ONE of the most important things in tennis is to keep the eye on the ball. Nine players out of ten lose sight of a ball shortly after it crosses the net. It is essential to watch it until it comes in contact with the racquet. Most players, when they should be watching the ball, are either looking at their opponent or at the spot on their opponent’s court where they wish to place the ball. The player who takes his eye off the ball, if only for the fraction of a second, may in that short time miss the opportunity for hitting it clean, i. e., in the center of the racquet. This applies to every shot in tennis.
It is an excellent thing while playing to repeat to one’s self over and over again:” Eye on the ball,” “Eye on the ball.”
Many a volley and smash go out of court because the racquet has turned in the hand. This happens because the ball has not met the center of the racquet. Even a tighter grip will not prevent this. This difficulty is obviated by keeping the eye on the ball. Watch your ball and you are bound to judge it right. By hurrying and losing sight of it you are bound to misjudge it. Keeping the eye on the ball does not mean merely to watch it casually, but to reckon its flight, also to judge the speed and depth of the stroke. By doing this the player can tell beforehand where the ball is going to drop in court.
Another thing of first importance in tennis is to put the ball over the net. A player feels disappointed and angry at a ball that goes out of court. He feels the same way when he puts it into the net, for this has sacrificed all the chance he might have had of winning the point.
Again you see many players take balls which if let alone would go out of court. In doubles suppose you call “out,” but still your partner takes it. If he returns the ball he at least has his opponent guessing and trying for a return. Many times he will be in doubt if he should take it, not knowing if the ball is going to be good. All this is that much more strain on his nerves.
Notice a first class player while in a game. He is always putting the ball over the net and at least two feet above it. The fault of the average player Is, that he plays his ball too fine, putting too many into the net in consequence.
In singles, because the opponent is more often playing deep, you should play higher above the net than in doubles, where one or both opponents are likely to be near the net. In general never play a return very low, that is, near the net on its way over, except when the opponent is close up. Playing a return deep and well above the net keeps the opponent from coming to the net.
After making a bad return try not to get angry over your shot. Rather try to perceive at once what your error was and to correct the fault. It may have been your position instead of your stroke. Many a player blames a bad return on the stroke when really it was the fault of his position. For instance some players keep putting the ball in the net. If they studied their shots they would see that the thing to do was to get more height on the ball.
There are many little faults a player could correct by himself if only thought of at the moment he makes them. Here are a few to remember and correct:
First — Don’t hurry; you have more time than you think if your position is the center of the court.
Second — Don’t take your stroke so close to your body that you cannot make a clean swing.
Third — Don’t try to kill a ball when an easy one would do.
Fourth — Don’t let your opponent find you out of position as a result of watching your own return.
Fifth — Don’t take your eye off the ball, as it prevents you from making a clean stroke.
Sixth — Don’t fail to “finish out ” on your stroke in order that you may get a ” drop ” on the ball as it passes over the net.
All these little faults and many more which players have could be prevented if discovered and corrected at the time they are committed. Many players complain that they have not the time while playing to correct faults. One has more time in tennis then he is apt to realize, and this excuse is not a sound one.
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