What I learned when I was younger:
- High percentage = wins. Don't miss, and you'll win. Simple.
- Play all court like a chess game, but be a wizard about it.
- Have superior movement and footwork.
- Opponents should feel pressure from my "court presence" more than anything. i.e. they feel the match is very tight, but look at the scoreboard to see 1-6 0-3.
What I learned when I went to college (and on):
- Attack first. Attack early.
- Hit early.
- Swing fast. Serve bombs.
- Play an all-court, fast-paced, aggressive game.
- Always hold serve. Look to break serve. (this is all very Sampras/Rafter-style)
These two vastly different modes of thinking is stirring in my head because I lost a match tonight with a bad showing 1-6 2-6. The scores are so lopsided. The match before, it went to a 5th set with me losing 1-6 in the fifth. The time before that, I won convincingly 6-1, 6-2 (if I remember right).
I don't know which set of beliefs to follow on court. My game drastically changes if I go from one mode to the other and I can feel it right away when I do change it. When I think attack, my game speeds up, suddenly points end at the drop of a dime. I'm very much into it. It feels very personal. I accept most instances of the match. When I lose a point, I accept that I've taken a gamble. When I fire a winner, I accept that I've taken a gamble (lol). I start thinking about how an attacking player like Federer or Henin plays and instantly my game takes on those characteristics. I like seeing the first attackable ball. I like swinging fast, I feel like I'm committing to my shots. It feels very Spartacus-like. Almost like an angry ass-kicking warrior who's just ready to throw down and take names.
When I think of percentage play a la Agassi or Nadal or Hingis, I find myself approaching the game more methodically, working more, thinking more... and naturally being more upset at mistakes. I enjoy the peace it gives me when I'm creating my own time to create beautiful shots. I see the rewards of hitting pinpoint shots, being artistic about playing, and masterminding people off the court and making them look a little out of sorts on court. The rewards and good feelings are definitely there, up in my crazy head.
Where do I go to find my niche? I do know for sure that if I do take on the percentage style play that I get so incredibly frustrated at myself when I start committing the smallest errors. I know that if I play attacking tennis, I'm more at ease when I miss points because I know I'm taking gambles. I know that when I play attacking tennis, my arm and finger starts to hurt after a while. There's a tradeoff here. I just don't know what to do.