Etiquette of hitting at the net player in doubles

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by tennistim, Aug 9, 2012.

  1. tennistim

    tennistim New User

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    I have played a league match against another club where the server was hitting very soft, short 2nd serves. The same guy was also poor at judging the ball when at the net. Therefore, I hit a lot of balls straight at the net player. Most were hit from 3/4 court (just in from the baseline) so it wasn't too dangerous. If I was at the net, I aimed for their feet.

    Although this play wasn't challenged in any way, I think some opponents would probably protest if it happened too often. This protesting could be used as a tactic.

    What is the done thing at high club level?
     
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  2. Moz

    Moz Hall of Fame

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    High club level there's no shot ettiquette. As you're from the Uk however, there is no doubt all sorts of frowning at such tactics - particularly in mixed.

    This is probably down to the fact that it's highly unlikely that it's high club level - in fact that rarely exists in British league tennis. You get such a wide range of weirdos in club tennis that you have to make the decision on a case by case basis if it bothers you.
     
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  3. michael_1265

    michael_1265 Professional

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    All is fair. That being said, my wife, who is a 2.5 and I are starting to play mixed together. Since 6.0 isn't an option, we will play 6.5, which makes it likely we will face a 4.0 man (I'm a 3.5). Although it is certainly permissible, I might take exception to the 4.0 hitting full-swing forehands at her at the net. There are so many other ways to win (she probably has a far larger hole in her backhand volley than anywhere else), and playing like that shows a lack of grace and sportsmanship. I have yet to run into a higher-level male player who would stoop that low.
     
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  4. Moz

    Moz Hall of Fame

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    michael - agreed, but neither would you describe that as high level club tennis.

    Making the tactical distinction between "anything goes" and "be reasonable" can often be very tricky in the heat of a match particularly if one is losing.
     
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  5. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    Higher level players are not going to blast it at a lower lever player (especially a woman), there is just no need. Though I'm sure there must be some *******s somewhere that have done it.
     
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  6. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Sort of depends on how soft is "soft". It is correct to punish poor second serves to the point where either the netman moves back to the baseline on second serves or the server hits higher percentage (easier) first serves or hits harder (more likely to DF) second serves. If those things aren't happening, you aren't punishing the second serve enough.

    Of course "etiquette" is quite varied, that is, never underestimate the chance that some random individual will have the capacity to get their nose out of joint for any ol' reason. You can't regulate that. You can predict it and you can make the choice to have the preknowledge change your behavior, but that is your choice.

    From a strictly logical standpoint if you tag the netman he should be angry at either himself for not going to the baseline, or his partner for the powderpuff serves.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2012
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  7. SlapShot

    SlapShot Hall of Fame

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    I think it depends on the circumstances. I've been on the giving and receiving end of what you're describing, and there are times when it's not really an issue, and times when it gets to be an issue.

    In mixed, I almost never go at the woman at net, even at 8.0 where it's more acceptable. If you're at a level where you are able to put that much stink on the ball, you should have another shot on that type of serve. If you're hitting the ball that hard and don't know where it's going, then you have no business hitting it in the first place since it'd be too easy to actually cause injury, and even in USTA league, it shouldn't be that serious.

    I had an incident last year in a 4.5 men's match where a guy got very upset at me for pulling a serve up the line at him, and later remarked to a team mate that I was a "headhunter." The truth is that, while I had other options, his partner was easily the stronger of the two, so my best play was to make him hit a shot. I missed my spot (was aiming for the alley, not for his bellybutton) and had no intent in pegging him, and we made nice after the match, but he was clear that he wasn't happy at the time. I think that if I had done it repeatedly, it would have made a tense situation even worse.

    I still will pull returns up the line, but more often than not, I'm not going at the netman but rather trying to put it in the alley and make them play the point off balance.
     
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  8. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    if the players are generally of equal ability, then there is no problem blasting it at the "net player". In fact, there is nothing in the rules that says the server's partner must be at the net anyways.

