Smart players often see the elements as an additional weapon for their arsenals. Here are several suggestions on how to get a little help from your friends.

THE ELEMENTS IN GENERAL

* Take a read on the elements during your warm-up. Is the wind constant? Gusty? Strong? Is the sun going to be a factor? The temperature? Assess the situation quietly and carefully.

* Plan how and when you can use your knowledge and assessment of the elements to help you win the match or gain even a small advantage.

* Try never to acknowledge the elements even exist as either a positive or negative force. Outwardly, ignore their existence.

THE POWER OF THE SUN

*  Always know where the sun is and where it's going. Be aware of clouds and where they will be.

*  Use the sun and the clouds to help you. If you can take an extra thirty seconds changing sides and start serving in the shade, why not?

*  Adjust your toss on the serve slightly and you'll almost never have to "serve in the sun."

*   With the sun at your back, bring opponents to net and lob at sun level. No, this isn't dirty tennis, it is smart tennis.

* If an opponent's shot to you is going to be in the sun, concentrate on the ball until it is about to pass in front of the sun, then let your radar go to work. Don't watch the ball into the sun.

* Never acknowledge the sun, never use it as an excuse, but use it wisely to help you win some of those big points.

THE WIND

*  If the wind is gusty and unpredictable, play safe shots with a larger margin of error. Keep balls lower, lob lower.

*  If you're playing into the wind, remember you can hit hard on your ground strokes and lobs. Off-speed shots should be effective as well. Try to force your opponent to hit up on shots.

* If the wind is at your back, slow down your swing and exaggerate the follow-through. Remember you can't wait for balls to come to you. Move in more on shots, lob lower.

* If the wind is blowing steadily across the court, use it to help curve shots into the court or curve them into your opponent.

THE TEMPERATURE

* When it is unusually hot, consciously drink more water. This is not only for your tennis game. It is for your health.

*  When the temperature is rising you might want to shorten or lighten your pre-game warm up.

*  If shade exists anywhere, use it when possible, during the changeover, in between points, whenever.

* When it is unusually cold, layer your clothing so as you warm up and then cool down you can add and subtract clothes.

* Colder weather may call for a slower, longer warm-up process. You don't want to begin actual play until you are warm.

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Greater Vallejo Tennis Association
426 Mills Drive
Benicia, CA 94510