I have been playing recreational tennis matches for close to 10 years now. For the first few years, I would lose a lot, often to players who I thought had weaker tennis skills than me. It was quite frustrating.
It took me about 4 years of playing matches to figure out how I could win more tennis matches. There are three things I do now that result in me winning a lot more than I used to.
ONE: Engaging in a Little Intelligence
Almost any recreational player will hit the ball the same way almost every time. Study you’re your opponent a little more closely at the beginning of a match. Hit a cross court shot to his or her backhand and see where and how the ball comes back to you. Then do the same thing with the forehand.
Most likely, you will see a pattern. Once you know the pattern, you can anticipate it and come up with a counter shot for winning the point.
TWO: Tie Your Shoe
Most recreational players will speed up their pace of play when things are going badly for them. If they serve a fault, they will waste no time to serve another ball without much thought. And they will rush through points and shots which in most cases result in many lost points.
This negative state is common in tennis and you have to break the pattern first with your mind before your tennis skills can help you get out of a hole. The best way to do that is to slow down your pace of play and get your head to think of something else- even if it is just for a few minutes. This break will help cut off the downward spiral of lost points.
I do this y bending down to tie my shoe. When you tie your shoe, your mind has to get off on focusing on how badly you played the last point of the last game. And this short mind vacation will help you to get back on track.
THREE: Practice Consistency
This is the most important improvement you can make to your game. For many years, I would go out and practice with someone by just hitting balls back and forth and rallying. We would not think much about where we were placing the ball and we definitely had no rhyme or reason to our practice sessions.
This is the common method of practice for most recreational players. But, if you look at the serious players, they always have a method and curriculum for their practices. They will practice one shot hundreds of times in a session.
And the shots they practice are the ones they get in matches. In order to hit a shot consistently, you must practice it thousands of times. For example, tell your practice partners you are going to practice cross court ground strokes and then try to hit long cross courts back and forth trying to get to 30 or 40 hits per ball.
Or, you can have one person serve while you return every serve down the line. Do this for an entire bucket of balls. Consistency is the big secret to winning recreational tennis matches. A player with a weaker stroke but one who can consistently keep the ball in play and have some control over where the ball ends up will beat a player with a stronger and faster tennis stroke almost every time.