     
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  9. Dreamcastin

    Dreamcastin Rookie

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    Plain and simple, if you dont want shots hit at you why are you at the net. Im not letting half of the court be taken away because you cant volley and your at the net.
     
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  10. samarai

    samarai Rookie

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    I guess I have to disagree with most of the opinions here. When playing at the park recreationally, I would never aim at the net player. However in a league match, if the opponent is hoarding the net effectively taking half of the court away from me, I will spray a couple towards the net player to keep him/her honest. I would expect nothing less if I or my partner was at the net.
     
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  11. Mike Y

    Mike Y Rookie

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    If you don't want to get hit at that net, then play near the baseline.
     
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  12. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I can't get on board, Michael.

    If your wife isn't ready to stand close to the net with her racket up to deflect balls struck at her, I say she should probably not play mixed until she can. And she definitely shouldn't play up.

    I know I am in the minority, but I think if you can't take the heat, get off the net. Even if you are a woman.
     
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  13. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    I don't think there is a definitive answer, but here are my personal guidelines:

    1. I would never aim at the head of the net person, i.e. deliberately go for a shot that would be long if he/she ducks and that is meant purely to intimidate.

    2. Aiming at the body / midsection (with a shot that is intended to go in) is completely fair in competitive play (e.g. adult league, combo league). If the net person can't handle it, they should move back.

    3. In casual play with lower-rated players, I would not do it - but would not mind if someone did it to me.

    4. Mixed is a strange beast - one more reason I don't play mixed! I don't know what I would do. I think I would be ok aiming at a 4.5 woman at the net in 9.0 mixed (I'm a male 4.5). But I don't think I'd be comfortable hitting hard at a 3.5 woman at the net were I ever to play 8.0 mixed.
     
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  14. Dreamcastin

    Dreamcastin Rookie

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    exactly, no one is forcing you to play at the net. Am I forced to hit cross court or lob because your in my way and cant volley. I once had someone make a snide comment at me(who was a great volleyer) about me hitting a shot at him. I was pulled very wide on the serve, late to the return, and my only play was down the line. anything less and it would have been easy pickings for him. I dont see how you can expect me to give you the point. I expect people to "test" me at the net from time to time. I got tagged in the stomach yesterday, nobody died. I actually told the oponent good shot.
     
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  15. Mike Y

    Mike Y Rookie

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    I play Mixed and it is generally accepted that the woman will get hit at (hard), regardless of her level. Even in Mixed 8.0 practices my 3.5 female partner will get hit at. My 2nd serve is one of my worst shots and is bad for a 4.5, and I sometimes have to pull back my partner to the baseline to keep her from getting crushed if I am struggling with my serve. If you want to win in Mixed you have to hit it at the girl. If you are facing a 3.5 girl/4.5 guy partnership pretty much all of your shots have to go to the girl even if she is at the net and the 4.5 guy is at the baseline. I'll hit it hard toward a 3.5 girl at practice, but I will try not to hit her, though it does happen and I always apologize. In a match, I will constantly hit at her, she can move back if she doesn't like it.
     
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  16. floridatennisdude

    floridatennisdude Hall of Fame

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    Competitively - ill hit wherever I am most likely to win the point. It's on the opponent to defend it, not my problem. They need to adjust, not me.

    Friendly practice - ill give my buddies a heads up. "dude, I'll probably crush Jim's second serve if it's on my forehand. Be ready."

    Socially - ill hit wherever the most conservative option is. If the players are decent enough, I may go alley once or twice. Probably just going to slice back most returns cross court.
     
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  17. tennis_ocd

    tennis_ocd Hall of Fame

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    ha. Just the opposite here. Rec park playing and there is much glee at getting one into the net person; it's an almost guaranteed attempt until the net person can prove it's a losing shot (as it should be among players of equal skill level.) All involved know it's coming.

    The issue really blossoms when playing with unequal partners or unfamiliar players, but after the first successful poach all reservations seem to quickly fade.
     
