A big breakthrough (4.0 vs 4.5)!

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by jdubbs, Jan 5, 2011.

  1. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    I'm 6 months in to my comeback..I'm a 4.0 with a goal of improving to 4.5.

    Well, I put it all together yesterday, playing a very solid 4.5 who has beaten me handidly the last 5 times we've played.

    We split sets (I had a set point in the first, and won the 2nd) and were halfway through the 3rd when our court time ran out, but more importantly, I played fantastic, hitting winners, playing defensive when needed, but staying aggressive. My opponent was amazed at my improvement.

    The breakthrough? Fitness and footwork. I worked hard on building stamina by playing pickup basketball of all things. I was gasping for air and cramping playing basketball because its such an intense workout, but I started getting my wind after playing a few times. Playing yesterday, it all paid off...my only strategy was to get to every ball and run, run run. And my stamina was there like it never had been before.

    My fitness also helped me improve my footwork to get to shots earlier and hit them better. I was hitting shots on the run i never hit before.

    He would hit his severe angles, and I would get to them. He'd try drop shots, I would reach them. Lobs and I would run back and get them. I no longer admired my shots but assumed they would be coming back hard and at an angle.

    If I could have nailed more first serves and cut down on the double faults (through in about 10) I would have won going away. Have I reached 4.5 level? No, but I feel a lot more confident, and fitness was the key to hit the shots I'm capable of. A great feeling.
     
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  2. danno123

    danno123 Rookie

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    Congrats. That's some solid improvement. I took 29 years off and I'll be 6 months into my comeback on 1/29. I'm hoping to be a solid 4.0 by then.
     
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  3. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    Groovy!!!

    Gotta love it when the hard work pays off and you honestly flirt with that "next level" for more than just a few minutes.

    Sounds to me like the two improvements you're most aware of are your mental persistence and your preparation/movement. Setting up earlier on more balls will give you command over more of your shots more often. Keep after that habit and you'll be able to routinely play up closer to your potential.

    Believing is believing! When you decide to get after every ball and not quit until the point is actually over, that can honestly demoralize some opponents right out of a match. That frame of mind can also keep you playing a stronger, steadier game when you're up and want to keep pressing your lead, but also when you're down and want to reel the other guy in.

    If nothing else, that match should give you a strong reference to help you in the future - you now have a better grasp of the quality of game that you can sustain.
     
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  4. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    I could benefit a lot from improved fitness as well. I need to start running again.
     
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  5. esgee48

    esgee48 Hall of Fame

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    Good for you. Instead of basketball (I'm too short), I try to maintain fitness by running sprints and jogging on a track. 50 yard all out sprint, 100 yard jog, 50 yard sprint, etc. Do 1-2 miles of this and you can maintain fitness fairly easily. Just hate to do it in the rain.
     
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  6. Totai

    Totai Professional

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    Yous gots to be fits to plays tennis, yous donts plays tennis to be fits
     
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  7. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    That's odd. I feel like there's just as much running in tennis as there is in basketball.
     
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  8. Totai

    Totai Professional

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    a 5v5 all court basketball game has much more running than tennis. Constant back and forth for 45 minutes
     
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  9. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Less rest between bursts though.
     
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  10. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Basketball has allways been my idea of the best workout.
    I actually like 3 on 3 halfcourt, because it's all acceleration and quickness, without that long up and down the court run.
    Alas, physical prowess to improve my game has left me a while ago, what with sprained ankle, pinging knee, sore hips, so maybe bigger hitting is my next goal.
    But YEA, great you are still improving, and you can now start to hit bigger with your new stamina and footwork!!!
     
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  11. luishcorreia

    luishcorreia Professional

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    Physical fitness can have a great impact on your game. I dropped 10 kg (22 pounds) and started running (got the Nike+ device for ipod - now I am a running addict) 2 years ago and my game improved a lot
     
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  12. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    Well, I'd been playing a lot of doubles, which really is a poor workout, and hitting the treadmill, but don't push myself that hard. Also tried jumprope.

    The thing is with basketball, that you have to run, or your teammates will be all over you. And it's competitive and I want to win, so I ended up running. 10 minutes in my first game I had to stop I was breathing so hard and cramped. But once I got my wind, the carry-over to tennis was amazing.

    I've been working hard on my game, especially developing a consistent backhand, more topspin on my FH, a consistent 2nd serve, and following the Rafa strategy of "hit the ball as hard as you can...and then try to figure out how to keep it in" against superior opponents.

