Match analysis: What an indie rapper taught us about winning tennis matches
How a song can become your secret weapon
As tennis players, we're all working on our game.
Here at Vacation we are diving deep into the lesser known strategies of the game, getting our hands dirty and testing it out on the courts - so you can unlock new potential, and find new weapons you never knew you had.
We analyzed what went wrong last match and took the positives from it.
Then we got right to work on the buildout of a strategy for the next match.
This week, we travel away to Kanawha Club and put it to the test in the second league match of the year.
Let's jump right into what worked, what didn't work, and how a song can help you fight through til the very end.
Choose your song wisely
Fully prepped for battle and pre-match routine complete, all I had to do was hop in the car and ride with my chosen anthem for the day.
I already knew that "Monday to Monday" - with its epic never ending flows about hustle and building from the ground up, was my song. But as I hit the play button I was unaware of just how important that song would be.
Keep reading until the end to see how it played out.
Winding through Richmond's River Road district, Kanawha Club is privately tucked into a picturesque neighborhood that has a resort-ey feel.
With hard courts so close to the pool you can almost dip your feet in and courtside cabanas with overhead fans, I knew I must be in the right place.
In tennis matches it's the little things that add up, but in our world strings are a big thing.
I'm feeling pretty good about the Solinco Tour Bite Soft 18 gauge @ 45 lbs. It's giving that additional confidence on the short balls that need to be flicked over with a little extra help form the thin, spinny string.
Before I left the house I made sure my mind was in the right place. My mental vibe was all about going out to have some fun and play some great tennis, and I was stoked at the opportunity.
"Gracious I can't take a day for granted"
Finding weaknesses during warm up
I always try to find at least some kind of attackable holes or weaknesses during the warm up. Pick them off like low hanging fruit and line them up with your strategy.
I determined that his backhand would be his weak stroke and that deep heavy high bouncing balls would give him trouble.
Because I had my strategy clear ahead of time, I already knew that these weaknesses line up with my plan - I would simply drill to the backhand and roll the balls deep.
"saw it comin like a lesson planner"
He had a good first serve but the second was totally attackable - and we're prepared for that one as well.
Like a vision board, we were now seeing with clarity.
1) I stuck to my plan of drilling to the backhand. I would lock into that wing and just fire away at it. It worked but there's a catch to it though that I'll explain below.
2) Having a song in my head to go to in between points allowed me to loosen up and get some swagger back in my step. This really helps keep you fresh out there and takes the edge off in times of nerves. Try it.
3) I was 100% focused during serve, giving an overall confidence to my service games. It's working.
4) Imagining target areas on 2nd serve returns and going for them. This set up some easy points. Definitely working.
5) Mentally I had the confidence of knowing I was in it for the long haul. Even if it turned out to be an epic battle - I was up for it. This is such a game changer.
6) In the 2nd set I was broken on the first game. The second game was a long 8-deuce battle back and fourth but I wouldn't let up and was able to break back. This was a huge point of confidence and proved that I could take it all the way even when faced with obstacles.
"never looking down and never panicked"
What didn't work
1) Going all in on drilling to the backhand worked, however it was inefficient. Meaning I got into a one track mind and wouldn't even consider hitting to the forehand wing. I'd have to hit several balls to the backhand to win the point when there were plenty of openings to hit a winner to the open court on his forehand side.
This exposes a weakness on my end - I'm not comfortable hitting to the forehand so we're adding this to the list to work on.
2) Serve game was too safe. Rolling right to the body every single serve was super reliable, however it didn't get any free points. To level up, you need your serve to be a weapon.
I need to work on feeling free enough to go for some first serves and rely on the 2nd serve as a backup.
All about the grind
We're happy to take the win 6-1, 6-1. But even though the scoreboard was 6-1, 6-1 it was tougher than it sounds. It was an all out battle for both of us.
Legs pounded by the hardcourt, heart rate redlined time after time, hamstring pulled, pressure to win for the team, and the all out battle in that 2nd game to break back seemed endless - but my song brought me back to a good place every time.
We learned It's more than just a song - it's an important part of your match strategy, a secret weapon. The lyrics can be a safe place through the ups and downs of the match.
Willing to grind through these micro battles are what will lead you to macro success - and is why its so important to get your mind, and your playlist, in the right place.
"failed a few but I ain't sweating it"
So remember my tennis family - we won't fear being down a few games or being down a set. We won't fear getting down early in a tiebreak. We won't even fear losing the match.
Because "this is for the ones who ain't afraid".
What are your go-to songs? Let us know, we'd love to hear it.
See you all on court.
Thank you Saba Pivot for making this song