Wanted to share an excerpt, that gives an example of how important preparation is.
Here's a terrific example (although an extreme one) of the tremendous advantage the average player can get with good pre-match preparation. And of what a disadvantage “just showing up" can be. This particular player at the San Francisco Tennis Club used good mental preparation, good physical preparation, and some gamesmanship against a guy who just showed up and wanted to start playing.
For a big match (and he liked to bet $100 per set with certain players) this fellow (a bit of a hustler) would get to the court one hour early. He had already spent time looking over his notes (yes, he kept notes of past matches). He had given some attention to his game plan. Next would be the stretching exercises to get completely loosened up.
Now would come the warm-up, before his opponent even arrived at the court.
The “hustler” would hit with the club pro for thirty minutes, going through the strokes and touching up anything that was giving him trouble that day. Nothing intense. Just a real good warm-up. Then he would leave the court, go to the locker room, and change clothes. Now that he’s reviewed his game plan, checked his notes, done his stretching exercises, had a great warm-up, and changed into dry clothes, would he head back out to the court? Of course not. It was time for the final stage of the hustle. He’d make sure he got there ten minutes late, apologize for the delay, and suggest that they cut the warm-up short.
Obviously, his opponent would be a little upset by the late arrival and want to get started to save time. They’d move right into the match with only a “quickie” warm-up. The “pigeon” would be handing over the money in straight sets. He would have saved himself $200 if he’d anticipated the behavior and prepared properly himself. He got taken instead. He had no plan, no system, no nothing. He let the other player control events because he wasn’t prepared. He’d have been a lousy Boy Scout.
The interesting thing about what this “hustler” did was that everything (except arriving intentionally late) was excellent preparation. It's how a conscientious player should get ready to play a match. Throwing in the last twist by arriving last was unnecessary (not to mention unsportsmanlike). He was way ahead by doing everything else. You can give yourself that same advantage.