When you play a match in a tournament, the referee will limit the time allowed to warm up. Typically you’re given about 10 minutes.
Use these minutes wisely. Some suggestions:
Keep the ball in play; don’t go for winners. That simply wastes time. Retrieving balls is not the idea.
Play all the shots you will use in the match. This of course includes net shots as well as baseline shots, including serves.
Don’t return your opponent’s practice serves; catch them, and serve them back. This saves a tremendous amount of precious time.
Use your best technique and move your feet quickly. Think “happy feet.” Once play begins, your opponent will try to negate your performance, so set a high standard for yourself from the git-go.
If you don’t know the opponent, make some mental notes. How are his groundstrokes? Can he play the net? Is he a spin artist? A power player? Every player has a style and prefers certain shots. It’s good to know what they are now, before the match starts.
The warm-up is precisely that—a warm up. It is not the time to practice your technique. You should have already done that.
Gary Sherby is tennis director at Racquets and Togs Tennis Center, 115 Bradford St., just off the downtown square. His tennis tips appear Sundays.