Playing tennis against a weaker opponent is harder than you might think. The fear of losing to an inferior player can cause you to hit the ball timidly, while overconfidence can lead to a string of unforced errors.
Either one can lead to an unnecessary loss. Playing a weaker opponent is a mental challenge—and one that requires patience and focus.
The first rule is to never underestimate a player who has less experience, isn't as skilled as you are or has a lower NTRP rating. Weaker players are often hungry for an upset. Walking out on the court with confidence is good. But overconfidence, especially when facing a weaker player, can be dangerous.
Approach all of your matches the same way. Tell yourself "If I do not play good tennis I can potentially lose this match."
This mantra isn't designed to put pressure on you. Instead, it should force you to stay focused. It shouldn't matter if you have a winning record and are facing a player who has lost their last 10 matches. Give your opponent your full attention and play your hardest.
If you walk out onto the court thinking you have an easy win about to come, your overconfidence can lead to a loss. When you start to think a win will come easily, you can become frustrated and nervous if things don't go your way.
No matter who you're playing, the best way to approach the match is "point by point." Don't start speculating on who will end up winning the next point, game or the set. If you let your mind wander beyond the current point the match can get away from you.