Since N’s team tennis finished in the summer, tournaments and matches have been hard to come by. The onus is on us parents to make sure our children have match play rather than knowing they’ll have a set number of matches over a term. I have started booking N into tournaments outside of our local area. But as a start point, the local matchplay tournaments are good to get him going.
Our club is too small to run matches, so we head over to a larger club a few miles away. They hold matchplays once a month usually. These are only grade 7 local level, friendly tournaments, to introduce children of all abilities within their mini tennis level to playing matches. Results go towards their ratings as well – in orange participation is still important to progress through the orange levels, before wins become more important.
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You never know how many people are going to turn up on the day. We’d thought there would be 6 but 2 dropped out at the last minute. We knew 2 of the good players in the level locally were playing in a tournament elsewhere instead, so we’d be low on orange players.
It would have been nice to have some different players to play against, but this time it was 3 of N’s tennis group from our club, and another boy from a club in town who’s just moved up to orange. For some, they’d not played in orange level matches before, and 2 were still rated mini red which meant N’s games against them wouldn’t count.
Playing players from your own club, there’s always the expectation for results. As well as them being in silly ‘training’ mode rather than remembering they’re meant to be playing a match. At least none of them had dressed up for Halloween like some of the younger and older children had. It would have been very strange playing against a pumpkin or skeleton!
Usually our match plays are tie break format to 10. But because there were equal numbers and 2 courts, there was time to play best of 3 tie breaks to 7. This took the boys some time to get their head around, although N was pleased because he’s got some other tournaments coming up which will have this scoring format.
They were also having to keep score themselves for the first time. Usually they call out the scores, but get lazy when there’s children who’ve been playing matches for longer so they don’t need to keep score. But it’s hard to remember the score for 2 or 3 sets. Even I struggle.
N’s first match was an easy one. The new boy was really tall, and had some good shots, but obviously wasn’t used to the bigger orange court. And his serves were less consistent. N won an easy 7-2, 7-2. As they’d finished early, they had a quick hit afterwards, and N deemed the other boy as really nice. They got on well.
That’s one of the things we like about this club’s matchplay days. Everyone is really friendly, it’s not massively competitive but rather about taking part and having fun. With our 3 all knowing each other, it must have been hard for him to feel part of that, but he seemed to get on fine with them all. One of the advantages of tennis and playing locally, there’s chance to meet more people outside of his usual friendship group.
N could have predicted his results against his 2 usual team mates. He has a total block against one, who he’s never beaten. He should be able to – in training he can win rallies more often than not, and his serves had improved massively. But still he can’t beat him in proper matches. At least it went to 1 set all and the decider was close. 1-2 to N’s opponent.
N likes playing his school friend. Probably because he’s never lost. Tactically N knows what he needs to do to beat him, and so far it’s not failed. As long as he gets enough serves in and stays fitter, N will likely continue to win. Their match dragged on so long, because his friend talks non stop while playing. Then they get a bit silly, and had to be told to hurry up by the tournament organiser because the older ages needed the court! N did win in 7-6, 7-3, after coming back in the first from 5-1 down. He even won a couple of points coming in to the net and volleying which was great to see – he enjoys volleying.
The 3 club mates ended up drawing the number of points won. They got 3 for wins, 2 for losing but going to a deciding set, and 1 point for a straight loss. But N was the only one to win 2-0 for his 2 wins. So he won the overall tournament that day. His first orange win – even though it wasn’t the strongest field. It’s great practice for match play, and now he understands that method of scoring.
There’s plenty more learnings all 3 need to remember:
- Don’t volley from the baseline – mostly his friends
- Check the lines you’re playing in – this time they were black lines – and on the line is in
- The receiver calls out.
- Remember It’s a match and not just a muck about session. Concentrate
- Don’t commentate all the way through – it’s off putting and wastes time
- The person who didn’t serve the last point in the previous set, starts serving in the next set.
They also had a doubles game as well, which was very tight with N and his partner winning 10-9. It’s hard enough getting them concentrating when playing singles, but add 2 more boys onto the court, and it’s carnage. They had fun, and N got to volley again, but crikey it’s painful watching them actually get through a doubles match.
N was chuffed to win, and hopefully it makes him confident to go in and play totally new people at his next tournament coming up at a totally new venue.
Roll on his next matches.
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