Playing Tempo Tempers The Match

Lisa Raymond – previously Number 1 ranked women’s doubles player, holder of 4 singles and an amazing 60 doubles titles, recently spoke about how the tempo of the match can affect the outcome.

How often have we heard a commentator exclaim that a struggling player is playing too fast? They are not talking about the pace of the ball but the speed with which the player proceeds to the next point.

The general philosophy is that if you are winning, proceed briskly. If you are losing, slow down between points. The player or team that is winning is setting the tempo. They are controlling the rhythm of the match. As the player who is down you would want to break up that rhythm by changing the tempo between points, sets and perhaps also changing the tempo of the play itself.

If the opponent is thriving on a brisk tempo you may lose the match before you even realize it. Slow down the tempo and you will give yourself more time to take stock of the situation and implement a remedy. You will also upset the opponent’s rhythm and hopefully draw more errors from the other side of the net. The momentum of the match can then change. As they say, the ball is in your court – you set the tempo and see the opponent’s steps falter.
Originally published in the Laguna News Post 1.16.07

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