PUT TO THE TEST ■ THE BEST WAY TO IMPROVE IS TO COMPETE – HERE’S HOW TO GET READY

While tennis is a fantastic way to stay active and fit as well as to socialize and meet new people, if you truly want to improve your game and give your body and mind the ultimate challenge, Mitch Bridge has one word for you: competition. Bridge is a former touring pro, founder of the Jackson-Bridge Academy at Los Cab, owner, and director of the Southern California Tennis Academy, and the USPTA’s Orange County coach of the year. Practicing and playing tennis competitively are different both physically and mentally, Bridge says.

One is about getting better; the other is about winning. He recommends that players interested in tournament action start the process two months before their match. At that point, “you are game-building, or going through the gears, in working on your groundstrokes and trying to shore up your weaknesses,” he said. A month out, players need to focus on their strengths and how they are going to score points. A week out, players should focus on returns and serving and “trying to put it all together while also working on your mental game, and your formulas for playing,” Bridge said.

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