Combo league frustration

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Playtennis, Sep 19, 2012.

  1. Playtennis

    Playtennis New User

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    So i played 7.5 combo today. Im a 4.0 and my partner was a 3.5. We played against two 3.5s and got double bagled. I was demoralized. I have to be honest i played fair- not terrible but ive played much better- but my partner could not hit a single volley. She hated to volley and was not good. I was essentially playing canadian doubles all night becue i was at net- she wS back and they picked on her. I feel like there is such a disparity in skill aet between doubles at 3.5 v 4.0 level it makes combo not fun! Anyone have similar experiences? Thank goodness doesnt affect rating! Thanks.
     
  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Well, a good doubles team can beat two top level singles players playing together every time.
    Same with your team. You have one person who doesn't want to play doubles.
     
  3. Mike Y

    Mike Y Rookie

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    Welcome to Combo, lol.

    If you are the higher rated player, you have to play aggressively, you can't just let the ball go to your partner. Why are they so easily passing you at the net? You have to get to that cross court shot. If they are lobbing you, you have to back up and take the ball out of the air. But yeah, it is frustrating.
     
  4. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    More often than not, two decent lower level players PLAYING TOGETHER, can beat a much higher rated player coupled with a peer of the lower level players. Matchups, compatibility, communication, and common tactics that allow a TEAM to work like clockwork, while a disjointed team (yours), is still finding the middle ground.
     
  5. aurelius

    aurelius New User

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    Doesn't sound like much of a disparity in skill set between 3.5 and 4.0 if you were just beat by two 3.5s....unless you mean in the opposite direction? :-?

    Perhaps, you're not quite as strong a 4.0 as you previously thought (of course, bring out the excuses...my crappy 3.5 partner, I wasn't feeling well, etc.). You played against two 3.5s with a 3.5 partner and you couldn't pull it out. Even if those mean 3.5s picked on your 3.5, you should have been able to pick on either one of the opponents.
     
  6. Playtennis

    Playtennis New User

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    Agree- we were not a team. The other team played together often and we never have. I was covering most of the volleys but couldnt volley for 2 people. And when they couldnt get through me they lobbed- she stayed back and too many UE. Just hated it. Was frustrating and not sure its worth the time, money and effort. Dissapointing but i guess if im gonna play i either need a better partner or be much more aggressive.
     
  7. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Another partner is the quick cure, but maybe your partner can be convinced she can learn to volley, and actually take net position without crawling backwards.
    Can she volley? Does she need glasses? Is it fear of getting hit or fear of losing the point with a weak volley. It might be up to you to find the solution.
     
  8. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

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    Ah yes...the incompetant tennis partner. I know this well.

    Once, I was paired with a grandmother. The other team totally sucked, but I had the grandmother. Eventually, I told her to cover the allies. I'd play expanded singles (I was 24 and can still run like mad.) On my serves, I went into ace mode. ...my own service game was the only game we'd win. We went down 2-6, 3-6 or something like that.
     
  9. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

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    You have to play back if you want a fighting chance. You cover more court, and when you get a chance, take a ball that was "hers" and you attack them and put them in defense.

    You'll still probably lose, but not 0-6, 0-6.
     
  10. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I played with a granny just two years ago. Her kids were 25 and 27, both hulking ex football players.
    She shut down and dominated the one 5.0 on the court, easily beating everyone in individual points. Of course, she was an ex No.1 for UCBerkeley and went on to play a couple years on the pro tour.
    All that with a 70 mph serve and mostly chipped groundstrokes....and the best lobs you've ever seen...
     
  11. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    This!! That was a hard lesson for me to learn but since getting it through my thick head that when I'm the higher rated combo player it is primarily my responsibility to finish points, my results have been much better.
     
  12. jaybear1909

    jaybear1909 Rookie

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    Yep, had this same experience in an Alta match. Right before the match she told me she hated the net, and right away I was thinking 'this isn't going to be good'. It wasn't. I wasn't used to that strategy and it took me out of my comfort zone by a fair margin.

