Coach Steve told us a story about a player who was playing a match at a tournament, and wasn’t having a good day. He was missing shots that seemed fairly ordinary, and was losing to an opponent that he thought he should be able to beat. Halfway through the match, he started wondering if he wasn’t seeing the ball that well? Then finally it dawned on him – he had forgotten to put in his contact lenses! He finished playing, but lost a match he probably could have won.
Another story we heard was about a junior player who was playing a match in one of the early rounds of an Open tournament. He broke a string during a point, so after the point was over he went to his racquet bag to grab another racquet. Imagine his surprise when he saw that there were no more racquets in his bag – he had forgotten to bring his spare racquets! He was now faced with forfeiting the match, or scrambling to try to borrow a spare racquet from someone.
The message in these stories is clear – when you’re playing any competitive match such as a tournament, league match or ladder match, it pays to come prepared!
Here’s a minimum checklist of things you should bring to any competitive match::
- Spare racquet, if you have one. You never know when you might break a string!
- Enough water and snacks to last as long as the match might go.
- For a daytime match, bring sunblock and sunglasses and/or a tennis hat for protection from the sun.
- If weather dictates, bring a sweater or other layer to keep warm while you play.
Here are some other items that can be very helpful to bring. Serious tournament players will include these items in their tennis bags so they are prepared for any situation:
- Spare shoelaces. It’s no fun having to forfeit a match because your shoelace broke and your shoe is flopping around!
- Spare overgrip. (Watch this video to learn how to change your overgrip, if you don’t already know!)
- Spare socks and clothes, in case you are playing more than one match that day.
- Spare racquet dampeners, if you use them.
- Pen or pencil for writing down scores.
- Eye drops, spare contact lenses and/or spare eyeglasses.
- First aid items – bandages, wraps, compression bands, Advil or other pain reliever, Kleenex.
- Net height measuring chain.
Next: Player Etiquette