“If I could have won all the deuce games at the last tournament, I would be rated over 1400 now!”
“If my opponent hadn’t got 2 nets at deuce, I would have had the upset of my life.”
“If I could have won all the deuce games at the state championship, I would have won the title 4-0.”
Many players ask me the “secret” to winning close games. I usually respond by saying that all the points in a game are equally important. By playing your strongest tactics throughout the game, you could possibly close him down 11-5 instead of hoping you can pull off something marvelous at 10-10. Let me illustrate…
The score is 7-7 in the first game. Most people feel this is not an important point in the match, but I feel that it is extremely important. You know that he can’t handle your heavy backhand serve. So you serve it twice, which gains you a 9-7 lead. You split on his serve holding a 10-8 lead, and you are serving again. You close out the game 11-8.
Now let’s shift the mindset a bit. The score is 7-7 and you serve long sidespin instead. You split on your serve. Your opponent splits on his serve. Now the score is 9-9 with your serve. You serve the heavy backspin for the first point. Your opponent adjusts for the second and returns your serve with an impossible net drop shot. You are a bit nervous at 10-10 and end up losing the game 15-13.
By playing your strongest tactics throughout the match, you can…
#1 Gain an early lead
#2 Gain confidence
#3 Kill your opponent’s confidence
#4 Adjust your tactics as the match progresses
I once had a student who was playing against an opponent who had a very weak backhand. As soon as he found out that the opponent had a weak backhand, my student played everything to his opponent’s strong forehand. Of course, my student lost the game. After the game, I asked my student why he played to the forehand. He responded by saying that he didn’t want his opponent to know that he knew his weak point. Seriously?!?! What?! The worst feeling for your opponent is for him to know that you know his weak point and will continually pick at it and continue to win points from it at the beginning, middle, and end of the match!!!!
Learn to play your strongest tactics