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View Full Version : What level league should I sign up for?


Edward DFW
12-29-2009, 09:14 PM
In my entire life I may have not played many full matches (I was probably 15 at the time and we are talking about a handful in a recreational setting). Years and years ago I would play sets here and there all summer without much in the way of instruction but since I rediscovered the game at 31, no meaningful match play at all (just games during drills, never finished a set). I have taken group lessons starting out as an advanced beginner since February, gradually moving up to 3.0 and 3.5 lessons (only did 3.5 for one session due to my schedule). I have also been going to open drills and hitting with a ball machine here and there for several months. This is mostly due to my work / social schedule.

I think my strokes from the baseline are pretty decent (but I do need to work in more topspin off the backhand side, right now I slice almost everything when I am doing live ball drills) and my serve is solid.

My serve used to be very inconsistent but capable of a lot of pace and I sometimes I would get aces (or at least force an error on the return, does that count as an ace?) against better players and instructors. Sometimes several in a game if I was on but like I said, very inconsistent and often had to rely on a ping pong type 2nd serve (which was surprisingly effective).

Then I developed a shoulder injury. As a result I have been spinning everything in and become more consistent (with less pace) and have more ability to place the serve which has allowed me to hold serve consistently as long as I am not playing someone who is a lot better than me.

Volleys and approach shots are much better than they used to be but far from great... but at least I come into the net and can win points if I have to (against players of similar skill... sometimes).

Since I have yet to play in a league I know it is hard to gauge where my level is at. I think 3.5 would be a fair estimate. Not sure where among the ranks of 3.5 players I would fall but I am pretty confident that nothing a 3.5 could throw at me would intimidate me.

My major downfalls are my lack of match play experience, bad footwork/anticipation at times, inconsistant play/lack of focus at times and the fact that I hold back too much sometimes and play too conservatively (more so in doubles than singles, but still a problem in singles).

Playing too conservatively is probably the thing that bothers my the most.

I have think that I could hold my own at 3.5. I may or may not lose a lot of matches but I think I could at least be competitive and in every game regardless of the final score (even if I lost a lot of matches I don't see myself getting bageled). The thing that I worry about a little bit is that I may tend to play more conservatively at this level, which has me torn between 3.5 and 3.0.

I think the advantage to me playing 3.0 is that it would allow me to get more match play experience, be more relaxed and work on point construction (keeping the ball in play with having more chances to choose my spot and go for it).

I am not really in this to win matches at the 3.0 or 3.5 level (even though I do not really want to lose... who does?). I just want to work on getting better and getting comfortable playing a little more aggressively for the next levels, which is something I think I would have more of an opportunity to do at 3.0 at this point. I also think at 3.0 I would have a better opportunity to concentrate on consistent movement and hitting everything (or more things) in my strike zone.

I have not seen any 3.0 or 3.5 league matches and with the possibility of sandbaggers and people playing at a level they aren't skilled enough to be at I really don't know what to expect... which I guess is why I am asking here.

For my 1st league should I do 3.0 or 3.5? What would be more beneficial?

AlpineCadet
12-29-2009, 10:02 PM
It's pretty funny that you ask! I'm about "3.0" myself.. and lack the same footwork/shot anticipation against all those better players. (Boooooo.) I look pretty bad when I play, but it's all going to work out in the long run because I mostly play to improve, not to win by slapping/chopping. I would suggest playing 3.5 so you can have a fun time playing against a "fair estimate." Then again, you're the one who'll be playing. Good luck.

blakesq
12-30-2009, 05:09 AM
If you think you are a 3.5, and you play 3.0 matches, you will be bored. ASk the instructor of your group lessons what your rating is, he has seen you play, and would be able to give you the most accurate answer.


In my entire life I may have not played many full matches (I was probably 15 at the time and we are talking about a handful in a recreational setting). Years and years ago I would play sets here and there all summer without much in the way of instruction but since I rediscovered the game at 31, no meaningful match play at all (just games during drills, never finished a set). I have taken group lessons starting out as an advanced beginner since February, gradually moving up to 3.0 and 3.5 lessons (only did 3.5 for one session due to my schedule). I have also been going to open drills and hitting with a ball machine here and there for several months. This is mostly due to my work / social schedule.

I think my strokes from the baseline are pretty decent (but I do need to work in more topspin off the backhand side, right now I slice almost everything when I am doing live ball drills) and my serve is solid.

My serve used to be very inconsistent but capable of a lot of pace and I sometimes I would get aces (or at least force an error on the return, does that count as an ace?) against better players and instructors. Sometimes several in a game if I was on but like I said, very inconsistent and often had to rely on a ping pong type 2nd serve (which was surprisingly effective).

