s in the guys wheelhouse, it comes back faster than the serve we hit.
    And to Nick, if you didn’t bring your best game to the match, and your losing, CHANGE the way you’re playing! Good players often win even though they’re playing badly.

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