How can a superior athlete beat a superior tennis player?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Aurellian, Apr 22, 2013.

  1. Aurellian

    Aurellian Semi-Pro

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    I am a dedicated newbie to the game of tennis with more weaknesses than one can count in my game. I am 32 and a former Ivy League 2nd string football player with a year and ½ of tennis under my belt. I played a sandbagger in my 3.0 league yesterday who kicked my butt. He played juniors 15 (or so) years ago and made EVERY shot he needed to make….the dink and dunk short balls and backhand high overheads that normally damn players that I play were no match for him; he was by no means in shape but got to my short balls and put them away.

    He was a player of at least ten years in the game. I know this because I have been to Boleterri’s and Harry Hopman’s and drilled with such players. My guess is that he is a weaponless 4.25-4.5 and has been baggling dudes in our league.

    He cleaned my clock 6-3, 6-1 yesterday. I gave up a little in the second set as I realized that I was outskilled and overmatched and wanted to save myself for my tournament the next day. If I would have tried I may have one another game, but the defeat would still have undoubtedly occurred.
    The loss still stings. I even tried some psych on him and switched from my Ivy League persona to my LE dictatorial persona to no avail. He was a New Yorker and was not cowed by me. I think he found it amusing.

    That being said, the match was closer than what it appeared. I hit four to five James Blake type winners on him and made some spectacular acrobatic put aways. I still can’t serve, but I aced him five times when I gave him the heat. He never aced me or hit winners on me. He just smiled, put on his hard hat, and beat me routinely five times for every one great shot I made. I even short underhand served him once and he pounded it for a winner.

    I now know how Spartacus must have felt like when his band faced the Roman legions.

    Any advice on how to beat him?

    I am faster, stronger, and more athletic but it seems to matter nil. The one thing I have going for me is that when I bang forehand to forehand I have yet to encounter anyone but the young pro at Hopman’s that could hit it back, but I need pace to hit that shot and he did not give it to me.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013
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  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Honestly, you have no chance.
    No matter how great your physical skills are, 1.5 years cannot compete with 10 years, at least not consistently.
    He might be a fat duffer right now, but maybe wasn't always that portly TV watcher you think he is.
    And while you might have some football skills, rugby probably, or soccer, your hand eye is not nearly honed, while your tennis skills are nil.
    If you played American football, what position did you play? If not a QB, you have no hand eye basis for developing quickly at tennis, because none of the other positions really handle the ball in an athletic manner. Center doesn't qualify, nor does weak side linebacker.
    A good athlete, and we all think we are, just cannot compete with someone who even has twice the experience, and average athletics....
    You can put UsainBolt as wide reciever, and his career might last 2 practice days in the pros. Come CB will hit him low and hard, his eyes would bulge out of it's sockets, and he's toast as far as football is concerned. See RenaldoNehemiah.
     
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  3. Aurellian

    Aurellian Semi-Pro

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    I figured that.

    Maybe drop shot him and make him huff and puff--but i can't hit that shot effectively. I was surprised at how he ran down balls and put them away.

    I overpowered him on occasion and knocked him off the court (maybe three times), but it was not nearly enough.

    I was a receiver.
     
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  4. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Yeah, I played left wideout, MikeHolmgren the QB in my junior year. Averaged 3 caught passes a game, maybe 5 thrown my way. I think I dropped a total of ONE pass thrown my way, that both my hands touched (this JV and 2 years varsity high school, and that was a sliding reach for a pass throw behind me that hit the ground as I touched the ball. Coach Palmer (former SF 49'er safety), yanked me out of the game immediately.
     