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  18. goober

    goober Legend

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    Wait till you move up to higher levels than 6.5. I would say the majority of males in competitive matches always go after the female with full swings regardless of her position on the court since most of the time except in the occasional cases where the female is the higher rated player.
     
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  19. norcal

    norcal Hall of Fame

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    If you are a good player you have enough control to hit at someone without hurting them. If I had 1$ for every volley hit between my legs by a poacher I'd have a lot of money.

    As Lendl famously said after hitting Mac, "Hey I didn't invite him to the net."

    Mixed is another ball of wax. I always go easy on the woman. I have friends who will crush the female, anything for a win.

    The dangerous players are the lower skilled but powerful guys. They will hit you in the head. Got hit in the forehead by an overhead smash that any skilled player could have easily angled off. Ultimately it was my partner's fault for giving the guy a duck but I wasn't too thrilled with johnny testosterone.
     
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  20. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    I have played a lot of 7.0 - 9.0 ... generally I do not find this to be true. Certainly it happens on occasion but there are only two consistent exceptions I have found

    One is at 9.0 (and better 8.0 teams) ... the men will rip it at the net woman when it is the right shot, not just for the purpose of targeting her.

    The other happens when the man has a very strong drive to win but lacks skill. These are the folks I worry about because they try to compensate for their lack of ability by trying to target the woman. Often just hitting it hard and without thought.
     
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  21. Mongolmike

    Mongolmike Professional

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    Last tourney I was in I was watching a mixed open match.... dude was at the baseline and looked like he was gonna rip a forehand crosscourt, but actually went down the line.... and nailed the opponent lady up at the net in the head as she tried to duck out of the way for game point. Then he turned and walked away as his lady partner called out "good shot". Hard core, no mercy. :shock:

    I go down the line often, so occasionally my shot gets close to or hits the net person. I do it because I have a heavy topspin shot that works really well for DTL, and I want the net player to freeze. It makes it so much easier to pass them down the middle when they know they have to guard the line. In rec play, everyone knows I go DTL often, so its no big deal... but in league or tourneys since I'm always playing against my level opponent or higher.... I don't really care so much what they think. I know I usually am not trying to hit anyone, and if I do and didn't mean to, I apologize. After that, what they think or say doesn't matter to me.
     
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  22. Mauvaise

    Mauvaise Rookie

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    I know that 7.0 is not much higher than 6.5, but I haven't found your statement to be true. Every match I play at the 7.0 level, I'm expecting just what you describe because they know I'm the weak-link 3.0. I'm especially expecting it on the return of serve when my 4.0 partner is serving and I'm at the net, but 99% of the time the guy rips a return cross court. During the one match the guy didn't return cross court and I found I couldn't get set up for the volleys in time (I didn't get hit, just couldn't get the ball back) I moved back to the baseline so I could have a little more time to react.

    Going back the OP: as the weakest player on the court (usually) during my 7.0 mixed matches, I expect to be hit at every time I take the net. I will also go at the net person myself if I have the opportunity and that's the best shot.

    By "go at", I mean hitting towards the court where they are standing - at their feet if I'm volleying, or at their stomach (just over the net) if I'm hitting a ground stroke.
     
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  23. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    My first seasons of mixed were 7.0 as the 3.0 player. I think the reasons the guys aren't going for you is likely your partner's serve. If your 4.0 partner has a good serve, it is a tough ask to take that ball to the 3.0 lady at the net. This is especially so if the serve goes to the BH.

    I remember that the best thing I could do was stay as close to the net no matter what, racket up. I would just try to touch the ball, and that was usually good enough. Usually the opponents would leave me alone if I could get the first one back.

    Ah, good times.
     
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  24. Nostradamus

    Nostradamus G.O.A.T.

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    I have played with 5.0 female players before. they are not that strong. even if they are playing with 4.0 male, i still go after the female. female 5.0 players kind of suck
     
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  25. catfish

    catfish Semi-Pro

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    In 6.5 combo, you're much more likely to face a 3.5 man and 3.0 woman or 3.5 woman and 3.0 man. In my experience, most 4.0's don't play 6.5 because they'd have to play with a 2.5.