Then I developed a shoulder injury. As a result I have been spinning everything in and become more consistent (with less pace) and have more ability to place the serve which has allowed me to hold serve consistently as long as I am not playing someone who is a lot better than me.

Volleys and approach shots are much better than they used to be but far from great... but at least I come into the net and can win points if I have to (against players of similar skill... sometimes).

Since I have yet to play in a league I know it is hard to gauge where my level is at. I think 3.5 would be a fair estimate. Not sure where among the ranks of 3.5 players I would fall but I am pretty confident that nothing a 3.5 could throw at me would intimidate me.

My major downfalls are my lack of match play experience, bad footwork/anticipation at times, inconsistant play/lack of focus at times and the fact that I hold back too much sometimes and play too conservatively (more so in doubles than singles, but still a problem in singles).

Playing too conservatively is probably the thing that bothers my the most.

I have think that I could hold my own at 3.5. I may or may not lose a lot of matches but I think I could at least be competitive and in every game regardless of the final score (even if I lost a lot of matches I don't see myself getting bageled). The thing that I worry about a little bit is that I may tend to play more conservatively at this level, which has me torn between 3.5 and 3.0.

I think the advantage to me playing 3.0 is that it would allow me to get more match play experience, be more relaxed and work on point construction (keeping the ball in play with having more chances to choose my spot and go for it).

I am not really in this to win matches at the 3.0 or 3.5 level (even though I do not really want to lose... who does?). I just want to work on getting better and getting comfortable playing a little more aggressively for the next levels, which is something I think I would have more of an opportunity to do at 3.0 at this point. I also think at 3.0 I would have a better opportunity to concentrate on consistent movement and hitting everything (or more things) in my strike zone.

I have not seen any 3.0 or 3.5 league matches and with the possibility of sandbaggers and people playing at a level they aren't skilled enough to be at I really don't know what to expect... which I guess is why I am asking here.

For my 1st league should I do 3.0 or 3.5? What would be more beneficial?

Cindysphinx
12-30-2009, 06:28 AM
I would say you should self-rate at 3.0, but you should play 3.5. Then if you find that 3.5 is too much, you won't be stuck with a rating that is too high.

Or if you have time, play 3.0 and 3.5. Just prepared to drop the 3.0 team if you dominate in your first two matches, and tell your 3.0 captain that you will also play 3.5 and there is a DQ risk.

The reason I don't suggest 3.5 only is that match play is a beast. It is nothing like a drill class or ball machine or hitting the ball around -- the other players are using every trick in the book to exploit your deficiencies. Also, whatever you have for a first serve will abandon you due to nerves and you will probably be hitting a lot of second serves. So if you have a cupcake second serve, it could get ugly. If you have no experience in doubles, it might be good to develop an understanding of strategy at a somewhat lower level.

Opinions differ on this, but I think it would be a mistake to play at a level that is too high for you right now. You're trying to build your strokes and become consistent. If you are at too high a level and are under too much pressure, you may develop some very bad habits and wind up being a pushing, dinking, hacking mess.

If you really can't get some good opinions or information about your true level, I'd suggest starting lower and working your way up.

Good luck. I love league tennis!!!

goran_ace
12-30-2009, 06:42 AM
I would start with asking the other people in your drill groups what level they are playing next season and gauging from there. Also ask the pro what he thinks and if he knows of any teams looking to add players.

Winning points and games in drills is one thing, but doing it over and over again over the course of a match is another. With no match experience I would say you should self-rate at a 3.0. 3.5 is really crowded, so maybe just get your feet wet at 3.0 for a season and then see how it goes from there.

gordo
12-30-2009, 07:16 AM
I noticed that your handle includes DFW, are you in the Dallas area? If so, where do you play.

LafayetteHitter
12-30-2009, 07:37 AM
I would say you should self-rate at 3.0, but you should play 3.5. Then if you find that 3.5 is too much, you won't be stuck with a rating that is too high.

Or if you have time, play 3.0 and 3.5. Just prepared to drop the 3.0 team if you dominate in your first two matches, and tell your 3.0 captain that you will also play 3.5 and there is a DQ risk.

The reason I don't suggest 3.5 only is that match play is a beast. It is nothing like a drill class or ball machine or hitting the ball around -- the other players are using every trick in the book to exploit your deficiencies. Also, whatever you have for a first serve will abandon you due to nerves and you will probably be hitting a lot of second serves. So if you have a cupcake second serve, it could get ugly. If you have no experience in doubles, it might be good to develop an understanding of strategy at a somewhat lower level.

