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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    Thanks for comments Mike. Right now I feel really far from 3.5 - 4.0 level. :) Solid 3.5+ routinely make shots that I'm currently missing (primarily, I think, because their stroke mechanics is just a bit more solid than mine), and they don't have the mental lapses that currently characterize my game. They also have a topspin serve which is something I really need to learn and develop. Some of them even have fairly decent kick or twist serves. I'll bet that you probably hit decent topspin, kick and twist serves. Do you?

    Mike, are you the person who advocated putting lead on the racquet and provided a link to some info about that to me? If not, I apologize to whoever that is, but in any case, I did lead up one of my racquets. I have 1/2 inch lead tape going all around the outside of the frame which I hold in place (because even though it sticks to the frame it can come off when I hit hard) with lead strips wrapped perpendicular around the frame at 12 o'clock, 10:30 and 1:30. I like the feel of this better than the naked racquet and seem to hit better with it. I'm going to add additional perpendicular strips at 9, 3, and 6, and also enough at where the throat splits (just above the handle/grip) to make it less head heavy but still provide more weight. I also stripped everything off of the grip (which I think is a 4 3/8, but might be a 4 1/2) and just use one overgrip. This seems to give the best feel for me. I have relatively big hands and have tried significantly larger circumference grips, but this seems to work the best for me.

    I was checking out your discussion of the Wilson Pro Staff 6.1, and looked into similar racquets by Wilson and others. I think that eventually I might like to at least seriously demo some of these.

    For now, I can do what I need to do with my current racquets, which is to just concentrate on getting fitter, being more steadily focused, and improving and solidifying the mechanics of my strokes. Not to mention learning a topspin, kick, and twist serve which is probably the most important purely mechanical thing I have to learn.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2013
  2. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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  3. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Tom, i play with a guy your age who is an incredible player. Maybe just an elite athlete because his coordination and movement is top notch.

    Anyway, he really values placement and taking the ball on the rise by chopping it down with slice. His lobs and drop shots are the best of anybody i have played.

    I think when you play a guy who is trying to bash and get you to move side to side you should try slicing him more and pulling him to the net. It is a rather effective strategy and maybe something that would work for you.
     
  4. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    Love th slice FH. Works well for you that match. Serve always seems to give your opponents trouble and you get a lot of them in. Did you get a new camera recently?
     
  5. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Thanks PP. Somewhere along the line I seem to have lost whatever effective slice approaches I used to be able to hit fairly frequently and with confidence. It will come back. On the positive side, I'm feeling better, stronger. I feel like I'm approaching a point fairly soon where the mental stuff will outweigh the physical, and then the strategic and tactical considerations will become more important. Right now I'm just struggling to keep routine shots in the court.

    How's your game going? Any recent vids?
     
  6. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for comments corbind. Serve is becoming more comfortable and consistent with each match. I've pretty much abandoned the idea of ever being able to serve anything like Pat Rafter. :) It just takes too much energy. My goal is 3.5, and I think I should be able to reach that with my current serve. Interestingly, as I've been, on some serves, trying to toss higher and contact the ball at a higher point, on those serves I'm actually getting something like a slice-twist that Rafter was talking about in his recent vids with the FYB guy (Hamilton). Of course mine is slower and bounces lower, but the thing is that I can do it with my usual, very comfortable, serving motion. So, that's encouraging.

    No new camera. The Sony CyberShot that I've been using for some time now sometimes focuses fairly well and sometimes not, and I have no definite idea why that is. I try to be careful not to put my hand in front of the lens when I turn it on so that it doesn't autofocus in the near field and make everything else sort of fuzzy. But maybe I've unwittingly done that a few times.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2013
  7. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Played another match today. Lost 10-6. Videos some time tomorrow.

    God, I truly suck at this game right now. But am not going to get discouraged. Using the saturation principle. Just playing many matches, logging much court time, must get better. :)

    Actually, I'm having fun. Perhaps I should get a bit more serious about winning? But then, I honestly think that I can get to a solid 3.5 level while not really seriously giving a **** whether I win or lose. But of course, considering social conditioning, I do seem to enjoy winning a bit more than losing. Then again, I don't think that's it. I think it really is just a matter of logging sufficient court time, match play, and practice. Then I will win matches. Time will tell.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2013
  8. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    Although the losses seem too abundant you're in a perfect time to lose. Lose often while working on your game. Imagine a guy who does the same play every time. His peers he used to beat will often equal or surpass him because they tried things. They did not worry, "Oh no, I can't lose to this guy. My ego would be crushed. What would my friends think knowing I lost to THAT guy?"

