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Cindysphinx
06-02-2009, 04:35 AM
Yesterday I played some "social tennis." A teammate invited me to play with two friends of hers. I was told we would be playing at a "private tennis court," and my friend didn't know the level of these two other ladies.

We get there, and I learn what "private tennis court" means. It means one lady has a spectacular home, with a lovely pool and a private tennis court in the back yard. Amazing landscaping, beautiful everything. Dang.

We take the court, and the two ladies say they are a bit rusty, which seems to be true. I would say one is a good 3.5 and the other maybe a bit lower 3.5.

We warm up and start playing. Now, my friend had signaled to me that we shouldn't be crazy-competitive and aggressive, so I tried to keep it low key. I was crazy-generous on line calls just to keep the point going, and we called balls out very gently ("Oh, that was a little bit wide.") I took particular care not to hit at the net player and not to bean anyone. I tried to keep my grunting to a bare minimum.

And I noticed something. I played like crap.

For instance, I was at net, and one of them threw up a short lob. Normally, I would try to crush such a ball, and I wouldn't much care where the ball went, so long as I hit it hard. My main concern would be keeping the ball in front of me and making good contact. As I went to hit it, I remembered my pledge not to hurt anyone and took note of where both of them were standing. Which caused me to whiff the shot completely! I went on to miss every other overhead that came my way, usually into the net.

Things weren't any better at the net. Instead of just hitting a quality volley at the feet of the opponents, I felt pressure to find some open court. I didn't feel comfortable just slamming the ball. I felt nervous about poaching, lest I accidentally plug the net player. I wasn't stepping into volleys, wasn't charging the net. I missed so many volleys, and the ones I did make had nothing on them.

I wonder what this means. Should holding back some mess up your whole game like that? Maybe holding back is why teaching pros so often botch easy shots in clinics and lessons.

Afterward, the hostess said she'd like to add me to the list of women who play each week. Which means I must have handled things appropriately. Whew!

On the way home, I was thinking that playing with these ladies will be good for my tennis. Perhaps it would teach me to find the empty court rather than just slamming the ball indiscriminately.

Oh, and the hostess is selling this lovely home. Too bad we have three kids to put through college . . . .

120mphBodyServe
06-02-2009, 04:41 AM
Don't go back there.. Why would u want to?
A woman crushing the ball is a lot hotter than trying to play this lame polite brand of "social tennis"...

ezylman
06-02-2009, 07:06 AM
Play your game to the best of your ability and apologize if you hit one of them. You don't do yourself any good by playing below your ability. If you hack them off, you at least know that they couldn't handle playing with you and you are not out anything. One of the things I have learned through the years is to be kind and courteous at all times, but true to yourself at the same time.

goober
06-02-2009, 08:09 AM
Play your normal game. If they don't like it, they won't invite you back. If you want to get to know these ladies socially and hobnob with them- well you have to play "their game".

spiderman123
06-02-2009, 08:58 AM
We warm up and start playing. Now, my friend had signaled to me that we shouldn't be crazy-competitive and aggressive, so I tried to keep it low key. I was crazy-generous on line calls just to keep the point going, and we called balls out very gently ("Oh, that was a little bit wide.") I took particular care not to hit at the net player and not to bean anyone. I tried to keep my grunting to a bare minimum.


You grunt?? Why? That is the single most irritating thing for me when i watch pro tennis. I always find myself supporting the non-grunter.

sureshs
06-02-2009, 09:07 AM
If you play at a private residence, you owe it to give your hostess an evenly balanced game. Just knocking her out flat is not polite.

ezylman
06-02-2009, 09:15 AM
If you play at a private residence, you owe it to give your hostess an evenly balanced game. Just knocking her out flat is not polite.

I disagree on this one. Just because somebody is wealthy enough to have a private court doesn't mean you have to coddle them. Overheads and close shots are a part of the game. As long as you are friendly, cordial, and apologize for any accidents, she should have no issue. If she does, it just goes to show her character.

sureshs
06-02-2009, 09:22 AM
I disagree on this one. Just because somebody is wealthy enough to have a private court doesn't mean you have to coddle them. Overheads and close shots are a part of the game. As long as you are friendly, cordial, and apologize for any accidents, she should have no issue. If she does, it just goes to show her character.

Depends on whether you want to continue to be invited. I don't like to play doubles but I humor those who ask me because sometimes I cannot find people to play singles with. A little give and take is needed.

Grover Sparkman
06-02-2009, 09:48 AM
I disagree on this one. Just because somebody is wealthy enough to have a private court doesn't mean you have to coddle them. Overheads and close shots are a part of the game. As long as you are friendly, cordial, and apologize for any accidents, she should have no issue. If she does, it just goes to show her character.

I think it depends on how competitive the hostess is. I don't say this to slight women, but generally speaking, women are more social and less competitive with tennis than men.

Were I the male host I'd have been at the net and hitting at opponents feet all day, but women, especially wealthy women high on the pecking order of society, are probably much more polite.

