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Player to Player: Pace of Play

January 30, 2012 01:50 PM
Have a question? Receive advice from your fellow tennis players!
Real Tennis Players - Like You! - Asking For and Offering Advice on the Sport They Love
Player to Player is USTA.com’s regular feature in which everyday tennis players are given a forum to ask advice on the sport they love – and their fellow players will dish out advice. We’ll post a number of the best responses we receive to our question of the week.

Player to Player:
This week's question from Timothy:
I tend to overbrush the ball and not hit through in matches when the score/match is tight. How do I get around this? I don't want to do it, but it seems to always happen. I seem to revert to pushing the ball and becoming defensive rather than the aggressor. Any tips? In practice/warm up, hitting through the ball is a lot easier.
Please share your thoughts by e-mailing Player@USTA.com, and include your name and hometown.
Got a question of your own? Send that along, too!

Last week's question from Kathy
(Please note: There is no need to send additional responses to this question.)
I recently played a doubles match where my opponents were playing at a very fast pace. My partner and I did not play at the same pace and felt that they were rushing the points. What do you suggest is reasonable for this scenario? Does the server control the pace, and what is the rule for time between points for partners to strategize before return of serve? Thank you.
Player Responses:
Coach Leonard, Concord, Calif.

Players will resort to speeding game play to get you out of sync. The idea is to get you out of your comfort zone so that you will create more unforced errors. According to USTA rules, you are permitted to have up to 20 seconds between points. The server does not control the tempo of play. The server still must wait for the receiver to be ready.

Visualize a professional football game. The defense huddles for every play as does the offense. I suggest talking to your partner to slow down the pace. If over-strategizing may overload your partner, just talk about anything to use the 20 seconds. The plan is to regain composure with more recovery time.

Also be sure to use your full 90 seconds to break for changeovers. In one situation of opponents trying to hurry me, I started conversing with them during the match. Not only did the game slow down, but they also were fighting not to lose focus.

Remember, your opponents can only control what you let them. The only way to get ahold of your strenghths is to let go of your weaknesses.

Kenny S., Chicago

The server does control the speed of play for the most part. You can talk with your partner and take I think 25 or 30 seconds in between the points and the changeovers a minute and 30 seconds. So the returner or net player can also control the pace. Try to stay focused and deal with the situations that you like and don't like in speed of play. If your partner has a different style, try and talk about it, but try to fit in with it, also. You need to make sure the player is in ready position and set before you serve. You can also use the time to chill if tired or upset and regroup.

Ling, Madison, Wisc.

I don't know if you are talking about USTA matches or not. But when I play USTA matches, the players are not given time to strategize between points. We are given a little time for changing sides and water breaks only between games and not time specified in between points. I'm sure the local league in your area sets rules about how much time you have for breaks and when to take them, as well.

Of course, when it is your side's turn to serve, you have a bit of control over how soon you are ready to start serving. But if it is your opponent's turn to serve, no, they dictate how soon they want to start serving, and there is nothing unreasonable about it if they start right away. Even if you can quickly exchange a few words in between points when it is your turn to serve, you still should respect the court etiquette to hurry up and not dawdle. It is only unreasonable of your opponents if they demand to start the next game when the allotted time for changeovers and water breaks between games is not yet over.
*Please note that any advice given out in this forum should in no way be confused with actual medical advice. Before starting any new exercise regimen or altering your existing one, we strongly urge you to consult with your regular physician.
Click here for USTA.com's Player to Player Archive.


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