Tough Preparation for Tough Matches by Sophie Woorons

Sophie Woorons Director of Brookstone Meadows Tennis    Former All-American for Clemson University in both Singles and Doubles.

Sophie Woorons Director of Brookstone Meadows Tennis

Former All-American for Clemson University in both Singles and Doubles.

I often hear players wonder why they can play / serve well during practice, but then have a hard time delivering under pressure…Solution? 

1- Learn the proper way through instruction. While learning a new skill, take a lesson and get proper instruction for that particular shot. Let’s take the example of the one-handed slice backhand. A lesson will allow you to be efficient in your technique, accelerate the learning process and avoid figuring it out on your own where you might (probably will…) learn it wrong and risk injuring yourself with tennis elbow or other. 30 minutes is enough to be introduced to a new skill. You can then follow up with your instructor a week or so later after you’ve had a chance to practice it.

2- Ball machine/practice/clinic. Once you have understood the proper technique, you’ll need to practice the skill, maybe with the ball machine, during your cardio tennis class, or at your next clinic. 

3- Point situations applying new shot. Now we need to incorporate your new shot into point situations. Practice some points where you focus specifically on incorporating the slice backhand. For example, your friend can feed the ball to your backhand, you hit your slice backhand and then the point starts. Don’t count score yet as we are just figuring things out.

4- Practice matches or easy match. Now let’s put it into play. Try to incorporate your slice backhand in your practice matches. Maybe on return of serve, on a slice approach shot or slice on defense. The next step is to incorporate your new shot on a day when competition isn’t that fierce. 

5- Practice matches, against better, equal, easier. On a side note, it’s important to practice matches against people of all levels. Play against good players so you can be challenged, but also include matches against weaker players to build your confidence and try new shots, like your new one-handed slice backhand. Lastly, practice against people of similar abilities so you can focus on competing and playing tough points. 

6- Under pressure. Now you have mastered the one-handed slice backhand you are ready to apply it under pressure. The truth is you cannot skip the first five steps. As you know practice makes permanent so learn the skill right and then give it the proper respect and preparation. A new skill is introduced to you, and that’s nice. Give it the time to grow so it can become part of your arsenal of weapons!

Good luck!

Sophie. 

2015 USPTA Southern Professional of the Year.

Owner / Director of Brookstone Meadows Tennis,

12-court tennis facility, Anderson, SC.

6 Time National Champion – Ranked number 1 in the Country.

Bronze Medalist at Senior Fed Cup World Championships with Team USA.

Ph.D. in Sport Pedagogy from the University of Georgia.

Former All-American for Clemson University in both Singles and Doubles.

ACC Player of the year. Member of the ACC 50 year anniversary team.

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Professional Presenter at International, National and State conferences.

Published articles in Tennis Pro, TennisWeek.com and Educational magazine.

2011 USTA South Carolina Teaching Professional of the year.

2008 USTA SC Female Player of the year.

2008 Sophie’s club, Brookstone Meadows, named South Carolina Club of the year.

2008 USPTA Southern Patriot

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Former WTA Professional Tour. Ranked 429 in singles (age 17), 511 in doubles.

Professional team tennis: Teammate of Amelie Mauresmo, and Pascale Paradis.

European Pro Championships: Pro team tennis with the country Luxembourg.

Juniors: Represented France in the European championship 12u

Round of 16 in Les Petits as world championship 14u

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TEAM USA - Back to back #1 for Team USA 2013 and 2014 women’s 35s and 40s

Nationals: 8 Times National Champion

Mixed Doubles 40s National Champion 2017 Seabrook Island with Shirish Deshpande

SS Father Daughter National Champion 2016 Palm Beach Gardens with Lucien Woorons

Back to Back Singles Hard Courts Champion 35s and 40s

Singles and Doubles Clays Champion

Back to back National Champion: Intersectional National Team Event 2012-2013