Every player owns a style that they are comfortable with, some are effective, some aren't. Some look good, others look a little less glamorous. Either way we all have a particular style about us when we step onto a tennis court. So how would I describe myself ? Well I don't really need to as others have already done it for me. Yes folks I am officially 'the hack' !
It has been said to me and about me on at least two occasions but I would suspect there have been many more 'hack' comments sprayed in my direction over the years. So why am I a hack ? Well that's an easy one to answer, I simply keep getting the ball back into play and I am not really that interested in putting it back into the hitting zone of my opponent.
So what is a hack ? Most kids will tell you that the terminology is not a compliment, more so a derogatory remark about a player who does things a little differently on court. Those things may include things like moon balls, plenty of lobs, sliced backhands as opposed to the 'cooler' topspin drive, softer hitting and an uncanny ability to do it all on a regular basis. This style drives opponents absolutely nuts because that sort of style should not be effective, yet it is, it is very, very effective.
If you don't believe me then take a read of Brad Gilbert's best seller 'Winning Ugly', it confirms it.
I once wrote a post about a match that I played locally against a hot shot teenager from the City where I was in total awe of his hit up form yet that's where his ability to intimidate me ceased. Apart from being down an early break I won the match in straight sets but once I started getting on top his frustration became obvious, 'This guy is a hack'.
That's the best he could come out with, he said it loud enough for me to hear it which gave me all the information I required to keep doing what I was doing as I knew it was getting to him.
So what was I doing ? I was annoying him in a way that he quite possibly had never been annoyed before because his game was big, particularly the forehand but he only hit it well if I gave him a hard ball in his hitting zone. After the first few games I realised that I was almost trying to play his game so I changed it up and gave him nothing that he liked and he did not recover from my change in tactic because I believe he fitted the mould of a lot of young tennis players.
The player I am referring to is the ball machine player who can hit for an hour against a machine and believe that this is what is going to make them into a smart tennis player.
It's all very well to be a 'macho man' when you play a sport like tennis however very few players can win by blasting winners at will all day long, leave that to the pros, in fact leave that to a player with few brains because even pros don't expect to blast winners all day.
A smart tennis player or pro will actually win a match by making less errors than his opponent, not necessarily by hitting more winners but that's me stating the obvious, most people with an ounce of tennis grey matter will know that anyhow.
I also apologise once again for giving a personal example on this site of mine however I firmly believe in relevance when writing about tennis and I have played a lot of tennis matches in my 35 years on court.
The smartest tennis players and coaches are the ones who have played a lot of matches, it's how you learn the game. You can be a 'seasoned tennis coach' in your own funny little World or you can draw on some past matches whether they be a win or a loss when you are looking to teach others the intricacies of tennis.
I was no star, in fact I was an average tennis player, a 'hack' to be more specific but I played enough matches to know what is right and wrong and what is effective when it comes to tennis.
Happy to be a hacker, it can frustrate your opponents beyond comprehension, trust me and if you don't then please feel free to read 'Winning Ugly' by BG. He knew how to win without a conventional 'big' game........