    Keep filming. Keep showing the world your scars and bruises. You are an intelligent man so I'm certain you will get really, really good at strategy and all things mind. Logging hours in practice or matches just creates and reinforces muscle memory.

    I'm pleased you're trying things. Seems like long ago you began the chronicle thread and you've done so much. Hard to believe but I watch every video every video you provide. You take the time to edit it down in snack size clips and I have fun watching. Everyone can play arm chair QB.
     
  9. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for the encouraging words and helpful tips corbind. I didn't put the video of Sunday afternoon's (yesterday) match into "snack size" clips. But the source video is edited down to only about 8 minutes. Perfect for watching while having a snack. :)
     
  10. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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  11. Sup2Dresq

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  12. corbind

    corbind Professional

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  13. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    No but when I get a court without windscreens blocking ill film again, or ill try propping the camera up on the tennis bag. Game is better since the last vid I think. Much more consistent and my backhand and serve is better.
     
  14. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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  15. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Yeah. Did you hear his joyful outburst when I told him he was gonna be on YouTube? :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2013
  16. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, that was a 2nd serve too. I'm beginning to understand how really effective that wide slice serve is, and learning to hit it better. Doesn't have to have a lot of pace at all because the receiver still has to go way to his right and off court to return the ball which opens the court for an easy winner. Must keep working on that one.
     
  17. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    I use the garbage can outer containers. :) But they're really too short. Must get a tripod.

    Your game already looked really good in the vid I watched. Would love to see some of your current and future match play.
     
  18. Greg G

    Greg G Professional

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    Tom, get the qm-1 mount, you won't regret it! Super easy to use, and you get a great view of the court with minimal fuss.
     
  19. shazbot

    shazbot Semi-Pro

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    I think getting two games off a 4.0 is extremely good if you are only a 3.0.

    Not to take anything away from you, but I find it hard to believe a 'true' 4.0 would lose 2 games to a 3.0. Perhaps he was a recently bumped 3.5, so a low end 4.0.

    Regardless, that's impressive for your age and skill gap.
     
  20. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Thanks. I intend to film some point play with my friend once the rain stops here.

    Some of the guys I hit with are not that stoked about being filmed so I have to hit with the right players.

    On your last vid..here is how you beat this guy - make him run. He is out of shape and slow.

    Example 1 - the return of serve. you retuned it right back to him on that point. that will only work if you jam him up with a heavy return.

    try this - slice return down the line. Make him move.

    To beat this guy I would run him side to side with deep corner shots. I would also approach with slice DTL and keep him lunging.

    I think you can beat this dude.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2013
  21. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Greg. I checked out some vids of it. It does seem like it would be the best option. But I think I can get a tripod for less that 1/3 the price of the qm-1. The difference would buy a lot of tennis balls, and I'm on a pretty tight budget. So, I'll probably go with a tripod first, and if that doesn't work then the qm-1 would be the best alternative I think.
     
  22. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    He was bumped to 4.0 from 3.75 about 6 months ago I think.

    A couple things to consider:
    1. He's a friend and a really nice guy, and I'm pretty sure he's not playing his A game in every game against lower rated players like me. That is, I think he wants me (us) to win at least a game or two (I've played him a couple times before).

    2. That match was the best I've played this season so far. For him it was just a routine, easy win. I won my first service game to make it 1-1 and then he won the next 7 games in a row, then I won another service game, then he closed it out.
     
  23. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    I wonder why. Everybody I've played so far loves the videos.

    He's still in better condition (cardio, lungs, etc.), stronger, and faster than I am. Plus, his strokes are more consistently solid, and he's played waaay more tennis than I have in his lifetime.

    I'm still weak in, and still working on, the basics. But yes there are lots of shots that I'm just being lazy on, and could direct them better. Hopefully each match will see some improvement in that.

    Thanks for the vote of confidence PP. Probably won't happen this season, or the next. But by the beginning of next year, if I stay healthy ... who knows. :)
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2013
  24. gmatheis

    gmatheis Hall of Fame

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    Hey Tom,

    Keep up the good work, looks good.

