being the weak link in doubles league

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by IA-SteveB, Jun 14, 2012.

  1. IA-SteveB

    IA-SteveB Professional

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    I play in a men's doubles league where you are placed on courts with three others and you play a set with each. The person with the most wins moves up a court the next week ... standard stuff. Anyway, I am a low 3.5 player and I had to play with three subs last week that were strong 4.5 players. Obviously, I was the weakest link. They played all played a 4.5 game and I just got trounced. I really was down on myself because the whole time it was in my mind that they were all thinking "great, I have to play with THIS guy now." They all seemed nice enough, but it's hard to not think they are looking down. It made the whole match entirely unenjoyable since I felt like I was a Toyota Prius drag racing with Ford Mustang GTs. It just sucks because I tended to get down on myself more because I was ruining good rallies with my weaker play. I was so glad when the night came to an end!

    Just curious if others get down more with unforced errors when you are playing with better people or tend to get more self conscious about your game? That's something I need to work through for sure.
     
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  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    NO 3.5 can be comfortable or confident playing with 4.5's. In fact, few 3.5's can even hang with 3 solid 4.0's.
    You just got in over your head. At least enjoy the fact you got to see what advanced tennis looks like.
     
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  3. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    Just the opposite in my case. When I play with better players I tend to elevate my game but when I play with weaker players I tned to let them pull me down to their level.
     
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  4. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I doubt anyone can enjoy playing with guys a full level above them, unless they already had the experience to at least KNOW what to do. Don't think a 3.5 KNOWS what to do, where to go, and when to go..
     
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  5. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    You'd have to treat it like mixed doubles. And in practice that is pretty tough for the male ego to accept for most guys.
     
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  6. IA-SteveB

    IA-SteveB Professional

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    You are right about not knowing positioning. I didn't play doubles at all until this year. When someone asks you if you use hand signals and your response is "what?" you are out of your league. I know the league director was probably struggling to get subs to have full courts, but sheesh.

    There are no singles leagues around, so I am stuck with this if I want regular tennis. :(
     
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  7. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Only way to understand positioning is to play lots of doubles.
    Both players move as one, right and left, forwards and backwards.
    Lob if you can't return away from the netperson, but lob DEEP and high.
    Play your serves to the weak returning side, usually the backhand. No matter if it's more consistent than their big hitting side, you don't want to lose the point from the getgo.
    Always volley low and up the middle, between the two players, service line deep unless you get a winner.
     
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  8. Nostradamus

    Nostradamus G.O.A.T.

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    Decent 4.0 can hang with 3 guys that are 4.5 players. especially so, if he plays solid serve and volley.
     
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  9. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    OP, I feel your pain. We have all been the weakest link (totally sucks) or been in the awkward situation where someone is clearly the weakest link (totally sucks).

    One of my teammates said the most insightful thing about this to me recently. I asked her how her doubles match went, and she basically said her partner was overmatched so it was hopeless.

    What she said about the experience was pretty cool, though. She said, "Now I know how my partners all these years have felt about me. If they could be nice about it with me, I figured I could be nice about it with her."

    So, OP. When the day comes when you are partnered with someone who can't do a thing right, remember your post today. :)
     
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  10. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    Ha, that was the first thing that came to my mind also! A 3.5 male playing with a 4.5 male is pretty much equivalent to a 9.0 mixed team.
     
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  11. esgee48

    esgee48 Hall of Fame

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    3.5 + 4.5 = 8.0? A 9.0 MxD team will destroy an 8.0 MD team 95% of the time IMO.
     
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  12. GameSetMatchWin

    GameSetMatchWin New User

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    I definitely get more self conscious about my game playing with people that are better than me. The amount of unforced errors I make depends on how much I focus on the ball when I'm nervous.
    One time at a charity pro tournament, I got called up to play a point against Agassi, and there was no doubt there who was the better player. I'd never even played in a stadium before and throwing me out there in front of a huge crowd nearly gave me a heart attack. But at the same time, being more self conscious helps me focus on playing points one at a time, and in the case with agassi, i ended up hitting a winner on him!!! :)
    Playing with better people is all part of the learning process. You did well sticking in there!
     
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  13. zcarzach

    zcarzach Professional

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    I have the same problem. I got beat this weekend playing a weaker player. Quite embarassing. He dragged me down to 3.5 and then beat me with experience :) Plus I always play like crap outside in windy 90 degree weather.
     
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  14. dcdoorknob

    dcdoorknob Hall of Fame

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    If I'm just playing I half level up, even if they are strong for their level, I can often (but not always) elevate my game to become fairly competitive, even if I'm not going to win very often. But I do at times find a certain form of clarity that comes from knowing that I need to come up with my highest quality shots consistently if I want to keep up.

    In your case of playing a full level up (a 3.5 playing with 3 4.5s), I'm not sure there's much that can be done. You can try your best but it's going to be lopsided, the gap in tennis ability is just too big.
     
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  15. JMcQ

    JMcQ Rookie

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    There are things you can do, as a 3.5 player playing with 4.5 players (or for that matter anyone playing doubles with players much better than them). First, you want to put your partner in positions where he can win the point at net. This means getting first serves in (so he can poach), hitting returns crosscourt that dip at your opponent's feet (so he can poach), etc.

