Over the past three weeks in clinics we have been tracking different statistics as our teams play games. We have tracked first points won, who wins the point when the server makes the first serve, and who wins the point the most when a team hits a second serve. They all have different success rates. One statistic jumps off the page: The team that gets to 30 first wins the game over 80% of the time (82.01% to be exact).
I realize this is not an exact science, but I have been tracking this for over three weeks at the club at every level (3.0, 3.5, and 4.0). I have tried these options:
Server started down 0-30. Returner won 26 games and lost 10 games.
Server started up 30-0. Server won 26 games and lost six.
Teams started at 0-0. First team to get to 30 won 81 games and lost 13.
Every team asks me the same question: Why does this happen? The answer is simple: I have no idea.
My only theory is that it is very hard at the lower levels to win two points in a row. Think of how many times you play a game, and the game goes to deuce multiple times. Why? It is hard to win two points in a row unless you have a dominant serve. So, if you get to 30 first, your team will most likely win because the other team will have to win three or four points in a row to win the game. Worst case scenario: You are at deuce, but most likely you will alternate winning one point each and that will result in your winning the game.
What is a good way to emphasize this?
Realize that the first point is the most critical. If you lose the first point, you must win two points in a row to get to 30 first. If you win the first point, then if you win one of the next two points you are at 30 first.
Play practice games in which the first team to get to 30 wins the game.
Understand that your concentration must be more focused on the first three points. This is when you should play the highest percentage shots.
Like I tell my students, stats do not lie. Good luck.