Playing a player who is not as good of a
tennis player as you can sometimes be a mental challenge.
Usually when the weaker player steps out on the court with
a better player, the weaker player is hungry for the upset.
I think that the biggest key for the stronger player is mental.
Confidence is good, but over-confidence can be dangerous.
I approach all my matches as follows: "If I do not play good
tennis I can potentially lose this match". I do not think
that to put pressure on myself, but to force myself to stay
focused. It does not matter if I am 200-0 vs. a player, they
get my full attention and I will play my hardest. If you walk
out onto the court thinking you have an easy win about to
come, your overconfidence can spell problems. When you start
to think a win should come easily it is easier to get frustrated
and nervous if things do not go your way or come as easily
as you expected.
No matter who you are playing the best way
to approach the match is "point by point". Do not try to think
ahead to who will end up winning the next point, game or the
set. If you let your mind wander beyond the current point
your game can wander with it.
You can usually expect the weaker player
to come out strong at first. I have played several matches
that went to 3-3 in the first set before I went through and
won 6-3, 6-0. The better player should have more patience
and should be able to identify weaknesses and expose them
better. A lot of times the weaker player just cannot keep
up the level of play and starts to have some self doubt which
can really open up the door for the better player. They may
lose patience and start to go for shots too soon from feeling
the pressure and consistency from the stronger player.
If you ever get stuck on the court with someone
who has a NTRP of 1.0 or lower than you it is a good time
to practice certain parts of your game. Anyone who is rated
that much lower than you will not be able to prove to be much
of a challenge. So how do you keep it interesting for both
players? Winning 6-0, 6-0 is not much fun and does not help
either player. Instead of playing your "A" game, try developing
your "B" game. If you do not serve and volley much, give it
a shot. Try new serves, new spins and new strategies. This
is a good time to practice the shots that need work. You will
most likely hit a decent amount of errors and it will help
to keep the match close and more fun for everyone. You can
always resort back to game plan "A" if things get ugly.
In the end, just because you think you "should"
win, does not mean you "will" win. Stay focused, give your
absolute attention and play it one point at a time. If you
truly are the better player it will show.
Luck on the Court!