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Tennis tips on how to handle a pushy doubles partner and more

I have been getting a lot of questions about tennis in general and tennis etiquette. Here are seven of the most common situations and questions that people ask about:

Q: A local player was winning his singles match easily 6-4, 4-2. Suddenly his opponent starts playing well and ties the match at one set a piece. What happened?

A: It was evident that the losing player started playing better. The player leading panicked, got nervous, and started playing poorly. What should he do to get back in the game?

When he switches courts, he must realize that he isn’t playing as well as he did earlier. He must think about what helped him win earlier in the match. It could be playing more aggressively, taking advantage of a weak serve, keeping the ball in play until he got the right shot or advancing to the net more to win the final set.

Q: What do you do when you are playing in a doubles match and your partner constantly yells to you as you are moving to return a shot with such remarks as “Move your feet!" "Get the ball back!" or “Get to the net!"?

A: I would tell your partner as soon as possible in the match that you know what you are doing and that his remarks are very disconcerting. If the scenario continues in your next match together, tell him that you are looking for a new doubles partner. This should help him keep his mouth shut if you decide to play with him again.

Q: What happens when a player in charge of a large group of doubles teams often shows up late or doesn't show up at the local tennis group?

A: I had this happen in doubles play this past year. One player in our group was guilty of showing up late or not showing up at all. Suffice to say, he wasn’t asked to play in our group the next year.

Q: A player at a local tennis club noticed this winter that more tennis players are not switching courts like they should, often for the whole set. Shouldn’t they abide by the tennis rules?

A: Absolutely! Whether it is singles or doubles, players should switch courts and hydrate on every odd game. This is especially true in doubles, when changing courts on the odd games gives the players a chance to discuss strategy with their partners.

Q: How do you play singles against someone who tries to psyche you out as you are playing?

A: That person isn’t really totally confident in his own game. He will stall between points and take time out when he shouldn’t. My advice is ignore his remarks and concentrate on your own game. By not saying anything, I can guarantee that your silence will help you play better and your opponent could be stifled by your demeanor.

Q: I am a decent 3.5 player and play a fair number of singles tournaments. I often win at least two rounds. However, as I reach the semifinals, I consistently have to play against players that are definitely better than I am. Any suggestions?

A: A common mistake is to hit every ball as hard as you can to end the point when you are losing. If you're doing this, don't. I would try to patiently wait for the shot that you want to hit rather than hitting shots that you aren’t familiar with. This will enable you to be more relaxed and calmer as you return his shots. Even if you lose the match, at least you know that you have played to the best of your abilities.

Q: This past summer, I received a call from a former student of mine. She related that she and her three friends had been playing doubles together for almost 40 years and were best friends. One of the players in her group had knee surgery and was out for two months. When she returned to play in the foursome, it was obvious that her court movement was very poor. The lady that called said, “How do we tell her that we can tell that she isn’t moving very well and we are thinking of getting a new player?"

A: You don’t say anything to her. Is it worth giving up a friendship because one of the group isn’t playing quite as well as she used to, especially when you have been playing together for so long? Probably not.

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