Grinders make me want to retire

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Roddick85, Nov 18, 2012.

  1. Roddick85

    Roddick85 Professional

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    Just came back from my usual league sessions at my local club and i'm feeling so mad, I just feel like calling it quits and hanging the racquet. I've been taking private lessons this past couple of weeks because I want to address weakness in my games and take it to the next level (i'm 4.5). While i've noticed improvements in the aspects of my game I was working on, i'm still getting burned by grinders.

    I played 3 matches today (we play 3 matches, 40 minutes each) and the first 2, I was playing people that I consider to be at my play level but that don't have any "big shots". I was hammering my serve/forehand and hitting my 1 handed backhand the best i've hit it in my entire life. I had some great angles, but that didn't prevent me from getting burned 6-1. Even the club's pro was watching my game and he thought I was serving great, that even he wouldn't of done the return, but the grinder just kept putting everything in play.

    Similar story in the 2nd match, lost 6-4. 3rd match was against some guy that's a 5.0, needless to say I got burned 9-0. I hit a total of 4 aces in my 3 matches, which is about my usual average.
    While I didn't expect to beat him, I once got a 6-3 out of him. Thing is, I feel I've improved a lot in the past couple of weeks, and it's not like i'm playing bad, yet I always loose badly when I attend that league. In the last weeks of attending, I have a 5-21 record which is awful and it's gotten to me mentally, I just feel like breaking my frame and selling all my gear and quitting.

    The pro and my 3rd opponent think i'm nut, they say I have way over average power and a good baseline based offensive game that maybe needs to be slowed down a bit and tuned, and that I need to finish my points better, my net game lacks. But then again, that's why i'm taking lessons (worked on my net game yesterday), I feel I've improved, yet I have no result in terms of Win-Loss. For sure my game could always be better, that's the case for all of us, but when you get the feeling you played pretty good and you get burned, it's very tough to take mentally. My confidence level is at an all time low now and i'm not sure i'll get through this. It's not like i've lost matches before or had some tough loss in my 15 years of playing, believe me I did, but it never made me doubt my ability as a tennis player, and I always felt like I would get over this. This time I don't feel like I can do anything to shake this up, feels very different.
     
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  2. anantak2k

    anantak2k Semi-Pro

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    Is there a rule somewhere that I am unaware of which states that tennis needs to be played in a certain way or else it does not count?
     
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  3. sundaypunch

    sundaypunch Hall of Fame

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    It is very simple. If you can't beat a grinder, your offensive game just isn't as good as you think it is. "Hammering" the ball isn't helpful if you play someone that can easily handle the pace. Also, once someone figures out that they can just keep the ball in play and you will screw up, you are toast.

    If you hit the ball as well as you say you do, you should easily be able to beat a grinder. Stay at the baseline, take the ball early, get them moving and then finish the point with a smart approach shot and easy volley.

    If your baseline skills are as good as you say, the obvious question is why you are unable to rely on forcing a short ball and having an easy put away?
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2012
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  4. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Winning is very separate from getting better at tennis. The two are not inclusive at all.
    And getting better in tennis is a series of fits and starts, up and down, from where you started.
    Appears you played important points badly. Your net game need shoreing up. When to apply WHICH shots might need review.
    And possibly, just a tiny bit, the OTHER guys had a say on the results of the 3 mini matches.
     
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  5. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    If you are a 4.5 and your opponents were too, nothing to be frustrated about.

    A good practice session would be to play a solid 3.5 grinder to whom you need not serve big. Check to see if you can hit winners past him. If not, the offensive game needs improvement.
     
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  6. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    It sounds like you have reached a stage in your tennis where tactics start to play a bigger role. This is usually around the 4.5 - 5.0 mark where everyone can handle any amount of pace if they have time to set up.
    (ie, you 'hammered it', sure, just straight to the other guy!)

    Funnily enough, the solution is often pretty simple, go back to the most basic tactics. Hit CC until you get a shorter ball, then hit that into the open court. But be prepared to hit quite a few shots before you get the chance to end the point.

    you might argue that this makes your tennis predictable, and that is true, but 'knowing' Nadal is going to spin it heavily to my BH doesn't make it any easier to deal with, and the same will be true of your opponents if you can 'hammer' your groundstrokes deep into the corners time after time.
    THere is a big difference between being a 'grinder' and a 'pusher', remember, you can still be aggressive, just with a bit more strategy.

    (my son has just gone through this, up until recently he has been able to just overpower his opponents with sheer weight of shot, but he has moved up an age division and now he has to place them better or they just come back with interest to a better part of the court..)
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2012
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  7. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    Let's not confuse a grinder with a pusher. A pusher does not have developed shots, and relies purely on your errors to win. Versus a higher-level grinder, who has developed shots, can put short balls away, but prefers to play a defensive high-percentage baseline game rather than going for aggression on rally balls.

