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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    Sounds like you have some great alternatives. Best of luck in the tourney. Any chance of posting some vids?
     
  2. trader1499

    trader1499 New User

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    Those are kind words Tom, but I haven't outright beat you to say all that. I have a lot of qork to go and you're still better than me. I will try my best to give you a good match next time.
     
  3. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    I split my last two matches in the Summer Season league of the tennisftlauderdale.com affiliate of the Tennis League Network.

    Yesterday I lost a close (6-0 6-0 :) ) match to a guy rated 3.5 in our league. Ok, I got bageled. But, really, I don't think I played bad at all (for me that is). We had some nice rallies. He was just a lot steadier than me. My serve was ok but gave him no problems as he could consistently bunt it back very short with no pace so that it was really hard for me to get to and do anything with. I won lots of points, and was ahead in more than half the games with game points and break points, but managed, once again, to repeatedly snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. :)

    Today I played a fellow 3.0er and won 4-6 6-3 6-4. I was pleased that I hung in there and didn't just float through the match after losing the first set. This particular guy has a really nice drop shot that he was killing me with. Also a nice forehand -- better than mine I think. The difference turned out to be that I was focused and relaxed and hitting my backhand nicely, and, as the match progressed, my serve got stronger while his became more erratic. We had a few fairly decently constructed 7 to 10 shot rallies. We played for a little over 2.5 hours. It was a good match.

    Sorry no videos though. In yesterday's match the video turned out really fuzzy. I still might edit it and post some stuff, but it's really annoying watching out of focus vids.

    Today there just was nowhere to put the camera. So no video period. It was raining intermittently today during our match anyway and I wouldn't want to get the camera even a tiny bit wet.

    I'm now 3-3 in the 2013 Summer Season league. Having lots of fun. Meeting some great people and renewing acquaintances from prior seasons as well as the Partner Program.

    I think my personal habits are generally steadily improving. My main bad habits were/are irregular hours, smoking cigarettes, and drinking beer. I've always only done these bad habits in relative moderation, but I would very much like to eventually stick to a regular sleep schedule, either cut out smoking altogether or at least get it down to less than 1/2 pack per day, and get the beer drinking down to just 1 or 2 per day (excluding special occasions :) ).

    My diet is now devoid of processed and canned foods, sugar, bread, pasta, and desserts. Have been juicing for a few days now. Crohn's is active (ie., intestines are inflamed) but under control. My exercise level and freedom from emotional stress are positive factors contributing to a generally good feeling most of the time, and a steadily improving fitness level.

    I think I'm getting a tripod tomorrow, so will have some video of something. Meeting trader1499 and a woman member of our league tomorrow at Hardy Park for some match play (they have to finish a rain-suspended match) and hitting against trader's new ball machine. It promises to be a fun outing. There will be video.
     
  4. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    I didn't really say "all that" much. :) And it wasn't out of kindness. The fact of the matter is that you're improving at a faster rate than I am. Which is to be expected since you're 30 years younger than me, athletic, and have a great capacity for work. You've also had great success in other competitive areas prior to getting seriously into tennis.

    In the match where we split sets and I retired you probably would have won a third set. In our league match we were even up to the point where you sustained the minor injury that limited your play for the rest of the match. So, from an objective point of view, I think you probably have to be the favorite in our next match. Just sayin'. :)
     
  5. lightthestorm

    lightthestorm Rookie

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    Rain delay in Birmingham... can't do anything right now. Just gotta wait and see.

    I got a really bad draw anyways.

    I'm probably not going to be able to film anything here... but maybe I can get a practice session in.

    But there is a couple photos online of me playing HS tennis. Unfortunately, we don't get as much coverage as Columbia or Spartanburg area, so there's not much.

    I will see what I can do though!
     
  6. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    We're rooting for you to do well in the tourney, lightthestorm (henceforth to be referred to as lts). Rain has killed a few of my matches this season also.

    What's a bad draw? You mean you have to play one of the favorites early in the tourney?

    Plenty of time for video. No hurry. Maybe later this year.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2013
  7. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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  8. lightthestorm

    lightthestorm Rookie

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    It's just so hard in this tournament.... I lost in the first round of singles to the 6th seed but I'm in the Quarters for consolation... I'm surviving.

    In doubles, we won the first round but lost to the better team 8-6.. we did good.

