It would be great if each time we walk on a tennis court our level of play equaled what our expectations are.
This rarely happens.
One of the characteristics of the best players in the world is the ability to hang in and keep the match close, despite being disappointed with their play. I think Roger Federer may be the best player of all time at doing this. He has had so many matches where the opponent seems to be even or slightly ahead until it gets to the moment that determines the game, tiebreaker, set, or match. He rarely panics or shows that he is frustrated with his play.
Try to use this idea to get through your difficult experiences on the court. If you can just walk up to play the next point as if nothing disturbing has happened, it is likely you will be able to improve your play, as well as sending a message to your opponent that they will have to continue to come up with the goods over and over and over again.
There is always the chance that your opponent will not be able to maintain their level of play over the course of the match. In addition, the scoring in tennis is designed to give you the opportunity to come back if you get behind. This should give you the incentive to hang in there and play every point the best that you can.
Often, this will be enough to improve your play as the match goes on, giving yourself a chance to win more often than not.
Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Pro, is the Director of Annacone Tennis (http://www.annaconetennis.com) and MyHamptonsPro based in Sag Harbor, NY (http://www. myhamptonspro.com) and Tennis Professional at Ventana Canyon Golf and Racquet Club in Tucson, AZ. For details on lessons, clinics, or coaching, contact Steve at email@example.com or call 865-300-7323