    The main thing I see that I think needs some work is that after you hit the ball you tend to stand with your racket down at your side and watch until your opponent hits the ball.
    You need to be a little more active in recovering to a good position after you strike your shot but before your opponent strikes their shot.

    I think this would close down some of the big holes your opponent has to hit his winners.

    Keep up the good work !
     
  25. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Yes, this is a very bad habit of mine, and it's mostly just a mental thing that I can correct.

    Totally agree. It's something that I can begin to correct immediately, starting with my match tomorrow.

    I think you're certainly correct gmatheis. Thanks for your comment(s). They help me to keep in mind things that I can and must do in order to improve my match results.

    Hopefully. A short term goal (a subset of the larger goal of reaching 3.5 by year's end) is to play as many matches as possible during the approximately two-month long Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter league seasons this year. A minimum of 25 matches per season, but more if weather and scheduling considerations permit.

    As an aside, I have another little incentive to start winning matches in that each player brings a can of new balls to each match. One can is used for the match, and the winner keeps the unopened can. So, if I continue to lose this can get a bit expensive for somebody like me who's on a tight budget. :)
     
  26. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    One thing I've been meaning to mention is about the racquet I use. I have two modern racquets now. One is a Prince Precision Response 710pl 105 sq. in., and the other is a Babolat 105. Both basically granny racquets. The Babolat is just toooo light. The Prince is 11.6 oz. stock and I've put a bit more than an ounce of lead tape on the head. Better feel, but I still have to be really really careful or I can easily hit the ball too far.

    My latest opponent (April 29) had a couple of Wilson 6.1 95s. Not sure exactly which racquet they are. Must find that out. Anyway, he let me hit with one after our match. Wow, the difference in feeling and control was like night and day. I could swing hard, hit out, and all my shots were staying in. Great feeling of control. Also, my serve had significantly more pop, and was at the same time easier to control, with this racquet. This is the sort of racquet that I'm saving up for. I think it will make a marked positive contribution to my progress.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2013
  27. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Granny sticks are for folks with short stunted swings.
    You have normal flowing strokes.
     
  28. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, I need a different racquet. I thought that I would need a granny stick for power and to take it easy on my arm and wrist, but I was wrong. I can furnish my own power, and my wrist and arm are much stronger now and so I would do better with a player's, or control, racquet than what I have.
     
  29. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    I'm certain if you demo many 100" sticks from TW you'll find significantly more control. Larger heads launch balls (more powerful) but are more forgiving on off-center hits.
     
  30. kiwistar868

    kiwistar868 New User

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    My input

    Hi, Tom:
    I have been reading your topic for a while. First of all, I love your post and applause you for your love of tennis and setting goals for your life.
    I have a difference opinion about your racquet. I looked up specs of Prince Precision Response 710pl, which is perfectly fine for your level. If you have too much power, considering string it at higher tension. Howver, If you have time and money, demo some racquets for 3.0 and above before you buy a new one. There is no perfect raquet for any one.
    From your videos, it seems the movement is one of your weaknesses when you competes against much younger players. I read somewhere (maybe tennis magazine), you consider standing right at or even inside baseline, and shortening your backswings for ground strokes, or better yet, spending more time practicing volleys and half volleys to finish your points quicker. Just my two cents
     
  31. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Hi corbind, I'm going to be demoing some 95s to start with. I hit with a friend's Wilson 95 6.1 the other day and it was just amazing to me the difference between it and my current racquet.

    The only good thing about the 105 racquets that I have is that in order to keep the ball in the court and still hit it fairly hard I have to be real careful in a way that I don't have to be with a more control oriented racquet. With the Wilson 95 6.1 I was able to hit hard and keep balls in that would have gone out if I had swung the same way with the 105 racquet.

    Maybe this goes back to me learning tennis with a 65 sq in racquet back in the mid '70s. Anyway, I thought I needed a more forgiving, power oriented racquet after stressing my wrist and hand back in June 2012, but I don't need that now. I need control, control, control. At least I think that's it. We'll see.

    Thanks for your comments corbind.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2013
  32. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Hi kiwistar868. I agree with your suggestion about demoing some racquets and will be doing that. Also, practicing volleys and half volleys is always good advice. Thanks for your comments. Post some videos of your playing.
     