Opinions differ on this, but I think it would be a mistake to play at a level that is too high for you right now. You're trying to build your strokes and become consistent. If you are at too high a level and are under too much pressure, you may develop some very bad habits and wind up being a pushing, dinking, hacking mess.

If you really can't get some good opinions or information about your true level, I'd suggest starting lower and working your way up.

Good luck. I love league tennis!!!

Good advice, watch out for 3.5 league. There are some guys that are better than they look at 3.5 and then there are the ones that are better than 3.5 but playing 3.5 I think in almost every scenario I have seen with USTA people are better of going .5 down from whatever they think they are. You have to remember that at least 75 percent of 3.5 have been playing league non-stop for a number of years and have no problem closing out matches.

HitItHarder
12-30-2009, 07:56 AM
I would say you should self-rate at 3.0, but you should play 3.5. Then if you find that 3.5 is too much, you won't be stuck with a rating that is too high.

Or if you have time, play 3.0 and 3.5. Just prepared to drop the 3.0 team if you dominate in your first two matches, and tell your 3.0 captain that you will also play 3.5 and there is a DQ risk.

The reason I don't suggest 3.5 only is that match play is a beast. It is nothing like a drill class or ball machine or hitting the ball around -- the other players are using every trick in the book to exploit your deficiencies. Also, whatever you have for a first serve will abandon you due to nerves and you will probably be hitting a lot of second serves. So if you have a cupcake second serve, it could get ugly. If you have no experience in doubles, it might be good to develop an understanding of strategy at a somewhat lower level.

Opinions differ on this, but I think it would be a mistake to play at a level that is too high for you right now. You're trying to build your strokes and become consistent. If you are at too high a level and are under too much pressure, you may develop some very bad habits and wind up being a pushing, dinking, hacking mess.

If you really can't get some good opinions or information about your true level, I'd suggest starting lower and working your way up.

Good luck. I love league tennis!!!

+ 1 on Cindy's advice here. I think it is pretty spot on. Also, you may want to consider that there is a much better chance of you getting in match play on 3.0 team then there is on a 3.5 team, especially if it turns out that you are toward the bottom of the 3.5 level players.

Despite what a team captian may say at the beginning of the season, it is often (not always -- but often) the case that as the league season goes on you will see the better players on the team getting the most matches and the better partners. The weaker players tend to get less play and get paired sometimes as sacrificial courts.

The reason is a captain wants to keep the top players happy so they play on the team again. Ahhhhh the politics of USTA league play.

It sounds like you are doing the right things to improve your skills, and that you may benefit the most from getting match experience. Pick a team and a level where you are going to consistently get that match play.

LeeD
12-30-2009, 08:09 AM
I'd say OP would get smoked in 3.5 league in any good area. No match experience ='s losing badly to really poor players wid match experience.
Second serve and no backhand to speak of ='s easy point for even 3.0's with match experience.
And that fast first serve does nothing because during a match, it never goes in.

Cindysphinx
12-30-2009, 09:07 AM
^Remember, USTA adjusted the levels. That's the main reason I figured 3.5 play might work. Also, he's young and presumably fast and thinking of singles in the spring?

If this question had been asked 1 year ago, I would have said 3.0 with no shot at 3.5.

Nellie
12-30-2009, 10:22 AM
I would say 3.0 since you have no match experience.

Edward DFW
12-30-2009, 07:06 PM
I noticed that your handle includes DFW, are you in the Dallas area? If so, where do you play.

Fretz for lessons and drills, (and sometimes ball machine when I am too lazy to drive to Fair Oaks... not a big fan of the ones they have or the price). The lights are bad but I am getting used to them. John and Krishn are both great teachers. I play here most often, its also close to where I live, I like the instructors and the drills are the best IMO.

Fair Oaks for ball machine when I am willing to drive an extra 5 or 10 minutes each way. $60 a year for the ball machine club pays for itself if you use it a few times because you can rent for $8 an hour once you are a member. Their machine isn't high tech but you don't waste a bunch of time trying to dial in or fix the last person's messed up settings. Usually the machine is available whenever I want it and their lights are the best I have played under. Still have yet to make it to the drills.

Greenhill School for drills sometimes. So far only a few times when Fretz wasn't having a drill (its tough for me to get here after work because it is kind of far... same goes for Fair Oaks with their drills). Courts are limited (so far I have only been to drills where there are 1 or 2 courts in use) but I have had fun each time (even though I play my worst here) because its a fun atmosphere (music playing, everyone is very very nice and friendly). Tim and Walt (formerly of Fretz) do a very good job running the drills with limited courts available. Lights are better than Fretz but worse than Fair Oaks.