    I'm a 4.5 woman, and have played a lot of mixed at several levels. Every level has different tactics. I played 7.5 combo mixed last year with a 3.0 (beginner) man partner. We played many 3.5 woman/4.0 man teams. We played a few 3.5 man / 4.0 woman team. Frankly, the most dangerous people I've ever played in mixed were the 3.5 men. You just never know what will come off their racquet, so you better be alert at the net. They can usually hit the ball hard but they have no control and they often feel the need to try to hit winners from anywhere on the court. They hit a lot at the net person because most lower level players that they are used to playing don't have very good volleys or reflexes. My 3.0 partner and I did well against the 3.5 men/4.0 women, and it was mostly because the 3.5 men continued to hit every ball to me even though I was the most consistent player on the court. I'm not sure why they did that. Testosterone perhaps? We had a tougher time with the 3.5 woman / 4.0 man combinations. The 4.0 men usually noticed that my 3.0 partner was a beginner, and they would feed him balls until he hit one out. They pretty much kept me out of the match entirely. The 4.0 men were not wild for the most part.

    I mostly play 8.5 and 9.0 mixed which usually involves 4.5 and 5.0 men. They usually try to control the match more with their spin and placement. They rarely hit the ball really hard at the net person because there is an expectation that people can actually volley at these levels. It's a totally different game at these levels.
     
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  26. floridatennisdude

    floridatennisdude Hall of Fame

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    Im a 4.5 male and this is a losing strategy IMO. 9.0 mixed with a 5.0 female and 4.0 male? That man will be tested all day long. I ain't playing towards a 5.0 female who is likely either a teaching pro or former college player. You haven't played against enough 5.0c females if you're suggesting this.
     
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  27. esgee48

    esgee48 Hall of Fame

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    5.0C women know how to volley AND hit very good groundstrokes. There's reasons they're rated that high. :???:
     
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  28. michael_1265

    michael_1265 Professional

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    Cindy,
    I am okay with the play. I just think that the repeated application of the tactic by someone who has better options is not good form, and makes for a less than enjoyable match. My personal policy is to lay off if the woman is playing a "passive" net. If she starts to poach, than the light just turned green. The imbalances caused by mixed combo are a special case, I think. If you have four 4.0s on the court, there isn't any need for such considerations.
     
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  29. michael_1265

    michael_1265 Professional

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    A couple of years ago, a 1977 Wimby Ladies' doubles champion, Joanne Russell, was a 5.0 woman. So much for lack of skill......
     
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  30. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Ok.

    I was concerned about your remark that you would "take exception" if the guy hit at your wife at net. The last thing league competitive tennis needs is another guy who starts an argument when his wife learns she doesn't have a force field around her at net.

    If you meant that you would suggest to her that she play from the baseline, that is fine.

    I also doubt that special dispensation is owed because the four players are not at the same rating level. Anyone who plays up is presumably doing it because they can hang. People who cannot hang should not play up and then complain if the opponents take them seriously.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2012
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  31. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Professional

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    IMO,

    Mixed 8.0 and 9.0 should be limited to 4.0's and 4.5's respectively.

    I've watched several Mixed 8.0 matches and have observed that matches with four 4.0 players tend to be competitive and entertaining to watch.

    Whereas, Mixed 8.0 with a 4.5 man and a 3.5 woman tend to be lopsided and involves hitting at the 3.5 woman and keeping it away from the 4.5 man.

    I don't see the rationale for allowing it... Why allow a 4.5 to partner with a 3.5 in Mixed but not allow a 4.5/3.5 to partner
    in Men's League 4.0 matches?
     
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  32. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    ^Agreed.

    When I play 8.0 mixed, my partner and I just do not stand a chance against a 4.5 guy. I cannot get his serve back, ever. My partner will also struggle, so we cannot possibly break him. Meanwhile, 50% of my serves will come screaming back at me. If the opposing woman can get most of my serves into play and push the ball back long enough for her partner to poach, I stand no chance.

