CRISSIE'S VIEW - SPRING TRAINING
Winning tennis matches doesn’t have to be complicated. I come from the school of thought that the player who makes the fewest mistakes wins most often. Of course, simplicity doesn’t necessarily equate to ease. It’s a disciplined approach that focuses on the essentials: lots of first serves in; move your feet; value every point. Be in the moment and don’t get caught looking back or ahead. Having a strong mental game can make up for many ills on the physical side. Do those things and you’ll frequently find yourself in a winning position.
This issue is devoted to helping you do just that. Think of it as your spring training guide. Fingers crossed there’s the prospect of local leagues, ladders and tournaments returning in greater numbers this year. That means it’s time for stepping up conditioning, improving your skills and updating equipment—even expanding the wardrobe couldn’t hurt! Admittedly, I’m not up-to-date on the latest gear trends—I still play with all natural gut—but I’ve got plenty of know-how when it comes to the best ways to play.
At the tender age of 66, my game doesn’t revolve around metronomic ground strokes and unshakable concentration anymore. Like many club players, I’ve grown fond of competing and socializing on the doubles court. As such, I’ve come up with an expanded list of playing truths: I believe that having both players at net, rather than one up and one back, is still the most advantageous positioning. If you’re going to poach, it has to be done with full commitment, and best off a serve down the T. And whether returning serve, hitting a passing shot or simply getting out of trouble, nothing beats a dependable lob.
When it comes to singles, consistency is still king, but don’t underestimate the effectiveness of a timely drop shot. Most club players aren’t sprinters, and prefer to stay pinned to the baseline. Anything that forces them out of their safe space—even a short slice will do—can cause havoc. I think it’s a largely underused tactic and encourage it even at the junior and pro levels.
Another realization I’ve come to is that tennis takes a toll on the body. Professional players have the luxury of trainers, physios and time to take care of themselves every single day. Not to mention they’re in their physical primes. Many of us are not so fortunate. Adding routines to our regimen like a proper warm-up before play, stretching and mobility exercises are helpful practices to promote longevity. The worst thing you can do is neglect that nagging joint pain until it becomes a debilitating injury.
But of all the suggestions I’ve offered, when you are on the court this spring, this is my most fervent request: appreciate it. Now more than ever, after the year we endured. Take a moment each outing to be grateful for the gift of playing a sport that promotes good health, social interaction and friendly competition—and you can enjoy your whole life.
So make this season count. Try out a different string, add a new shot, or take up yoga. Win or lose, you’ll have more fun—even if you make some mistakes along the way.
Partner, TENNIS Magazine
TENNIS.COM MAR/APR 2021