First USTA league match in 10 yrs: 0-6, 3-6

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by rh310, Jun 16, 2010.

  1. rh310

    rh310 Professional

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    Got beat, badly, in a 2nd singles match. 0-6, 3-6

    I'd been playing at 4.5 maybe 10 years ago, but stopped playing completely for about 7 years and started hitting again maybe 3 years ago. So I self-rated at 3.5 even though I've still got very strong strokes. I've played a few matches recently in some club ladders, and I've got a nerves problem lately in matches so I thought I'd join a team and play more matches.

    My opponent had pretty good strokes himself, but picked up on my liking and hitting a clean ball and proceeded to junkball the crap out of me. He was able to add extreme wicked sidespin to normal slice, topspin, and moonball shots and I spent the first set just trying to figure out how not to frame everything and get some rallies going. He mixed it up pretty well; never hit the same kind of shot more than twice in a row. He was also a psyche player -- would stand at the service line for second serves, say things to me like "you're losing your focus" during changeovers, etc. After the match, he complimented me (I think) by saying I was the finest gentleman he'd ever played. (I was friendly during the match and chatted during the changeovers and after good points even after he started the psyche stuff.)

    I'd forgotten how much crap like that went on in the 3.x leagues, but I'd better learn how to deal with it before my team benches me. Plus, I'd really like to move back up into the 4.0 - 4.5 range where the players seem want to hit clean shots and work points differently (i.e., more to my liking).

    So, strategy questions which I'd love some opinions on:

    1) I'm using a KBlade Tour (93 sq in) which easily produces penetrating shots but which (a) seems to make it easy for opponents to use my power, (b) is harder to produce extreme spin with, and (c) has a relatively small sweet spot which complicates things for me a lot when I'm dealing with junk or trying to create junk back. I'm playtesting an BLX 6.1 95 but am worried about what changing racquets will do to my already lagging confidence.

    2) Should I practice so that I can junkball back, or try to take clean shots out of the junk that comes in ? I eventually started being able to rally and win points, but it took a while and even late in the match I'd make unforced errors very often.

    3) Is it the norm to put on a game face and not talk to your opponent during matches now? It seemed to give the guy an opportunity to try stupid mental crap.

    I'm determined to beat guys like this, so I'm not whining about the d**khead that played crap tennis. He beat me by giving me a ball that was very hard for me to deal with. That's just as legit as forcing errors by placement. I'm happy that I started doing better on second serves, although I still DF'ed many more times than I normally do.

    Anyway, any comments appreciated.
     
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  2. subban

    subban Rookie

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    I'm a 3.5 so I am used to seeing this style of play. I had the oppositie encounter where I just played a 4.5 player and I lost 6-0, 6-4. The 4.5 player said he hated playing short junk shots and moon shots and he hit a lot of unenforced errors the second set cause he got tired running after those shots. My question to you is how come more 4.5 players don't hit more junk and play with more finese. Is it because since most of their hard pace shots go in, why do they have to bother developing a more consistent finese type game?
     
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  3. Sherlock

    Sherlock Rookie

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    I just came from 3.5 last year and know what you mean. I would say for the most part to stick to your game, and recover a strong mental focus on what you need to do for your style of game - a focus you probably had 10 years ago. Especially necessary on junk balls, focus on good footwork, moving fast, proper body rotation and stroke technique. You probably aren't going to beat a 3.5 junkballer by throwing in a few junkballs. You will beat him by putting him in a difficult spot that makes him throw up a weak ball, and then capitalizing on the opportunity. So try and find ways to do that without putting yourself at unneccesary risk of hitting an unforced error.
     
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  4. decades

    decades Guest

    he's a 3.5. yet you didn't spend any time talking about his weaknesses? he has some right? this isn't Santoro out there I imagine. Tennis at this level is about exploiting the other guys weaknesses. Do you spend time figuring out what he doesn't do well? You were very upfront and complimentary about what he did do well.

    It's hard for me to see a 4.5 player falling to 3.5 and losing this badly even if you haven't played much. You've been playing for 3 years now and you are a full 1.0 below your best. Is there more to the story? How old are you? If you are under 50 you should not drop that much. Are you injured? Are you out of shape? Are you overweight? Again you were a 4.5 playing a 3.5. It's time to get your thinking cap on and use your head out there. you have it "in you" to beat these people. You just have to tap your innate skills.

    As for in game strategy IGNORE him when he talks to you. He is trying to get to you. There is a technique called "breaking rapport" with someone. Google it. As for crowding the service line...you have to forget that and hit Your serve. Try taking something off your first serve and get it in deep. Try to make him pay.

    Footwork and speed are what it takes to beat the junk baller. Use all your energy and athleticism to get into hitting position and hurt him with the next shot so he can't continue to do this to you.

    Get a ~ 100sq racquet....
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 17, 2010
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  5. rh310

    rh310 Professional

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    Well, he might be a 3.5. He said he was self-rated, and that this was his first match as well. Maybe what I'm attributing to technology (extreme junk due to racquet and string advances) were actually him simply being a stronger player than 3.5.

