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Edward DFW
01-21-2010, 08:08 PM
I lost 6-2. 6-1.

The 3.0 league was merged with another league since very few people signed up for this session. So.... of the players that I was able to look up, all are 3.5 and 1 is a 4.0 who finished 2nd in his 4.0 league.

The guy I played tonight had signed up for the 3.5 league and while he was clearly the more experienced and better player it should have been closer.

I won the first 2 games and I was playing well, to my surprise because I was pretty nervous. Still, I was focused and moving well.

After that, I just mentally checked out. I dropped the next 6 games in a row to lose the set. I wasn't moving well, I hit a lot of unforced errors and had no focus. For example, my opponent was having a very hard time getting his first serve in. Probably lower than 20%, maybe even lower than 10%. His 2nd serves were blooped over the net to ensure they went in. No pace, but it worked and they did. I don't think he double faulted more than twice the whole match.

BUT... for some reason, I was zoning out and I didn't move in for his second serve most of the time. Which had me running to hit a shot that was very defensive and easy to return. There were a few times that it may have had a little to do with the amount of time between first and 2nd serve (he was aiming wide for his first serve every time and sometimes that meant the ball went on to the next court and had to be recovered). Still, my fault for forgetting that it wasn't his first serve.

Another thing I was guilty of was deciding what kind of shot I was going to hit before his serve was tossed. I kept going for the topspin 1 handed backhand over and over even though it wasn't working. DUMB! That's a shot that only works for me when the ball is up at chest height or in my strike zone... I can't explain why I did this but it was like a scene from Tin Cup where Kevin Costner just keeps trying to hit the ball over the lake without laying up even thought it keeps failing.

Even when I did move in my shots weren't very aggressive. For the most part he was keeping the ball in play so I guess I decided to follow suit. He did hit some nice shots too, not trying to take anything away from him but for the most part he let me beat myself. My ground strokes were just... very weak.

Another huge problem was that I was not reacting to the ball coming off his racquet. I did well with this in the 1st two games but after that. I don't know what was up with me (not that this behavior is that abnormal). I was watching him drop shot me and not reacting and my movement was slow and lazy.

On a positive note I did serve well, which is something that I have really struggled with the last 2 or 3 times I played (my god it was horrible), But to his credit he got a good number of my serves back and since I was not putting balls away that was enough to break my serve.

Ultimately, there were a lot of things that I could have and should have done better. I flat out lost a few games just by being mentally missing in action. Would that have changed the outcome? Probably not. He was a better player.

Anyway, this reinforces what I already knew. I need to move better. Have more concentration. Get ready after every shot and find a happy medium between too tight and too aggressive. With all the errors I hit tonight I would have lost nothing by playing more aggressive.

To sum up: it was a good experience, I had a good time and I learned a lot. I think I played better than what the score indicates but there were a bunch of games where I was just not in it. Next time will be better (even though my next opponent is the 4.0 dude who came in 2nd in his 4.0 league. I will play better.

Edward DFW
01-21-2010, 08:34 PM
Another positive was that I returned serve pretty well when he was getting his 1st serve in (which was a bomb out wide, not easy to handle).

Another thing to note is that I had a winset watch to keep score but maybe because I was tired (haven't slept much this week, my upstairs neighbor got a new dog and she wakes up at 4am to play with it before work... ugh!). I kept hitting the wrong button so it was messing things up. I think my opponent might have thought I was trying to screw him out of a game or two when things got a little off track due to the slow play and the watch being difficult to use (very sensitive, sometimes registers 2 points at once and no way to clear it without clearing every game and starting all the way over).

Sooooo.... Anyone have any advice for how I should handle this 4.0 next week? I'm thinking I have to play more aggressive because with his results and my unforced errors (even if my footwork and anticipation / focus improves) I don't see me winning by keeping the ball in play.

DBH
01-22-2010, 06:23 AM
If you are a 3.0 and you are playing a 4.0, then don't even worry about winning the match -- that's not going to happen, realistically. Your goal should be to win as many games as you can, and to not give up until the end. That way, if you're down 6-1, 4-0, you still have something to play for.

In terms of tactics, try to figure out early what your opponent's weakness is (forehand? backhand? volley? 2nd serve?), and make him use it often. Hit to his weak side when you can. Hit short if he's weak at net. Creep in and be moderately aggressive returning 2nd serves if that's his weakness.

Also, don't give up on points. Try to run down everything. You won't outhit this opponent, but you can steal some points by making him hit an extra ball or two.

Good luck!

Cindysphinx
01-22-2010, 07:40 AM
Congratulations! Seriously, I mean it.

It sounds like you learned a lot about your game in just one match. That means you are a much quicker study than most people, myself included. I remember my singles losses going just as your describe -- a reasonable start followed by inexplicable lapses in judgment.

All I could suggest for the next match is this: Don't worry about anything other than getting to every single ball quickly and in good balance. So that's splitstep, move quickly, hit, recover immediately (no admiring your shot, ever), move feet until it's time to split again.

That ought to be enough to keep you busy! :)

Seriously, please update this thread with your results. We're pulling for you!

PushyPushster
01-22-2010, 08:09 AM
Sooooo.... Anyone have any advice for how I should handle this 4.0 next week?

Barring a miracle, you won't win. Don't feel any pressure, though, because you're not supposed to. Treat it as an excercise in mental toughness and don't give up even if the score is 0-6, 0-5.

One more suggestion - go buy the book "Winning Ugly" by Brad Gilbert. It's a very practical guide to improving your win percentage at the club level and it gives you great ideas about what you should be thinking when you're playing an opponent. Well worth the money.