    It would help if the 3.5 women were at the bottom of their level, but they never are. Only a few 4.5 guys want to play 8.0 mixed, so the captains have their pick of the best 3.5 women.

    Mixed would be more fun for me if it were all 4.0 players (and 3.5s playing up).
     
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  33. michael_1265

    michael_1265 Professional

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    Point taken. I consider myself chivalrous, but not psychotic. I wouldn't get confrontational. If he were headhunting though, he might get pegged with an overhead or two, something I am just beginning to have the ability to do.

    Also, the score does make a difference. If we are playing even we are ahead, I don't expect them to hold back. If they are hammering us, I'd expect a good 4.0 to have a little grace, and not beat up on my partner:-?
     
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  34. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    Personally, I think deliberately targeting the net player, particularly if she's a woman, pretty lame. Simply because no match is THAT important at recreational level that you just HAVE to win under any circumstances.

    I could understand if there was prize money or its livelihood at stake (for example, in the Wimbledon mixed dubs final, Myrini was firing balls directly at Robson) but at club level it smacks of 'big ego in small pond'.

    I also can't see how you can really improve your tennis at club level playing that way by firing balls at a woman who can't return them. It's just false progression.

    They would still double bagel you.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2012
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  35. Clive Walker

    Clive Walker Rookie

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    For me playing mixed league tennis (in the UK) it's totally acceptable to have a few pops at the woman at the net, but I feel that (for my own game) it has to be the right shot, and the right time.

    In lower standard of tennis than I play (and I'm not great by any means) I see quite a few people simply picking on the weakest player and removing the strongest player from the game as best they can...

    While that is a decent tactic for match play it teaches you nothing about tennis when there is no weaker player or in terms of personal game development, and gives you no options when playing up. I try to help out a bit as I remember what it was like when I was a lower standard player hoping to get a game against the better players in the club- Start taking a pop at the weaker net player purely because you feel that you have more chance of winning if you put it there is the wrong tactic to pursue in terms of learning the game, and IME will end up with the stonger player refusing to play down with you, even in a social game play manner.
     
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  36. TeflonTom

    TeflonTom Banned

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    if u r playin purely 2 win, go for it

    if ur playin for fun, dont be a ******. dont bomb weak players n beat them purely with pace. it doesnt teach u anythin and its no fun for the person ur beatin up on. rule of thumb for rec mixed is dont give a weak player a shot any harder than the ones they r hittin themselves

    if ur playin for a combination of winnin and fun, n wanna develop urself, play the match as if both players r equal standard. playin the weak net player all the time is takin the easy way out, but goin outta ur way 2 avoid the net player aint natural either

    mix it up. even if both players were the same standard u would still be goin down the line and hittin dippers at the net man occasionally 2 keep em honest. so dont feel like u cant do it at all
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2012
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  37. mrw

    mrw Semi-Pro

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    Doubles with equal ability it's OK

    Mixed doubles- not cool ever for any reason.
     
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  38. Setmatch45

    Setmatch45 Rookie

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    Mixed I am aware of the ladies if it 8.0 or under. Over that or in a mens match just say sorry and move on. Long long and short short if someone gets hit it is part of the match.
     
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  39. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    This drives me crazy in mixed. I don't normally play mixed but Saturday I played in a big tennis round robin put on by my local league where you could end up with mixed sex partners and/or opponents. On one point I missed a relatively easy sitter overhead wide because I was focusing too much on NOT hitting the woman directly in front of me who was planted inside the service box. She was my same NTRP level and had no intention of bailing out but I couldn't bring myself to aim at her feet as I would have with a guy across the net.

    If it was me in her position I know I would have gotten the hell out of there but she was apparently counting on me not hitting at her or maybe in the women's leagues she normally plays in they don't hit near each other.
     
