It is becoming more and more obvious that starting the point well in a match is really the key to controlling more of the points and hopefully, winning the match. Tennis has changed, with more players than ever capable of playing both offense and defense well.
However, the best players still control the point better than their opponent more often than not. They do this by getting a high percentage of first serves in, hitting good solid returns that get the player moving, and hitting the first shot after the serve or return to either push the opponent back or make them hit a shot on the run.
It is important to give yourself a good margin for error so serving to the middle of the box (at the opponent's body) and hitting the area halfway between the middle of the court and the sideline on the shots after the serve, will help with consistently reaching the desired "two good shots to start the point". Remind yourself of basic ideas like watching the ball, moving your feet, and following through to help minimize technique errors. Also, keep expecting the ball to come back even if you feel that you have hit a good, serve, return of serve, or the shot after these.
Even though we remember the very long, exciting points from a match, the key to success is starting the point well on as many points as possible when you are in the heat of a competitive match.
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 The Lodge at Ventana in Tucson, AZ. For details on lessons, clinics, or coaching, contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 865-300-7323