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View Full Version : losing to 3.5'ers


sapp1qaz
05-12-2007, 08:34 AM
When I play most other 3.5 players I have a lot of problems and lose. I try to hit with pace on groundstrokes and serve to their BH, all I get is a short slice return that I have to run up for. I usually cannot do enough with that ball and they inevitably catch me in no man's land and hit it past.

If I try to just play more consistent and get into more rallies, I hit the ball too slow and tense up. Any advice would be appreciated.

Weird thing is that I can get more games off of better players 4.0 range, although I often end up losing there too.

thanks

Bottle Rocket
05-12-2007, 08:56 AM
It would seem you're just not quite at your opponents level yet.

The difference is the ability to deal with short balls, which apparently you can get from your opponents.

This is something that seperates players at all levels, even the best in the world. There are two distinct groups, those who can attack a short ball properly, and those who can't. Those who can are at a huge advantage. Having an effective enough game to earn yourself short dinked slices is a pretty good start though!

If you're effectively serving to your opponents backhands and getting weak replies, you're doing a great job. If you're hitting hard penetrating groundstrokes, moving your opponent around, and also getting short replies, you're doing fine. If you're consistantly getting short replies, you're doing well.

Now you have to deal with them. This is where the improvement in your game must come.

If you know a hard shot to your opponents backhand gives a short floating slice, you've got to attack. This is the most perfect ball you could ask for to come up and volley. The question is, can you volley? Serve and volley is a great tactic against someone with a weak backhand, or if you've got a great serve.

If you're not comfortable taking the first ball out of the air, you've got to take your opponents short ball and hit an approach shot which you can then follow into the net. Hitting a hard shot to your opponents weaker wing is effective, but a flat and skidding slice down the line can be even more effective (sometimes even to their stronger side). Follow the path of the ball into the net and wait for a weak reply, then angle the volley for an easy winner. If you're getting caught in no-mans-land, it is obvious to me you're not comfortable enough at net. You've got to close in on the net and be the aggressor, you've got to hit your volleys moving foreward. Don't hang around the service line waiting to get passed. With time your net anticipation will improve, but right now, it seems like you should concentrate some time on your volleys.

The third option is to simply put the ball away with your forehand. If you can hit your forehand with pace, that's great. It isn't the most important thing though. You've got to be able to move your shot around. You must be able to hit down the line, crosscourt, and inside-out. You've got to get up to these balls quickly (anticipate the weak reply, you know it's coming!), get your feet set (VERY important), and then put the ball away with a variety of forehands.

There are other options... If your opponents stand to hang deep in the court because of your forehand, a drop-shot is a nice option. If your opponent gives you a very short ball, hit back an even shorter one. Make them run up to the net. Are the 3.5's you're playing strong net players? If not, bring them in. Then hit your strong forehand right at them. Give them the same trouble you're hvaing.

Something I want to add - don't think having pace on your forehand is going to win you matches (I'm not saying you think that way!). You've got to be able to move it around. If you can effectively move your shot around side to side as well as front to back in your opponents court, you're a thousand times better off than someone who can only hit a hard shot down the middle. A hard and sharp-angled inside-out forehand can be an incredibly effective shot. Ok, back to your question;

The bottom line is that as you will improve, you will get better at dealing with these shots. At the level you're at (probably the level most of the members here are at), finishing a point you've already earned can be the hardest thing to do. It takes anticipation, quick thinking, good footwork, and use of all your variety and options. Get used to some of the above tactics and practice them, you'll get there!

sapp1qaz
05-12-2007, 09:20 AM
Bottle Rocket - very much appreciated, and excellent advice! I will definitely work on my volleys more and attack the short balls instead of just dinking them back and retreating. I can hit well on the FH and BH as long as I remember to play aggressive, when I start getting down mentally I try playing slow ball and fall apart....working on direction and moving them around even more I think will help with that - as you mentioned. Thanks again!

dave333
05-12-2007, 10:11 AM
So they hit you a short ball? Well I would suggest that you learn how to hit a nice, low chip, forehand and backhand, and just chip it to their backhand, It'll be safe and effective as you go up to net. Then just finish the point at net.

Its important, particularly at this level, to have great volleys so you can finish points at net more easily as you'll get a lot of oppurtunities.

Of course, since it is short, you can do more than that. Drop shots, heavy topspin angle shots, etc.

ps60
05-12-2007, 10:24 AM
u wanna beat someone, u need to be better than he/she is. Simple and straight forward. Don't use all these level figure to fool yrself.

Bottle Rocket
05-12-2007, 10:45 AM
I am glad people are continuing to read the previous posts before they reply... :rolleyes:

sapp1qaz
05-12-2007, 11:40 AM
u wanna beat someone, u need to be better than he/she is. Simple and straight forward. Don't use all these level figure to fool yrself.


Got it, although I don't think I am really fooled by the level thing. I just noticed different types of play at 3.5 and 4.0 and pointed it out. So in a round robin style of play, if I lose to someone and still win the tournament, I guess I just gotta be better.

sapp1qaz
05-12-2007, 11:41 AM
So they hit you a short ball? Well I would suggest that you learn how to hit a nice, low chip, forehand and backhand, and just chip it to their backhand, It'll be safe and effective as you go up to net. Then just finish the point at net.

Its important, particularly at this level, to have great volleys so you can finish points at net more easily as you'll get a lot of oppurtunities.

Of course, since it is short, you can do more than that. Drop shots, heavy topspin angle shots, etc.

Good feedback. Thanks!

sapp1qaz
05-12-2007, 12:21 PM
I am glad people are continuing to read the previous posts before they reply... :rolleyes:

LOL... true :)

ssjkyle31
05-12-2007, 02:55 PM
You might want to look at some video on by http://youtube.com/watch?v=s4rncyHZ4k4. It could be your positioning and anticipation. Another reason is you are not playing with a game plan. So what if they are a 3.5, 4.0, 4.5 or 5.0. Just play your game. Feeding short ball to an opponent is a game plan. I get tired from chasing short balls if I don't anticipate them.

sapp1qaz
05-12-2007, 06:06 PM
You might want to look at some video on by http://youtube.com/watch?v=s4rncyHZ4k4. It could be your positioning and anticipation. Another reason is you are not playing with a game plan. So what if they are a 3.5, 4.0, 4.5 or 5.0. Just play your game. Feeding short ball to an opponent is a game plan. I get tired from chasing short balls if I don't anticipate them.

You are correct that I didn't (and still don't really) have a game plan. I think aniticipating a block backhanded shot and using the tactics that Bottle Rocket mentioned will help. I appreciate your comments.

thanks

SFtennisGG
05-12-2007, 07:47 PM
Good advice from posters. I would work on anticipation which ultimately leads to foot work. With proper foot work you should be able to set up a good stroke instead of a weak return that leaves your opp. with options. At the 3.5 level a good approach shot leaves your opp. with a weak return right to you at net or an unforced error trying to hit a winner. Of course as others have pointed out you will have to have a good volley game to finish off the point.