John McEnroe Tennis Academy
  | By Rick Liebman

Here are some tried and true tips I have been using as part of my teaching for 35-plus years …

1. When you are losing, you have two choices: Slow down or speed up
If too many unforced errors are the main culprits in your losing position, slow down! Play your shots safer, add more arc to your ball, try deep down the middle shots (as opposed to those lower percentage shots that might have gotten you in trouble in the first place). This way, you might be able to creep back into your match if your opponent is playing at a higher level (serve and volleying, attacking, hitting winners and putting constant pressure on you) … speed up. Give your opponent a dose of his or her own medicine. Go for your shots and take chances. If your opponent is playing well, it might not matter what you do, but don’t stick to a losing strategy.

2. In doubles play, make the weaker player beat you
Everyone would love to play doubles the right way. Serving and coming in, returning low, cutting across the court for a winning poach will probably put you in doubles heaven. But sometimes, those tactics must be abandoned, especially if your opponent’s levels are different. The wrong shot to the right opponent might win you the point. The right shot to the stronger of your opponents might end up as disaster for your team. Find the weaker opponent and exploit their weakness.

3. “You don't have to play great to win”
This was a favorite expression of my tennis coach, George Seewagen. Whether you're playing a tournament, ladder or league match, chances are, your opponent is somewhere near your playing level. It is a mistake to think you must play great shots to beat your opponent that day (unless, of course, they are playing great! See number one above).

4. When losing, don't try harder, play smarter
It's only human nature that when the chips are down, to simply try harder. “That's why I'm losing in the first place. I'm not trying hard enough” is the phrase often heard. When you are down, know why you are losing and try to change it. Go to a Plan B, and if that doesn't work, try Plan C. If that doesn't change things, say, “Nice match!”

Good luck with some of these suggestions!

Rick Liebman

<p><img width="125" height="93" align="left" alt="" src="/sites/default/files/u12/Rick%20Liebman.JPG" />Rick Liebman is tennis director for Shelter Rock Tennis Club. Rick played his college tennis at St. John's University and was a top 10-ranked player in the Eastern Tennis Association (several age divisions). He was a ranked player in the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) as well. Rick is a 32-year member of the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA), and has served as director of tennis for the Great Neck Park District (1984-2001). He may be reached by e-mail at <a href="</a>.</p>