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  5. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    OK, you're tall, fast, can catch a ball.
    Now how does that translate to hitting a fuzzy little yellow ball?
    Tennis moves, it's 4 steps MAX, then a stop, splitstep, and change of direction...maybe a CB is the ideal position. I played weakside linebacker on D.
    You should have a strong serve. Practice it, hit it to the backhand most times, always have a target, learn to hit wide to take the reciever out of court so you can hit to the open court. If he can cover, start hitting behind him. Few runners can go fast in one direction AND stop and change directions on a dime.
    Be aware of the court, alway try to hit the ball near a sideline, when you're balanced and set, and avoid hitting up the middle, unless it's a desperation get (retrieve)...which sets you up to run even more.
    You should have a great first step, so can reach almost every offensive ball at your level, meaning, get there, don't hit back to him.
    Use your size to intimidate opponent's. Play net, learn to volley and overhead, both equally important.
    Use your superior strength to hit heavy topspin on the forehand, bouncing the ball head high with a swing as fast as you can swing. On your backhand, if you can, learn a topspin drive, but always keep a strong underspin slice, low over the net, and deep well into NML.
    Keep playing with players who can beat you. That's the best way to improve.
     
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  6. spinorama

    spinorama Rookie

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    He's not over 4.0 if he plays a 3.0 and drops games like that.... If you are faster and have more endurance, then be a pusher and try to make the rallies as long as possible and make him beat you with winners or aggressive play. JUST GET THE BALL BACK, that is the only way you will win
     
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  7. Aurellian

    Aurellian Semi-Pro

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    Thanks. I think I should aim for a spot when serving instead of just praying it goes in.
     
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  8. Aurellian

    Aurellian Semi-Pro

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    Drops games? he beats everyone. No one wins more than 1 or two games off of him. I watched the 4.0s yesterday and they made errors and could serve hard. he made no errors and served kinda soft.

    I cant push on him as he wins the long rallies. We played patty cake with lobs a few times and he played and just yelled "no" when my ball floated out.

    The only time I bet him is when I knocked him off the court--a beautiful thing to see...very masucalting...or when I hit a winner...The guy made no errors.
     
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  9. thejackal

    thejackal Hall of Fame

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    the bad news is that you lost to a better player (even when taking the physical side into consideration). the good news is that with your background, getting to 4.0-4.5 with some good instruction and a lot of hard work (which shouldn't be a problem given the type of work ethic you probably had growing up playing football) will not be particularly challenging for you, at least relatively speaking.

    you mentioned that you're fast and have a good forehand. hit as many forehands as you can, either against a wall (best, but more challenging), off a ball machine (if you have access to one), off balls fed by a coach (either from across the nets or using hand-fed drills) or against a partner (worst option since at the 3.0 level most guys cannot hold a good rally). bang the forehand until it's a reliable shot. forget about the backhand for now - if you can get it into the court fairly deep, then all good.

    my dad is 50 and pretty athletic for his age. he had zero tennis background growing up (in fact he got into the game 10 years ago because I started playing a lot) but cleans up in his 3.5 leagues in Socal because he hits a solid forehand (kind of look like stepanek or sampras', flat and clean but not overwhelmingly powerful even for 3.5), just chips the backhand over the net, and rolls his serve into play. once he's in the rally, he'll just go deep crosscourt until the other guy misses. he plays a lot of younger guys and wins 2 hour matches just because he can keep the ball in play and outlast everyone else. his serve is attackable and his backhand is a joke, but he runs around to hit forehands so much that at his level, not many guys can really exploit his weaknesses. he can hit winners on the fh once in a while, but mostly he wins because he doesnt hemorrage points off his weakness (which is everything except his fh).

    you should be better than him if you keep it up for a year or so.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2013
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  10. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Intermediate serving, you have 3 quadrants as targets. To the opponent's forehand, right AT the opponent, and to the opponent's backhand. Most players have weaker backhands, so go there mostly.
    As you get better, you need FIVE quadrants, needing a wide to the forehand and wide to the backhand, not just to that side. That's for later, when you get out of 4.0.
    Can't see you being a pusher, because football is the opposite of sitting around and waiting for opponent's mistakes. You CREATE your
    winners, with shots that land close to sidelines, good power, lots of spin to keep the ball IN.
    At least you have the physical skills to make 4.5 in 3 years of tennis, if you apply yourself and beg off work.
     
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  11. Aurellian

    Aurellian Semi-Pro

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    Good post. Kudos to your pops for bringin' it to his foes.

