This article is part of our DFS Tennis 101 series.
While its real money games are unavailable to DFS players in North America, PlayON offers a wide variety of contests to users in the United Kingdom, Australia and Ireland. The PlayON money games can be entered for as little as $1.10, with contests ranging as high as $110.
Once a player has decided on a buy-in, he is presented with a $100 million salary cap and asked to pick five players to form a team. From there, users will need to draw upon their daily fantasy sports and tennis knowledge to take home prizes.
Let's look at how to play tennis on PlayON and review a few strategy tips to help get players started. As is usually the case when exploring a new sport, the first thing we must do is look at the scoring system to understand what we as players should be targeting when we sit down to build teams.
Point won - 5 points
Game won - 25
Set won - 100
Match won - 250
Ace - 10
Double-fault - -10
Break-point saved - 15
Break of serve - 20
Set won 6-0 - 50
Set goes to tie-break - 50
Tournament Performance (only applicable to tournament-long games)
Tournament winner - 1000 points
Tournament runner-up - 500
Tournament semi-finalist - 250
Tournament quarter-finalist - 100
The first thing to notice is that PlayON offers a number of scoring events that aren't common on other platforms. Getting credit for every single point won in a tennis match is not only a surefire way to keep players engaged, it also affords us an opportunity to target competitors who are generally involved in long matches.
I am thinking specifically of players like John Isner and Kevin Anderson. These two use big serves to avoid being broken and, thus, are likely to play three- and five-set matches that extend to tiebreaks. These kinds of selections can be particularly valuable in Grand Slam matches due to the fact that there are no tiebreaks if the match is even heading to the final set. Consider that in the semifinal round of Wimbledon this year, Isner lost the fifth set of his match with Anderson, 26-24. That's a lot of points.
There are a few other quirks in the scoring system that players may be able to capitalize on, so be sure that your team-building strategy is dependent on how points are awarded.
KNOW THE SURFACES
Professional tennis is contested on four surfaces: hard courts, clay courts, grass courts and carpet courts. It is important to understand how the ball responds on the various kinds of courts and which players will fare better as a consequence. A hard court, for example, favors big servers, while the soft clay slows the ball, making it easier for more athletic players who can use speed and precise shot making to win points.
To illustrate how surfaces can affect a competitor, we need to look no further than Thomaz Bellucci, who has won just 43 percent of the 78 matches he has played on hard courts in his career but is 138-103 (57 percent) on clay. This disparity highlights the importance of finding specialists on a particular surface, as they will take DFS players who simply look at overall performance by surprise.
PAY ATTENTION TO HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORDS
To put it simply, tennis matches can take a long time. This means that players who have encountered each other more than once should have a good feel for how the other plays, due to contesting so many points with them in past matches. It is for this reason that a dominant head-to-head score (think 3-0, 4-1, etc.), is generally a good indicator that the winning player will have future matches under control. There are certain caveats to mention, such as putting less emphasis on matches that took place years ago or matches that were contested on different surfaces, but a one-sided head-to-head record can at least help prospective owners get started when they are deciding on lineup construction.
THE IMPORTANCE OF HOLDING SERVE
There are dozens of stats to dive into, but I want to highlight one that I believe will be helpful when sifting through bloated tournament fields. One thing new arrivals to the sport will find out quickly is that it is harder to lose if you convert service games. Not only does this put numbers in the win column, it also works to put the opponent on notice, forcing him or her to be that much better in their own service games to keep from being broken. Players who hold serve well also tend to be successful in tiebreaks, a format where there is even less margin for error on serve.
To illustrate how effective holding serve at an elite level can be, we can look at 2018 Wimbledon semifinalist John Isner, who went 5-1 in The Championships on the strength of a 97.2 percent service hold percentage despite winning just 30 percent of points while defending an opponents' serve.
The PlayON game selection should be a familiar sight to casual players and DFS veterans alike. Offerings include one-on-one (head-to-head) matches, guaranteed prize pool tournaments, multiplayer tournaments, multipliers, which allow participants the opportunity to double or triple their initial investment, and qualifiers to larger tournaments. One of the things that sets PlayON apart from other DFS sites, however, is that players have the option to play in weekly, as well as daily tournaments. Those playing in weekly formats will need to add another layer of strategy, as competitors receive points based on how far they get in the overall tournament.
There are many types of games to choose from but whatever you end up playing, keep the above strategy tips in mind, stay within your bankroll and, most of all, enjoy the tennis.