Power Player
06-02-2009, 10:11 AM
I don't understand this. You can easily play your normal game by just focusing on your follow through each swing. I mean were you sending moonballs or something? I am probably younger then a lot of you guys and played with some older folks yesterday. I definitley dialed my swings down, but I looked at it as a positive because I just focused on consistency ,contact and follow thru.

I still played very well and ended up winning most of the mini games..etc that we did.

What you should do is stop thinking so much. That seems to be your problem because I see you post a lot about little things that probably don't matter in the long run. Just don't think about a damn thing except the ball and your follow through. In fact, I remember you made a thread where you said you miss easy sitters. So did I. But things have changed lately. I finish them off more. I just focus on the ball and really don't think that much. I relax basically. This is how you have to play tennis to be halfway decent in the long run. So really, playing socially, or aggressively, you will still have the same relaxed mindset. A lot of this just comes from practice, but you seem to play every day, so that should not be an issue.

Nellie
06-02-2009, 10:28 AM
I got two speeds - (1) all out or (2) sucky. I think that when I try to be "nice," I shorten/slow my strokes and end up missing a lot due to bad timing.

I think that the next time I play in a friendly match, I am going to play all out, but use conservative shot selection - may be hit toward the other players instead of going for winners.

OrangePower
06-02-2009, 10:52 AM
Now, my friend had signaled to me that we shouldn't be crazy-competitive and aggressive, so I tried to keep it low key. And I noticed something. I played like crap. I wonder what this means. Should holding back some mess up your whole game like that?

Maybe.

Or maybe it's just that at our level, some days we play well, some days, not so well. Such is life.

Cindysphinx
06-02-2009, 10:59 AM
You grunt?? Why? That is the single most irritating thing for me when i watch pro tennis. I always find myself supporting the non-grunter.

Yes, I grunt. I have no immediate plans to stop. Sorry 'bout that. No one has ever complained, probably because I mostly do it on volleys.

OK I lied. I'm not sorry. Not really. I started out grunting when I learned to volley. I had bad habits to break, and I needed to learn to punch the ball. I hit better volleys when I actually said the word "Punch" when I hit a volley.

Now I have changed "Punch" to "Ah-High!" The "Ah" is the shoulder turn, and the "High" is the step in.

I will say that you feel awfully stupid when you line up a volley and say "Ah-High!" and dump it into the net, however. :)

Keruchina
06-02-2009, 11:00 AM
I don't say this to slight women, but generally speaking, women are more social and less competitive with tennis than men.



This statement is absolutely sexist and ridiculous.

Cindysphinx
06-02-2009, 11:01 AM
If you play at a private residence, you owe it to give your hostess an evenly balanced game. Just knocking her out flat is not polite.

I kind of felt this way also. I figured if she started head hunting, then I could also. Ya gotta remember that a lot of people don't play league. There are people in the world who just bat the ball around for fun. To them, the "Take no prisoners" aggression that you see in league play would be a turn-off.

Grover Sparkman
06-02-2009, 11:48 AM
This statement is absolutely sexist and ridiculous.

No, it isn't.

It's not to say that won't can't be competitive or aren't competitive, but every time I've ever played with women they've been more social than the men, especially when they're not in a league match. Men will go at each other even in friendly settings, where as women tend to be more polite (it's a positive trait).

Obviously this isn't the case in league matches - those are every bit as competitive. But generally speaking, you get four women together just to play doubles, it's going to be a lot friendlier and more sociable court than a court with 4 men playing doubles.

TNT34
06-02-2009, 04:29 PM
If you're a strong player you should be able to dial down your swing and place the ball wherever you want, at whatever speed you want. If you can't do that, perhaps this is an opportunity to work on those things. In my experience, people who can only play "all out" aren't really as good as they think they are. Part of being a good player is being able to play under control whatever the speed of the ball or the skill of the other players.

With all due respect, if you can't place an overhead, and merely know how to hit it hard, it sounds like you have some work to do. If you enjoy the company, why not use the time to practice things that you don't practice in more competitive situations.

Most respectfully,

T.

cak
06-02-2009, 04:45 PM
I occasionally play at a private residence. I too, will refrain from head hunting the hostess. When I first played with her it was to be nice. Now she's gotten better, I believe she's a 4.0 now and plays up pretty well. If you hit it toward her, even as hard as you can at her feet, you risk losing the point. So these years of hitting away from her worked in my stead, and now I have a chance of winning those points.

If your goal is to play at her house, you play the game she enjoys. If your goal is to play better, play your game, and see if she invites you back.

Cindysphinx
06-02-2009, 04:46 PM
If you're a strong player you should be able to dial down your swing and place the ball wherever you want, at whatever speed you want. If you can't do that, perhaps this is an opportunity to work on those things. In my experience, people who can only play "all out" aren't really as good as they think they are. Part of being a good player is being able to play under control whatever the speed of the ball or the skill of the other players.

With all due respect, if you can't place an overhead, and merely know how to hit it hard, it sounds like you have some work to do. If you enjoy the company, why not use the time to practice things that you don't practice in more competitive situations.

