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JAK'S MONTHLY ESSAY SERIES: Achieving Your Personal Best

Giving Opponents too Much Respect

By Jak Beardsworth

Longtime Master Pro, the late Don Henson, thought that many matches, especially at the club level are, unfortunately, determined "at the net post" - as he liked to put it - before a single ball is struck. Reputations, ranking, word of mouth, attitude, body language, even attire and the size of their racket bag, especially in today's rating crazed, algorithm driven, USTA league play collectively often rule the day.

I'm always concerned by the fearful "she's a 4.0," or whatever the number dialogue I constantly hear from lower rated players, or even those with the same rating, who become intimidated before the match has even begun as an example.

So what! The match is mainly with you anyway – your ability to dial-in your best game and trust it without worrying about the outcome - or with how successfully you and your partner team up, compete on every point, and not be fearful of balls coming off a big bad 4.0s racket. You're still mainly dealing with the ball itself.

Opportunity knocks! You perform well, you go home satisfied.

Far too much emphasis is put on other player's ratings. They still have to play, unless you wrongly perceive that you have to play above your existing pay grade, ending up with loads of unforced error gifts.

The better the opponent, the more consistent you have to play. Got to give them a chance to over react, become impatient, and make some unforced errors in the face of your steady, not going away play.

By the way, tour players always relish any playing opportunities versus higher rated players…a chance for advancement, and an increased purse. Okay, a little different since the local league prize money stinks.

Again, consistency, and placement - not attempting to blast winners and generally overplaying – through the skills that you already have. That's the main difference between most rating levels, and also represents the best path to competing favorably against higher rated players

Welcome opportunities to test your mettle against, on paper at least, "better" players. Recently, one of the best players at my club, surprisingly found himself playing opposite, arguably, the best player in our area in a local men's league B-level doubles match! Despite not winning, he loved the experience competing against the best, and also benefitted some reinforcement of his own skills when he found he actually could "hang" favorably and belong.

Besides, you always learn and improve more from a close loss than a lopsided win. Happily take them on!

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Past Essays

  • June 2024 - KNOW YOUR DOUBLE’S IN-POINT SITUATION WHEN BACK or RETURNING SERVE
    [read more]
  • April 2024 - Coulda, shoulda got that: The Art of Poaching
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  • March 2024 - Get Your JuJu On
    [read more]
  • February 2024 - Giving Opponents too Much Respect
    [read more]
  • January 2024 - Rally Ball Or Pull The Trigger
    [read more]
  • December 2023 - The Forgotten Stop Volley
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  • November 2023 - "You're Only as Good as Your Second Serve"
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  • October 2023 - good misses vs bad misses
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  • September 2023 - Why good players are good players!
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  • August 2023 - On poaching and fake poaching: Becoming a Force at the Net in Doubles
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  • July 2023 - The Beautiful Game is Getting Ugly
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  • June 2023 - The Approach Dropper: Lob Killer
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  • May 2023 - Why club players don't practice
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Essay Archives

Click a year to view more essays

2023

  • April 2023 - DON'T FIGHT TIGHT
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  • March 2023 - Classic finish line failure
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  • February 2023 - Defending the lob over your net partner - The "Switch"
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2022

  • December 2022 - E. I. D. - Extended Impact Duration
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  • November 2022 - Movement Enhancement to Stay Better In-Point Connected
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  • September 2022 - Advanced Visualization 301
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  • August 2022 - Tennis' uniqueness: warming-up the enemy
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  • July 2022 - Extracting Double Faults Through Receiving Positions... and more
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  • June 2022 - Consider Serve and Volley
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  • May 2022 - How the Toss Primes the Serve Relaxation Pump
    [read more]
  • April 2022 - Ball Watching and Science
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  • March 2022 - Caving
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  • February 2022 - Kenny G and Emmo
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  • January 2022 - The Knees
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2021

  • December 2021 - The Match is with You
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  • November 2021 - The Backup Racket in Your Bag
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  • October 2021 - Every Tennis Player Can and Should Have a Weapon
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  • September 2021 - LEARNING NEW SKILLS: First the Process, Then the Results
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  • August 2021 - The Challenge of Visualizing… For Some
    [read more]
  • July 2021 - Playing with both your feet and your hands
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  • June 2021 - Finding the Range
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  • May 2021 - The Focus
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  • April 2021 - About Your Butt Cap
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  • March 2021 - The Essential Forehand and Backhand
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  • February 2021 - On Being a Doubles All-Courter
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  • January 2021 - Same Grip Volleying Myths
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2020

  • December 2020 - On mechanics and style
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  • November 2020 - THE BIG 3: The Glue That Keeps Your Best Game Together
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  • September 2020 - Protocol and Game Tradition Revisited
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  • August 2020 - As Good as Your 2nd Serve
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  • July 2020 - Shot Shaping
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  • June 2020 - Getting a Point in Jeopardy Back to Neutral
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  • May 2020 - A Positive Mind-Set: On and Off the Court in Today's C-19 Reality
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  • April 2020 - The Zombie Tennis Creed – Top Ten
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  • March 2020 - A Roadmap Into "The Zone"
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  • February 2020 - The service toss: myths and realities
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  • January 2020 - Shot Gazing
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2019

  • December 2019 - The Dreaded High Bouncing Moonball Dilemma
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  • November 2019 - Chalk Flew: Troublesome Line Calling without Hawkeye in Clubland [read more]
  • October 2019 - In the Spirit of Don't Drink and Drive… Don't Think and Hit [read more]
  • September 2019 - Old School vs New School [read more]
  • August 2019 - Getting the Ball Where You Want It [read more]
  • July 2019 - Taking Points Off…What? [read more]
  • June 2019 - Confidence Is Confidence: Take It Wherever You Can Get It [read more]
  • May 2019 - TENNIS INNOVATION IMPLODES [read more]
  • April 2019 - Defending the Court with Older Bones: A Club Player's Guide to Saying "Nice Shot" Less [read more]
  • March 2019 - Do You Have Doubles Rally Tolerance? [read more]
  • February 2019 - I Knew Jimy Van Alen: A Historical Look Back [read more]
  • January 2019 - The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste: Mental Toughness Skills [read more]

2018

  • December 2018 - Less Bling is the Thing [read more]
  • November 2018 - Anatomy of a Doubles Serve Return…from the Inside Out [read more]
  • October 2018 - Older Dogs and New Tricks: Still Improving at Any Age [read more]
  • September 2018 - The All-Important Dynamic of Gripping [read more]
  • August 2018 - The Cinemascope Syndrome: Undermining Your Ball Watching [read more]
  • June 2018 - Serving and Returning Better with a Quiet Eye [read more]
  • May 2018 - The Man Who Breathed for Two [read more]
  • January 2018 - Rituals Anyone? [read more]

2017

  • December 2017 - Why Serving is so Difficult in Clubland [read more]
  • October 2017 - Managing your body and mind in tennis space [read more]
  • August 2017 - Why Bother Breathing to Improve Your Game [read more]
  • May 2017 - The "Maintaining" One's Game as One Ages Fallacy [read more]
  • February 2017 - Punta Gorda Tennis Clubs: Setting the Bar [read more]
  • January 2017 - State of the Club Game: The Growing Death of Sportsmanship [read more]

Check back often for more essays.