    We didn't lose quite as bad (sorry :p) but we did lose in straights. That formation is just too easy to pick on the weaker player. At least had she stood at net she would have been an obstacle and I would have been able to force some points.

    Lesson learned.
     
  13. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    It's not uncommon for a 4.0 + 3.5 to lose to a pair of 3.5s.

    But a 0 & 0 beat down? That's rare even when all 4 players at level.

    My guess is either the 3.5 is actually a 3.0, or the 4.0 is actually a 3.5, or both.
     
  14. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    In doubles, mixed especially, you never want someone to be below the minimum standard for their personal level or the combo level. Even at 3.0, its quite hard for "the good player" to carry someone who is "below average".

    A good 3.0 team can easily exploit the weaker player, which is usually the girl. It's hilarious when you see the guy practically force the girl out of the point by trying to take up 80% of the court. This gets exponentially worse the higher level you play, because accuracy, consistency/power are more repeatable and any vulnerability is easily exploited.

    The way our 7.0 line is setup is I play with a 4.0 girl who is very steady. She's great at the net puts away frequently and hardly makes any errors. This is my idea of the ideal woman for mixed. She plays net, she puts away, she doesnt make too many errors. I've played with other 3.5-4.5 women who dont play like that and it makes a huge difference especially in mixed.

    A 4.5 womans baseline game is great for 4.5 women, but in mixed, its hard to compare to even (some top tier) 3.5 guys. A woman is much more valuable at net in mixed than on the baseline and its not realistic to think that a guy can simply "cover" for her and force her off the court. I think its hilarious when a guy thinks hes just going to take over 80% of the court and the poor girl is standing in the corner.
     
  15. gmatheis

    gmatheis Hall of Fame

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    Actually this seems rather uncommon to me unless the team of 3.5s are both better players than the 3.5 teamed with the 4.0. Think about it if all the 3.5s are roughly equal the game should be fairly close except when the 4.0 gets involved in points at which point the 4.0's team should come out ahead.

    Now a 4.5 and a 3.0 losing to a team of 3.5's would not surprise me as you simply avoid the 4.5 all day and pick on the 3.0
     
  16. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    IMO there can be a huge variation in skill level within each particular rating level. I think sometimes we talk about each person at a particular rating level as having roughly the same skill levels and that's just not the case.

    I think doubles and singles are very very different games. In dubs, strategy can beat skill, and players can use strategy and positioning to hide weaknesses. That doesn't work at singles.

    But the bottom line is that if you can't volley, you can't play doubles (unless you have superhuman groundies).
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2012
  17. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    Just going by my personal experience with my combo teams (I captain 8.5 and 9.5). Sometimes at practices we don't have matching numbers at both levels and end up with two 4.0s vs 4.0+4.5, or two 4.5s vs 4.5+5.0 in practice sets. And usually these are still competitive, with the lower rated pair sometimes (not often, but sometimes) winning.

    It comes down to matchups, chemistry, and who can hold their serve, although obviously the pair with the higher rated player have an edge in ability.
     
  18. JoelDali

    JoelDali G.O.A.T.

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    Mixed doubles is destroying the game. It must be eradicated. Just. Stop. Now.
     
  19. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I think Stan and Rog have beaten the Bryans if I am not mistaken.
     
  20. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    So you are 24 and call a grandmother incompetent? What about partnering with people your age?
     
  21. gmatheis

    gmatheis Hall of Fame

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    I believe this is womens combo, not mixed.
     
  22. goober

    goober Legend

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    If you play on a team, the captain sets the lineups.

    I have won playing with a grandma that was around 60. We beat a couple that was around 30ish. My grandma could volley though:) No mobility, weak groundstrokes, but could put anything away hit to her at the net.
     
  23. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    How many teams would have a 24 year old and 60 year old together?
     
  24. goober

    goober Legend

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    I am guessing you haven't played on many teams. In regular adult team tennis both mens and mixed, pretty much every team I have played on has had players in their 60s and players in their 20s.
     
