I remember waking up in the morning when we were living in Sag Harbor, N.Y., and checking the trees in the distance to see how windy it was. We were playing tennis mainly at the Bridgehampton Racquet and Surf Club (which was right on the ocean) and it seemed like it was almost always windy on the courts. The challenge was basically just hitting the ball in the center of the racquet and using the wind to your advantage.
Those brutal winds taught me a lot about the game. First, make hitting the ball solid your main objective. Use your feet to get as close to the same position as possible, as often as possible. Focus on the point of contact and not the result of the shot. Try to hit your shots more to the middle of the court and when it is windy, hit more shots in the direction of where the wind is coming from and not so many to where it is blowing.
Your mentality needs to be that you are actually playing more against the wind than you are your opponent. Basically, if you do a better job handling the wind than the other player, you will win the match.
As I got older (and smarter) and my game developed, I actually hoped for difficult wind conditions. I was very confident that my childhood experiences at the club would help me perform better than my opponent at the crucial times in the match. I truly believed that the wind would not beat me.
Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Pro, is the Director of Annacone Tennis, www.annaconetennis.com and MyHamptonsPro, www.myhamptonspro.com throughout the Hamptons, NY. In addition, Steve and Miguel Coelho have introduced the JET (Junior Elite Tennis) program at the Tucson Jewish Community Center (Tucson, AZ) for high level players ages 8-18. Please contact Steve at email@example.com.