Most respectfully,

T.

That's my plan. I agree that the experience exposed some holes in my own tennis skills. That was kind of the point of the thread! After all, I wrote this: On the way home, I was thinking that playing with these ladies will be good for my tennis. Perhaps it would teach me to find the empty court rather than just slamming the ball indiscriminately.

Just to underscore what you said . . . I know two women who are computer-rated at 3.0. Both have refused to play 3.0. The reason given is that the pace is so slow that they can't hit the way they like, that the lack of pace causes them to play badly.

Nah. They just don't have good technique. The lack of pace exposes that flaw.

Me, I'm gonna learn to put the ball exactly where I want it, regardless of the circumstances. I think that would be a good skill to have.

Cindysphinx
06-02-2009, 04:49 PM
But generally speaking, you get four women together just to play doubles, it's going to be a lot friendlier and more sociable court than a court with 4 men playing doubles.

Nope. It depends entirely on the four women involved.

I had a recent social match where we couldn't stop cracking jokes and laughing. Most fun I've had on a tennis court in a long time. I've also had matches that were Dead Serious from start to finish.

I will add that in my experience the socializing goes way, way down on indoor courts that cost actual money compared with public courts where playing is free.

Ucantplay2much
06-02-2009, 05:00 PM
When I want to "ease back" like that, I work on form and try to completely avoid unforced errors. Practice hitting the ball TO them can make good target practice. I also work my "second serves" on both 1st and 2nd. I find this helps me a good bit and I get a LOT more out of this than I would scorching ace after ace.

Grover Sparkman
06-02-2009, 05:01 PM
Nope. It depends entirely on the four women involved.

I had a recent social match where we couldn't stop cracking jokes and laughing. Most fun I've had on a tennis court in a long time. I've also had matches that were Dead Serious from start to finish.

I will add that in my experience the socializing goes way, way down on indoor courts that cost actual money compared with public courts where playing is free.

Well yes, but playing on indoor courts is usually in a league or practice setting, at least in my experience. I'm not saying women don't get competitive, just that men don't play social tennis as much.

max
06-03-2009, 07:52 AM
If you play at a private residence, you owe it to give your hostess an evenly balanced game. Just knocking her out flat is not polite.

I disagree with this. The owner may well be thinking "heck, I just put in a court, and here I'm winning everything, all of a sudden! Why's this? Why can't I get a good game?"

Cindy, you've learned a valuable lesson. This is why many people just don't do social tennis. You've reached a point where it just doesn't work for you.

nytennisaddict
06-03-2009, 08:04 AM
The problem with "taking it easy" by turning your game a notch is that usually it translates to a "don't try as hard" attitude that ultimately affects your foot work, and movement to the ball (eg. normally you'd aggressively track that short lob for a smash, but now that you're in "take it easy" mode, you probably just waited for the ball to come to you).

Instead, rather than think "take it easy", think - "actively play my shots into their strengths". You can extend this thinking to "actively play my weaker shots into their strengths".

Taking the short lob example, if you don't want to smash it for an easy winner, challenge your foot work to reposition yourself for volley that you can control (eg. and punch back to the baseline person) (vs. trying to slow down your overhead to hit it back gently - which you probably *never* practice). The main thing is that you still have to aggressively move to get into a position to control the ball, even if you're just hitting it back easy.

You can do other things to take it easy: shorten your backswing to reduce the pace of your shot (but still swing fast on the follow through), play dink tennis in doubles, etc...


my $0.02

Keruchina
06-03-2009, 10:55 AM
Obviously this isn't the case in league matches - those are every bit as competitive. But generally speaking, you get four women together just to play doubles, it's going to be a lot friendlier and more sociable court than a court with 4 men playing doubles.

I should have dialed my comment down a notch. The original statement seemed like an over-generalization and often seemingly pleasant or benign generalizations can actually be destructive, including the "women are nicer, more social and more nurturing one." (End grad student rant!)

I would argue that I have seen much wider differences in competitiveness between different groups of women or men than between men and women in general. Competitive people tend to play with other competitive people.

Usually, I think it evolves naturally. I know that I seek out playing with other people who like to play competitive but polite social matches. Over time you figure out if they match your tone enough to play with them regularly.

tennisee
06-03-2009, 03:26 PM
I think it's a good skill to develop - to be able to play well, and play a style that you're happy with under different circumstances, and as you say, it would be good for your game to increase your range.

I have similar challenges playing social - usually with older guys who don't move so well but who are very skilled. i.e. no point in blasting wide serves past them that they can't get to, no point in drop shotting - it's a foregone conclusion. But put the ball near them and leave any open court and it's good night nurse. So the challenge becomes how to play a satisfying style that is not patronising, but which is a pleasure for both you, them and your partner.

I think it is a challenge worth taking, but I guess it comes down to priorities. If I could do this AND comp, and social singles with friends etc I'd take them all, but if it bcomes an OR then I have no problem letting it go. Again with skills - it won't hurt your comp as you say, but if it's the social hit OR the private lesson I know what I'd take.