    Tom, you are improving slowly, but surely. But I see some balls at the net on your side. Remember to bend your knees and get under the ball... that will eliminate the net.
     
  9. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Thanks again for comments lts. Congrats on any wins, and playing well in the tourney.

    Yeah, the ball machine won our match. :) I just haven't hit nearly enough balls yet to where good footwork, bending knees, prep and stroke mechanics and, above all, focusing on the ball and looking it into contact with my racquet are habits that I do on every shot yet.
     
  10. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Video from match on Monday that I lost 6-4 6-1. Perhaps the worst I've played this season so far. The one bright spot is that I'm getting a bit better at serving with spin. I only had one double fault in this match. My first time playing on Har-Tru classic synthetic clay since taking up tennis again. We used to play on it a lot back in 75-76 at the same courts where we played this match.

    First Set
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhRZ9Df0dVc

    Second Set
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiVSiPlwW_k
     
  11. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    When did you develop that spin serve? I don't remember that one. It does have a different look than your normal serve. Looks liked you used both types in that match.

    What do you think caused your play to be worse than normal in that last match? Your opponent used such an abbreviated service motion I was amazed he got so many in. No legs, no trunk rotation, just kinda armed it in. Good for him as it works. He seems to specialize in just getting the ball back.

    Oh, I noticed a few times he hit to your BH deep and you had to run of and get those. Even at a higher level, amazing at it seems, if you run to hit your BH but lob it high and deeper than the service line (on the bounce) often you'll get out of a jam. A ton of people suck at overheads and your bail out lob will often prove difficult for them while you get a free pass to get back to center of the baseline to begin the point again.

    I only watched it once but seems you took pace off your shots in this video. I saw the flag in the background blowing like mad so wind was pushing balls to the left of the screen. Perhaps that had something to do with it?
     
  12. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, I don't know, just always trying little changes here and there. I don't actually think about it, so it would be difficult for me to translate into analytical language what my trials and frequent errors involve. But it has to do with slight variations in grip and toss mostly, which affects body rotation, point of contact, etc.

    My attitude mostly. Very cavalier, nonchalant. I'll win the next match with this guy (a great guy, by the way ... he'll be taking the Florida Bar exams later this month), and then we can have a third and deciding match during this Summer Season. :)

    I missed a lot of routine topspin forehands also. This will be self-correcting, I think, as the season progresses. For example, in my Tuesday match my topspin forehand was much more reliable. I've been concentrating on what I'm doing with my left arm (among other things) and the improvement in form has translated into better shotmaking.

    He's a low level rec hacker. What can I say? I also am a low level rec hacker, but for somewhat different reasons. :)

    Most of the sub 3.5 players I play are not really serious students of the game. They're generally unwilling or unable to spend the time necessary to really improve their form and their competitive levels. That, in a nutshell, is about it. As my fitness improves, then I'll be winning more and more matches against these sorts of players. As of now, I still lose to them sometimes, primarily because I get gassed and don't recover quickly enough. But hopefully that will be changing as the season and year progresses.

    Yes, I think this is good advice. The ability to lob effectively is absolutely essential to winning tennis matches, especially at lower rec levels.

    The wind doesn't bother me. Nothing really bothers me (either about conditions or my opponents) when I'm playing. My competitive level is directly proportional to my fitness level, I think.

    That match (that you commented on) was played on Monday. (I really enjoyed playing on the clay again, by the way.) I played a 3.5 guy (in our league) on Tuesday. Lost 6-1 6-2. He has somewhat better form and makes fewer mistakes than the Monday guy, but still basically a hacker/pusher. I think I'll win our next match in a few weeks if my fitness level continues to improve.

    Then today played another 3.0 guy who won our only other match last year 10-7 in a pro set. I won today's match 6-0 7-5. In the second set he went up 4-0, and I was hurting somewhat. Then, all of a sudden, some sort of second wind and I win 7 out of the next 8 games.

    I still have to edit the videos from Tuesday and today. Have a match tomorrow at 9AM with a 3.5 guy who beat me 10-0 in our last match.

    Will probably put off editing all three matches until tomorrow, and then sometime tomorrow evening or night will hit you with a ton of vids. :)

    Thanks corbind! Your observations, analyses, comments are always welcome and almost always quite helpful insofar as pointing out stuff that I hadn't previously considered.
     