Good luck!

Renfrow
01-22-2010, 11:17 AM
I have a pretty good idea who your opponent is. When I played out there there was a guy who played 3 or 4 leagues a week out there. If it's the guy I think it is I can give you the secret to beating him. For the sake of anynonimity are his initials J.L.?

Edward DFW
01-22-2010, 12:10 PM
I have a pretty good idea who your opponent is. When I played out there there was a guy who played 3 or 4 leagues a week out there. If it's the guy I think it is I can give you the secret to beating him. For the sake of anynonimity are his initials J.L.?

JC, I only saw him in the standings for 1 4.0 league

Edward DFW
01-22-2010, 08:25 PM
If you are a 3.0 and you are playing a 4.0, then don't even worry about winning the match -- that's not going to happen, realistically. Your goal should be to win as many games as you can, and to not give up until the end. That way, if you're down 6-1, 4-0, you still have something to play for.

In terms of tactics, try to figure out early what your opponent's weakness is (forehand? backhand? volley? 2nd serve?), and make him use it often. Hit to his weak side when you can. Hit short if he's weak at net. Creep in and be moderately aggressive returning 2nd serves if that's his weakness.

Also, don't give up on points. Try to run down everything. You won't outhit this opponent, but you can steal some points by making him hit an extra ball or two.

Good luck!

I'm a 0.0 right now. I have 1 real match for my whole career. I made a ton of mistakes and I still won 25% of the games (which is 5% over getting bumped down, which doesn't apply in this league since it was merged).

Still, after thinking about things I'm not going to worry about tactics or winning in my next match. I'm going to concentrate on my movement, being alert and focused and being aggressive unless I am out of position.

Looking back on my first match I had so many sitters that I just returned with nothing on them that I get kind of sick. I think I just need to accept the fact that I am going to hit errors. Keeping the ball in play and hitting a weak shot might have been something to consider if this league was all 3.0 players but from the looks of things its 3.5 and above. Plus that isn't the way I want to play. I have played abbreviated sets in lessons where I won every game by being conservative (not counting my serves) and I didn't enjoy it at all.

I remember telling my friend at work that if I got down a few games I was just going to start going for everything. My big regret is that I didn't go down swinging. There is really no honor in prolonging a rally by a few shots only to lose the point due to an error because you are playing too tight.

This next match... I'm going to make it a point to take it to this guy. If I'm not serving well I might hold back in that area but everything else I'm going aggressive unless I'm in a position where I have to hit a defensive shot. I may not win a game but that is ok with me. I'm going to be pretty ****ed off at myself if I don't see this through.

I may not be a very good player but at the worst I should be capable of hitting challenging shots when given the opportunity.

Edward DFW
01-22-2010, 08:34 PM
Congratulations! Seriously, I mean it.

It sounds like you learned a lot about your game in just one match. That means you are a much quicker study than most people, myself included. I remember my singles losses going just as your describe -- a reasonable start followed by inexplicable lapses in judgment.

All I could suggest for the next match is this: Don't worry about anything other than getting to every single ball quickly and in good balance. So that's splitstep, move quickly, hit, recover immediately (no admiring your shot, ever), move feet until it's time to split again.

That ought to be enough to keep you busy! :)

Seriously, please update this thread with your results. We're pulling for you!

Thanks! I appreciate your comments and advice. I did learn a lot. I wish I knew a way to stay loose after a busy day at work when I am being pulled in a million different directions and I come home exhausted. That would probably be better than any time I spend at drills or in any other kind of practice.

Anyway, tonight I went to a drill and played well. Better than I have in a long time. I was loose and relaxed. My movement was pretty decent and I hit a lot of good shots (but I double faulted a bunch even though I served great in warm ups). Didn't matter, I was having fun and I laughed it off.

I think I lost the whole point of playing tennis somewhere over the last few months. There were a few scarce moments of enjoyment and lots of agony. I had fun in my first match, even though I played like crap and I had a really good time tonight even though my partner and I got schooled in doubles by the instructor and another person at the drill.

Hopefully I can stay relaxed and put up a better showing this week against mr. 4.0 guy. At worst I hope to go down swinging.

Thanks for the support. It means a lot.

Edward DFW
01-22-2010, 08:42 PM
Barring a miracle, you won't win. Don't feel any pressure, though, because you're not supposed to. Treat it as an excercise in mental toughness and don't give up even if the score is 0-6, 0-5.

One more suggestion - go buy the book "Winning Ugly" by Brad Gilbert. It's a very practical guide to improving your win percentage at the club level and it gives you great ideas about what you should be thinking when you're playing an opponent. Well worth the money.

Good luck!

I'm not going to worry about winning. Not against this opponent or next week when I play a guy who has won every 3.5 league I have seen stats for. For a moment I was kind of shocked that he hasn't been bumped up but then again this league has my opponent for next week who is a legit 4.0 with a 2nd place result in league play so I guess all bets are off. In any case, the pressure should be off, so that is good!

Anyway, after thinking about things my consistency is still a problem but the answer isn't bunting the ball back over just to keep the point going. If I work on my footwork and keeping my head in the game I should be more consistent while hitting the ball harder and more aggressively. I don't think I do much worse when I play more aggressive. I'm capable of hitting better shots and the consistency should come if I have the balls to keep hitting them and improving my movement.

P.S.

One thing this guy did in the 3rd game that kind of took me out of my game was hitting behind me over and over again when I was doing a good job of trying to recover to the center after every shot (that is pretty much the best I can do at this point with my limited experience).