Nov. 17, 2020

Losing The First Set

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You have lost a close first set. What next? Learn to make adjustments and mentally prepare for the second set to give yourself the best chance of success.

Coach: Estevam Strecker, head tennis coach
Bio:Former head men’s tennis coach at St. Edward’s in Austin, Texas. Second-straight Heartland Conference Coach of the Year award and two-consecutive trips to the NCAA Regional Tournament. Played collegiate tennis at Auburn from 1999 to 2002, claiming 86 singles victories (8th on the all-time list) and 3 NCAA Tournament appearances. Bachelor’s in Exercise Science and Masters in Exercise Physiology.

Birthplace: Brazil

Length: 3 min 0 sec
Theme: Motivation


One of the coolest things about tennis is that it has no time clock. It has no time limit on how long it can last.

The other cool thing about tennis is that in the end of each set, everything resets to zero. Both players go back to having zero points and zero games. It is the ultimate equalizer. It is also a time to really focus on resetting the thought process, especially if you lost the first set.

When you lose a close first set, the very first question to ask is, do I really need to change anything. If the match is very close, the difference maybe two or three points played in the entire set, which is virtually nothing. Sometimes, you must trust that what you are doing, and what you're trying to do is exactly what needs to be done. A huge mistake players make is to complete change their game plan after a very close first set, which ultimately can result in the second set being a 'blow out'.  Have the courage and the confidence to trust your instincts and stay on task. However, if the answer to the first question is 'yes', I do need to make adjustments. Then make sure you follow the simple steps.

First, how big are these adjustments supposed to be? Again, in a closed set, the adjustment may be very small. For example, making a first serve on a deuce point instead of trying to go for a huge first serve, and ending up double-faulting and getting broke. It may be to play a little less risky. Stay away from the sidelines for one or two extra balls and allowing your opponent to make a mistake. Finally, if more significant adjustments need to be made, then focus on the things that are working for you and how you can make them happen a little more often.

For example, if you want to win in the backhand to backhand rally more often, make sure you stay in the rally longer and make your opponent have to worry about getting out of it. However, ultimately, when you get up and you get ready to start the second set, remind yourself the longer you stay on the court, the greater your chances to find your game. The greater the chance of you breaking down your opponent. The longer you compete, the better your chances are of coming out on top. So, get up and fight.