Playing Vs. Yourself

Hank Irvine
Hank Irvine
What happens when you have a singles (or doubles) match against a player/team who has the same style of game that you play… should you change your game or stick with the same style? According to two top players, “it depends.” And that is much the situation I had in today’s quarter finals.

At the first January tournament, I had a very close match with a close friend, Chuck Kinyon, who plays much the same game that I do: mostly baseline, topspin forehand, slice backhand, mostly out-steady your opponent. Our match was about dead even… after two+ hours, we split sets and he broke me at 4-5 in the third.

Hank Irvine

After the match, Hank Irvine, former tour player and one of my favorite “tennis mentors,” counseled me on match strategy. He agreed that we had very similar games; but my legs were better and that I didn’t use that difference well enough.

He said, “You allowed him to play his game. He was very comfortable standing on the baseline hitting groundstrokes with you. What you should have done was change the game to put more pressure on him.” Hank’s advice was that I should have “taken him out of his comfort zone” by hitting more drop shots and coming to the net more.

Joe Bachmann

Joe was listening to Hank’s advice and added… when he faces an opponent with the same style, he has to ask himself, “Can I beat him with my style?” If he can (which is normally the case), he sticks with his game.

But if he thinks his opponent can actually out steady him, Joe agrees that you have to then change your game.

As is the case most of the time, you can actually learn more in losing than you can in winning.

My Match Today

…Was vs. Jay Bortner who DeDe observed, “plays a lot like you: runs everything down and gets everything back in play.” But I believed I had more offense in my game; so that is what I tried to use.

I won the first four games; but then he served a strong game to hold; broke me (me blowing a 40-15 lead); and he held again. So we switched ends with the MO now on his side and me serving 4-3.

I was able to right the ship… maintained my focus to push him side to side, until I got the opening to win the point. I held and then broke him for the first set, 6-3.

The second set was very similar – and challenging. I was getting MENTALLY TIRED having to hit offensive shot after offensive shot to win the point. Looking back, he didn’t WIN many points; I ended up losing them (by going for just a little too much).

But after one hour and forty five minutes, it finally resulted in a 6-3, 6-3 victory.

Tomorrow is the semi final vs. #2 seeded Barry Shollenberger… just the opposite of Jay Bortner: Barry is a serve and volleyer/net rusher supreme.

For the full draw and results, please click HERE.

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