It’s frustrating when an opponent’s shots are continually out of your reach. More than once I’ve heard an accomplished singles player comment, "If I can get to it, I can hit it."
You can stay even with an opponent if you can predict where he’s hitting. Experienced players play high percentage shots regularly. Deviating from the percentage means you are either very experienced or very inexperienced.
The art of anticipation is a player’s invisible ally. If you know the percentage shots, you will have a little jump on the ball’s next direction. This is invaluable.
In singles, from the baseline, hit mainly cross court and deep. Expect your experienced opponent to do the same.
Playing cross court keeps your side of the court "closed" which means you won’t have to run hard to retrieve angled returns. Don’t hit down-the-line unless you’re on the attack. Your short, defensive down-the-line sets up your opponent’s winning angle; you make him look good.
Play the percentages and anticipate the same from your experienced opponent.
Gary Sherby is tennis director at Racquets and Togs Tennis Center, 115 Bradford St., just off the downtown square. His tennis tips appear Sundays.