  25. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    It sometimes happens in the social matches that I play, but I just found it surprising that someone in their 20s would agree to play with a player in the 60s when they have a choice and know it can happen.

    I can say for sure that it is very rare for the 3.5 and 4.0 USTA men's teams which play out of my club.

    The entire timeline is shifted for these different ages (due to work, school, etc or lack thereof) so I don't even see them hitting together.
     
  26. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    Why would you have her cover the allies? They're on your side.
     
  27. goober

    goober Legend

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    Well all our teams play at night so no problem for either age group. I have never had a player in his 20s refuse to play with a player in his 60s when assigned by the captain. In our practice sessions, young and old players play together all the time. I don't see what is the big deal. Why have some young players refuse to play with you or something?
     
  28. Mike Y

    Mike Y Rookie

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    This (old + young partnership) happens a lot in my experience. I am younger (34), and I actually mostly mostly prefer playing with the older people, even 60+. If they are at or near my level, then that means that they have lots of skills that make up for speed and athletic ability. Usually that means that their volleys are good and they can get a lot of spin on both serves. I can cover a lot of the court, so I can just park them at the net and I can cover 75% of the court. My partner will make them pay if they target his corner, and I can take care of the rest of the court. Works for me. And it likely works for the older folk, they don't have to cover as much court as they would if they were with another older person, and I'll happily chase down all those lobs. Younger people will often make strategic or mental errors, and I despise when my partners make dumb mistakes. Give me the smarter and less athletic player any day.
     
  29. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I see what you did there :)

    Actually, I am sought out by parents of juniors and their coaches to hit with them, and pride myself on the fact that all my singles partners are my age or much younger. But on certain days I am forced to play doubles with old guys due to the block booking of courts.

    What I see is a huge gulf between the junior population and the rest of the players. It seems players disappear from 18-40.

    A good player in his/her 20s is less likely to be the type who has learnt as an adult, but more likely someone who has played in school or college. I would imagine they would be more than 4.0 in rating and bored by old folks.
     
  30. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Well, I had more 24 in mind than 34.

    I would also certainly prefer the smarter and consistent player as partner compared to the "Sampras" who double faults most of the time, but in the end your level is not improving by playing with such people. You just become better at playing people of those level. I would rather play with someone with packs a big serve and a huge topspin forehand and offers a glimpse of the great world beyond the club.
     
  31. Mike Y

    Mike Y Rookie

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    Hey, I still have the athletic ability of a 20 year old! :) I think.

    But if anything, it improves my level of play. I have to constantly hit on the run and hit winners and offensive shots, and not make errors. But I am a singles player, I don't care as much about doubles, but playing doubles with anyone keeps my volleys sharp. And I'm a 4.5, it's not like I am playing with ancient 3.5s who never move. I sometimes play with a 62 year old 4.5, but you would guess that he is in his early 50s if you saw him. But when I play singles it is almost always with the younger people.
     
  32. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    Dont underestimate people the age of someones grandparents. Some of them can actually be pretty good. They may not be too mobile, but they can definitely hit and can usually volley very well. There are definitely be some skilled players (in doubles especially) that are 45-55 years old, some can even be pushing mid 60's depending.

    I saw this 4.5 lady once who was like 5'0, 145 lbs. I actually looked up her NTRP after the round robin doubles charity tournament I played her in and her record in adult league was like 7-4 which is definitely respectable. She was a real ball-buster too. I wanna say shes like a Col. in the Air Force or something haha.
     
  33. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I remember, back in '78, when the local A/Open top 5 woman (NorCal) became a grandmother for the first time. Big party for her at GoldenGatePark, and lots of other top women showed up for that day.
    A/Open.
    Would be most of us pretty handily.
     
  34. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    OP,

    First, a bit of sympathy. Then, a bit of a challenge.

    I totally feel your pain. I have been the higher-rated player at 5.5, 6.5 and now 7.5 ladies combo. I have been smoked by experienced opponents who ganged up on my partner, and you are right that it isn't fun.