    I was making progress on those fronts, but it took fitness and stamina to be able to get to balls early or on time and put the shots where I wanted them instead of reaching for a weaker shot.

    Up tomorrow, a solid 4.0 who has beaten me 3 times since my comeback after a decade off, though we haven't played in about a month or so. He loves to drop shot me and hit sharply angled backhands that are hard to get, but isn't near the player yesterday's opponent was.
    It'll be interesting to see how I do, I could choke in the face of a light-hitting, crafty opponent. I'm just going to continue to hit my shots hard and place them carefully and run run run...let's see what happens. It's not about winning or losing, it's about progression...though let's face it, I hate to lose :)
     
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  13. Ajtat411

    Ajtat411 Semi-Pro

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    Only problem with playing basketball as a fitness routine is that you can potentially get hurt or banged up playing basketball.

    I don't know about you, but when I play basketball I usually go for rebounds and post up so there will bound to be some knee to knee bumps and people stepping on your foot or you landing on someone's foot. If you're more of a spot up and shoot player than that's no big deal.

    Good job though on recognizing fitness and footwork go hand and hand and playing your game.
     
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  14. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    I'm with you on getting hurt playing ball, so I'm going to limit myself to 1-2 times a week, and mostly just run the floor, not bang down low or try to be a rebounding machine. Limit my jumping too. But yeah, you're right, you can get hurt so have to be careful.
     
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  15. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    It's just pick up games. It's not like he's going up for a slam dunk and getting hacked by Dwight Howard.
     
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  16. Ajtat411

    Ajtat411 Semi-Pro

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    Yeah, it depends on how hard you play, but I'm just competitive so I tend to get hurt in sports like basketball.
    Basketball is not tennis, it's harder to dodge a guy driving into your chest on purpose. :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2011
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  17. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Actually, it is...
    Not that the guy I'm guarding is going for a 360 lefty slam, but you gotta cut off the showboaters, the leapers, the "tough guys", and pester the shooters, or you give them confidence and they just hand it to you. Basketball 3 on 3 is just as serious as 5 on 5 high school and junior college, but lots more screwy stuff and some long lean players also.
    It's a question of pride. Much more so than tennis. In tennis, the victor can often go to the practiced and experienced. In Bball, it's a given EVERYONE gets the practice and experience, and you're testing your manhood out there, if you choose to step onto the court. All that trash talk, all the posing, all the behind the back and stepback blocking stuff, you gotta step up and force them to take you seriously.
    Gotta admit, I was quite the failure in KezarStadium's 3 on 3 league, but I got to guard some future NBA players, and quite a few college players who didn't make the pros.
     
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  18. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    Wooow, you played with pro tennis players, 5.5s beg you to serve your 105 mph serves to them, AND you've played basketball with guys who went on to be in the NBA. Kinda strange that high level players like that would want to play 3 on 3, though.
     
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  19. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Are you kidding me?
    At least a quarter of NBA's D squad pros play in KezarStadium's 3 on 3 league nowadays. Most teams, there's at least TWO current college players, and they never get near quarters.
    The team I subbed in, the center was an all star from RiordanHigh, at 6'9". The PF was LoyolaMaramounts starting PF, one of the guards was playing 2 guard at CCSF, and we didn't go anywhere.
    We played a team that had KevinJohnson AS A BACKUP. Kevin of the PhoenexSuns.
    Do some research on SanFrancisco's KezarStadium league. Probably at least 50 players who made the NBA played in those games.
     
    #19
  20. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    Basketball is the best workout to improve for tennis - it gets you in shape, creates explosive movement, and makes your footwork quick. I played far more basketball than tennis growing up and was always extremely fast around the court UNTIL I tore my ACL taking a charge - and the opponent just went right through my knee. So there is a good and bad to it. It was worth it for the 25 years I did play basketball.
     
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  21. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    I've never heard of it. I did a google search, but nothing comes up.
     
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  22. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Well, if YOU never heard of it, it must certainly not exist.
    JoshChildress, formerly of Stanford and the AtlantaHawks played backup.
    The lesser Brooks bro, of Stanford played there.
    In my day, KeithWilkes of the Lakers played there while he was in college.
    The usual finalists, BayPride or OaklandCity, usually get FOUR current college players from different teams together. That means ONE of them is only a backup.
    Maybe you're not impressed, but those guys can play some hoops.
     
