From NTRP-based 3.0 to 3.5 by January 2014 (video diary)

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by TomT, Mar 10, 2013.

  1. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    As the thread title says, my goal is to become a solid NTRP-based 3.5 level competitor by January 2014 -- ie., about a year to go from where I'm at now to competing more or less successfully at a NTRP .5 higher level.

    I think it's a reasonable goal. I'll be posting mostly videos from seasonal match play in the Tennis League Network's Fort Lauderdale-Boca Raton affiliate (tennisftlauderdale.com) of which I'm a member.

    Hopefully, knowledgeable Talk Tennis members will offer helpful critiques of my play. But any comments, videos, or whatever, are welcome.

    I got the idea to do this from enjoying reading the diary or journal threads started by Stergios, Mick, Fuji, Greg G, etc.

    So, here goes:

    MOTIVATION
    My primary motivation for starting this thread is to get as much feedback as possible, the root of which I would guess is the self-centered, self-absorbed need for attention that we all seem, to greater or lesser degree, to share. In other words, it's primarily some sort of ego trip. :)

    However, at least peripherally, and certainly not insignificantly, I also hope that this thread will help me to stay motivated to work to improve, and will provide, via knowlegeable Talk Tennis members, helpful suggestions for improvement.

    While I'm attracted to, and play, and want to get better at, tennis at least partly because of my own peculiar taste regarding the esthetics of the artistic expression of the raw physical exercise that is tennis, I'm nonetheless attracted to tennis as a game because of the competitive possibilities. That is, even though I want to develop an esthetically pleasing game, I also prefer to win, rather than lose, while doing this.

    Plus, as I grow older and increasingly potentially less capable, I'm increasingly appreciating accurate and detailed historical documentation.
    --------------------------------------------------------

    BRIEF BACKGROUND
    I started playing tennis in 1975 at the age of 27. Played every day for a little over a year, and then basically stopped playing until 2012. Played a couple of seasons in the Tennis League Network's Tennis Fort Lauderdale - Boca Raton flex leagues. Then in the beginning of 2013 had another Crohn's disease flair which sidelined me from Jan. 1, 2013 to ~ March 5, 2013. I'm still about 25-30 lbs. under my optimal weight and have virtually no explosive power or stamina. But am steadily, if very slowly, improving.
    ----------------------------------------------------------

    AND NOW, LET THE VIDEOS, COMMENTS, ETC. BEGIN!!
    I want to stress that any videos or comments by anybody at any level are welcome in this thread.

    I'll start by posting some points from a game from a league match that I played today. My first league match since December 28, 2012. Against the same guy! :):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0lj2aJkVh8

    I'm still editing the rest of today's video, and might also post some stuff from sets that I played on March 7 and 8 against a Talk Tennis member who was visiting Fort Lauderdale with his family and looked me up to hit with. I must say I'm glad he did. It was lots of fun, very competitive, and I really needed to get off my butt and get out and play.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2013
    #1
  2. Moz

    Moz Hall of Fame

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    Good luck - quite the forehand when it's in your wheelhouse!
     
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  3. TomT

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    Thanks Moz.
     
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  4. rufus_smith

    rufus_smith Professional

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    You are already a winner by getting out on the singles court as a super senior. Can't tell by this video but I'm thinking your backhand and return of serve are what needs work. gl
     
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  5. Moz

    Moz Hall of Fame

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  6. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Backhand is actually pretty solid. Return of serve, volleys, and mental game need most work. Thanks for comments Rufus. Post a video of yourself.
     
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  7. TomT

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    Thanks for this Moz. I'm going to be reading it this evening. At first glance, looks like you are way beyond my level. So feel free to post any suggestions that come to mind. I hope there's some vids in your thread.
     
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  8. Mick3391

    Mick3391 Professional

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    Cool, finally get to see a video of Tom T play! You have a little serve and volley spirit in you? Looks like it.

    Mick's video, mine and Junior will go up as soon as I get a little extra cash. I just don't want to put it up Tom, don't want to scare you to death:)
     
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  9. Stergios

    Stergios Rookie

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    Hi TomT,

    Wow! I'm very glad you went forward with this thread. I hope it will help you improve and stay motivated through out the year.

    As I'm improving my self I'll try to contribute to your goal with some feedback drawn from my own experiences. Although I have to say that was a nice point at the 42 sec of your video.

    And I wish you get your weight and stamina back at optimal levels soon!