    Making matters worse for you is that ratings come out soon, and you may have faced two 4.0s in 3.5 clothing. So you have permission to sulk, but only for about twenty minutes. :)

    So much for the sympathy. Now let's talk challenge.

    I say you should keep playing 7.5, with this partner and other partners. Playing combo is very good for your game. It will sharpen your ability to diagnose the match, quickly. You will need to figure out your partner's strengths and use them to maximum advantage while also figuring out how to exploit your opponent's weaknesses. You will need to dominate the play, finishing the point at the first conceivable opportunity. If you took a double-bagel beatdown, that suggests you have some real work to do in these areas.

    This time, it sounds like you had a 3.5 partner with no groundies/passing shots and minimal volleys. Your opponents targeted and isolated her, and there was little you could do.

    When this happens to me, I try to disrupt my opponents. Make them less confident about exactly how they could get the ball to your partner. There is no way your partner will begin producing strokes she doesn't have, so you need to focus more on tactics and strategies you can execute as a team.

    There are two easy ways to do this. One is with signaled poaches. Once you two start signaling (with the net player throwing a fake every time she signals stay), a lot of opponents will start to freak out. They will change their return, and that is enough to generate errors.

    The other thing you could have tried was Aussie. Aussie (where both of you line up on the same side and the server crosses to cover the DTL) is a blessing when you have a net player who cannot volley. You can put your partner's FH volley in the middle for the entire match. You can challenge your opponents to hit unfamiliar returns, with court geometry working against them.

    Another thing you personally can try is starting every point at net from a different position. I have turned around matches by starting in no man's land. Opponents aren't sure what I am going to do, which throws them off. (Sure, they could rip a groundie at my feet, except they aren't capable of ripping anything at anyone's feet.)

    Also good is what a friend of mine calls "The Pterodactyl" (sp?). When your partner steps up to serve, you have one foot in the alley. As the serve is on its way, you slowly creep toward the middle, splitting when the opponent hits. Visually, this movement seems to close the return window for the returner more than it actually does -- kind of like a huge bird of prey swooping in for the kill. The returner will suddenly be confused about whether to try to go behind you, squeeze a better angle, or lob.

    Also, consider your serve order. Combo teams often have the 4.0 serve first for no other reason than she is the 4.0. This is often a mistake. The 3.5 surely knows how to serve. She may not be quite as good as poaching as you are (or should be). The stronger formation often is the 3.5 serving and the 4.0 being a nuisance at the net.

    I guess my point is that when you play combo with a weak partner, you have to rummage through your entire tool kit. If you get to the end of the match and you have used all of your "tricks," then the match just wasn't winnable.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2012
  35. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Thanks I was waiting for that opening. I must inform you about some knowledge gained by watching the Science channel. Dinosaurs, Plesiosaurs (the water ones) and Pterodactyls were 3 different lines of descent from common ancestors. The Pterodactyls did not eventually become birds as you might think - the Dinosaurs did!
     
  36. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I am sticking with Pterodactyls. I do not think a Dinosaur would have much reach on the volley.

    [​IMG]
     
  37. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    Pics or it didn't happen.
     
  38. Mauvaise

    Mauvaise Rookie

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    Coincidentally enough, my friend (4.0 to my lowly 3.0) will accuse me of having "Tyrannosaurus Rex arms" when I get too close to my forehands.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2012
  39. Eightmarky

    Eightmarky Rookie

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    You should play 8.5 combo if you want to have a good partner.
     
  40. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Have you seen a Pterodactlyl move on land? Neither have I. But they supposedly could just drag themselves slowly with a shuffling motion. Kind of like some doubles players.
     
  41. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    The thing I dont understand is why anyone would camp the line while they play net if their partner is serving.

    I got a lot of heat for claiming that 4.0's and 4.5 can punish 50 mph serves, but what im seeing in this thread seems like you're agreeing with me because if you're camping line it sounds like you're getting burned DTL a lot. That to me sounds like the serve was punished if you couldnt get to it from a normal net position at least 80% of the time, thus the feeling of needing to camp line.

