I’ve written quite a few articles on the sport of tennis but none of them really took off like the “Playing Your First Tournament” series that I did on www.tennis4you.com. Some of the local kids will be playing their first tournaments this school year so I thought I’d put this series up there for you to check out and enjoy!
Whether you are a 10-year-old junior or a 50-year-old woman who’s just started playing the game, there is nothing more exciting, or more nerve-racking, then playing in your first tennis tournament. It’s a brand new experience and one that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad experience, providing that you use this first tournament correctly, and, in this lesson (the first in a 3 part series), I will try and give you some tips to make your first tournament one of the most memorable experiences of your tennis tournament careers!
Set realistic goals for yourself!
Since this is your first tournament, try setting simple, realistic goals for yourself. Winning the tournament would be nice, but not very realistic (although not impossible). Try setting goals like keeping your feet moving for an entire match or vowing to chase down every ball no matter what the score is. Ask your coach or pro (providing you have one) to help you with this (if not, I’ll be your internet coach!). These types of goals will keep your mind on the important parts of tournament tennis (keeping your feet moving and never giving up!) and will help you forget about the nerves that playing your first tournament will obviously bring!
Packing Your Equipment Bag
What you bring on court (when you eventually get out there) is very important. This is a small checklist of what to pack in your equipment bag!At least 2 racquets (in case you break a string). A towel or two.
Water and Gatorade or some other electrolyte sports drink.
Fruit (banana, apple).
A package of overgrips.
A portable music player, book, gameboy etc. (to relax you and alleviate some of the boredom of waiting between matches).
A can of tennis balls (you never know).
These are just some of the things that a beginning tennis player should bring (this article and the following articles in this series are written for the beginning tournament player) to the tournament site.
Arrive To The Tournament Site As Early As Possible
Hopefully, you will arrive at the tournament site at least 45 minutes prior to your first match. Why so early? You’ll need to check in with the tournament director, which will take some time (depending on the size of the tournament). You will also want to familiarize yourself with the tournament site, grab a copy or inquire as to any special tournament rules, and maybe find a quiet place to relax and gather your thoughts. Another great thing about arriving early is that you might be able to find an empty court to hit a few balls and get some of the nerves out!
These are just a few of the things I always discuss with anyone that I coach prior to entering and playing in their very first tournament. In my next article, I will discuss playing that very first match, followed by the last article in this series about how to evaluate your very first tournament!