  13. RogueFLIP

    RogueFLIP Semi-Pro

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    Looking good Tom! Your court positioning and sense seems to have improved. Now to just get an earlier preparation with the racket.

    Serve looks much better.

    I like how you're going to net a lot more.

    Question: Why do you hold the 2nd ball in your opposite hand?
     
  14. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for comments RogueFLIP. I start out serving holding 2 balls in my left hand when my shorts get soaked with sweat, or when I'm wearing shorts with no left pocket. Also, it's sort of a carryover from back in the day when lots of 1HBH players would do that.
     
  15. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Last edited: Jul 12, 2013
  16. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Below are links to Thursday's match which I lost 6-2 6-0.
    First Set
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvQHHaym3sY
    Second Set
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUrtJQYtjEU

    By the way, I played this match with a Wilson Pro Staff Classic 6.1, 4 5/8 in. grip, 95 sq. in. head, strung at about 56 lbs with syn gut (I think). This is the racquet that I will be using in the future. Strung maybe a little tighter. Actually, I have two of them now. One is strung a little tighter (about 58-59 lbs I'd guess) than the other. With different type of strings. Not sure what.

    I think these racquets are both stiffer and heavier than what I had been using. Although I can tell that it will take me a few days to change my hitting slightly to maximize the benefits that I hope to get from them (which is mostly being able to swing harder while keeping the ball in the court).
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2013
  17. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    Tuesday (lost 6-1 6-2)
    First Set
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZm_pb1rwT8

    Did you have more zip in your serves that set? Seems to me you did. Also your court movement speed seemed quicker than normal.

    Second Set
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1Eo5EjQBJE

    Boy I wish his last serve were in cuz you returned a SLICE like a rocket for a winner. I watched that thing 5 times as I could not believe you hit that rocket in. Fun to watch.
     
  18. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    Wednesday (won 6-0 7-5)
    First Set
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gbwyy75mQc

    Two of the serves had notably more spin and it really messed him up. Still, you're serving harder than you have historically. Does your arm hurt with the increased pace you're serving?

    Second Set
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcbNemaAkew
    Second Set continued

    Lotta half-volleys in there and I think you got them back. Way to go!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4WvXUkOd3o

    1:20 volley made me proud. ;)

    In general are you hitting more topspin shots than maybe a month ago? Seems you're mixing up the slice/ts more to me at least.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2013
  19. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    I don't know about more zip in the serves in that set. Maybe. I'd guess they're often zippier in the beginning of any match. Are they zippier in general? Maybe. I do feel like the serve is getting slowly but steadily more grooved, even though I'm always trying out little tweaks to it. Regarding court movement, I feel like I'm slowly but steadily getting more fit. Weighed myself at Publix grocery today. 176. But feel just as strong and definitely more fit than back in March of last year when I was about 35 lbs heavier on average.

    My opponent in this match is an example of a player who I would have regularly bageled (or at least won pretty easily against ... I think :)) back in '76. But with decreased movement capabilities (and everything else that aging entails) I'm missing far too many routine shots. Everything is just so much slower. On the upside, however, I do feel like the shots/strokes are slowley but steadily improving, and that it's mostly a matter of logging sufficient court time per week to keep that up.

    Yeah, that was a cool shot, huh? :) It skipped maybe 4 inches high after it hit his side of the court. Even if he had been over there it would still have been almost impossible to hit back. It's shots like that that give me hope that better things are yet to come, and anyway it's just fun to hit those suckers once in a while. Generally the low-net-clearance undercut shots are significantly lower percentage than coming over the ball, but they're also really hard for opponents to handle, so I think it's worth practicing on and keeping it as part of my game.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2013
  20. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Consciously trying to put a bit of slice on some of the serves. It seems to be effective. Arm doesn't hurt at all. The way I serve, while not effortless, requires significantly less energy than a more correct serving motion might. I don't feel like I'm trying very hard when I serve. The zippy ones happen when the placement and timing of the toss and the timing of the swing come together and I hit the ball in the sweetspot. What a feeling! Have been experimenting with leaning into the serve a bit more (coupled with putting the toss a bit more into the court of course) with good results. Not necessarily in this match but in the subsequent one.

