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Seasonal Transition: Sandy Mittleman Junior Insight

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Sandy Mittleman Junior Insight

Seasonal Transition:

As April arrives and the season becomes spring, the top juniors in the world will now set their sights on outdoor tennis, and with that comes a physical, mental and possibly tactical change. The players now begin to cope with the elements. Some of the elements the players will prepare for are the wind, sun, climate change, and surface change.

Depending on the tournament structure, the players may have to play more than one match per day, and will certainly have to if playing doubles.

With this in mind, weather in some countries can change by the hour. If the weather is sunny and hot in the morning, the players can expect the ball to move a little quicker through the air. If the weather becomes a little more overcast and cool, the players can expect the ball to get slower and heavier. With these changes, comes the possibility of adjustment in string tension. Usually, the warmer the temperature, the faster the ball moves, and then the players probably prefer a tighter-strung racket. If the climate changes and the temperature drops and gets cooler, the players may consider a looser string tension as the balls might move slower through the air and get heavy. Climate change also may bring on tactical change. The warmer the temperature, the faster the balls move, the more aggressive a player can get tactically, for example, trying to move forward more, occasionally serve and volley, playing first strike tennis.

When the temperature drops and the play gets slower the players need to begin to think about playing on the steadier side; defensive thinking comes into play.

One of the tougher parts of moving to outdoor tournament play is the wind factor. Sometimes, just the fact that you either typically train somewhere where there is often wind, or you are from a place where there can often be wind can be a big advantage, as wind is often difficult for players to adapt to. The first thing a player has to concern themselves with is how the wind is blowing, is it north-south, east-west, or swirling. The first adjustment the players will make in the wind is increasing their margin of error.

Usually this will mean better clearance over the net, and playing much more inside the lines.

I remember a few years ago hearing Roger Federer being interviewed after a 5 set win over Andre Agassi at the US Open in winds that gusted up to 40 plus MPH, that he felt at times like they were just playing warm up tennis, as all the were doing was hitting the ball back and forth down the middle, because with such high winds, they had no idea where the ball would end up if they played anywhere near the lines.

So as you head outside for the spring and summer season, don't forget when training to consider the entire element changes that can and may occur while competing. Drink a lot of water, eat properly, have enough clothes for any necessary changes during a day, make sure your equipment is prepared, and maybe most importantly of all, be mentally prepared for any kind of condition changes, at anytime. The more players relish the unforeseen, the more likely they will be to succeed in the ELEMENTS!

Sandy Mittleman
Head Coach
MAC/Bolletieri Alliance
(978) 526.8900 Ext 209



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