-Bill Tilden, How to Play Better Tennis (1950)
Chapter 16, "Maintaining Pressure on Your Opponent"
It is often said that in the game of life, patience is a virtue. In the game of tennis, patience is what separates the players from the pretenders. While players spend hours working on their "huge" serve or their "monster" forehand, they devote virtually no time developing what is undoubtedly the most important weapon a tennis player can have ---- Patience!
Why is patience so important? Simply, because it is the more patient player who will usually win the match. As I have said, many times, tennis is a game of errors as opposed to winners with roughly 80% of all points played, at every level, being decided by someone making an error.
In his fabulous book "Intelligent Tennis," Skip Singleton describes the typical tennis match as "two players trying to give each other each game by making a series of errors until finally someone gives the match away. The winner feels like he has won the match because he was the better player, and the loser feels like he has lost because he has beaten himself. Actually, the loser just gave away the match first! Most matches are lost, not won."
"The name of the game," continues Singleton, "then becomes avoiding errors and playing consistent tennis. Even though this may be the most basic of the basics, it is forgotten time and time again. Your ultimate tactic in tennis should be consistency, no matter at what level you play the game."
What causes errors? Forced errors, as I said, are caused by your opponent's strong shots and there is not much you can do except try to stay out of situations where your opponent can press you, i.e., short balls, weak second serves, etc.
Unforced errors are caused mainly by a psychological breakdown. Our mind wanders and we get sloppy without technique or, more frequently, our shot selection. I believe that a vast majority of unforced errors are the result of a player trying to hit too hard or too difficult a shot when they should simply get the ball back into play.
Unforced errors are the disease of every tennis player. A disease where there is really no 100% cure but whose symptoms can be dramatically lessened with the proper antidote. That antidote? PATIENCE!!!!!