Edward DFW
12-30-2009, 07:21 PM
I would say you should self-rate at 3.0, but you should play 3.5. Then if you find that 3.5 is too much, you won't be stuck with a rating that is too high.

Or if you have time, play 3.0 and 3.5. Just prepared to drop the 3.0 team if you dominate in your first two matches, and tell your 3.0 captain that you will also play 3.5 and there is a DQ risk.

The reason I don't suggest 3.5 only is that match play is a beast. It is nothing like a drill class or ball machine or hitting the ball around -- the other players are using every trick in the book to exploit your deficiencies. Also, whatever you have for a first serve will abandon you due to nerves and you will probably be hitting a lot of second serves. So if you have a cupcake second serve, it could get ugly. If you have no experience in doubles, it might be good to develop an understanding of strategy at a somewhat lower level.

Opinions differ on this, but I think it would be a mistake to play at a level that is too high for you right now. You're trying to build your strokes and become consistent. If you are at too high a level and are under too much pressure, you may develop some very bad habits and wind up being a pushing, dinking, hacking mess.

If you really can't get some good opinions or information about your true level, I'd suggest starting lower and working your way up.

Good luck. I love league tennis!!!

This is the direction was leaning in. I was really tired when I posted last night and I forgot to mention that I am considering switching from a 1 handed topspin backhand to a 2 handed topspin backhand since I feel like I don't use my 1 hander enough and I think it won't stand up at higher levels as I get better (I also have shoulder problems and it bothers me on the follow through). I am thinking it might be better to play at 3.0 for now and experiment with my game

I don't know how the whole team thing works, so far the leagues that I have looked into you just show up and play matches at a particular location. The only thing that keeps me from playing at both levels is scheduling. With work (and non-tennis fun) it would be hard for me to be able to show up every single time and I think it would be pretty ****** to not show for a league when someone is looking forward to playing a match (got I hope that doesn't happen to me!).

My schedule has been unpredictable which is really the main reason why I have stuck to drills, group lessons and hitting with the machine. All of those things can be missed without screwing someone else over and if thinks work out and I am available at the last minute they are there when I need them.

Edward DFW
12-30-2009, 07:24 PM
+ 1 on Cindy's advice here. I think it is pretty spot on. Also, you may want to consider that there is a much better chance of you getting in match play on 3.0 team then there is on a 3.5 team, especially if it turns out that you are toward the bottom of the 3.5 level players.

Despite what a team captian may say at the beginning of the season, it is often (not always -- but often) the case that as the league season goes on you will see the better players on the team getting the most matches and the better partners. The weaker players tend to get less play and get paired sometimes as sacrificial courts.

The reason is a captain wants to keep the top players happy so they play on the team again. Ahhhhh the politics of USTA league play.

It sounds like you are doing the right things to improve your skills, and that you may benefit the most from getting match experience. Pick a team and a level where you are going to consistently get that match play.

As far as I know the leagues that I have looked at do not involve teams or USTA (or any other organization).

Renfrow
12-30-2009, 07:32 PM
Fretz for lessons and drills, (and sometimes ball machine when I am too lazy to drive to Fair Oaks... not a big fan of the ones they have or the price). The lights are bad but I am getting used to them. John and Krishn are both great teachers. I play here most often, its also close to where I live, I like the instructors and the drills are the best IMO.

Fair Oaks for ball machine when I am willing to drive an extra 5 or 10 minutes each way. $60 a year for the ball machine club pays for itself if you use it a few times because you can rent for $8 an hour once you are a member. Their machine isn't high tech but you don't waste a bunch of time trying to dial in or fix the last person's messed up settings. Usually the machine is available whenever I want it and their lights are the best I have played under. Still have yet to make it to the drills.

Greenhill School for drills sometimes. So far only a few times when Fretz wasn't having a drill (its tough for me to get here after work because it is kind of far... same goes for Fair Oaks with their drills). Courts are limited (so far I have only been to drills where there are 1 or 2 courts in use) but I have had fun each time (even though I play my worst here) because its a fun atmosphere (music playing, everyone is very very nice and friendly). Tim and Walt (formerly of Fretz) do a very good job running the drills with limited courts available. Lights are better than Fretz but worse than Fair Oaks.

At Fretz you should surely play the 3.5 level. The 3.0s there are usually pretty close to beginners which would be no fun for you or for them.

