by Jeff Siti - 05/20/2005
Betting on tennis isn't quite as popular in the States as it is on the other side of the Atlantic, but interest is growing. Over here, the only reason most people watch tennis is to catch of glimpse of Maria Sharapova's miniskirt, and rightly so, but if you're looking to make a few bucks, there's certainly money to be made. There are, as always, a few things to consider before you lay down the cash.
The first thing that you need to do regarding how to bet tennis is to familiarize yourself with the players if you haven't already done so. It's probably not a good idea to drunkenly throw $150 down on Anna Kournikova because you think she's hotter than Lindsay Davenport. It's true, but you'd definitely be throwing your money away.
Tennis is one of few sports that actually ranks its players, which comes in very handy when picking a winner. But betting on the ranked or higher ranked player isn't always foolproof. There are a lot of variables to look at. Just like the NCAA Tournament, there's always a few upsets.
The list of things that you have to watch is similar to other sports, and you have to realize that the slightest discrepancy in any player's game is huge because tennis is a one-on-one event. Alonzo Mourning isn't going to take over for anyone if they pull a hamstring and start blocking shots at the net and flexing at the other player.
When it comes to how to bet tennis, here's what to look for before the match:
1) Rank - if a top-ten player is going against someone you've never heard of in the opening round of a tournament, then a straight bet in favor of the ranked player is a solid way to go. But again, rank isn't everything.
2) Playing surface - this is a very important variable to consider. The three most commonly used surfaces in professional tennis are natural grass, clay, and hard courts. The ball reacts differently on all surfaces, as do the players. If a player has a reputation for not being able to move on clay courts, it's definitely something to remember. It's very similar to home court/field advantage. Comfort level should not be overlooked.
3) Recent injuries - this one's obvious. If either player is returning from an injury then it's a safe bet that they aren't going to be performing at a high level. Any prolonged absence from the game is going to throw the player's rhythm and subsequently their play will suffer.
4) Recent performance - confidence is huge in all sports, and often overlooked. Someone that's dropped their last few matches isn't going to come out firing like they just took Wimbledon. It's always a good idea to check a player's recent games and stats. On the flip side, if your guy did just win Wimbledon, they're probably at the top of their game and playing just about as good as possible.
After you've done your homework it's time to start taking your friends' money. But since no one in America watches tennis you're going to have to place most of your bets elsewhere. Most tennis betting is done during the Grand Slams - The Australian Open, Wimbledon, The U.S. Open and The French Open. This is a good time to get some bets in because all of the top players will be facing lesser opponents in the opening rounds. Also, there is a greater incentive to win these tournaments because of the prize money and recognition.
The most common bets in tennis are individual games and the overall outcome of the match. But once you've got a handle on the straight bets you can start looking into other things to wager on. Aces, percentages, faults and fastest serves are all things that you can look into for extra money. Of course, you'll have to know a lot about each of the players to do this, but it'll be worth it.
For now, all you have to do is compile a little research and reference the aforementioned list, and you're on your way. If you really want to fatten your wallet, challenge people to name ten male professional tennis players and clean up as they try to come up with anybody other than Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. Right now it's the only lock going.
If you enjoyed this article on how to bet tennis, check out Doc's article on how to bet boxing.