After approximately three weeks of tennis practice, tomorrow is our first tournament. The tournament is a pre-season match up against three other schools. We (my school) hosts this tournament every year, and it is always our first competitive event of the year.
The beginning of this tennis season (or rather, the pre-season practices) has proved to be a particularly frustrating one. Since the end of last season, I have been playing an average about three times a week. My coach assured me that I had made a lot of progress over the year, and I agreed with him, but as the first week of practice started off, it really didn’t seem like I had improved at all. I was hitting just terribly, everything was going deep, I couldn’t get my first serves in, and I was missing shots that I normally wouldn’t have missed. I got so frustrated that I considered quitting (not too seriously, but the thought did cross my mind!) It didn’t help matters much that I couldn’t see my coach all week because he was out of town.
The first week of practice was horrible. I felt like I was playing worse than I did when I was a freshman. The second week was a little better, and this past week, I feel almost as good as I should about how I am playing.
The main problem I had with practices was adjusting to the outdoor atmosphere. Outdoor tennis is a lot different than indoor tennis. When playing outdoors, there are so many more factors to take into consideration when hitting. There’s the wind, which requires that I have better footwork, accuracy, and control of the ball. There’s the sun, which requires that I perhaps use different placement when I toss the ball to serve, because otherwise I can’t see anything but the blinding sun (sunglasses are a big no-no in tennis, and I don’t wear a visor when I play). And then there is rain. Rain is a tricky element to play with, because if the courts aren’t too wet, you play in the rain. Rain can also cause a postponement in the match, and if I am winning the match, a postponement is the last thing I want.
None of the aforementioned factors play a role when I play indoor tennis, which is the only type of tennis I played for the five or six months prior to season (thank you Iowa weather!). I was just getting so frustrated because none of the countless hours I had put into practicing tennis over the last year was apparent in how I was playing.
After chatting with my coach and thinking about things on my own, I feel much more confident in myself, and in how this season will end up playing out.