At age 48 I suppose I can say what the great John McEnroe once said 'The older I get, the better I was'. Wise and very true words from the great man himself.
Tennis at age 48 is a physical battle now days more than anything else because you simply do not move the way that you either used to or the way you wish to so therefore it comes down to just what you learned in your younger years.
By that statement I refer to finding ways to win or at least be competitive without engaging in long rallies which will drain the tank rather quickly and not leave enough in reserve for the final stages of a match which define you as a player.
The way I see it you've got two options as a tennis player as you age, you learn to volley and finish a point or you stand there and belt winners past your opponent. ( I am joking as far as the latter is concerned ).
The only way to conserve your energy on a tennis court as you get older is to shorten the points, rather obvious statement, though the fitness fanatics of over 50's tennis will tell you otherwise and can still sit out there all day with the young blokes and trade punches. Personally I couldn't think of anything worse.
When I was a kid I only ever went to the net to shake hands, now days I volley reasonably well as coaching will do that for you, it will naturally develop a volley for even the most seasoned baseliner because you can't coach from the baseline, not all day anyhow.
So if I was to leave one thing as something that I have learned over the years in tennis I would say that the most important shot that I have ever learned was in fact the volley because it can finish a point and if you know how to set yourself up at the net then you can make life for yourself on a tennis court a whole lot easier.
I played a kid when I was age 41 in a best of three sets match and I swear the kid hardly missed a groundie. When however I worked out that he in fact was never taught to volley or even to come in for that matter I simply brought him in and hit the ball straight at him.
From memory he gave me the equivalent of around four or five games in missed volleys and approaches, just enough for me to sneak in a win.
Anyone can hit a ball from the back of a tennis court but if you know how to finish the point when the opportunity arises or know how to bring your opponent into the zone they are least comfortable with then you may just be able to win enough points through tactics rather than brute force.
I couldn't hit a sliced backhand until I was 18, now days unless someone comes to the net and I need some pace on the pass then I will simply slice the ball from the backhand side. Why ? Because I haven't found a player yet who likes scraping a ball low off the court but I have played plenty who like the ball in their hitting zone, something that topspin will give them.
So from a 12 year old kid who never volleyed and never knew what a sliced backhand even felt like until I was old enough to go out to a pub, it is rather amusing that as I approach age 50 those two shots are now my most treasured.
Tennis becomes a game of chess as you get older and due to the physical demands of it, well it's probably about as slow as a game of chess also but if ever you have read the story of the 'Tortoise and the Hare', well, you may just understand where I am coming from.......
Regards 'The Birthday Boy'