    I was getting cocky too. I have been beating up on my opponents in 3.0 and 3.5 and have rarely lost. It is calibrating to get beat so thoroughly. Makes me realize how bad of a tennis player I am. I beat a 4.5 older guy at my club the day before too.

    I think we have all been at the stage where we beat the bad players but get beat by the good ones...
     
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  12. Aurellian

    Aurellian Semi-Pro

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    If it goes in I celebrate:)
     
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  13. Aurellian

    Aurellian Semi-Pro

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    LeeD. Where do you play outta?
     
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  14. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    There's a worse scenario.....
    I'm a 4.0, pretty solid except for footspeed (torn tendons in ankle).
    I've beaten lots of solid 4.0's, played even with 4.5's, and hold my own in 5.0's when my game is ON. I used to play Open.
    But I've also lost to guys who've played tennis for only 3 years! Sure, they're solid 3.5 to 4.0, but those are BAD losses, and it happens.
    And I've even lost to a 67 year old! He was a finalist in NorCal's 65 tourney.
    Gotta accept the losses just like relishing the wins.
    Some days, I can't hit a first serve OR a forehand into the court.
     
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  15. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    East Bay of San Francisco, mostly SanPablo park or near UC Campus at the Rose Garden.
     
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  16. Aurellian

    Aurellian Semi-Pro

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    LOL...I almost quit tennis when a 12 year old Chinese girl beat me in Bangkok and then her grandma did me right after. I was ashamed and never vowed to play a woman again. I was trying not to hit it hard outta respect but still...all the ladies at the racket club started calling me to beat up on the big black guy. It was like a social event for them; they would all show up with drinks and watch me get beat. If I only spoke Mandarin.
     
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  17. spinorama

    spinorama Rookie

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    Where are you playing out of currently?
     
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  18. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    You don't get extra points for "James Blake type" forehands or acrobatic putaways. Rec tennis is all about consistency, and making your opponent miss (as opposed to hitting winners).

    If you develop good mechanics, you develop consistency, and you start to win more. Being the superior athlete doesn't get you squat if you can't keep the ball in play.
     
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  19. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    So I skimmed the other posts and did not see this perspective so ignore it if it has already been said....

    First, on the TT board we write a lot about sandbagging ... much more so than happens in real life. Also, I have seen some sandbagging in my days but never have I seen a 4.5 level player playing 3.0. It just would not happen except for in the most extreme circumstances. A more likely explanation is that you only recognize that this player is better than you, not that they are sandbagging down from the 4.5 range.

    I would compare it to when you were a little tike you thought everyone was tall. As you got closer in height to adults you became better at distinguishing who actually was tall and who was merely taller than you for the moment.


    Second if this guy is playing 3.0 he has many, many flaws in his game. The reason you could not beat him is that with your limited experience you could not exploit his weaknesses. It is not that he is a titan on the court, it is just that you are not ready to beat him yet.

    Finally If you are truly a better athlete and you commit to practicing consistently you will become better than him in a pretty short period of time. Sure, a ten year head start in skill development is good lead but superior athletes can make up for a lot of differences in skill set by simply being better athletes.
     
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  20. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    When a "better" player plays a "weaker" player, the better player usually finds the weakness and exploits it to get weak returns or errors. Typically, hit with topspin pace or hit to their backhand until you get a short ball and then be aggressive with the short ball. If you want to beat a "better" player, you have to improve the overall level of your game. In other words, you cannot have major holes in your game. If you BH sucks, you need to at least get it consistent. If your serve is a powder puff, you need to work on it until you can at least not get attacked on your first serve and have a consistent 2nd serve.

    If you have weaknesses, a player with 10 years experience and a more technically sound game will find them. Tennis is a high skill sport first. If the skill levels of 2 players are relatively close, then athleticism plays a larger role in the final result.
     
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  21. Aurellian

    Aurellian Semi-Pro

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    Hi,

    I play in Vegas at Canyon Gate.
     
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  22. Aurellian

    Aurellian Semi-Pro

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    I understand your point, but in this case, the gentleman is playing two levels down. I beat most 3.0s handily, beat 3.5s around 70% of the time, and prevail over 4.0s 20% of the time.

