Seaside has a beat that is slower than most places. Folks are relaxed, and time seems to slow down. This laid-back atmosphere is a change of pace for most visitors. Changing up your pace is also a great way to make your tennis game better.
Everyone moves at his or her own pace. On the tennis court, it is easy to see who is high strung and who is not; who likes to hit it hard and who likes to hit it slowly; and who likes to play fast and who takes their time. Change of pace seems to disrupt almost everyone.
If I am playing really well and yet I am still losing, I try to play “not so well.” This means instead of hitting a really good ball that my opponent is not having any trouble with, I add spin, add pace, or take pace off the ball. Try looping a slow ball deep into the court and see if you can disrupt the timing of the player on the other side of the net. Spin a ball to them and see how they react. Hit one really hard right up the middle of the court, over the low part of the net, and see if they have the time to produce a shot with your ball’s added speed.
Spin is produced by friction between the ball and the strings. Hitting with spin changes the speed of the ball. Balls hit with topspin kick forward on the bounce, which gives an opponent less time to swing through the ball. It can bounce higher into an opponent’s weaker hitting zones. And it promotes the ball dipping down into the court at the last second on shots landing near the lines. Backspin or slice has the opposite bounce, seeming to almost stop or even back up when it hits the court. Backspin balls can skid or stay low when hit hard enough, which creates real issues for opponents who have trouble getting under the ball.
Speed needs no explanation. Increased speed cuts down on your opponent’s ability to get to the ball. It may also require them to shorten their own stroke or just block the ball back. Decreasing speed is often underrated. Big hitters like pace coming at them to generate even bigger shots with more power. Slowing a ball down will often drive these players crazy. They overhit shots. They have more mishits. They are way out in front of the ball and they pull it out-of-bounds. And the one I like the most, it frustrates them. They think the weak shot should be killed, and most players cannot do it consistently enough to win.
The next time you are back home on the court and losing, I want you to think of Seaside. Slow down. Try something new. Relax. And “change the pace.”
See you on the courts!
Tracy Townsend is a resort Tennis expert and his company, 30A Tennis, manages Seaside Tennis on behalf of the Seaside Community Development Corp. You can reach him at email@example.com or call (850) 231-2214. For news events and court conditions, find Seaside Tennis on Facebook.