    Playing the I formation is pointless unless you've got a good server who is going to pressure the returner to make a tough choice of where to return. If the returner is not under any pressure to make an aggressive return either way, playing the "I" is just silly.




    If you're getting burned DTL then there is another (better) option. Play back, and let your server come in and follow their serve.

    Camping line means you're losing a lot of potential poach area in the center of the court. Tennis is a game of statistics and you will "lose" more points by not being able to put away easy poaches by having less reach DTM from being that wide.

    It seems common sense to camp the line if you're scared of them hitting the line but its counter intuitive. If the person is hitting 4/5 returns DTL for clean winners you've got a lot bigger problems and realistically camping line isnt going to help you much anyway.
     
  42. goober

    goober Legend

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    You don't need reach. You just stick out your extended length OS 115 inch racquet and do a little poking motion. Then have your young partner run around like a chicken covering the rest of the court.
     
  43. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I don't see that with 4.0s. The sad thing about many of them is that they return as badly on a dinky second serve as they do on the first, making you wonder why you put any effort into the first serve at all.
     
  44. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    People often alley camp simply because they lack confidence in their poach/volley. In women's 7.5 combo, it is usually not because the returner is smoking the weak return and the net player is trying to stay out of harm's way.

    Again . . . tennis is not always about pace. A reason the net player cannot poach 80% of the time can be because she is 5'4" tall and the returns are 20 feet over the net.

    It can also be because the return is a short angle dink and the net player lacks the speed to reach it and do anything with it.

    I formation is not Aussie formation. I am recommending Aussie, not I.

    That said, I works fine even if the serve is weak. The net player just has to time the return. Again, 7.5 combo players do not often smoke weak returns.


    OP explained her partner has no volley. That partner is not coming to net unless their is a live grenade on the baseline.

    The key to being successful as the higher-rated combo partner is to let your partner do what she is comfortable doing. If she ain't comin' in, she ain't comin' in.
     
  45. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    You completely avoided half my post, which is playing back while her partner serves is much better than camping alley. Camping alley makes no sense at all.

    If she sucks at net, why even put her up there? Whether shes playing OZ/I/normal/line shes going to be bad. Making her stand in line somehow makes someones net play better?

    She's better of 1 ft. from that net in the middle of the court or at the baseline.

    The worlds worst net player can look like Kara Black if shes 1 ft. from the net in the center of the court. Forcing a net player to one particular side of the court completely takes away the point of being at the net.

    Not even 100-level doubles tactics teaches you that you should be closing to the center of court as close to the net as possible.
     
  46. Mauvaise

    Mauvaise Rookie

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    When I'm playing 7.0 mixed, I park myself near the middle of the service box and about a racquet & 1/2 length from the net. Until the returner proves he/she can burn me down the alley (consistently). Then I'll slide over to cover the alley and let my partner (server) cover the middle/cross court.

    However, when I play in 6.0 or in my 3.0/3.5 leagues, I tend to start covering the alley mainly because I don't trust my partner to be able to not hit me if I stand in the middle of the box.
     
  47. tennis_ocd

    tennis_ocd Hall of Fame

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    fwiw, sounds like a poor match-up. An active, aggressive 4.0 player at net should make a huge impact on a couple 3.5s hitting rally balls; let her stay back and hit a couple until you get involved... and quickly. something really amiss with a 0-0 score.
     
  48. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    That's actually a good reason to camp line and I didnt think about that.

    Of course, once that ball is hit you should get into normal position.
     
  49. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    No offense, but I doubt there is much reason to be afraid of being hit by a 3.0 or 3.5 woman's serve.
     
  50. Playtennis

    Playtennis New User

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    I agree- comes down to this- you cant play doubles if you cant volley. There is only so much that one top player ( solid 4.0) can do if both opponents are at net and only one player is at net. Essentially i played canadian.
     

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