    All the best,

    Stergios
     
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  10. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

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    I think you can handle the 3.5s at my local park already. :)
     
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  11. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Strokes looking good Tom! The forehand and the nasty backhand slice should be your main weapons... I like your aggressive mindset with regard to court positioning, but sometimes you get caught out in NML.

    Keep 'em coming! :)
     
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  12. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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  13. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    As said, your strokes are plenty good for 3.5, and can actually beat a lot of 3.5's IF.......
    If you had the movement, anticipation, not necessarily speed. You react to your opponent's shots, and don't drift into the bisect of possible returns.
    You DO hit away from the opponent, but only when you are forced away from center. Hi percentage, yes, forceful, no.
    And yes, you have all the shots needed to succeed in 3.5.
     
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  14. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    I like to come in and finish points whenever possible. I think it's the only way that I can be successful against solid 3.5 to weak 4.0 level players.

    I'm already scared by imaginings of your mercilessly dominating game. Nevertheless, looking forward to the vids.

    Thanks Stergios. Looks like it will be a mutually motivating experience.

    You haven't seen me play an entire match. There are high points and there are low points ... lots and lots of low points. :) Solid 3.5s are just enough more consistent than me that I regularly, predictably, lose to them. Sure, I'll win lots of points, and some matches are really close. But I'm not beating them, and that's the goal, to regularly and predictably win against solid 3.5 players. If I ever get to that point, then I'll raise the bar.

    Thanks for commenting. Post some vids of your play.

    Thanks Greg. I'll probably never hit the ball consistently as well as you do. Kudos on your persistence and the improvement that that has resulted in so far.

    Yeah, getting caught in No Man's Land is a problem. Hopefully my court sense will improve with other things. One main problem which I hope to fix is that I blow lots of volleys that should be easy putaways.

    Hopefully, better court positioning will come with increased fitness and focus.
     
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  15. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for your input LeeD. Yes, I realize that increasing my quickness of anticipation and movement will probably be the most important factors in improving my results. To that end, improvements in fitness and focus are really the main sub-goals. Hopefully, an increase in production of forcing shots will follow.
     
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  16. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I know my thoughts are often counter to conventional wisdom.
    I don't think fitness has anything to do with anticipation and first step quickness. Anticipation is a learned trait, thru years of tennis. First step also, knowing where the ball SHOULD go, and getting your body ready to move in that direction.
    Fitness is the ability to run forever and to run fast. That is nice to have, but has nothing to do with anticipation and first step quickness.
    There's a vid on here about some fat, out of shape middle European player who still probably plays at 5.5 levels.
    And someone like me, who cannot ever hope to cover alley to alley in singles (meaning highest level 3.5), can still play solid 4.5 DOUBLES, if the partner can just hold his own side of the court.
     
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  17. Mick3391

    Mick3391 Professional

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    Since you are asking; I would definitely work on catching the ball mid air at mid court and practice both slamming it over and touching it over. 3.5's can't consistantly pass you, so it will give you a huge advantage. In addition most are not trained to handle S&V so it may give you that advantage you are looking for. Same with the net.

    People come in, get passed, then think "This doesn't work", but look at your percentages over the match when you do it. Don't do it everytime of course, but mix it up enough to confuse your opponent.

    I HIGHLY recommend you get a toolbox of winning shots, shots that are game enders. Whatever they may be, 3-4 unique shots that end the game, and practice them over and over while working on your overall game. Maybe a soft flat shot to their BH side? Even if they get to it, they will be scooping it up and you got em.

    On your serve, you are taking it too soon. Get a higher throw, and try to come over it, you'll get more power and consistancy.

    Thanks Tom, cool watching you!
     
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  18. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Oh, and get a better practice partner. He's only holding you back.
    He's at best, a 3.0 beginner level.
     
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  19. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Your thoughts usually make sense to me. I'm not well-versed in or necessarily an aficionado of conventional wisdom.
    I think it can. For example, when I get overheated and my heart and breathing rates are way way up, then everything is kind of a dull blurr for however long it takes me to recover. During these intervals, which often occur in the middle of points, I think that my anticipation and first step quickness is even worse than it usually is. It follows that an increased fitness level can make some difference, however small, in anticipation and first step quickness.

    Agree. Hopefully I'll learn and improve in these areas.

    Again, thanks for your comments. They're always welcome.
     
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  20. Nellie

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    I thought you have pretty good hands and dug out some tough volleys, in that video. I bet you need to stop before you hit the volley (not run through the volley), and that small change would really help your net game.