Edward DFW
12-30-2009, 08:18 PM
At Fretz you should surely play the 3.5 level. The 3.0s there are usually pretty close to beginners which would be no fun for you or for them.

Do you play there? If so, what level?

Tennisman912
12-30-2009, 08:36 PM
I would suggest 3.0. Match experience is very important and the lack of it will be a serious liability against anyone with any league experience. As Cindy suggested, their was a lot of level movement this year but I am sure plenty of 3.5s who were good at that level were not bumped up so you will be competing against those who have played 3.5 for years and know how to do maximum damage in spite of their apparent weaknesses. You will be quite surprised by how good experienced players with many weaknesses may be.

Work on your strokes and then let the computer move you as it sees fit.

Good luck

TM

Cindysphinx
12-31-2009, 07:17 AM
This is the direction was leaning in. I was really tired when I posted last night and I forgot to mention that I am considering switching from a 1 handed topspin backhand to a 2 handed topspin backhand since I feel like I don't use my 1 hander enough and I think it won't stand up at higher levels as I get better (I also have shoulder problems and it bothers me on the follow through). I am thinking it might be better to play at 3.0 for now and experiment with my game

I don't know how the whole team thing works, so far the leagues that I have looked into you just show up and play matches at a particular location. The only thing that keeps me from playing at both levels is scheduling. With work (and non-tennis fun) it would be hard for me to be able to show up every single time and I think it would be pretty ****** to not show for a league when someone is looking forward to playing a match (got I hope that doesn't happen to me!).

My schedule has been unpredictable which is really the main reason why I have stuck to drills, group lessons and hitting with the machine. All of those things can be missed without screwing someone else over and if thinks work out and I am available at the last minute they are there when I need them.

I'll defer to the poster who knows your league/facility. But it seems to me that if you have no match experience *and* are thinking of changing your BH, you probably are still a beginner.

If someone told me I had to play 3.5 ladies with no match experience and I had to start hitting a 1HBH when I am used to hitting 2HBH, I would have trouble winning a game. And if doubles, my partner would divorce me after the match.

Geezer Guy
12-31-2009, 12:23 PM
I'd say start at 3.0, get some experience, get a taste for winning (and get USED to winning), get some confidence and then get bumped up. There are some good, experienced, cagy players in the 3.5 level, and that's a rough place to start.

I started league play at 3.5, went 0-14 the first season (and that was one long grueling season), and played some tournaments where I got bounced the first round each time. Got bumped down to 3.0 where I was finally competitive, then got bumped back to 3.5 when I was ready. Tennis is much more than just pretty strokes and pure athleticism. It's about figuring out a way to beat the opponent across the net that day, and then having the nerves to pull it off. That takes lots of match experience.

brad1730
12-31-2009, 12:36 PM
When I started league play, I played a friendly set with the captain of the team. It was a good way for him to see how well I played, and for me to see if I could hang with the rest of the team.

It was a bit of an eye-opener. They were a lot more competitive, than I was used to playing around the club. They were obviously desperate for players, and asked me to join their team. Even though I didn't fare as well as I would have liked, it was a blast.

I would suggest that you find a 3.0 and a 3.5 team, and play with a few of the members. There is a lot of variation between teams. Our club was middle of the road (competitive wise) and I had a lot of fun. It really depends on the team environment. I wouldn't want to join a hyper-competitive 3.5 team, but I really wouldn't want to join a highly-social, low competitive 3.0 team.

Good luck - it's great!

Renfrow
12-31-2009, 01:12 PM
Do you play there? If so, what level?

I have played in both the 3.0, 3.5 and 4.0 leagues there. I would say that the leagues there are typically shifted by 1/2 of a USTA level (i.e. Fretz 3.0 league is mostly 2.5 players, 3.5 league is 3.0-3.5 players, etc.).

Edward DFW
01-04-2010, 06:59 PM
While I think I can compete at 3.5 I thought I should really consider 3.0 since it will be my first league and I do still want to experiment (I would be less inclined to do that in 3.5) and possibly switch to a 2hbh.

Working on getting better rather than just trying to win. I'm in this for the long run. One of the things I love about tennis is that you can play for a long long time and that is what I intend to do.

When I mentioned 3.0 to some people they kind of gave me weird looks so I kind of questioned if it would be the right thing to do (since people always talk about sandbaggers). You guys have made me feel better about it.

I will play at least one 3.0 league this session. Maybe also a 3.5 but definately one 3.0 league (and maybe somewhere other than Fretz).

Thanks for all the feedback!