    Second, and more importantly, you have to avoid the tendency every player has when playing with/against players better than them - trying to do too much. You are not going to impress them by hitting 1 out of 10 forehand returns down the line, even if that 1 winner was the best forehand you've ever hit. Attack the middle. Give your team a chance to win the point. Similarly, you are unlikely to ace a 4.5; and when you miss your 1st serve by 100 ft, the 4.5 will make you pay if your second serve is weak.

    Finally, and consistent with above, swallow your ego. Don't get mad and swear when you make mistakes so other players will think you're "better" than the way you're playing. No one expects you to be 4.5. Instead, keep your head in the match, listen to your partner, and hustle your a s s off. Trust me, your partner will appreciate your effort and will also be more willing to play with you in the future.
     
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  16. dcdoorknob

    dcdoorknob Hall of Fame

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    I mean I'm a 3.5 and have had the opportunity to play with some college age ~4.5 level guys recently. When we're 'just hitting,' I can keep up somewhat and at least rally with them (with less consistency or pace than they have, but at least it's a rally).

    But on the occasions we've played sets, I try my best but it's just hard to keep up. I'd love to hit dipping crosscourt returns off of 4.5 level serves at will, but it doesn't happen very often. My first serve isn't bad for a 3.5, but it seldom seems to trouble these guys either. My best shots only rarely give them serious trouble (especially given that they don't often give me something that's easy to attack), meanwhile their rally-ball has more pace and spin on it than I'm used to seeing.

    So yeah, if the gap is that big, just try your best on each shot. Keep hustling. Try not to get frustrated, and take your beating with dignity.
     
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  17. jc4.0

    jc4.0 Professional

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    In our leagues, we don't allow players to "sub down" below their level. Sometimes captains sneak in a "ringer" or two, but officially it's not cool.

    I don't think you should be down on yourself though, just play as well as you can, no excuses. Didn't they know you were a lower-rated player? Were they critical of you? If so, they shouldn't be - they weren't born 4.5's.

    Sometimes you'll find that when playing with better people, your game is lifted as well - so benefit from the learning experience.
     
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  18. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    All good advice. When I am the one playing up, I tend to go for too much. This never works out.

    Sometimes I am the stronger player, and I have learned something from when one of my opponents is weaker. At first, all I do is rally. If they are weaker, they will miss first. Then I know I don't have to take chances.

    I think I will keep this in mind next time I am the weaker player. It is important to not start missing. If I let my opponent know I will cough up points on rally balls, he will settle in and coast to a win.
     
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  19. goober

    goober Legend

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    haha- I like this line. I know quite a few people like this. Some of these guys I have known for years. They have missed the same type of shots over and over, yet they blow up and curse and yell at themselves like they are surprised that they made such an error.
     
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  20. CaldwellYSR

    CaldwellYSR Rookie

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    I play recreationally with some people around town. Mostly doubles because there are only 2 courts and about 4-12 people show up so we have a rotation on the two courts. Anyways I'm easily one of the worst players out there (also easily the newest as besides me the newest one has been playing 3 years). When I'm out there with them I tend to "play up" and do better than I did back home when I played people closer to my level. I mean I make alot of UE's and mistakes but I laugh them off and they don't matter as much because I'm kind of expecting them when I play those guys.

    My mental game gets thrown when I'm playing people I know I can and should beat... and yet I can't seem to get the ball over the net and in :/
     
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  21. IA-SteveB

    IA-SteveB Professional

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    Thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread. I took a lot away from reading.

    Yesterday's league play went MUCH better. We were all 3.5 players and the scores were 6-6 / 4-6 / 7-6 after a 10-8 tie breaker. That session renewed my confidence for sure.
     
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  22. msweigert08

    msweigert08 Rookie

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    I play in a winter league that has 3.5 players and 4.0 players (and a 4.5 woman). I am a 3.5 and although i rarely win against 4.0 players, its never a blow out. I enjoy playing players better than me and always play better myself.
     
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  23. michael_1265

    michael_1265 Professional

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    The best advice I can give is accept the fact that you are not going to win and play the most fundamentally sound tennis that you can. I am a 3.5, and I have played in a 4.0/4.5 group several times. I just concentrate on hitting good returns and shots that allow us to stay in the point, paving the way for my higher-level partner to play shots that could win the point. Serving, I have found that spotting my serves, as opposed to pounding them, is a superior tactic. A 4.5 can handle any pace that I can dish out, but I have rarely gotten burned when I serve to the middle (and swing it out wide occasionally to keep them honest). Don't spend all day avoiding the net man, because that is too predictable. Go at him once in a while. Keep your shots low, and mix it up. You will get beaten, likely, but if you play smart, you have no reason to feel badly about it.
     
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  24. TeflonTom

    TeflonTom Banned

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    to get decent quick? work on ur serve n return, nothing else. if u can get them in decent, u give ur ptnr a chance to get involved. if u are constantly erroring out or setting up ur opponent to pick off ur serve then ur on a hiding to nothing. decent serve + decent return = much better chance of winning pts.

    then work on s&v. cant hang with these guys from back of court. get to net and help ur partner dominate.

    dbles teams where the weak player can serve, return n attack net above ave for their level are the ones who win
     
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