    I defintely think you could improve the serve with some tweeks (a higher contact point and more shoulder rotation) for some free points.
     
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  21. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I make my case coming from one of the quickest movers on any tennis court (10 years ago) to a sloth who can't cover alley to alley in singles, or place weight on my left, which is your RIGHT leg.
    Years past, I relied on natural quickness. Being small in VarsityFootball AND VarsityBasketball in high school forced me to be quick.
    Now injured, my first step hasn't lost anything, and my anticipation much better, since I don't have the speed to cover court anymore.
    The BRAIN tells me to get ready sooner, correctly, and move towards center of intersect. It also tells me whether or not it's worth the effort based on my previous shot. I gotta think more to compensate for lost physical skills.
    There is a science to first step and quickness. It's not something that comes naturally. HenryHines wrote a book on quickness, and he talked a bit to me about it. Quickness is a learned trait. Ready position and all that.
    You dont have it when forced to run to either side, and especially don't have it on your hitting step when you move forward.
    You will, given enough time, but that is shortening as we speak.
     
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  22. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Ok. I agree, this would be good to drill on.

    Yes, this seems to be the case in my limited experience.

    Ok.

    Ok. Re hitting to BH side, yes, I've noticed that that's pretty effective at my level. So, remains for me to work on my crosscourt backhands and inside out and down the line forehands against RH opponents, and crosscourt forehands and inside out and down the line backhands against LH opponents.

    Thanks, but I don't want a higher toss. My serve is extremely easy on my body, extremely easy to execute consistently, and effective enough against anybody I'm likely to ever play against in league competition.

    Thanks to you Mick. Any comments, observations, suggestions, etc. are always welcome. Will be checking out your thread a little later.
     
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  23. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Noted, thanks. Yes, I definitely need more movement control (splitstep, etc.) in my volleying (as well as rallying, as I overrun balls fairly often). Right now I basically have no volleying technique. So, at least I'm starting with a blank slate.

    My recent experience (ie., going back a few months) suggests to me that a slightly farther out front and slightly farther away from me toss (and contact point) produces the most effective and consistent serving. I was beginning to get exactly what I wanted a lot more often before I got sick.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
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  24. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Thanks LeeD. Very interesting. And yes, time is of the essence. I'd be on the courts today except that I'm prepping for my colonoscopy tomorrow.
     
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  25. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    The only thing that might hold you back is mobility, but other than that, you appear to be well on your way. Good luck.
     
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  26. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    He's not a practice partner ... yet. I've played him two matches in league play over two seasons. He beat me 6-4 7-6 in December (at the end of the Fall Season) in a match that I might have won but was in a hurry to leave, and the vids posted in this thread so far are from our match yesterday (at the end of the Winter Season) which he won 8-4 (he consented to play a shortened pro set due to my greatly reduced fitness level). He's a 3.25 and I'm a 3.0 based on our results in the Tennis Fort Lauderdale - Boca Raton affiliate of the Tennis League Network. Actually, contrary to what the few vids I have with him in them might suggest, he's capable of some pretty decent playing (well, decent for our level :) ). He's played tennis a lot longer than I have. I've seen him in some pretty decent 10-15 stroke rallys with other players. But yeah, his game has some gaping holes in it, just like everybody else's at our level. I've offered to help him drill because I think he has very good potential. Plus it would help me too.
     
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  27. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Govnor. Post some vids of your play.
     
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  28. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    that would require me having some to post!! Hopefully this year!
     
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  29. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Great. Looking forward to viewing them.
     
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  30. Mick3391

    Mick3391 Professional

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  31. Mick3391

    Mick3391 Professional

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    On the first point, when you see a guy back behind the baseline, watch where he's hitting, then come in mid court, grab it mid air and either jam it cross court or touch it over. Either way it will make them very insecure staying back.

    What I meant about winner shots to the backhand, yea MAINLY go to the backhand, percentages will go way up at that level, but more than that, try this; In a rally, full swings, look at a direction to the left, start to take a full swing, you'll move your opponent to his right, then stop full swing half way and drop it over to the BH side. When you master that, you'll win a ton of free points, no human can retrieve it the way I described.
     