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  23. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    I never said it didn't exist, touchy! I just couldn't picture top basketball players wanting to play 3 on 3. Doesn't make much sense. Just send me a link.
     
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  24. cdubdub

    cdubdub Rookie

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    i agree with leed on this one guys. basketball players dont get to practice all the time but we have a few basketball courts at the park right up from my house and we always play 4 on 4 up there. literally every day it is packed and everyday there are the 6 foot 6 college players there that can shoot from anywhere or drive and leave you with broken ankles. they like it up there, its more competitive, more physical, and players dont call fouls for freaking reach in or pushing.
    i know leed may like to boast, but i believe him.
     
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  25. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Yeah, I like to boast that I got tooled repeatedly by some guy my size, could jam both hands, could drive by me clean, and could still hit the 20'ers.
    But I agree, basketball at that level is a hard contact sport, lots of pushing, leaning, elbows and hips. Not too much tripping, as that can come back thos.
     
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  26. tennytive

    tennytive Semi-Pro

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    Basketball is the reason I didn't play tennis for over a decade. Chicago inner city pick up games at public parks were always going on. Everyone else could dribble, run, and jump like crazy, all I could do was shoot.

    When you launch a game winning 3 just over the outstretched hand of your defender and hear nothing but net, it feels as good as any tennis shot you can hit for a winner. No one at the level LeeD mentions, but tough in your face games and lots of trash talking. Now I'm too little, too weak, too slow, too bad. Hence, tennis.

    But to get back to jdubbs point, I agree that hoops is the most fun way to build endurance. Tennis is a vacation compared to basketball. Way less stress on my knees too.

    So how'd you do against that 4.0??
     
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  27. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Heck after I turned 40, I was getting tooled by high school kids I used to block out, push around, jump over, and deny....
    Quickness is the first to go. Anticipation needs constant work. Hops is gone.
    Ain't the level you play at, you can always find some hoopster to send you home.
     
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  28. maxplymac

    maxplymac Banned

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    Yeah...you are quite the authority eh?:rolleyes:
     
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  29. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    Well, we play tonight. Didn't work out at all yesterday, was too tired from the last 3 days of tennis, basketball, tennis. Slept a nice 8 hours, and ready for my match tonight.

    He doesn't hit that hard, so going to focus on not getting into a pushing match, not worry about shots that go out, and really try to move him around. He's like Fabrice Santoro out there.

    He has this chopping backhand that goes in at crazy angles and usually short, but hard to get to. I'm usually out of position for them, hit them easy back to him and he passes me at the net. Hopefully my fitness will allow me to get to these earlier and put them away. Going to try to run down everything.

    For some reason, i'm more nervous playing someone I "should" beat vs someone better where I figure I have no chance, and I just play loose.
    It will all come down to unforced errors and double faults. I've got to try to minimize those to really have any chance at winning. Hitting back to someone with little pace is harder than it sounds.
     
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  30. danno123

    danno123 Rookie

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    If you don't mind taking advice over the internet, here's something to try once or twice. Try hitting a topspin moonball deep to his backhand and rush the net. Guys with slice backhands usually can't handle a high ball well and he's unlikely to pass you. [For guys who hit topspin with an extreme grip, my strategy is the exact opposite - hit them a short slice and then pass them when they pop up a weak approach shot].
     
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  31. jhick

    jhick Semi-Pro

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    From personal experience, I find it's pretty easy to jump for a rebound, land on someone's foot and next thing you know you have an ankle sprain to deal with.
     
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  32. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Well, anything of this nature is dangerous to a point. But you've still got to live life, and the OP has found something that is getting him in fantastic shape. So the risks are worth it.
     
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  33. maxplymac

    maxplymac Banned

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    ...and that's when I put my fist through your face.:)
     
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  34. athiker

    athiker Hall of Fame

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    Yeah I think fitness is underrated..at least in rec tennis. I've been playing the same guy once a week for about 5 weeks now. I'm a 3.5 and he's a 4.0...same pattern repeats pretty much each week. I win first set and he wins the next 2. I wondered whether it was just him warming up or just fitness. It may be both but I think fitness can be a subtle hindrance. I'm reasonably fit but not as fit as during the summer.

