Not only does winter tennis in Reno provide a variety of temperatures and precipitation, there is also the issue of the sun. During the winter months the sun is lower in the sky, as the earth tilts further from the sun. Nowhere is this situation more evident than when you’re serving, or at the net.
Nothing can reduce your tennis game to its most rudimentary form, than the sun in your toss, or a perfectly placed lob. Form is quickly forsaken, and our only goal is to make contact at any point on our racquet. While there is no easy method for adjusting your tennis game for a winter day in Reno, the following are some points for consideration.
The simplest, most straightforward, tool is a hat or a visor. Even if you don’t normally wear one to play tennis, depending on the time of day you’re playing in Reno, it’s better to not need it, than to “need it.” Sunglasses can be effective in reducing glare or blocking out the sunlight.
When you’re serving, consider adjusting your stance at the baseline. Too often, as creatures of habit, we get stuck into the mindset that we can only serve from one spot on the court. Moving in either direction, could help you keep your toss, while merely moving your feet.
If finding a new position on the baseline doesn’t work, actually changing your stance could be an option. In a perfect service world, we would have shoulder rotation and trophy position, but all bets are off when the sun is making it impossible to go from serving to playing, without seeing spots. Maybe turn your body more to the court, or more toward the sideline, in order to keep the muscle memory of your service toss and motion.
Which brings us to the toss. Consider all your options: moving the toss right or left, maybe more over your head, further out in front. You could try lowering your toss and speeding up your service motion. The first time to try making these adjustments, however, is not during a crucial match, or an effort to close out a set. Take the time to practice these modifications when you are able to focus solely at the task at hand.
On the tennis court in Reno, the sun shouldn’t always be considered a hindrance. Sometimes the greatest weapon in your arsenal is the glowing orb behind you. Rather than drawing your opponent to the net and trying the passing shot, simply toss up a lob. Even if your opponent is able to retrieve it, and you’re in position to field it, throw up the second one. Generally your opponent will still be recovering from the first lob, before they have time to consider hitting a second one.
If you are in the unfortunate position of having to play a ball in the sun, work on adjusting your strokes in the same way you have to change for the serve. Maybe you adjust your stance, where you track the ball, or let a ball you would normally take out of the air, bounce. Knowing that you will have to modify your playing style, will make you more accepting of the changes when the time comes to try a different stroke.
Winter tennis in Reno provides a number of fun opportunities to expand your style of play. The sun can be a chance to work on your serve and make adjustments to accommodate different strategies. It is imperative to remember that in forsaking style, your ultimate goal is to get your serve in the box. A double fault is a nothing more than a free point for your opponent.
Focusing on the ball, as it leaves your strings, can help track the ball and mitigate the contrast difference. Work to keep your head still while making contact, and maintain keeping your head down to ensure you’re really seeing the ball – especially if the ball is competing with the spots in your eyes. Sacrifice being slightly out of position in exchange for being able to track the ball.
It is important to remember, that whatever the challenge or window of opportunity the sun creates, it will happen only 50% of the time. Your opponent will be facing the same factors. By all accounts the match will be fair and balanced and, as we ultimately hope every match will be, fun.