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  32. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    That link didn't work Mick. The camera/camcorder I use is a Sony CyberShot DSC S2100. It's highest quality (which isn't very good, but it's adaquate as an interim solution) is VGA (640x480) at 30 frames per second (fps). Better specs generally cost more money, but until you do more research and decide which camcorder to spend a few hundred dollars on, then you can make do with something even cheaper than the CyberShot but with the same specs. For example my local Big Lots store has a Vivitar for $15 which is enough to get started with. At least you can be recording vids and pics while your searching for a quality camcorder that you feel comfortable investing in and that you'll be able to use for years.

    http://www.biglots.com/c/electronics/cameras-gps-more

    GoPro is my current pick as the best camcorder(s) investment for the money. Their latest line is the Hero3:

    http://gopro.com/hd-hero3-cameras

    But definitely do your own extensive research on this, as there might be a better buy. I don't know.

    Anyway, a cheap camcorder and a cheap tripod will get you started, and at least you'll have something.

    I think it makes the videos too shaky and very annoyingly hard to watch, but haven't experimented with it myself.
     
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  33. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Ok Mick. Thanks. Seems like these tactics/techniques are worth experimenting with and practicing on.
     
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  34. goober

    goober Legend

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    You have 3.5 level shots already for the most part. Certainly good enough to win at that level. Your opponent has 3.0 level technique. I have to agree with Lee- your main problem is anticipation, court positioning, and better placement of your shots.
     
    #34
  35. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for the comments goober. Will resume practicing/playing tomorrow. Had a colonoscopy yesterday and they advise to rest for a day. Post some vids of your play if possible.
     
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  36. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    No wonder we have movement problems. :eek:
     
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  37. Mick3391

    Mick3391 Professional

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    Thanks Tom, if that one will work so will the other one. With my cell phone you can't see the ball, either that or I hit sooooo fast:)
     
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  38. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    I wasn't going to post these, but since I had to take the day off, and have nothing else to do right now, here, for your amusement and criticism, are some vids from a few days ago. My second set after being out for over 2 months. Each one is really short, and sort of unique.

    Overrunning the ball (the second shot)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYm1sYFYrp8

    Serve and topspin forehand putaway
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RceIceNlI8k

    Crosscourt topspin forehand
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uxDB9avhfE

    Serve and slice forehand
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rycPON-G_wE

    Serve and overhead winner
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjNB_4ArPQI

    Backhand service return crosscourt slice winner
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2u-VoSnJ2CQ

    Backhand inside out slice winner
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BG495lnuoQ

    Backhand sidespin service return
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2Gwr69yzO8

    Typical 5-shot, ~3.0 rally
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eczpIaHMVdQ

    Another typical ~3.0 rally
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnbFFYOWdAc

    Yet another typical 5-shot, ~3.0 rally
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ci4eZoL3IZ4

    2nd serve surprise (because most players at this level have such ridiculously slow 2nd serves my opponent was actually surprised by this)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeUSleAA41Q
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2013
    #38
  39. Mick3391

    Mick3391 Professional

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    Curious, what racquet do you use, and what specs and why?
     
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  40. Mike2228

    Mike2228 Rookie

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    Good luck Tom! Seems like you are on the right track.
     
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  41. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    It's a Prince Precision Response. Got it for $15 at the tennis courts about a year ago. Same strings, but changed the overgrip a few times. Want to get a modern racquet with much smaller head size.

    Before settling on using the above one for most playing and practice I was using a Prince O3 or something ($125). Then I got a Babolat 105 (on sale at TW for $70). But the Precision Response, though a relative cheapo, feels better to me than those. They are too light.

    picture
    http://gebruikterackets.nl/portfolio/prince-precision-response-710-pl-titanium-rafter-os-107/

    Some general specs
    Racquet Name: Prince Precision Response 710
    Head Size: 107 sq. in. / 690 sq. cm.
    Length: 27.00 inches / 68.58 cm
    Strung Weight: 11.60 oz / 329 g
    Balance: 4pts HL
    Swing Weight: 324
    Beam Width: 23.0mm
    Tip/Shaft: 23.0mm / 23.0mm
    Composition: 100% Graphite
    Power Level: Low-Medium
    Stiffness: 64
    String Pattern: 18 Mains/20 Crosses
    Main Skip: 8T,10T,8H,10H
    String Tension: 50-65 (mine is about 56, I think ... nylon, synthetic gut)
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2013
    #41
  42. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Mike2228. Post some vids of your play if you can.
     
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  43. scottf2

    scottf2 New User

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    I hope to look that good at your age. Oh wait... I wish I looked that good at MY age! Will be following this thread with great interest as I struggle to improve as a beginner (3.0) player... You're already well ahead of me so I hope to follow in your footsteps!