  33. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    As far as racquets you can get a smaller one or string your current one tighter. In Florida I'd imagine its warm or hot frequently. Hot = balls fly long. That's why when it is 90 degrees out balls sail.

    If your current stick is not of the quality or character you desire, pick up a new instrument of death, er, weapon of choice. Eh, you know what I mean.

    You're digging the 95" head which is cool. I typically alternate using a 100" and 93" head every set. The 93" gives markedly more control/precision -- yet only when hitting the center. On off-center hits it's painful (twisting) and rotten.

    The 100" head is noticeably more forgiving when I lunge for volleys and don't hit the center. Just it lacks precision of the 93 on center hits.

    Should be fun demoing sticks and finding what works for you. ;)
     
  34. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    I'll probably experiment with stringing my current racquet(s) a little tighter while I'm also demoing some smaller head racquets.

    And, yeah, for much of the year down here the daytime temps are 90+ , so another reason for me to eventually chuck the granny racquets.

    When I recently hit with the Wilson 95 6.1 I didn't experience any pain or stress. Just lots more control, and, interestingly, more pop on the serve. I think it's several points head light, which is also different from the racquet I now use. Anyway, I really liked the feel of it, so I'll be demoing the Wilson control racquets plus others of the same ilk.
     
  35. Vilgan

    Vilgan New User

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    Tom: When demoing racquets, I'd give the Prince EXO3 Red a try - strung with multi or syngut not poly. I felt like it was surprisingly good all around, including volleys and serves. I tried some other racquets including wilson ones and I felt like I slightly preferred the wilson ones when I was not tired and hitting forehands from the baseline. I found I liked the EXO3 Red more in every shot that wasn't a forehand baseline rally shot and was still happy with it on the forehand.

    It is also supposed to be pretty good for the arm as an added bonus.
     
  36. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Vilgan. I checked out the specs on it, and it seems like the sort of racquet I'd be interested in. Will definitely put it on my demo list.
     
  37. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Got my first win of the 2013 Spring Season league today. 6-2 6-3 against a fellow Talk Tennis member, trader1499.

    A vid of some warmup (and warmdown) stuff before and after the match:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTys90AzWkk

    Will post some vids of this match tomorrow.
     
  38. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Playing two (2) matches on Sunday (today). Will play 10, or maybe even 8, game pro sets. The second match is against the best player (arguably) in the 2013 Spring Season league. The first is against fellow Talk Tennis member, tennisfan2k.
     
  39. trader1499

    trader1499 Rookie

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    Thanks for introducing me to my first match ever. I need a lot of practice! Haha Good luck in your matches tomorrow.
     
  40. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Thank you trader. It was a good match. I had fun. Hope you did. I think we both need lots of practice. :) You have a good stroke technique foundation, and I see you moving up in rating as you log more practice and match play time.
    I'll have some videos of our match posted by this afternoon or evening. I also post stuff about the league, and videos, in the following threads:
    Tennis Fort Lauderdale Spring Season 2013
    Tennis Warehouse- South Florida Chapter (lots of photos)

    Looking forward to our rematch later this season.
     
  41. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Played two matches today at the Windmill Park Tennis Center in Coconut Creek. Very nice facility. Clean bathrooms, many nicely surfaced hard courts ... plus handball, basketball, etc. And right on the busline for me, so easy access.

    First match was against a fellow Talk Tennis poster, tennisfan2k. He has some videos posted here of him hitting against the wall. He's much better than his wall videos would suggest. I think he's a 3.5 in the league. Nice consistently solid strokes, and consistent serve. He lacks a real weapon right now, but has the tools to be at least a 4.0 in the not too distant future, imo. He won our 8-game pro set match 8-4, got back (effectively) some really good shots that I hit, and overall was just too quick and consistent for me.

    Second match was against one of the better players in the league. Currently a 4.25. He had played two (that's 2) full matches before he played me in an 8-game pro set and won 8-0. I had a few chances to win a game or two, but overall his game is just way too solid for me to beat at my current level. His groundstrokes are hit consistently deep and with good pace, and he has a very consistent overspin serve. Add to that quickness and stamina and you have a basic 4.25 winning set of tennis tools. I don't feel too bad that I got bageled, but I do honestly think that I can win at least a game or two if we have a rematch.

