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Tennis tips as you move your game outdoors

For the past few months, tennis players of all levels have been fortunate to have been playing indoors. No sun, no wind, no other distractions.

It's time to move outside. Tennis nets are in place at public parks, most high schools and some colleges. The courts have stayed in very good shape, despite the rough periods of winter snow.

Here are some tips as you transition to the outdoors.

Rackets: Make sure your rackets are in good shape. It would also be wise to have two rackets available that are strung at the same level. Why? Because of grit and other substances on outdoor tennis courts, your strings could wear out faster than when you were playing indoor tennis. Therefore, a second racket is almost a must.

The rackets in use today are far superior than rackets of the past. They are more resilient and lighter, which makes the rackets easier to maneuver. Although gut strings give you a better feel for your shots, they are very expensive and don’t last nearly as long as synthetic strings, which are still excellent for your tennis game.

Sneakers: Time to purchase new tennis sneakers before you start playing outside, especially if your sneakers are worn down from indoor play on hard courts. The new sneakers will give you better traction than the sneakers you have worn indoors and will greatly reduce slippage.

Headwear: Wearing sun glasses or a hat with a visor are also great helps in keeping the sun out of your eyes.

Serving tips: Topspin serves should be used mostly when you are playing outside. These type of serves clear the net higher than flat or slice serves. This is especially true when you are playing on a windy day. The serve will result in very few faults or double faults.

Playing the net: In singles, be sure to hit your return deep over the net to push your opponent to deep back court. Your return should result in an easy point.

Playing the net in doubles usually gives the team that does this a great advantage over an opposing team that stays back as it must hit a perfect ground stroke or lob win the point.

Using lobs: It continues to amaze me that so many players don’t use a lob when they play singles or doubles. If you watch the pros closely on television, you will see that they continually throw up lobs when their singles or doubles opponents approach the net. The secret of hitting a good lob is to hit the shot high and deep into your opponent’s court.

A topspin lob is especially effective, and more so on a windy day as the shot will force your return to bounce high. Your opponent will need to hit a difficult return that you can readily put away.

Ground strokes: If you are playing on a windy day, you should hit mostly topspin shots as the the trajectory and depth of the shot forces a safer choice.

Be sure to try to move your opponent from side to side or up and back. This will keep him guessing and could result in errors that will lead you to winning your match.

Mental part of the game: If you are playing on a windy or extremely sunny day, both of which can wreak havoc with your game, you must show your opponent that you have a winning attitude.

Don't show your displeasure or that you are getting mad if you miss an easy shot, or complain about the wind or sun. Your opponent could find your stoic demeanor unsettling, leading to a sure win for you.

Finally, win or lose shake your opponent's hand when the match is over, showing that you are a good sport.

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