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  40. IA-SteveB

    IA-SteveB Professional

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    I don't have a problem with avoiding a net player. I was pretty well known for feeding the net player as I learned doubles. :)
     
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  41. KFwinds

    KFwinds Professional

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    Very glad to read the responses here. The last guy I played against in a 7.0 mixed match (he was a bad 3.5, I'm a solid 4.0) was convinced I was aiming for him the entire match because of his awful positioning at net. Most of the time he was about an inch off the net, and would stand in even when I was lining up short overheads. I actually did peg him by accident early in the match, and came close to hitting him a couple of other times. He ignored the handshake at the end of the match. One of the worst idiots I've ever faced on the court in league play. He never realized it was their own poor play that was putting him at risk of getting hit, and really, how many grown men out there whine about getting hit by a tennis ball?

    What a moron... (you reading this, John?)
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2012
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  42. esgee48

    esgee48 Hall of Fame

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    Upon changeover, you could quietly tell him that if your opponents are lining up to hit an overhead off a short lob, he should bail. Some people are CLUELESS! If he still doesn't get it, hit around him, or hit him.
     
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  43. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    Dont see a problem with it in a competitive environment and its almost unavoidable most points.

    Social tennis in the park with old ladies? Well you probably dont want to bean them.

    Just remember... everyone loses in a "beaning match".

    Perspective is also needed: in high level tennis, its not really needed to hit at the other person most of the time because if its a 'put-away' you can do so wherever they arnt. If its not an easy put away you're probably trying to play quality offensive shots that limits your opponents shot choice so they'd be taking a huge risk trying to put away a ball thats low and has some pace/spin on it.

    High level tennis, when all 4 players are up, the volleys are really low, probably a foot or less from the top of the net.

    Compare this to your average park tennis where they "rally" at the net, balls like 3 or 4 ft higher than the top of the net.
     
    #43
  44. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    What a loser! Some people think that "not aiming for the net man" = "the net man has immunity". No he doesn't. If you get hit by a ball struck from behind the baseline, that's your fault for having bad reflexes. If your opponent is about to hit an overhead and you're only a couple of feet away, turn your back! Consider it a lost point.

    This guy's so bad at the net, not only does he not get his racquet on it, he can't even get out of the way. Then he figures you are the problem. :rolleyes:
     
    #44
  45. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    And also, it depends where you hit them too. Hitting someone in the knee down isnt that big of a deal. Once you start getting to knee to chest area is gets kinda sketchy. If its at the face... well... hopefully it was an errant shot and not an overhead from inside the service box, lol.
     
    #45
  46. AlpineCadet

    AlpineCadet Hall of Fame

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    Jamming someone is always okay, as long as it isn't an intentional smash or shot to knock someone down.. :oops:
     
    #46
  47. Taxvictim

    Taxvictim Semi-Pro

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    Every doubles player I know plays the net in hopes of getting that winning volley off a ball hit toward him. There's no rule that says a person has to stand at the net, and an opponent standing at the net doesn't make that half of the court off limits to your returns.
     
    #47
  48. Rui

    Rui Semi-Pro

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    Simple. If the player goes into a ready position, then he's still playing the point. You can go after him. If he makes it clear he not playing anymore, the proper thing to do is take the winner without beaning him.
     
    #48
  49. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    Make TT better, use the Ignore List!
    On hitting at players who come to the net, "Nobody ask him to come to the net." --Ivan Lendl
     
    #49
  50. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    If you're partner is getting nailed at the net, I don't view it as your opponents moral responsibility to not hit at her. Rather, I view it as her responsibility to move back to the baseline. If you cannot handle the heat, get out of the kitchen.

    I play a lot of doubles and a lot of mixed doubles. I occassionally play a strong shot at the weaker female when she is at net. And, will do it more than occasionally if she cannot volley well. I do not consider myself a head hunter and do not try to hurt anyone. It is just the smart play if you want to win.

    But, I really don't think you have any cause to get angry with your opponent if they go at your partner. If she can handle it, then stay in. If not, then your partner needs to back up. Don't expect your opponents to play away from a weakness just to be polite.
     
    #50

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