    A grinder will make you win the point several times over, since he is very good at neutralizing your offense by making deep recovery shots.

    Also, sometimes when you are aggressive, it is hard to regain your balance quickly after a shot. Same goes for big servers. You will therefore find yourself off-balance or with poor footwork against a good grinder, since he will be getting back shots you don't expect to come back, and get them back deep and before you have fully recovered your position from the previous shot.

    When I play grinders, I find I have to dial it back just a bit. Basically, make sure I can recover quickly enough, and pay attention to my footwork. I still go for aggressive shots, but more so in terms of placement than in terms of pure power. That lets me work the point more, to get my opponent so out of position that I can finish the point off with less chance of him being able to defend.

    EDIT: I see Timbo was responding at exactly the same time I was :) I agree completely with what he said.
     
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  8. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    lol, Orange, we need to liaise better!

    I agree with everything he said, too..

    oh, one more thing, don't give up!!!

    this is just a stage, you hare playing better opponents and need some new strategies, that's all.

    you would probably decimate people you used to play in other leagues these days, so chin up!
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2012
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  9. Rozroz

    Rozroz Legend

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    quitting??? wtf??
    just relax and take a short break for a couple of days.
    if you're hungry for Tennis you'll get over it and you'll figure out what to do.
    if i were you i would video the next matches to know EXACTLY how you get beaten. so while depressed and eating your ice cream you can watch it over and over being your own judge till you realize what you HAVE to improve.
    of course i'm not much better than you absorbing humiliating loses, but usually when it happens i could generally tell why i lost (either they were much better, or i just wasn't aggressive, had an off day etc..).

    hope that helps. but seriously, don't sell your gear just yet!! ;)
     
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  10. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    LeeD is right. Winning is different than being good at tennis. I'm sure you are getting better.

    You just don't have quite the entire game necessary to beat these guys. In order to play an agressive game, you have to have more parts to your game than a pusher or grinder. With more aggresive shots, you can gain the advantage in the points, but unless you are able to finish the points the opponent can get the point back to even. You then end up hitting lower percentage aggressive shots to no benefit and the odds are against you.
    Working on the parts of your game your coach is helping you to improve on will enable you to take advantage of your stronger shots and you may find that you are suddenly beating these guys. Make sure you are working on your midcourt attacking game.
    Don't get discouraged.
     
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  11. Roddick85

    Roddick85 Professional

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    What you described is exactly my current problem.

    Thanks for the feedback guys, I appreciate. I've cooled off a bit and put away the idea of "retiring", I think I was just too mad and hot headed after today.
     
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  12. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Did you respond to the "winning desire, or losing thread" ?
    I responded with...."if you want to win all the time, play lousy players, and never get better. If you want to improve your game, you will lose more often than win, but your game get's better"....
     
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  13. Roddick85

    Roddick85 Professional

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    I don't want to play lousy players just for a cheap "win", it's of no value in my book. Already told that to the pro hence why he makes me play good players. After the league was over we talked and he said the exact same thing as you and I told him, I like competition and I want to get better and better, but at the sametime, I want those lessons to pay off and I thought I noticed some improvements already, probably not enough for what i'm aiming for. Perhaps i'm not patient enough and was expecting too much too soon.

    I think Timbo's hopeless slice said it best. My basic strategy of just blowing my opponents off court by overpowering them worked until a certain level, since I've moved up, people just use that against me. So I need to think of a better strategy and keep improving my strokes, especially my net game. Thinking back about my mini-games today, I think i'm over-estimating some of my big shots (serve/forehand) that I always think it will be a winner or that the point is over, so I kinda freeze there and when those shots get returned back, it's like wow how is that even possible, and yes it does upset me.
     
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  14. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    Learn to set up points. You don't need to hit so many hard shots in a row to win a point. If you set up the point right, you can get them out of position safely and then hit one good shot to end the point.

    Even better yet, be able to set up and win points without having to hit any risky shots.

    If you've ever watched pro matches in person, it's clear that they're not hitting their shots as hard as possible all the time. There's a reason for this. You don't want to hit a risky shot unless there's a point. Hitting a really hard and risky shot when your opponent is in position is pointless unless you're much better than them.
     
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  15. jmnk

    jmnk Professional

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    hmm, maybe I'm missing something. If winning and getting better are not the same - how do I know if I'm getting better if I do not win??
     
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  16. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    You get better at tennis by hitting smarter and stronger shots...against smarter and stronger opponents.
    Look at your individual shots, it's consistency and power, placements and what it's hit against.
    Serves are easy to spot improvement, or a step backwards.
    Volleys should be equally apparent.
    Winning or losing is often purely mental, something you might be able to learn thru instruction, but needs to be applied by you and you alone.
     