    A word on this match. I could have easily lost it, because, for some reason, I just got really tired after the first set. My opponent went up 4-0 in the second set before I regained my focus and got a sort of second wind. If he had won the second set, then there's a good chance he would have won the match. Really, I don't know what would have happened or how it would have affected my focus and attitude and playing.

    The thing is, I should be bageling players like this. I mean, I'm quite contemptuous of this sort of playing (both my opponent's and my own). The guy has absolutely no form at all (notice that he doesn't even put his left hand on the racquet), and basically just bunts everything back. But he's 20 years younger and pretty darned fit and can run lots of stuff down. So, my shots have to be just a bit better placed and just a bit faster paced than I'm doing now, and I just can't make as many stupid errors as I'm doing now.

    So anyway, there's significant motivation to improve ... with regard to both technique and results.

    Yeah, I've always been fairly good at half volley type shots. Even from the baseline. These days I mess them up more than I used to though. It's a matter of timing, and sometimes laziness in that I could have gotten into a better position to hit a better shot with a bit more effort.

    Thanks. I know you like the drop volley, or just well placed short and soft volley. I agree that it's a formidable weapon. It's another thing that I need a lot of practice on. Definitely a necessary skill to learn if I'm going to be an opportunistic net rusher.

    Yes. I'm consciously coming over the ball more and more. Believe it or not, back in '76 my bread and butter was extreme topspin off both sides. But it requires a bit more effort than hitting flat or undercutting the ball. Upon returning to tennis last year I found myself hitting mostly undercut shots, and have slowly been trying to get back the form to come over the ball more often. Recently have tweaked the grip and have been more conscious of the left hand/arm role in my forehand form. That, as well as being more conscious of footwork and positioning for shots, and being more able to do that, has resulted in slow but steady improvements in the forehand. The backhand needs even more work before it gets grooved.

    The way I used to play was I had a really hard serve and a really good forehand, and was able to pretty much overpower players who had better all around games than me. But I don't think that that's ever going to be the case again. That is, I pretty much need to work on and strengthen all aspects. Especially, volleys and driving backhands.

    I really love this game!

    Welcome back corbind. Thanks for your comments and attention to my self indulgent project. :)
     
  21. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Hey Tom! Really looking much better with your court positioning and shot placement! Keep it up!
     
  22. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    Rather interesting sets. That guy ran around any BH to hit a FH were possible. His BH was sad. I'm not sure at your level or his level how easy it is to hit one side of the court. Yet, where possible, I'd suggest hitting 4 of every 5 balls to the ad side of the court even if it means you're hitting down the line or changing direction.

    Next time you play this guy do just that. You may lose simply from UE by changing the direction of the ball trying to hit to the ad side, but I think it would be a good exercise. You cannot let a guy with that bad a BH get away with it. His FH did some damage but in the points that went to his BH he missed a lot.

    You have a way better BH than his so it would be good to exploit him. So almost all of your BH (from ad court) would go crosscourt to his weak BH. And when he hits his FH crosscourt to your FH hit down the line just to keep it on his ad side to make him try to hit backhands.

    Eh, armchair quarterbacks (like me here) can say a lot of do this do that but it really is your call on what you do. I agree that just being on the courts three times a week for a couple of hours a pop will easily advance your game play. Repetition and seeing sequences and spins over and over build up memory.

    Oh yea, sometimes watching now it does not seem like you. Why? You're really getting excited running after balls that you used to just let go by and say nice shot. One I could not believe you ran a few steps hard, saw he hit behind you, and you changed direction and got over to the ball. That's cat-like and kudos to you. If it's the dropped weight or determination, well, I don't know. Either way it's paying off.
     
  23. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Greg. I left some comments on your latest vid (in your "court sense" thread).
     
  24. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    This is probably good advice to use against any of my opponents.

    I am able to hit one side of the court, from anywhere, consistently. It just takes more energy. :) But, yeah, I agree that I should be doing more of that against players with obvious weaknesses on one side or the other.

    Definitely something to work on.

    The thing about this particular guy is that he does have the ability to groove his backhand if I were to hit to it all the time. Nevertheless, I agree that it's a good strategy to begin with, then, if he keeps missing or hitting weak backhands I'll just continue doing it.

    Agree. See above.

    OK. I will play him at least one more time this season. If I win our rematch, then we can have a third match.

    The armchair comments are quite helpful actually. You probably see a lot of things that I don't, and the comments and suggestions always make good sense to me.

