I write this article in the hopes of bringing to light some thoughts and explanations in how to play a solid DelTri Tennis Match. It might sound confusing, but we are in the very real reality that this league format is a little different than most other tennis match formats. The reason is because each match is either won or lost by the number of games that are earned throughout the one and a half hours of play, rather than winning sets.
Many club players who I have taught or interacted with that have played in the DelTri League system have spoken to me about being nervous or tentative before or during their match. I want to emphasize the fact that being nervous is actually a good emotion to feel as it shows that we care about the outcome and how we play. I would say that the nerves are mostly about the outcome as not too many can tell me that they are disappointed when they win. The key factor in feeling nervous is how we handle this during the match, and if we can handle the nerves better than our opponents. There are many physiological changes that occur in our bodies when we are nervous, including increased heart rate, faster breathing, racing thoughts, so we have to be aware of them and try to calm down and almost reset or bring ourselves back to neutral. I have helped many team players in explaining that moving on the spot actually assists and gets rid of nervous energy and therefore allows us to be better positioned when hitting a tennis ball. Warming up before a match is another great strategy of getting out and clearing our head, so as to avoid sitting around and waiting for the match to come around.
Let’s remember we are playing for games, and therefore what I want to reiterate is that every game played is important. I feel that should actually allow us to be constantly focused throughout the entire match and hopefully show that we have no real time to lose concentration. In my opinion the players should keep to a constant level of energy rather than having spikes in footwork and movement. This erratic sort of technique is too risky when we are playing against the clock as well as 2 other opponents.
Another favorite word that I and other coaches have used is aggressive. This is the best way to play a Deltri match, as it forces your opponent to have to come up with great shots all the time and therefore puts pressure on them to execute at a consistent high level. Being aggressive is not hitting the ball at 100 mph but making the best decision with each ball that you are given. If we are aggressive we will be moving better and therefore we will be in a better court position to execute the shot we want to. Playing from the net is a specific area on the court that translates to being aggressive, but it takes a couple of shots prior to that to get into the net. Most everybody knows the fundamental basics of directionals in doubles, and in my opinion hitting the ball cross court from the baseline actually allows us the achieve an easier passage to getting into the net. When we are at the net we are in control of the point and therefore there is a less likely chance of that tentative feeling creeping into our psyche. Hitting a volley is a lot easier to place and direct and therefore it takes the nerves out of the equation.
I hope this adds a little bit of value in how to explain a decent formula to competing in the Deltri League System. I want to end off by passing on something that I and the other coaches spoke about at a meeting a while back. We all felt that if you aim to win 10 games in a specific match, it will be very difficult to be beaten. I have seen many teams win the first set 6-0 or 6-1 and still lose their court as they either let go a bit or felt like “oh boy”, we have got this sewn up so we can relax. Again, because we are playing for games, everybody needs to be even more aggressive so that they don’t allow any negative energy to enter their minds. If a team wins the first set 6-1 and then loses the second set 6-3, they will still win the overall match. Those 3 extra games won are the most important when the score line is so one sided in the beginning of the match.
Go out there and enjoy the competition and keep a constant state of calm for the entire match time. Let’s limit the contrasting emotions and feelings as best as we can and the results will take care of themselves.