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  17. InspectorRacquet

    InspectorRacquet Semi-Pro

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    Because getting better is progressive, meaning you will not always win when you are trying to improve. When you are trying to improve, that area of your game is in development and isn't "match ready."

    When you have mastered the area you are trying to improve, you are no longer improving, but have improved. Only then will you start seeing results. If winning doesn't come even after that, it's time to keep improving.
     
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  18. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    Stop breathing in your own ego. If the balls come back enough to draw errors or deep enough to hurt you, then you haven't "hammered" anything in.
     
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  19. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    I disagree, actually.

    If the average 4.5 has a 100mph groundstroke hit straight to him, I'm tipping he will hit back.

    does that mean it wasn't 'hammered'?
     
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  20. jmnk

    jmnk Professional

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    sure, that's all nice, let's collectively pat ourselves on the back.
    The reality is that OP stated he has played 2 matches against '[players] that I consider to be at my play level but that don't have any "big shots". (I'm not even considering the third one against a stronger player). He lost 64 and 61. How can you tell that he is improving, or that he has improved? Because OP says he 'feels' the improvement? Are you suggesting that if he has not been practicing he would have lost 60 and 60 so losing only 4 and 1 is to be considered improvement? all I'm saying that one is improving when he keeps beating folks he has always beaten, and at least gets better results against folks he had never had any success against. Anything else is just, well, wishful thinking.
     
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  21. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    We are taking the OP at his word that he is improving ASPECTS of his game.
    However, we are pointing out that improving one or two aspects of his game will not necessarily result in winning more matches. Timbo and I both pointed out that he needs to round out his game more in order to be successful at winning more matches.
     
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  22. InspectorRacquet

    InspectorRacquet Semi-Pro

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    Nail on the head right there.

    Improvements can be so subtle but change so much, and at the same time be so big and change nothing as far as winning. Taking the OP's word that he is improving, it just sounds like the overall cohesiveness of his game isn't there - he may have improved, but if the rest of his game doesn't adapt to the grinder, results won't follow.
     
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  23. Roddick85

    Roddick85 Professional

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    When I was talking to the pro when the league was over (he's the one giving me lessons), he said he noticed some improvements, but that since I've been working on specific things every session (worked on backhand slice, forehand, volley's, footwork), I haven't really integrated/merged everything together in my game which can be right since I take my lessons on saturday and go straight into the league on sunday to try to "digest" what I learned the previous day. I need to play more, but i'm struggling with my work schedule lately, in the summer it's easy to drive to the local park and practice after work, but in the winter here, my indoor club is 30 KM away from home, so it ain't as easy.

    As I said before, the first 2 matches were against some people I had already beaten before. My last result against them were 2 wins 4-3 and 6-2 and that was before I had taken lessons. Now I loose 6-1 and 6-4 respectively, in my mind that's not coherent.
     
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  24. andfor

    andfor Hall of Fame

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    Sounds to me like you could use some match play lessons. Does your pro give those type of lessons? You could also find some books or tapes that would help with mental toughness, strategy and tactics.
     
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  25. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Sounds coherent to me.

    I'm a 4.0, and I see a lot of people who are afraid to change/improve their game because it means they will lose matches they could have won. If you are adding these new tools to your game, it makes sense that you will stall a bit before you start seeing benefits.

    If you can learn to take the net effectively, you won't be sorry.
     
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  26. Roddick85

    Roddick85 Professional

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    My next 2 lessons are all about my net game. Just doing some drills Saturday, the pro say's I have excellent reflexes so my net game should be better than what it is, but my technique is awful. Years ago, I used to play great at the net until I switched my grip to the standard continental grip. Since then I've been "shanking" volley's left and right and never getting it right. I know continental is the way to go but it feels so unnatural to me, I haven't developped a feel for it, particularly on the forehand side. When you always miss easy volley's and/or get passed, mentally you tell yourself OK I don't want to give away freebies like that, so I sort of resorted to staying in my comfort zone in the baseline, but it seems I can't properly finish points lately.
     
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  27. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Hang in there. Here, I'll help motivate you.

    A guy with a great volley is Dead Sexy. It means he has great hands!
     
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  28. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    Roddick,

    I quit playing in high school my senior year (I thought I was smarter than my coach). Didn't play regularly for 14 years after that. Dumbest decision on my part. Now, I try to remember, I play for exercise, comraderie, competition. Winning is nice, but it is not the all consuming thing I used to think it was.

    Perhaps you need to anylyze why YOU play.
     
    #28
  29. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    I agree with everyone. Forget about winning for a while and just focus on getting better. You will lose until you groove in the new techniques and concepts, but then you will start winning again and be playing at a higher level.
     
