#9: Break Points: Cash in on an Opportunity!

Not all points carry the same weight and break points are probably the most important points in a tennis match. Big points–game points and break points–they can come at any time in a match: the first game, in the middle, or at the end. How many times have you said, “The score was not indicative of the match. It was closer than it seemed, although I lost 6-2 6-1.” This is because you probably won a lot of points, but just not the important ones.

This year, college tennis flirted with a format change in order to shorten the length of matches with the goal of making college tennis more fan friendly. Teams used no-ad scoring–at deuce, the next point determines the game. In tracking our success with this change, I found that the UMass players lost 80% of the sudden death points and therefore lost many matches in the beginning of the year. No ad scoring with sudden death points corresponds to game or break points. This is not the time to waste the opportunity.

When returning with a break point in hand, the importance of making the return cannot be overstated. Break points are the bulls-eye of tennis. First serve, get the ball back in play. Attack a second serve on break point and put the pressure back on the server. You will rattle their cage with excellent court position. Get inside the baseline and return aggressively.

Game points, as the server, get the first serve in and look to maintain control over the point. In singles, first serve in and a forehand for your first ball will give you a 75% chance of winning the point against a like player. In doubles, first serve in using big targets, preferably to the body of the returner, to put the returner on the defense and to free up your partner to cross at the net.

So, learn to cash in, and you will win more matches.

Judy Dixon

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