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December 1, 2003
Making match adjustments


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Remember the basic principles for learning tennis with my system is to develop a 'feel' for different strokes along with developing mental skills through REPETITION.  Repetition of simple procedures create that 'feel' NOT an over emphasis on the technical skills and mechanics.  Click here for an article that I wrote on 'feel' vs 'mechanics' in April 2001

Tom's Online Tennis Lesson
Making match adjustments

Welcome to Tom's Online Tennis Lesson, sponsored by TennisWarrior.com, "Where you can learn to think like a pro!" 

The Tennis Masters Cup was in Houston, Texas this November. The eight best players in the world came together for a showdown at the Westside Tennis Club just around the corner from where I live. Great location! I was there to see the match between Roger Federer and David Nalbandian. I thought I would be seeing a great match, but Nalbandian played poorly and was crushed 6-3, 6-0. This was the first time Federer beat Nalbandian as a pro. In the next match, I watched Andy Roddick play Guillermo Coria. Roddick struggled but pulled it out to move on to the semifinals 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-3. Roddick's serve is even more dynamic in person!

Federer played Andre Agassi in the finals. Federer was on fire the whole tournament and beat Agassi easily, 6-3, 6-0, 6-4. Agassi tried everything, but when a top pro is playing 'in the zone' with Federer's talent,  there is not much you can do. Federer was executing everything flawlessly!

The match that caught my attention, though, was the match that occurred days earlier between Agassi and Juan Carlos Ferrero. I was not there for this match, but since they had a sell-out crowd it was aired on television locally. Agassi was in trouble from the beginning of the match, but somehow managed to win. He displayed the perfect mindset of never giving up and looking for alternatives when things were not going well. In the first set he played poorly and lost 2-6, partly because Ferrero was playing well and making some excellent on-the-run winners from wide on the court. In the second set Agassi was still struggling and looked doomed when all of a sudden he did something uncharacteristic of his match-play demeanor. He angrily broke a racket! Agassi hit his tennis shoe with the racket so hard that it completely snapped the frame.

Agassi looked at the racket, then calmly walked over to the side, placed the racket down, took a new one out of a plastic bag and went back to work. I was curious to see how he would play after losing it! For some reason, after that incident he changed his game. I guess up until then he thought the strategy he was using would begin to click. When he finally became so frustrated that he broke his racket it was like he thought to himself, "hey wake up Andre, change your game, it's not working."

Next I watched Agassi make some subtle changes that allowed him to slowly engineer his way back into the match. He made a clear demonstration of how the power of thinking can turn a match back in your favor. Andre possessed the same skills, but was now mentally applying those skills differently.

Here is what Agassi did to get himself back into the set and match. First, he began hitting the ball to the center of the court, taking away Ferrero's wide shots that he had been hitting so successfully for winners. Also it was allowing Andre to get his feel and rhythm back that seemed to have been lost for a set and a half. This subtle change was enough to clinch the second set 6-3. Phew! At this point I could not believe that the score was one set apiece. It  felt like Andre was losing. All the great play and all the great shots for the majority of the two sets were owned by Ferrero. And yet the score was tied!

There was more of the same in the third set. Andre was still not playing super tennis, yet the score was tied. You began feeling that he could pull this out for a victory. And then came another change that directly fed off of his previous changes! After he established his timing and rhythm by hitting to the center of the court, he added a little more pace to his shots and slightly flattened out his strokes.  He then went back to his original game plan: moving the ball around, keeping Ferraro on the move. This time, because of the extra pace, Ferrero could not play quite as well and Agassi won the third set 6-4. Again, when it was over I could not help but think that Ferrero played better, but Agassi somehow came away with the win! A masterpiece victory that should be studied by all players.

One of the most important lessons to learn from Andre's work of art is that you can make subtle but simple changes in your game that could mean the difference between winning and losing. For instance, hitting a ball with just a little more pace changes the whole game your opponent has to play. Your opponent will then have to move a little faster and react a little faster to stay with you. This could be just enough to take home the trophy! You do not have to go from hitting the ball at medium speed to blinding winners to make a change. When in trouble great players will make subtle changes and keep adding to these changes if necessary as the match develops. Below is a list of some of those changes you can make.

* Hit with a little more pace
* Hit with a little less pace
* Hit with a more depth
* Hit with less depth
* Hit with more spin
* Hit with less spin
* Hit to the center of the court
* Hit more angles
* Hit exclusively to your opponent's backhand
* Hit exclusively to your opponent's forehand

Be creative and come up with your own subtle changes. Agassi, now the number four player, made some subtle but simple changes and won against the number three player in the world. When you are in trouble in a match there is no reason you should not do the same!

Your tennis pro,

Tom Veneziano



Hi Tom,

"Reading your books "The Truth About Winning" and "The Relax Technique" brought immediate results to my game.  I am in excellent physical shape, but before applying the concepts in your books, I used to get extremely tired during matches (even practice matches) from what I realize now was nervous energy and "trying too hard".  It was amazing to see and actually
feel the difference during my matches.  I did lose points and games, but I was completely relaxed and did not feel tired at all.  To me, that has been the biggest difference."


Rey F. Medalle, Union City, California


APPENDUM:  I teach a total system of thinking in regard to stroke production and mental attitude which I cannot explain in one email.  Although each lesson can stand alone you will derive tremendous physical and mental benefit by understanding the total philosophy.  These emails, my web site, books, and tapes are part of a course in tennis, not just isolated tennis tips.  They all fit together into a system.  A system that once understood can help you not only learn tennis at a faster rate, and develop mental toughness, but also give you the knowledge necessary to help guide you and your children to a better understanding of the developmental process.

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