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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Coaches Q and A: What are your suggestions for an opponent who takes too much time?

It can be irritating to compete against someone who goes to the towel after every point, or is often not ready to receive when you are ready to serve. We asked Harold Solomon of the Harold Solomon Tennis Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Florida his advice on coping with that kind of distraction. His response:

When an opponent is trying to disrupt the flow of a match by taking more than the 20 seconds allowed between points it can be very annoying and negatively affect the outcome of the match if you let it.

Obviously the first thing you can do is to seek out help from the officials. However, during a junior tournament the officials are normally so thinly spread that they can not be expected to monitor the pace of every match.

So the real question is how do you adopt a mental framework which will allow you to be successful no matter what is going on on the other side of the net?

When an opponent of mine attempts to use gamesmanship it only makes me more determined to be victorious in the match. I tell myself to play one point at a time and I stay focused on what is working to my advantage on the court. I know if my opponent is resorting to these kinds of tactics that there is a sense of desperation and that I must be getting to him or her in some fashion. I don't let myself get emotional about things that are out of my control on the court. I focus on the things that I can control: my tactics, my mentality, my game, and allow myself to enjoy the challenge that is before me.

I loved to play in front of 15,000 crazy, screaming fans when we played Davis Cup in other countries--I took it as a challenge. They would scream out when I served, they would throw things on the court, and the more they did it, the more I liked it. I was determined and resolved to do everything I could to win my matches and I had over time developed in practice the mentality to do so.

Juniors can start by playing in practice the same way they would in matches. Work on your concentration, notice when your mind drifts off and work to get it back on track immediately. I liked to focus on the ball during my matches. I would not take my eyes off the ball for extended periods of time when it was in play or just on the ground. The ball became the center of my focus and I developed the ability to block out almost everything else except me and the ball, in a sort of a dance on the court. When you are focused on the ball it takes you away from everything else that is not important on the court.

It's important to remember that you're there to play tennis and not get caught up in the soap opera of tennis. So let your opponent try to rattle you; the more you practice staying focused on your side of the court, the more successful you will be.

Do you have a question for Andy Brandi or Harold? If so, please send it to clewis[at]zootennis[dot]com with the phrase Coaches Q and A in the subject line.


itsalloneworld said...

Kudos to Sean Berman. He just beat Clezar 6-4;6-2 and has reached the AOJ SFs. David Roditi deserves a lot of the credit for championing and developing Sean.

tennisforlife said...

Well its a nice way to show his appreciation by switching his allegiance to Australia as he starts to have some success

Tony Guinn said...

Hey Colette,

I thought you might be interested to read some comments made by Sven Groeneveld and Mats Merkel from the adidas Player Development Program about the Laura Robson vs Yulia Putintseva match. They're pretty big deals in world tennis and they were scathing about Putintseva's behaviour. Maybe they can talk some sense into her and the people who continue to let her act so badly.

Will he be South African next? said...

From Sean's Aussi Open Player page, now listed as Aus-

From "jwire.com.au"...

"Berman is the newest Aussie on the circuit. His family recently arrived from Los Angeles to settle in his mother’s native Melbourne. Born in Johannesburg in 1993, Berman’s family moved to New Zealand, living there until Sean was 12. The Berman family then moved to Los Angeles, their home until last year when they settled in Melbourne. Alhtough not yet a naturalised Australian, all Berman’s paperwork has been approved. Tennis Australia first listed him as an American but when this was queried by J-Wire the country of association was changed to Australia."

Glad we spent our USTA $$ developing a proud American

getreal said...

To…Will he be South African next?

Berman was not an American when he came to the USTA for help, he was shopping for the best deal and at the time his results were not that glittering. Shame on the USTA for taking the bait when there were equally or more talented US juniors who were not getting thier support. As for his potential, whether his style of game translates from the juniors to the pros is a huge question mark and only time will tell. So lets not read too much into his recent success and that is not taking anything away from his run at the Aussi open. If anything Donald Young highlighted that it’s a huge leap to the pros.

The point here is USTA high performance clearly has egg on its face and well deserved. Its not "glad we spent our US dollars developing..." but what Berman begs is the quetsion why did the USTA support a foreign junior money when there were other equally deserving Americans. What the USTA needs is TRANSPARANCY in how its allocates its high performance dollars much like some other federations, not have all decisions decided behind closed doors.

getreal said...

To itsalloneworld said...
"David Roditi deserves a lot of the credit for championing and developing Sean."

Correct me if I am wrong. Isn't Rodditi a coach for the the United States Tennis Federation, NOT the United Nations Tennis Federation? Collete is there any provision in US High Performace that grant recepients need to have a US Passport? Also, dont want to jump the gun perhaps Berman had a US passport.

tennisforlife said...

Questions were asked a number of years ago regarding Berman's USTA support. He has been repeated given wildcards into major USTA events - most recently 2009 Kalamazoo. I agree with Getreal on accountability and transparency from the USTA. Colette perhaps you could get someone from the USTA to comment on the BErman situation, his apparent nationality switch and why they gave him so much support to begin with when his results were mixed at best.

Waste of Time... said...

it is amazing how much attention is on sean berman only because he won a few matches at the weakest junior grand slam. That is not success. There are so many junior players that are not there. Australia can have sean berman.

He will have a decent itf ranking now because of this tournament but the itf rankings are a joke anyway. They have no reflection anymore of which juniors will make it in the pros.

Get real--can you name some other "other equally deserving Americans" that did not get help because sean berman did?

OC Playa said...

“I spent some time in America, playing and traveling and training. But now I’m here in Australia and playing for Australia,” Sean said in a post-match interview.


oyeoyeoyeshalom said...

to itsalloneworld re sean berman: roditi deserves credit, but the usta deserves equal credit for funding his development. does this show that the usta can develop players if they have talent? or does it show that the australian coaches have the ability to get the most out of talent? finally, will sean receive a wild card into the us open main draw if he wins the AOJ?

The Dude said...

The ITF rankings are dependent of money to travel for points. You have to be annointed by a national federation who will pay for your prohibitive travel costs. If you are rich enough to pay yourself, you won't be hungry enough to succeed. In this selfish sport I won't begrudge Sean Berman for shopping the best support deal he could find as the only thing that is important is the end result. His family is flexible to be able to move across the world for his tennis.