    I'm usually logging at least 10 to 12 hours per week and sometimes more, but we're in the rainy season now, so that has been significantly reduced.

    The fitness is slowly but steadily improving (less weight is part of it, increased leg strength and cardio is another). With that, my reluctance to exert myself too much on any given point is decreasing. It's a trend that I expect to continue provided I don't get hurt or sick.

    Thanks much for your observations and comments corbind.

    I forget, did I mention www.chitowntennis.com to you? Check it out. I don't know what your competitive level is, but if any of the divisions there would provide you with sufficient competition then you might consider signing up for a season just as an experiment. Also, then you would be in a position to participate in the year end (Nov 1-3) tournament at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on Key Biscayne in Miami, and we can meet there. That would be too cool.
     
  25. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    The rains have screwed up my tennis schedule. Finally got back out on the court this evening. Not a league match though. I called almost everybody and couldn't get a match. It happens like that sometimes.

    Anyway, went to the courts prepared for a solitary practice session of maybe some hitting with one of the local regular hackers. To my pleasant surprise there was this guy there who asked me to hit. He's a 52 year old from Uraguay. Wow, can this guy hit. I was using my newly acquired Wilson Pro Staff Classic 6.1 95s and his hitting raised my hitting to a nice level. We rallied (groundstrokes mostly, and some volleying) for about half and hour and then played through points for about 20 minutes. It was most productive. He had to go but I stayed and practiced serves and did some drop feeding for a while. All in all a very good session.

    Next match is Sunday at 5PM. Going to try to get a match for tomorrow also. There will be video. :)
     
  26. johnchung907

    johnchung907 Rookie

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    Good Job Tom!! Seeing your latest match videos, I think you have improved a lot. Your slice is just as nasty, you're hitting more topspin and your serve has more speed to it! Just need a tad bit more work! Oh, by the way, about your comment on how you don't drive through enough. If you try RPM Blast (have you used it before?), it's magic. Some of my speedy flat balls now have a tad of topspin in it (still flies just as fast, but higher over the net for better consistency). Also I believe your slice would even be nastier then ever. Anyways keep up the good work! And I hope your new racquets are working out for you well.
     
  27. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Thanks John. Going stir crazy with the rains here. Yesterday was the first I hit in about 9 days. Was supposed to play at 5PM Sunday but my opponent emailed me to say that he was going to have to work. However I'm optimistic that I can get a match with somebody for Sunday, so should still have some new vids to post soon.

    Regarding the RPM Blast, you're not the first person to recommend it to me. However, I think I should wait until my game and arm become stronger before trying it. For now I'm just going to stick with the synthetic gut. But thanks for the suggestion. Suggestions and comments are always welcome and appreciated.

    The new racquets are going to work out very well for my game. They are a bit harder on the arm, wrist and hand in that they are heavier, stiffer, and smaller sweetspot than my previous racquet. However, the hitting session I had Friday evening went quite well, so I'm optimistic. Just can't overdo it. Must pace myself and just keep steadily at it. At my current fitness and strength level I can play a match every other day with the new racquets and tighter string tension with no problems. Hopefully I'll be able to play a match pretty much every day (or expend at least the equivalent effort and energy in practice) in the foreseeable future. If it would just stop raining every day here. :)
     
  28. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    Hope your new racquet/tension/weight works out for you. I'd imagine having a heavier stick now you actually have to swing slower to keep the ball in. We'll see in a few weeks if you think your new racquet is more stable than the old.

    Hope you get to have some days with no rain!
     
  29. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Here's some video of what I did today because my scheduled opponent cancelled and I couldn't get a match. Hopefully tomorrow and Tuesday will be dry also.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fmi-Z0Llrsc

    Did some serving also. Video later maybe. Trying to lean more into it by tossing a bit more out in front, into the court.
     
  30. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    You still have better groundstrokes than me...
     
  31. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    I seriously doubt it. I was being pretty sloppy in that latest wall vid. Just wanted to get some stuff with the new racquet.
     
  32. daved

    daved Rookie

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    Getting to 3.5

    Regardless of changes in your fitness, strokes or tactics, if you split step EVERY time your opponent hits the ball and watch the ball all the way into your strings EVERY time you hit the ball, there is no way you can't go from 3.0 to 3.5.

