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Sizing Up the Opposition

One of the most important skills that any tennis player can have is the ability to size up their opponent quickly and easily. Often times a player will face someone they have never played before or have never seen play before. Knowing how to read their opponent starting at the warm-up gives a player a distinct advantage. Whether playing for high school, college, a recreational league or even in the professional ranks, the ability to size up your opponent is a huge advantage.

During the warm up concentrate on getting yourself physically and mentally prepared for the match, but it's important to not forget to keep an eye on your opponent as they warm-up. Here are a few things to be watching for...

  1. Stroke Preferences - Hit your shots down the middle of the court and see if your opponent favors one side over the other. For example, do they run around their backhand to hit their forehand every time?
  2. Strokes - Does your opponents practice all the strokes in the warm-up? Some players will skip volleys or overheads all together. Others will only hit one or two balls before changing to something else. This could give you an indication as to their strengths and weaknesses. *Hint: Players typically warm-up with their strengths.
  3. Volleying - Hit your groundstrokes to them and determine where they stand on the court. Do they come forward to the ball? Are they aggressive? Include a few lobs, hitting a few over their opposite hitting shoulder and see if they come forward after the overhead.
  4. Serving - Does your opponent only practice their first serve, blasting it all around the court? How many serves do they hit? Are they in control of their swing and can they control the ball? Does the ball seem to go in the same direction all the time, or do they rotate the placement of their serve?

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Page updated on Friday, July 10, 2015
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