Tennis is a game of repetition. Players get very used to hitting the ball a certain way, playing a point with a certain strategy, and doing things that feel comfortable. Your opponent is trying to get all of these ideas to be difficult and make you feel uncomfortable.
It is very important in both practice and an actual match situation, to challenge yourself to do some things that are not your normal "go to" idea. If you love standing five to ten feet behind the baseline and grinding, try moving forward during some of the points. If you are aggressive and love getting to the net, convince yourself to stay back and be patient once in a while. If you like hitting the ball hard and flat, through in a slower ball with more spin.
Using the less predictable ideas on some of the points will put doubt in your opponent's mind making your normal shots and strategy even more effective. In order for the different ideas to help you and actually succeed in a match, you need to get out of that comfort zone more often and remind yourself that you may not win all of the points when you try something different.
The idea is to have more options and build a more complete game that can help you match up and compete with the very best players. Use your comfortable strategy and shots more often but do something different as well!
Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Pro, is the Director of Annacone Tennis, www.annaconetennis.com and MyHamptonsPro, www.myhamptonspro.com throughout the Hamptons, NY. In addition, Steve and Miguel Coelho have introduced the JET (Junior Elite Tennis) program at the Tucson Jewish Community Center (Tucson, AZ) for high level players ages 8-18. Please contact Steve at email@example.com