    Fundamentals (meaning things even more fundamental than grips and strokes...i.e., movement and hand-eye coordination) are undervalued and under-taught in tennis instruction, IMO.

    When asked what he thought about during a match, Agassi once said (I'm paraphrasing), "If I keep my feet moving and watch the ball, I know I'll win...I don't have time to think about anything else."
     
  33. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Hi daved. I think that's a good observation and advice. Certainly pertinent for me in particular. I'm sure I don't it on every point, and maybe not even on most points. :cry: So, I'm making a mental note to split step and watch the ball into the strings on EVERY shot. It has become the #1 sub-goal in the quest to reach 3.5. :)
     
  34. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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  35. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    First Set
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8dkkCEGWBc

    4:05 dig your slice! Your opponent has a decent loopy forehand. What is is rating?
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2013
  36. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    He's a 3.5 in our league. I guess the admin figures him to be a weaker 3.5 because he's one of only two 3.5s in the lower B Division (with me and 6 other 3.0s and a 3.25) of our two divisions, A and B, this season. The A Division is all 3.5s. All of the 4.0s and above who sometimes play in this league took this Summer Season off.

    My opponent is actually quite talented in my opinion. He does some nice serving and never double faults. However, his backhand is very erratic. Sometimes he hits it really well, but he shanks a lot from that side. In the beginning I was winning points by hitting a lot to his backhand. Then somewhere along the line I forgot I had a game plan. :) Oh, now I remember, I transitioned into my usual format of missing routine shots for no apparent reason (unless you want to count not anticipating or moving well and not watching the ball). :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2013
  37. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    While splitstepping is nice and fancy for the young, at your age (and mine), all that is needed is a BALANCED stop ready to move in any direction. You have it once in a great while.
    What you really lack is a way to stop your lumbering momentum. You run through every shot, not stopping until you are well off the court. You need to be able to saunter to the ball, STOP and hit it, then recover back to center of intersect, rather than taking a few more recovery steps AFTER you've hit the ball.
     
  38. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Ok. This makes sense. Thanks LeeD. I guess it's a matter of focus, of not being lazy. Hit the ball and immediately get ready for whatever might come next, and then watch the next shot all the way into the strings. I'm sure that if I develop the habit of recovering adequately on every single shot then I'll make fewer stupid errors and my match results will improve.
     
  39. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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  40. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    2:21 + 2:58 -- Is it by plan you're letting that ball bounce then come close to a second bounce before you lunge your slice to get it back? Or is it just slow to get to the ball so you're forced to slice at the last second? Either way I do this a lot (letting the ball to my BH drop very low. It lets me slice it back lower and messes with their head wondering why you almost let it bounce twice. Don't think you'll hear anyone else say what you're doing is good -- but it's working and works for me too.

    4:10 -- You are evil :evil:

    5:58 -- You hit to his FH and he had a wide open court to hit to while you hung at the sideline. The ball was to your FH but you should play percentage and hit it inside out to his BH anyway as that's his worse side. Better than dealing with that damn loopy forehand he has.

    6:48 -- Almost got him. He whacked two spinny, hard FH and you blocked 'em back. He did get ya on the third strike but shows you just getting the ball back was frustrating him to go bigger.

    I remember this guy from the last time. Seemed he did not like the net (as most baseliners don't). He'd much prefer to bash those loopy, hard forehands all day and you're gonna lose in that battle. Those well-placed short balls often frustrate them as they can't use their loopy SW swings to dig up shots. Then again I'm over thinking it. Just keep doing what you do. And I'm still liking the serve. That gets you a lot of points.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2013
  41. BaselineB

    BaselineB New User

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    Nice serving indeed! Is that something you work on a lot?

    Thanks for sharing your matches by the way, it's fun to watch you develop!
     
  42. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    2:21 was just slow to get to the ball. 2:58 was on purpose.

    Yeah, as long as I do a good knee bend and really look the ball into the racquet, then taking it lower usually produces a nice low-clearance shot with decent pace which will skid fast and low, and that I can usually put where I want to. And it's actually an easy shot that I have a lot of confidence in. The key is me bending my legs sufficiently and keeping my eye on the ball. Quite often much easier said than done for somebody as inexperienced, and lazy, as me.

    I hit two really effective drop shots in this match. They were both sort of accidents. :oops:

    I agree. Good point.

