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The World Tour is dictated by a calendar that’s split into weekly chunks – whatever you choose to do, it takes a minimum of a week. There aren’t tournaments every week of the year though, so you need to spend that time training. Training in Virtua Tennis is far more entertaining than the kind of gruelling physical programmes that real athletes have to endure, that’s for sure. In the Virtua world, training consists of playing various mini-games that improve specific areas of your game. Knock down skittles on the other side of the court to improve your serve, lob balls onto a target painted onto the court floor to improve your volleying, avoid giant tennis balls as they tumble towards you to improve your footwork – the list goes on…
The great thing about the training in VT3 is that it’s not just some dull means to an end to improve your technique and get you through the next tournament, the training mini-games are almost all great fun to play in themselves. Whereas other titles include mini-games as an aside to the main event, in Virtua Tennis 3 the mini-games are integral to the primary gameplay, which somehow makes them all the more enjoyable. Obviously you can play the mini-games separately without having to embark on the World Tour, which just gives VT3 another string to its bow.
You need to plan your diary carefully and make sure that you don’t burn yourself out. If you train too hard and enter too many tournaments without taking a rest you can end up injured. There are three ways to regain your stamina. A three week holiday will leave you completely refreshed and rejuvenated, but it also means that you miss a lot of training and potentially a tournament or two. A week resting at home will recharge your batteries, but still interrupt your busy schedule, while an energy drink will bump your stamina up to top, but can result in you pushing your body too hard. I can testify to the latter where I opted for an energy drink instead of resting just so I wouldn’t miss an important tournament – I won the tournament but ended up dislocating my shoulder and being out of action for eight weeks!
As you start to win matches and tournaments, you’ll also receive new equipment. Some of it is purely aesthetic, but some equipment, most notably your racquet, has a direct effect on your performance. You can nip home at any time from the map screen and change your outfit – you can also switch between your array of racquets, since some are better for power, others are better for control etc. If you’re serious about climbing the rankings you’ll probably try to match your equipment to the type of surface you’re playing on, although how much real difference that will make to your game is debatable.