    I love basketball but at my age it can be tough to find games and on top of that it can be just as hard on the body as tennis (I play tennis on hardcourts.) so not a good option for me anymore. I was biking which was good but with the cooler weather I've gotten away from that and am feeling it. The effect isn't so much on hustle and being blatantly out of breath but making that extra half step adjustment to keep from getting jammed, that extra half step back on the overhead so you are not reaching back too far, that extra concentration on a volley, general form deterioration you might barely notice, etc. I think it even affects thinking on the court...easy to get lazy mentally when tired.

    I gotta find some low impact activity for the winter months or buy some air tight biking gear. Its not even the cold so much really as much as its dark in the morning and dark early in the evening...not prime for biking. Maybe a rowing machine?...not a fan of stationary biking. I have dabbled in soccer...running and cutting like basketball but on a softer surface.
     
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  35. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    Any kind of interval training is good. The question is how hard you can push yourself; I find that I don't push myself nearly hard enough without something compelling (like my man about to score on me in b-ball or losing a point in tennis). Just running on a treadmill or jumping rope, eh, I feel like when I get tired or bored, I just stop and take it easy. Definitely wasn't getting me into peak shape.

    I too have to watch my knees, hips, I'm not as young as I once was, so definitely have to limit things and listen to my body carefully. Playing b-ball indoors, where the surface is a lot softer, definitely helps a lot.

    Being in peak fitness just gives me so much more confidence on the court, knowing i can grind out points if needed, and have the energy to achieve my footwork goals and hit the ball balanced and steady vs reaching and hoping.
     
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  36. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    :):)
    Ha ha, on the "eye candy" thread, there's this guy who claims we don't wear out our knees and hips at all, that we are young foreever.....
    Of course, he doesn't say how long he's been playing sports on concrete in his life, and history shows him completely wrong, but full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes.
    I've been running around on cement courts in playgrounds since 1st grade, I have to watch my courttime on cement, and I have to ice and stretch after playing hard on cement.
     
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  37. shindemac

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    Not a big fan of biking indoors either. But it gets dark too early. Boredom is the fastest way to kill an exercise routine.
     
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  38. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    I played my 4.0 nemesis last night -he's beaten me 4 times in a row. I got out to a quick 3-1 lead before he stormed back to take a 5-3 lead. But I came back and won the first set 7-5. After 1 game in the second, I slipped on some court condensation and did a pretty good split...I tried to continue but I had to stop after slipping hard again. Feels like a hip flexor.

    The good: I won a set for the first time off of him. I really pounced on his weak second serve, and tried to stay away from the type of pushing rallies he loves. I tried to put a lot of pace on my shots, run him as much as possible, and hit a lot more winners than before.
    And of course, I ran as much as possible and put solid shots together on the run. My serve was pretty consistent other than one game.

    The bad: After jumping out to that quick lead, he ran off 4 games in a row. One game in particular i double faulted 3 times in a row...not sure what happened there. He has a very tricky game where he'll push at times but then surprise with hard cross-court shots when you're not expecting it. And that continental, underspin backhand at wicked angles is tough.

    I was ready for his short shots and sometimes hit winners or set up for the next shot to be a winner, but there were times when I was still reaching, putting up a weak shot instead of a strong one. And he still liked to bring me in short, get me to the net, and then lob me.

    So I still have some work to do, but pretty happy with the result! Hoping my hip will heal quick and I won't fall behind on my fitness, it was hard work to get in the kind of shape I'm in now so don't want to lose it.
     
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  39. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    Well, big match this morning, playing a guy who handed me a thrashing the first time we played, 6-3, 6-2.

    He hits with very nice form, a lot of topspin, gets everything back consistent, nice serve, but not a ton of power. In other words, a good 4.0.

    I told myself NOT to get in a pushing match with him. My game plan was to really crush the ball, keep it deep, and move HIM around, not vice versa.

    This strategy worked well right off the bat. Any short balls he hit I crushed into corners. If he tried a drop shot, I was ready, since nowadays I run run run. I was hitting with power and authority. My serve was great and consistent, only 1 double fault.

    I got off to a 5-1 start before I got tight, but prevailed 6-4, and won the 2nd set 6-3!

    I have to give the board here and the Tennis Channel a lot of credit too, I've been watching a ton of tennis on TV and on youtube, and watching how the pros move the ball around, come in on short balls and hit the ball hard, but in control. Trying to emulate them.

    I'm really feeling solid about my progress. I'm beating the best 4.0's my club has to offer, so I'm interested in seeing how I do in USTA league and tournament play. Staying in shape is going to be the key. B-ball on my off days and keep playing tennis as much as I can!
     
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