    He was keeping the pressure on there and I missed before he did.

    Yeah. He has a lot of potential. But very erratic. Nice form, but he gets anxious and rushes a lot of shots.

    Yep. Good droppers and lobs are definitely effective against baseliners. They're also effective against me, because of my limited mobility. :)

    Not necessarily. Post match analysis is the time to consider as many different strategic and tactical scenarios as possible.

    Well, if I do that, then I will undoubtedly not get to 3.5. My game is changing subtley but steadily. For the better, I think. I do little experiments all through matches. Some things are paying off. If I stay healthy and continue to slowly but steadily get fitter, then at some point I'm going to play a match against a fairly decent (you know, decent for my level, like a solid 3.5) player who I've probably lost several previous matches to, and a lot of stuff is going to come together and translate into much fewer mistakes, and I'll win. Then I'll build on that confidence to become ever more competitive, both in skill and in spirit. A sub-goal is to develop a habitual attitude of treating each and every point in a match as a separate, stand-alone little Everest that I not only just want to climb (as long as it's sort of easy), but am compelled to do whatever's necessary to reach the summit. :)

    I'm still experimenting in subtle ways with it. It does get me a lot of easy points, but right now I also lose a lot of serve points because of the constant experimentation. Just lots and lots of little tweaks that are more or less unnoticable to anybody but me, as well as some more obvious stuff. When I finally get it to where I want it, then I'll groove it.

    Thanks again for the observations and suggestions corbind.
     
  43. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    I'm playing a few matches per week, plus on non-match days I almost always hit a few dozen serves, experimenting with this or that little tweak. Maybe will take one day off per week during stretches when the weather is nice enough to play every day.

    You're welcome BaselineB! Thanks for watching! Post some vids of your playing if you can.
     
  44. lightthestorm

    lightthestorm Rookie

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    Serve has gotten so much better and forehand is a lot more consistent.

    Against that guy: You just have to keep the pressure on him. He's good enough to deflect most slices and balls that land on the short end of no man's land. If the forehand is in wheelhouse... he's going to beat you.

    But he falters when the ball is hit deep into the court and touches/comes close to the baseline. He's also not great at getting low hit balls or drop shots. In other words, he moves around pretty well laterally but his footwork is lacking in terms of going up and down the court. He also jumps unnecessarily sometimes when he hits a forehand... that's never good.

    Also, if you can, always hit to his backhand. It's just not consistent.

    I used to play a game with serves.. still do. When I was literally a beginner with serves, I used to do a game where I would play it like an actual match. If the serve went in (either on first or second try), I gave myself a score of 15-0 then moved on to the other side. Double fault there? It's 15-15.

    Nowadays, I try to serve 7-10 balls in a row in each side. I don't go to the other side until I get at least 7 balls in.

    Maybe you could do something like that (3 in a row) to build some consistency?
     
  45. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Hi LTS. Thanks for comments. I won't play that guy again till maybe next season. Anyway, because of his youth and his natural athleticism I think he has the potential to become a much better player than I ever will. I'm also somewhat athletically inclined, but I'm 65 and have developed little aches and pains in places where most people his age haven't even developed places yet. :)

    If we both improve, then he should continue to beat me, but we'll both have higher ratings, which is the hope.

    Interesting game with the serve. Thanks for suggestions. Actually, my experimentation with my serve is coming along ok. Eventually, I expect to get back to the > 70% serves-in (total combining both 1st and 2nd) percentage that I had gotten to a while back, but with an improved serve and no accompanying hand soreness. At my level, when my serve goes in, then I win an extremely high percentage of those points (like > 80% I'm pretty sure). It's just that at the moment I'm experimenting a bit and the serve-in percentage has fallen off. But I'm not worried about it. I'll take some double faults now for a better game down the road.

    Forehand is coming along. On most routine forehand groundstrokes where I have time to set up I've been using a grip rotated slightly more toward the western than before. I like the feel of it, and I'm usually getting sufficient depth and topspin without much effort.

    Best wishes to you in your next tourney.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2013
  46. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    Yea take your lumps now. Experiment / tweak your serve and expect to lose some service games while you're messin' with it. But by doing it that way and in MATCH play you're putting the pressure on and seeing how the tweaks result. If you did the tweaks only when a buddy is hitting your serves back in practice he'll return in a different fashion than a guy would in a match.

