Nov. 14, 2020

Getting Two Steps Ahead

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Tennis can be like a game of chess. Discover how you can outwit your opponent and get two steps ahead.

Coach: Mark Hildebrand, high performance (parent) coach
Bio:Began as Head Pro at the Green Tree Tennis Club in 1997, where both junior and adult programs won back to back city championships. In 2000, became Head Pro at Oak Hills Country Club and coached the Junior team to a silver medal in the AAU Junior Olympics in Detroit, Michigan. Moved to be Director of Tennis for the Northside Independent School District where he was in charge of providing tennis to 65 elementary schools, 19 middle schools, and 11 high schools. While at NISD, managed an elite program that produced two Texas 5A state champions and numerous players to play for top universities. Involved in over 10 USTA High-Performance training camps. USPTA 1 certified professional.

Birthplace: USA

Length: 3 min 29 sec
Theme: Strategy


One of the things I'd like to talk about is what I call tennis chess, or you can even call it tennis poker.

I started tennis kind of out a little bit of a later age. So therefore my skill set wasn't very high. But where I was better than most was my work ethic was better typically. And also, I was analytical as far as trying to figure out where the ball needed to go. And, and so I would call that, you know, playing chess on the tennis court. I felt like that's one of Trey and I's strong points as a father-son combo as a coach-player combination, and we both bring that to the table.

You know, I want to give you some examples of how to win matches based on the player that's on the other side of the net and their personality. Every player you play against has a shot tolerance, every player has basically a number, they may lose patience. That could be because they're not in good shape. That could be because they're not confident. That could be because they played three matches, you know, you can figure out all sorts of ways to win matches and be a leg up based on those variables.

A couple of examples, you know, if you play a gunslinger that plays big, you know that they're going to be more apt to change the direction of the ball, they're going to be more out to pull the trigger to go for the big shot a little earlier. So if you're playing that player, you might say for that particular match, we're going to work on keeping the ball cross-court, keeping the ball deep, and we're going to play a little stronger. In that regard.

Another example would be playing a player that's notoriously gets a little bit nervous, well, if you're playing that player, you would also know that if it's a really big point, and they're serving a second serve, odds are they're gonna get a little tightness. So it's gonna be a little shorter. So we would be two steps up on that particular ball to go ahead and attack that a little bit more.

Another example, one of my favorite examples is, I would say one of the things Trey would be most proud of is the number of doubles title and he was touted as one of the best doubles players in the world. And part of that was because we knew who was on the other side of the net, and Trey would manipulate based on that person's mentality. Trey was playing a gunslinger trade knew he had to stay home and not poach quite as much he knew that player be more apt to go down the line once in a while. Also, that player has a tendency to be a little erratic.

And one of the things we've talked about is this player going to be played by the numbers that always does the smartest play. The smartest playing tennis in doubles is cross-court on a return. So if Trey was playing that particular individual, we knew that cross-court was most likely going to happen. So Trey would poach every time. So those would be things we would talk about that I think a lot of people don't really analyze quite as much as they should tendencies on the tennis court, and how those tendencies relate to that person's personality, you can get two steps ahead, and you can learn how to win matches based on those personality traits.

One of the neatest compliments that was ever told to me was one of the kids that Trey used to play doubles with his father's attempt tennis pro also. And he would say, when we play with you guys, we feel like we have a cheat code. And we feel like we automatically get spotted three games going into every match. And I thought that was pretty cool. I think that if you can factor in who you're playing on the other side and know what their personality is like, that those things will apply and, and you'd be amazed where that can take you.