    This guy beat me in the most uninspiring way I have ever experienced. He just made every shot he had to..no errors.

    That being said, I would assume that a fellow who played juniors and has ten years of experience would be between a 4.0-4.5, at least. if you state a guy who hit that many tennis balls is only a solid 3.5....
     
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  23. cknobman

    cknobman Legend

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    #23
  24. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    Think of it like this. There are sports where physical gifts give you a HUGE advantage over other players. Tennis is not one of them. Time and practice give you a huge advantage over other players. Now, naturally - there are advantages to being athletic and/or tall with Tennis. But it only gets you so far. It doesn't make the shot for you - only repetition, muscle memory and experience can do that.

    When you are up against an opponent like this, there isn't much you can do at the time. If you really want to beat that particular player, then you will have to put the work in before you next meet. Improve yourself as a player by working on your weaknesses. Think about why you lost. Give yourself goals to improve on those weak areas.

    Serves for example. You should get some advice on your motion and how to improve, then practice practice practice. You have the power, but you need to figure out how best to convert that into consistency. Your 2nd serve is more important than your 1st serve.
     
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  25. Aurellian

    Aurellian Semi-Pro

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    I think you are correct. I will try to hit deep to the corners on him and wait for my shot...no more cheap dink and dunk type points.
     
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  26. dcdoorknob

    dcdoorknob Hall of Fame

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    This part stuck out to me, sounds like you deserved to be snickered at. Sounds really lame.
     
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  27. Aurellian

    Aurellian Semi-Pro

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    Ehhh, I agree especially since it failed:)
     
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  28. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    And you're complaining about a sandbagger in 3.0? There is missing information here...
     
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  29. sam_p

    sam_p Professional

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    The fundamental issue that is being largely ignored here is that spending those formative years between 5 and 18 playing a lot of tennis is very important to developing sound strokes. People who played a lot (competitively) at those ages can go away from the game and come back quite easily (with a few months ramp up) regardless of "pure" athletic ability. Adults picking up the game rarely are able to develop into strong players unless they are really unusual and devote years and years of effort.
     
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  30. burosky

    burosky Professional

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    "I beat most 3.0s handily, beat 3.5s around 70% of the time, and prevail over 4.0s 20% of the time." You even stated you have beaten an older 4.5 guy.

    You realize based on this you have a winning percentage against guys who are one rating level above you which explains why you are beating guys in your rating level handily. So, has it crossed your mind that you maybe sandbagging those poor 3.0s you are beating handily?

    Sounds like you just can't accept that someone brought you back down to earth. I find it interesting that stories like yours are so similar for those who post here about getting sandbagged. Nothing wrong about having confidence but the next time you lose a match in a similar fashion, here's a piece of advise that might help.

    Just remember, there will always be someone better than you even within your rating level regardless of your rating.
     
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  31. Aurellian

    Aurellian Semi-Pro

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    I have only played for about a year and half but I have played very intensely: played with a coach an hour a day in Aisa four times each week with a match or three each week. I also spent a week each at Harry Hopman's and IMG in Bradenton. I just got back in the US after being abroad so the ratings were a bit murky to me. I played a 3.5 for my first set in the US and he beat me 6-4, 7-6, and he won the tiebreaker. So I figured 3.0 was a good start. The 3.5 was a former DIII basketball player who was prolly a 4.0

    I hit a hard first serve that goes in about 33% of the time and a puff 2nd serve. when I hit my first serve it's an ace 50% of the time--often it just blows by people and they can't put a racket on it. I volley very poorly and just stand behind the baseline and strike the ball. I will miss an overhead into the net 50% of the time in a match but in the clinic when I change my grip the other players say i look like a pro. I can knock winners off fast serves a few times a match.

    I normally get up on players 3-0 but loose a few then get back into the game for a victory.

    A very inconsistent player. Not very good against good players but I possess weapons and play with duplicity and power--likely in the reverse order.
     
