Thought Process: First Game



“This is a tricky one,” says Allen Fox, Ph.D., former coach of the Pepperdine University men’s tennis team, about playing match point. “There’s no perfect solution. You can’t make your nerves go away. All you can do is make the situation a little better.”


As you get closer to winning, you may get more conservative, but that can flip completely when you reach match point. The tendency is to try to end it quickly. You’re so close to celebrating and relaxing that you may rush to get there, which will take you out of your normal, most effective, game. You’ll experience more hope, nerves and stress when you reach match point than at any other time in a match. That means you must narrow your focus as much as you can.


“You can’t pretend that it’s not match point,” Fox says. But you can push it as far back in your head as possible. “Go through all of your normal rituals, whether you’re serving or returning, and take a little extra time so you counter that feeling of wanting to rush to win the point and end the match.”