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What is your DNA? by Ken DeHart

What is your DNA? by Ken DeHart

We all know that DNA is what our cells are made up of.  DNA also determines a lot about how we play tennis and the decisions we make.


D stands for defense

N stands for Neutralizing

A for attack.


Depending upon your personal DNA, you will approach the game differently.


*Normally, players defend about 10-15% of the time in a match.

*Players neutralize or stay in the point without giving our opponents a ball they can attack or one we try to attack on about 70-80% of the time.

*Players attack about 20-25% of the time. (Lower level players try to attack too often from neutralizing situations).


Depending upon your personality, these numbers will fluctuate  If you are an aggressive personality you will be inclined to be more aggressive. If your personality is more cautious, you will defend and neutralize more. A wise player will learn when it is appropriate to attack and when to neutralize until time the best opportunity to attack.


Let’s look at some tactical situations. Our goal is to help you decide when to use your DNA in doubles. I know you cannot tell in text where your opponent is located or how good they are, but give it your best guess based upon your personality and DNA.


Beside each situation, give yourself a D – N – or A as to how you would play the situation.


Returning a wide ball outside the doubles alley in the ad court  DNA.

Making a shot that has you deep in the back court near your baseline DNA.

You are out of position on the court and the ball in between you and your partner DNA.

You are in position and balanced in the court around mid court DNA.

You have received a high bouncing ball deep to your baseline in the deuce court DNA.

You have received a high bouncing ball around mid court in the ad court DNA.

The ball coming to you is a high speed ball at your body DNA.

The ball coming to you is a heavy topspin ball inside the baseline  DNA.

The ball coming to you is a low underspin ball around mid court  DNA.

You are up 40-30 in the first set and you receive a slow spin serve to your backhand DNA.

You are down 0-40 in the first set and behind 0-4 DNA.

You are serving a first serve in the ad court and the score is 3 all 30-40 DNA.

You are receiving the first point of the match in the deuce court against a first serve DNA.

You are receiving a second serve from the ad court and the score is 40-30 yours DNA.


I realize this is not actual match play and you have lots of time to decide vs the instant decision you have to make in a match. But, challenge yourself with situations you face that are difficult for you in matches. Practice making decisions to be better prepared to deal with tactical situations in match play. 

In practice, create situations where you feel comfortable knowing what to do and others where you feel vulnerable. Now practice your response so they can become more automatic in match play. 


 Choosing the right DNA can help you develop a winning approach to improving your match play skills. Create tactical situations, now. Practice making a choice without the pressure of actual play.  Perhaps your practiced decision making in the match will improve with practice off the court.


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Traveling Tennis Pros - Ken DeHart

Ken DeHart is a PTR Hall of Famer, PTR International Master Professional, 2 Time PTR international Pro of the Year, USPTA Master Professional and 4 time USPTA Divisional Pro of the Year. He is the Director of Tennis at Silver Creek Valley Country Club in San Jose, California. Ken travels and speaks at conferences and to pros all around the world, Australian, Wimbledon and US Open tennis teachers conferences and writes extensively for magazines and websites. He is a tennis collector with hundreds of books, racquets and tennis memorabilia in his collection. You can follow Ken on Facebook at Ken DeHart Tennis and on Instagram at dehartken.

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