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  32. sovertennis

    sovertennis Semi-Pro

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    Seems to me that after only 18 months of playing you're still a relative beginner and should focus on developing your strokes, rather than on whom you've beaten and at what (perceived) level they're at. Your former awesome Ivy League athletic ability has no relationship to your current prowess as a tennis player.
     
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  33. Aurellian

    Aurellian Semi-Pro

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    Sir, I certainly accept that I was beaten by a superior player. How can one not with a 6-3 6-1 beating? My point is that he was not a 3.0 and I was soliciting advice on how to beat him. Frankly, I don't think I will be able to this season.

    I don't think the sandbagger label aptly applies to me. I have only played for a year and a half and can't attack a shortball which I get often. A 3.5 should be able to get more than 50% of their first serves in and put away the shallow ball. I can't.

    I am a decent athlete but not a top tier one by any means--by decent I mean better than 80% of the players I play but by not elite by any standards.

    I think I am a 3.0 who poses match up problems for players because I hit the ball hard...not a skilled tennis player by any means...not a guerrilla either though, as I outhink many foes and construct points on them--mostly rununig them around and then charging the net with a funky girly slap that sends the ball bouncing over the fence.
     
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  34. schmke

    schmke Professional

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    I took a look at the players involved and it is entirely possible that the OP's opponent is under-rated. He played up at 3.5 in the 40+ league to start the year going 2-2 and has now gone 5-1 in the 18+ league at 3.0 after that.

    I would guess that he has at most one strike from his playing up in the 40+ league (he was playing several other 3.0s playing up), but the challenge is that nearly every opponent in the 18+ league has been self-rated and playing their 2nd match, so very well may not generate a match rating and thus no updates to their dynamic rating and no strikes.

    This is oftentimes the gotcha with 3.0 flights as you have many new players that are self-rated and it takes time for them to all play against opponents with dynamic ratings. Unless the LLC chooses to default players to the mid-point to start or some other artificial bootstrapping of the ratings, a player like this can get a lot of easy wins without generating strikes.

    Now, year-end this will probably all be caught and remedied, but this along with pretty big tolerances for improvement at 3.0 means he'll probably play 3.0 all year and not be DQ'd.

    But to the OP's claim that he is a 4.0-4.5, his results definitely don't indicate that. From a ratings standpoint, he is probably a low-end 3.5. I have no way of knowing if he is manipulating his play to keep his rating low of course, but his results don't indicate anything other than a strong 3.0 to weak 3.5.
     
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  35. Aurellian

    Aurellian Semi-Pro

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    Of course it has bearing. I never said I was an awesome athlete. Better than you? Yes. But not elite. I played sports against elite guys before and it was very humbling.

    Do not contort my statements please. My self assessment is very accurate.

    I assert that this guy was not a 3.0. Is this inaccurate?

    I think tennis ratings are very subjective. It's like saying a D1 starting wideout. That could mean Dez Bryant who is a phenomenal player and psychical specimen vs some dude from Wake Forest who catches 30 balls all year, runs a 4.69, and well never play on Sunday. Both are classified similarly, but Bryant and the slot receiver from Wake are not really comparable.
     
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  36. schmke

    schmke Professional

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    See my early post on if he is a 3.0 or not, I concede that he could be a 3.5.

    What folks are taking issue with is your claim that because he beat you 6-3,6-1 (and you admit you gave up a bit 2nd set so it could have been closer), he is a 4.25-4.5. A 6-3,6-1 score is entirely reasonable for a 3.0 playing a 3.0. It is also a reasonable score for a 3.5 over a 3.0, especially if it is a strong 3.0 and a weak 3.5. It is not an expected score for a 4.0 playing a 3.0 let alone a 4.5 playing a 3.0.

    You would be surprised at the difference in ability and resulting scores within a level let alone across levels. The oft repeated (but oftentimes misleading as well) quote from a USTA FAQ is that the expected score between a players one level apart is 6-0,6-0. While this shouldn't be taken literally all the time, it is an indication of how much difference there is between adjacent levels.
     