    Best of luck to you in your tennis journey!

    Scott
     
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  44. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Scott. Our next season (Tennis Fort Lauderdale - Boca Raton in the nationwide Tennis League Network), the Spring Season, begins on April 2 and runs to May 26. I hope to have lots of vids of matches during that interval. Maybe will post something before then.

    Make videos of your practice and match play. It's a good learning tool. Post some here. Best of luck with your progress.
     
    #44
  45. andrehanderson

    andrehanderson Semi-Pro

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    TomT,

    I haven't had a chance to really read through the thread yet, but I was really pleased to be able to see the video of you in action!

    I'll be following your progress and rooting for you! If I were a better tennis player Id contribute advice, but any feedback I can provide now would only hurt the receiver's game. :)

    Good luck!!
     
    #45
  46. Mick3391

    Mick3391 Professional

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    Tom, you are my friend so answer me honestly and bluntly.

    Why is it that some think I make wild claims or brag? Some I just ignored as troublemakers, but Ash Smith and you seems to agree to an extent.

    When I first joined, I put 6.0 player. Reason is because I looked at the ratings, and since I have beaten pro's I thought I should put 7.0. My older brother of 9 years beat pros, and I destroy him since I was a kid. Someone said you have to be ranked to be 6.0, turns out to be wrong, so I lowered it to 5.5. See I believe false humility is a lie. Also I think some can't imagine a very good player being on this forum.

    So it's like "Well should I lie to go along and get along", or just tell the truth. I tell the truth and get reemed for it. Soon we'll all know as my camera is in the mail, and we play several times a week. When you say "I'm a 3.0 working on 3.5", no one has any problem with that, when someone says 6.0, some try to misquote or poke holes into what I claim.

    "Beating a wall", that was a joke. Destroying a 5.5 player who has quit USTA tourneys because he got bored winning, that is true. Destroying the top female WA University player is true. The 5.5 even said "You have way too many tools, I can't beat you". Should I lie in the interest of not rubbing people the wrong way? Shouldn't this be about truth?

    I could play since I was 11, it was just natural and no problem, has been ever since, again do I lie?
     
    #46
  47. goober

    goober Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2004
    Messages:
    8,491
    Well Tom posted a video of himself and it is pretty clear he looks like a 3.0-3.5 level player so why would anybody have problem with that?

    If someone claims they are 6.0 player I can see some posters being more skeptical as there are very few of those people who posts on these forums. At 6.0 you should be basically at futures level and beat most D1 players and hang with the top ones. Personally I don't care one way or the other what level you claim to be. But if it bothers you, post a video of yourself, link your results tournament play so others can see it.

    Most high level players 5.5+ I know usually don't talk about level at all because at that stage NTRP is pretty meaningless. NTRP is kind of irrelevant if you are playing only futures and open level events.
     
    #47
  48. Mick3391

    Mick3391 Professional

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2012
    Messages:
    1,161
    Location:
    WA State
    Thanks, yea I don't want to cause a ruckus, and videos are coming, bought a very good camera. And I DON'T CARE what rating is either, but why lie?
     
    #48
  49. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Messages:
    4,411
    Location:
    expanding my Ignore List
    Tom, I'm not much more advanced that you and this may have been pointed out already but I don't see much split-stepping going on during your points. Maybe once or twice I saw one when you were inside the service box but most groundstrokes were hit flat footed.

    Split-stepping before every shot (and doing drills and practicing doing split-stepping) has really helped me become more mobile. I'm not much quicker but I can get to more balls because I'm using the momentum of the split step to get me going in the right direction. Split stepping, like most things related to tennis, has a lot to do with timing so you have to practice it a lot and make it an unconscious part of your game to get the most from it.

    One activity that has helped me quite a bit in improving my split step and overall cardio is jumping rope. Get a decent rope and work up slowly. I do what are known as tabata drills by doing fast jumping for some period of time, say 10 to 30 seconds, then rest for some time and repeat, in groups of 8 to 10. Just my $.02 and good luck!
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2013
    #49
  50. Dimcorner

    Dimcorner Professional

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2012
    Messages:
    814
    I'm shooting for this goal as well (3.0 to 3.5 by Jan). I will try to get a video of a friendly match and post up but unfortunately I think it will rain this weekend here :(

    Problem I have is that my T3i lens isn't wide enough and I don't feel safe putting it on the other side of the fence! i'll see if I can somehow attach my phone to the fence, thou I don't think the battery will last that long.
     
    #50

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