    #29
  30. Sakkijarvi

    Sakkijarvi Semi-Pro

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    Ok, I'm going to come at this from a slightly different angle. Along the lines of why you play, who you play, and why you play who you play on a given day.

    I am a 4.0, so that makes me not great, not horrible. Like all clubs we have the usual selection of players, including the 3.5 - 4.0 'grinder' (or retriever, pusher, whatever term you want to use -- guys that have no power and get every ball back). We have one guy in particular that a lot of 4.0 guys don't want to play, and he's our ultimate in-house player of that type.

    Now I get why guys don't want to play our King of the Grinders. He plays every ball the same, all out, no matter the score. Soft serves, never double-faults. Waits for your errors, quiet guy so when the opponent evidences the slightest (or more than 'slight') external, no doubt he draws power from your emotion. He is a robot. Lots of slice, backspin, drop shots, lobs. A real mental grind playing this guy.

    I schedule a few matches a month with this guy. He hasn't beaten me in two years. But I can't say he's fun to play, not like my main baseline hitter buddies. It's a commitment to play him, and I do it for the challenge and for the workout, although he gets a better workout than me because I run him all over the court while dominating the center (high ground).

    But here's the thing. To play this guy I have to be in the right mindset. If I had a tough day at work, and feel tired or impatient, solly cholly, I cancel. When I play him, it's all about spinning in nothing serves and never double faulting. Getting him on the run and wrong footing him. And embracing 12+ stroke rallies for a lot of the points. And not over-amping on his zilch serve.

    But really, if this was all there was to tennis, I wouldn't waste my time with it. Wasn't it Vic Braden that used the term "athletic arousal"? I think it was. Anyway, these guys like King Grindboy, also tend to be really boring, zero personality types that get their rocks off I gather ... with this whole schtick. Good for them I guess. But once you prove to yourself that you can dig a hole for the wife's new clothesline ... maybe get a few blisters on your hands ... it's not like you need to rush around and dig hole after hole. In other words it is boring, a chore, and usually not a buddy across the net. Sometimes an oddball. And their style just doesn't get me fired up ... deadly dull.

    So since tennis is for fun, friends and fitness, I hit with a nice group of guys, and they are my age and some juniors that hit. Win, lose, lose, win, win ... it's a lot of fun. I am not going out there hunting down an army of grinders to fill my schedule with, due to the fact that there is nothing to prove beyond the occasional beating and it just isn't any fun. I tip my hat to their style, persona ... keep moving along Bubba.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2012
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  31. jjaded

    jjaded New User

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    Everyone who goes to the net a lot gets passed a lot, don't let it discourage you.
     
    #31
  32. Roddick85

    Roddick85 Professional

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    Of course I don't earn a living playing tennis, it's a hobby, I play for fun but I also enjoy good competition and I do have goals/objectives in terms of what I expect out of my game, it's what keeps motivated. I don't really play to get in shape, as i'm already in good shape and I workout off the courts.

    I've been playing tennis on/off for the last 15 years. It's only about 2 years ago that I started to play regularly, 52 weeks a year as opposed to playing only in the summer as I wasn't part of any indoor tennis club. Before that, I used to play multiple sports all at once, I wasn't bad, but I wasn't exactly impressed with my performance either, and when i'm not performing the way I want, I don't have fun. With that in mind, I decided that instead of being average at a few sports, I would just stick with one and be the best I can be, no matter what. Tennis was always my first love, and I thought I had better skills in tennis than the other sports I was practicing.

    It wouldn't be an understatement to say I live & breathe tennis every minute i'm not at work. I've played over 80 matches in 2012 alone + numerous practice sessions. I spent my entire vacations playing matches everyday. I calculate my own personnal statistics. I invest a lot of time in the game, so I do have expectations. As some people said, perhaps I should just focus on getting better than worrying about losing, didn't really saw it this way until yesterday, but perhaps once i'm done paying my "dues" with the lessons/new skills, I will rise above my current level.

    As for who I play? Pretty much anyone, from total random strangers I contact from my club's partner list or in the leagues, to childhood friends I first started tennis with. At the end of the day, I don't really care who I play against as long as i'm playing someone that will give me a decent challenge. Sure I hate playing grinders/pushers etc... but I have to accept that they are a part of the tennis reality. Do I get frustrated against them? Totally. Will I give up playing them? No because I believe one fine day, I will beat them easily. While yesterday I was frustrated, part of it was the grinders, but also my own unsatisfactory results and the fact that my lessons have yet to fully match my expectations.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2012
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  33. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    Enjoyed reading your post.

    Except for this part:
    You make a committment to play (and the other guy is scheduling his time also), and then back out on the day because you're not in the right mindset to win? That's pretty lame I think.
     
    #33

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