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  37. Aurellian

    Aurellian Semi-Pro

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    I don't wish to continue belaboring this futile point. Having played against people who call themselves 4.0s and having beaten them and having lost to this guy and noting the difference--a very methodical and uninspiring butt whopping--I do not think he is a 3.5 unless the self ranking are completely meaningless. If we proceed from this premise, then you may be correct. If we accept the fact that the 4.0s that I played were really 4.0s then he was not a 4.0.

    The shots they made and the shots he made were different.

    I will concede that I played abroad and people overrate shamelessly there.

    And the numbers can lie, especially if the guy is very out of shape with no practice at the beginning.

    The bottom line is that I am bad tennis player and need to get better.
     
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  38. schmke

    schmke Professional

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    There is the flaw. Unless someone has played enough matches in USTA League to generate a computer rating, what they say they are is meaningless. It is entirely possible they read the USTA definitions of the levels and overrate themselves (I know I did when I first got back into the game).

    I'm not prepared to accept this as fact. Give us names we can lookup the rating for.

    Also, strange things can happen in any given match. Not to take away from your wins, but normal variation in play and how someone feels on a given day, as well as specific match-ups, can have a players performance vary a full level at times. It is rare to see a player that consistently performs at exactly the same level. See the tennis posts on my blog (http://computerratings.blogspot.com/search/label/tennis) where you can see some example (real) reports that show how much a player's performance can vary match to match.
     
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  39. Aurellian

    Aurellian Semi-Pro

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    I can see that you are man of numbers. I like going into the basement and chatting with you types.

    Seriously, your tennis metrics are cool. I could never develop something like that. I find your blog interesting.

    Like most men of numbers, you need to supplement your formula to account for the variables and outliers I am introducing.

    I will concede your points above.
     
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  40. asimple

    asimple Semi-Pro

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    I think this is really the key point. You are clearly at a low level with a huge opportunity to improve. You should focus on improving your game rather than being concerned about your W/L ration at 3.0. If you are a good athlete in shape you will most likely be a 4.5 in a couple of years with a relatively small amount of work. It is amazing how quickly true athletes pick up this game, and is very frustrating for those of us who have had to work.

    One of my inlaws was discussing joining a league for the first time this weekend. I told him to rate as a 3.0 and he pretty much gave the same story that you did about beating 4.0s and the like. I saw him hit once and he might be a 3.5, but most likely is not.
     
    #40
  41. volleygirl

    volleygirl Semi-Pro

    Joined:
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    Thats what I say. Hes definitely no 4.25-4.5 guy if he even loses 1 game to a 3.0 player.
     
    #41
  42. volleygirl

    volleygirl Semi-Pro

    Joined:
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    If this is true then youre sandbagging also playing in 3.0 level
     
    #42
  43. Aurellian

    Aurellian Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2012
    Messages:
    491
    I disagree. I recently beat a 4.5 who goes to the nationals in the Sr. League. No much of an accomplishment, but still:)

    I played with a 4.5ish young guy at a tennis camp and got beat 6-3 6-1. The coach said he was 'tween a 4.0 and 4.5 although that loss felt different.
     
    #43
  44. Aurellian

    Aurellian Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2012
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    follow the thread, honey....gotta read the 1st message and then the latter ones.
     
    #44
  45. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2011
    Messages:
    1,333
    I agree with those that are saying it is better to just improve your strokes at this stage, results are less important than how you are playing in general and which shots you can comfortably make.
     
    #45
  46. Velvet Ga el

    Velvet Ga el Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2013
    Messages:
    362
    You played Jason, correct?
     
    #46
  47. Aurellian

    Aurellian Semi-Pro

    Joined:
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    I think so. You are serious player Velvet....please don't say you are a 3.5:)
     
    #47
  48. ATP100

    ATP100 Professional

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2010
    Messages:
    1,027
    How can a superior athlete beat a superior tennis player?

    Easy Answer: Get better at tennis.
     
    #48
  49. Aurellian

    Aurellian Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2012
    Messages:
    491
    Sound advice.
     
    #49
  50. Sumo

    Sumo Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
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    Location:
    Chapel Hill
    "Ivy League persona to my LE dictatorial persona"

    Which guy is the above quote from?
     
    #50

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