    That said, sure he had weaknesses. He didn't move up and back very well. I could draw errors on either side if I could get a clean shot. I was and am kind of focused on what I need to do better, though. I've been hitting on Har Tru for the past year, and this was my second time back on hard courts. So there was more "friction" that I'm used to with the footwork. The ball was faster than I'm used to, although I set up early so that's pretty much OK. I might actually have set up a little too early in the sense that the ball was still junking around and I was just enough out of position by the time I hit the ball that my shots were rarely as clean as I wanted.

    The more I think about it, the more I think he was probably a 4.0+ or 4.5 himself. I'm 50+, in very good shape and weight. I'm very athletic; always have been. Although I'm nursing a rotator strain that came up when I playtested a different racquet a couple of weeks back (Babo AeroStorm Tour), I wasn't worried about making the shoulder worse so I don't think that's a factor.

    I just think I need to move a little better and be ready for microadjustments at the point of contact.

    All great stuff. I'm going to playtest a couple more frames (Babo Pure Storm Tour GT) this weekend. I agree about the bigger stringbed.

    Thanks very much.
     
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  6. rh310

    rh310 Professional

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    I can't speak for anyone else, but for me the strategic aspect that comes out of being able to consistently hit a bigger better ball makes for a game that's more fun to play. Shot patterns and combinations emerge that simply don't exist when you're just trying to hit the most extreme junk possible without caring where it lands.

    This is all great stuff, particularly the reminder about footwork. I got caught out of position at the last instant of the swing, basically because the spin was so extreme with respect to my experience that I wasn't predicting very well where the ball would be at the time of contact. Stroke technique was good I think, I'd just constantly mishit particularly in the first set.
     
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  7. bodieq

    bodieq Rookie

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    I was formerly a nationally-ranked junior player. I subsequently stopped playing tennis for almost 10 years. When I picked-up a racquet again, I could still double-bagel 3.5 level players immediately.

    Sorry, but you were not a 4.5 level player before.
     
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  8. decades

    decades Guest

    It would not surprise me in the least if he were really a 4-4.5...alas the system has no way of preventing this....
     
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  9. rh310

    rh310 Professional

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    Or, he wasn't really a 3.5. (I'm a nationally-ranked mathematician, and I'm double-bageling your logic. ;))

    (In practice, I am far and away the strongest player on the team, and our team won all the other matches on that night. The coach said he really shouldn't play me at 3.5.)
     
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  10. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Interesting.

    I have a player on my team who plays mostly doubles, but last week I decided to move her to singles. I have partnered with her many times; she is very nice and friendly.

    I saw her behavior on changeovers, and it really surprised me. There were two benches right next to each other. She would go sit on her bench and turn her back to her opponent as much as possible. It looked very rude and standoffish, especially since she knew her opponent from their club. But hey, that is probably what she felt she needed to keep her focus.
     
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  11. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    A couple of things: whom were you refering to with "I'm not whining about the d**khead that played crap tennis"? Seems like you were the worse player that day.

    My guess is your racquet played little to no role in the outcome of the match (assuming you like the racquet).

    As you your tactics, having never seen you play my guess is you would do better to hit your normal strokes on atypical shots than to learn atypical strokes yourself.

    As to the psych stuff. IMO he was out of bounds to actually talk to you about the match itself and your play in particular during the match. Unfortunately you have to deal with idiots like that. Luckily the sort of things that you use to quet your own mind (you biggest enemy) will also work against small people like that guy.
     
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  12. rh310

    rh310 Professional

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    No disputing that.

    I've got another match this coming Thurs. Not sure what the team captain will do with me, but I've learned from this experience and there have been some very helpful comments posted here.
     
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  13. ProgressoR

    ProgressoR Hall of Fame

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    Don't worry. If this trend continues I predict your next set will be a tie at 6-6 and the following set you will win 9-6. From then on its plain sailing.
     
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  14. Sherlock

    Sherlock Rookie

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    I have to ask because it's not often I find a fellow theorem-proving-machine...what field?
     
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  15. rh310

    rh310 Professional

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    Quantitative analysis: The hookers of the family.
     
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  16. Sherlock

    Sherlock Rookie

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    Well I'm the snooty club member :) algebraic topology.
     
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  17. thejuice

    thejuice Hall of Fame

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    Hey rh310,

    I have had this problem happen to me in the past. I would literally stop playing tennis for years at a time and pick it back up only to be frustrated that I couldn't pick it back up at the level I played when I was a junior and young adult. I would consistently play 3.5 players that would dink the hell out of the ball and I would eventually lose patience and make a ton of errors. Well through two matches in the singles league I have recently rejoined, I am 1-1 with my loss being in three sets. I think I have learned the secret to dealing with my own issues...I have truly developed a lot more patience than I had in the past. I didn't learn to junkball, I learned to take a little off my pace and wait for the RIGHT opening. Trust me, sometimes the right opening can take about 10 strokes (I'm talking about one point) but eventually the junk baller gets tired and hits a sitting duck. You still have to quiet your mind because your first instinct will be to CRUSH IT INTO OBLIVION!!! However, the best play is to use your true experience and unleash a forehand that is normal to you but a killer to the junkballer.

    The most recent issue of Tennis magazine has a good article that talks about using some of the pros' methods of winning and, interestingly enough, they discuss Roddick's new found love for mixing up the pace and Wozniacki's talent for using the moon ball to get herself together for the next shot.

    Good luck and learn to quiet the voices of doubt in your head, not the BS that your opponents will sometimes give you.
     
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