    Talk to us about that hand soreness. You gripping too tight? You should not be gripping hard until your racquet is about to strike the ball (serves included).
     
  47. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, well put.

    I'm not gripping too tight. Ultimately, this is related to the conjunction of the type of grip I'm using (pistol, more or less eastern) on my serve, and the arm and wrist motion while attempting to hit spinny or slice serves, I think :), and it goes back to June of 2012 when my various body parts weren't as acclimated to playing as they are now, and I overdid it by playing/hitting way too much on several consecutive days. Plus, at that time, I might well have been gripping the racquet too tight. To be honest, I don't remember. But this demostrates the value of TTW comments, in that since reading about the benefits of a loose grip and relaxed arm here I've been conscious of that and it's become a habit, and my groundies and serve have improved because of it.

    By the way, less pain after that last match than usual, I think because I was consciously trying to hit some serves with more of a pronation sort of shoulder, forearm, wrist rotation and hitting the ball more or less straight on rather than slicing it. As a result (I think, but not sure) the serves in that match were still fairly hard, but less vibration was transferred to the base of my thumb.
    Anyway, my hand has always hurt a little since June 2012, but it seems to getting better, even while I'm using a heavier, stiffer, more tightly strung, smaller sweetspot player's racquet now. So I'm not really worried about it.

    The only other time I get anything more than just a mild or annoying sort of pain in it is when I shank high topspin backhands.

    By the way, I was just noticing in your signature ... you were a DII college player 20 something years ago?

    Thanks for your observations, comments, and suggestions corbind.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2013
  48. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    Hmmm, where specifically does it hurt on your hand or is it actually your wrist? I know when I mishit fast volleys it twists the racquet in my hand and the wrist can hurt at times. I cannot speak for everyone but if someone walked up they could grab the racquet out of my hand without a lot of resistance. The only reason to hold it tight is when the ball is about to contact it so that the ball doesn't jar the racquet from the hand.

    Yea I played as an undergrad in the day when people actually served and volleyed. Most of us were hitting with a closed-stance Eastern FH and 1HBH while few had an open stance SW FH and 2HBH -- and now that's the norm!

    Check this link to grips. Let us know which you're using for your FH and BH.

    http://www.tennis.com/your-game/2009/10/grip-guide---a-grip-on-your-game/17981/#.UfRgAY3lZyI
     
  49. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    It's more in the hand. Specifically, the back of the hand close to the thumb, and the base of the thumb itself, and sort of including the wrist around the base of the thumb. Maybe it's some sort of carpal tunnel syndrome?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carpal_tunnel_syndrome
    The hand often goes numb when I ride my bicycle. Sometimes when I wake up from sleeping it's numb.

    I'm sure it's not that my grip is too tight. It's possible that the grip, the grip tension, the stroke, etc. etc. has nothing really to do with it. It could be just that the vibration that the hand/wrist is going to get no matter what I do is enough to aggravate a preexisting condition.

    I recall that back in 2007-2008 both of my wrists, but slightly moreso the right one, were so sore and weak that it was painful to grasp and pick up objects that were even just a little bit heavy. I wasn't playing tennis then, so it couldn't have been that. Anyway, it persisted for about a year or so, and then just went away. No further problem until June of 2012, about 3 months after I had gotten back into tennis. But then, as now, it was only in the right wrist/hand.

    Fantastic! You must be pretty darned good then.

    The good old days, eh? :) No wonder you've taken an interest in providing some positive criticism and suggestions re my videos. Closed-stance Eastern FH and 1HBH. You speak from experience. As well as a fairly high level of playing it seems.

    My forehand grip varies from almost continental to eastern, sometimes going just slightly beyond eastern to semi-semi-western, and pretty much always a pistol grip, depending on how I want to hit the ball.

    Backhand grip varies from continental to eastern, again depending on how I want to hit the ball. For flat and topspin shots I use more of a hammer grip. For my usual leisurely sliced or undercut shots I use more of a pistol grip.

    Serve grip is eastern forehand pistol grip.
     
  50. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Some video from the first set of Saturday's rain-postponed match with TTW's trader1499. He won the first set 6-1, but the second set was 1-1 with me serving at 30-15 when we had to stop. This is scheduled to be resumed on Wednesday.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uy1XCC2gH7w
     

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