    In summary, had lots of fun this morning. Played 20 games against two good players at a very nice facility, and I still have some energy. Which means that I'm getting stronger. Must say thanks to my two opponents for a fun and productive tennis morning.

    Videos later today.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2013
  42. trader1499

    trader1499 Rookie

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    Thanks Tom. I look forward to the footage of our match. Sounds like you had a nice time today. I practiced but only on the wall and then my serves. Going back tonight and hopefully will find someone to play. If the league allowed more matches I would happily give you a lot more wins just so I can get that experience playing with you. Even if it was 50 losses. Haha. ;) I contacted a lot of people trying to get a match for today but, no one responds. I will keep trying. Maybe I will just ask all the top people to play.
     
  43. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Keep contacting people trader. I had the same problem at first. Now I just use the saturation principle and contact lots of people, regardless of rating. I've found that it's necessary to be proactive in setting up matches. You can, conceivably, play at least 42 matches by the end of this Spring Season (June 2). For sure, you will be playing almost all of your matches against higher rated players. That's not a problem as long as you look at each match as a learning experience as well as an opportunity to record a win.

    You and I are in sort of the same boat right now, as far as most of our potential opponents being rated higher.

    The important thing is to not adopt an attitude that you are bothering people by calling them and trying to set up matches. They joined the league because they really do WANT to play tennis. It's just that some people need more of a push to get on the court than others. So keep calling people fairly frequently to both build rapports with them and to compel them to get out on the court and play.

    Also, as I mentioned to you, anytime you need a practice partner please don't hesitate to give me a call. If I can do it, then I will. We will have a rematch in a week or so, and I'm not at all confident that the result will be the same as our first match. You have a solid stroke mechanics foundation and I can see future matches between us going either way.

    Anyway, I hope you will enjoy your league experience as much as I've enjoyed mine. In large part it's up to you what you make of it.

    Now, I have to spend some time doing video stuff. :) Will be posting them by this evening, so check back.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2013
  44. trader1499

    trader1499 Rookie

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    I will definately keep working at my game and trying to get people to match up. I just met another good practice partner tonight. I was crushing the ball, but everything came back to me! :shock: hahaha, I loved practicing with him. Very tall guy and covered the court well.

    I'm keeping an eye out for the video of our match. :)
     
  45. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Ok, here it is (from our match yesterday, May 4th):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuoiVOl0c2c
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2013
  46. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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  47. tennisfan2k

    tennisfan2k Rookie

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    Aug 31, 2007
    Messages:
    113
    Thanks Tom! Nice video!

    It was really nice playing with you. You serve is faster than it looks in the video. And your overall shots are flatter and lower than I am used to.

    You have many good shots, but if your goal is about winning, you need to cut your UEs, recover sooner after being pulled out of position ( I know it's hard for your age).


    On my part, serve is really a big liability to my game now, need a complete overhaul.

    Keep up the good work, I am really inspired!

     
  48. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2011
    Messages:
    1,335
    Tom's shots do look extremely low to the ground on his returns! Lots of slice there, way more than I can hit.
     
  49. kiwistar868

    kiwistar868 New User

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2010
    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    Socal
    Since Tom is already hitting many underspin/flat shoots with a compact backswing , that was the extract reason I recommend him to hit more volleys/half-volleys after watching his videos, plus you have a wide wingspan, it will be natural to make the transition, at 3.5, you can win many short points with decent volleys/putaways.
     
  50. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2012
    Messages:
    1,954
    Location:
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Glad you liked the vid tf2k. You're definitely right on that UEs and movement are my two main tennis problems (among many :) ).

    I thought your serve was pretty consistent. Maybe just needs a bit more pop. I mean you do hit it with overspin which is good, and you have a decent back arch with ok body rotation in my humble opinion. It doesn't seem to me that a complete overhaul would be necessary. Just some tweaking. For example, the first part of your serve (as you toss and go into your arch/trophy position) seems a bit hurried, a bit rushed to me. When I'm editing the vid of my match with Li tonight I'll do some slow motion clips of your serve. Probably have them posted here by, say, around 10pm.

    Overall, as I mentioned in a previous post, I like your strokes and quickness a lot. You definitely should be beating some of the players who you've dropped matches to. What is it? Are you rushing your shots, or what?

    Hope to play you again in a couple of weeks. Thanks.
     

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