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October 1, 2004
More lessons from a 17-year-old!


Welcome to all the new subscribers to my email tennis lessons.  You will receive one long lesson on the first of every month and some quick tips in between.

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Remember the basic principles for learning tennis with my system is to develop a 'feel' for different strokes along with developing mental skills through REPETITION.  Repetition of simple procedures create that 'feel' NOT an over emphasis on the technical skills and mechanics.  Click here for an article that I wrote on 'feel' vs 'mechanics' in April 2001

Tom's Online Tennis Lesson
More lessons from a 17-year-old!

Welcome to Tom's Online Tennis Lesson, sponsored by TennisWarrior.com, "Where you can learn to think like a pro!"

When Maria Sharapova beat up on Serena Williams to win the 2004 Wimbledon Championship, the tennis world was shocked! Without question, this was history in the making! We can all learn from the strategy that Maria used to disengage a powerful, more experienced opponent. 

What do you think Maria did? Do you think she was armed with a master plan to confuse and baffle Serena? Maybe the strategy was designed to pick on Serena's weakness (whatever that is!). How about going into Serena's strength and surprising her? There must have been an edge that made this all possible for Maria. She is the Wimbledon Champion, on this level of play the strategy must be extremely sophisticated. 

To answer all of these serious questions I went to the player responsible for this major upset - Maria herself.

Quoted in the New York Times, 4 July 2004, Maria clearly explains her tactics against the former world number one Serena Williams in the finals at Wimbledon. Read and learn from a Wimbledon Champ and you too can apply these same tactics to your matches. Here is what she said. 
"To tell you the truth I do not know what happened in the match," the 13th - seeded Sharapova said. "I don't know what the tactics were. I was just out there. I was just playing. I could really care less what was going on outside me. I was in my own little world. I don't know what that world was really."

Great stuff, huh? Maria hasn't a clue as to what she did and she just won Wimbledon! Now, what can we learn from this? To never develop a strategy? No, strategy is a part of the game. To ignore tactics? No, tactics are essential. Although Maria did no more than just play against Serena she had a natural and instinctive 'feel' of moving the ball around, going for her shots, playing a fearless and aggressive game, and hitting the open court. Since she has worked hard enough over the years she had extraordinary tools to be able to execute this natural strategy and keep the balls coming back! She won by hitting more balls back with power and precision. The bottom line is, she was more consistent than Serena! No earth-shattering strategy here!

Sharapova's statements that she was "just out there," she "was just playing," indicates a clear mind with freedom to just play! If your tactics or strategy clutter your mind during play you will always over think and suffocate your play. Keep your strategy simple and go for it! Here is where many players get into trouble. They have NOT prepared themselves through repetition to just play. Players often think strategy is a substitute for poor consistency. You are better off intensely training on your consistent and automatic play through repetition and let strategy come as a result of a 'feel' for natural play.

I am NOT telling you to completely abandon strategy or tactics. I AM telling you to "Keep It Simple Stupid." Apply the K.I.S.S. principle and strategies will develop as a result of intense practice. Sharapova is the perfect example.

Now, having said that, let me show you a Sharapova goof because she did NOT have a simple strategy. Maria attempted to play the US Open exactly like she played Wimbledon.

Maria played Mary Pierce in the third round of the US Open and lost pretty handily in three sets. After the match Sharapova seemed to finally figure out what went wrong. Unbelievable from a seventeen-year-old! Here is what she said, quoted in The New York Times, 5 September 2004.

"It's hard to say what level you're on because at Wimbledon, you're playing on grass," she said. "I mean, balls that I hit over there are not going to be, you know, winners here. Same thing with the serve, I have to hit another ball and I can make an error and all of a sudden, you think you're not playing that great." 

Notice, even on the level she is playing, the mind still can fake you out. She was thinking she was not playing well because of the errors. Mistakes cause the emotion to take control. Then, misevaluation seems to be the order of the day! The fact that the slower hard court surface was making her hit many more balls than the grass courts of Wimbledon evidently did not enter into her mind. Only the illusion of playing poorly.

Experience will teach her the next time she plays on a hard court she must relax and be prepared to hit more balls in order to win (a simple strategy). She should not panic when she hits great shots and they come back. Just stay calm, stay objective and keep playing even if there are longer rallies and more mistakes. She must always remember, "the next shot is more important than the last mistake."

Whether club player or professional, if you are developing a strategy you must keep it simple. The main ingredient to win on any level is a mind free of over thinking, over anxiety, overdoing the technical, and an over complicated strategy! You MUST be free to just play... Sharapova style!  

Your tennis pro,

Tom Veneziano



Howdy Tom,

"Just a quick note to say I am very impressed with your tape on court speed techniques. I've been playing around A-3 grade for many years, a reasonable level but not advancing. Since listening to your tape, I've learned things I've never been told or heard of before, and they are already making an impact on my court movement and awareness. And I've only just begun. Also, thanks for the outstanding service and delivery all the way to my outback town. I've just ordered your other products... looking forward to their arrival."

Warrior Mike from Australia.


ADDENDUM:  I teach a total system of thinking in regard to stroke production and mental attitude which I cannot explain in one email.  Although each lesson can stand alone you will derive tremendous physical and mental benefit by understanding the total philosophy.  These emails, my web site, books, and tapes are part of a course in tennis, not just isolated tennis tips.  They all fit together into a system.  A system that once understood can help you not only learn tennis at a faster rate, and develop mental toughness, but also give you the knowledge necessary to help guide you and your children to a better understanding of the developmental process.
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