How do you get your doubles partner to relax?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by AR15, Aug 17, 2011.

  1. AR15

    AR15 Professional

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    Last night I played a doubles league match with a partner I have never played before. During our warm up, my partner showed great skills, and especially had a strong serve. I was feeling very good about our chances with the match we were about to start.

    After our warmup, we changed courts to meet our opponents, and I noticed my partners demeanor changed: he looked a little nervous and his voice got quiet. We won the toss and I let him serve first since his serve in practice looked better than mine. His serves in the first game didn't have a third of the pace of his practice serves, and he woofed his first few shots, so we lost that game. After every point, I slapped hands with him to encourage him. As we changed sides, I really noticed how tight he was, and made considerable effort to pick him up.

    My partner's play improved as the match progressed, but was never as good as he normally plays. Despite that, we won the match. I felt like my biggest challenge during the match was encouraging my partner so he would relax and play the game I know he is capable of playing.

    So, my question is: How do you lift your partner when he/she gets tight and nervous?
     
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  2. wrxinsc

    wrxinsc Professional

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    ^ beer

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  3. esgee48

    esgee48 Hall of Fame

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    Quietly make silly jokes about the opponents. Something along the lines 'I wonder if we can get him to hit between his legs?' If you can get your partner to smile or laugh, that will loosen him up. What you don't want to do is say 'Come On!' or 'Stay Focused!' as this will only add pressure or cause him to choke more.
     
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  4. AR15

    AR15 Professional

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    I like where you are going, but I'm thinking this might work better: "Let's hit him between his legs." :)
     
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  5. Douggo

    Douggo Semi-Pro

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    My partner just tells me to relax.
    It usually works.
     
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  6. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    In mixed I always throw out a little swear word and then smack them on the *** with my racket.

    One time I played with a 60 year old woman whom I met for the first time and she was really nervous. it turns out our opponent was someone she had quarreled with at her private club.

    I hit her on the cheeks with my racket and promised to put one through the five hole of her "friend". She did not know what that meant but apparently she relaxed because she played her best tennis in years and has recounted our first meeting many times over post-match beverages.
     
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  7. Avadia

    Avadia Rookie

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    In that situation, I try to stay relaxed myself and exude an air of calmness as much as possible. Talk to them and reinforce that the most important thing the two of you can do is to just relax and play your game. If you see them getting tentative, point it out to them and tell them to go for their shots. Beyond that, it is kind of up to them. Some players handle the pressure well; others don't.
     
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  8. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    First, remember the guy is not an idiot. Any actual tennis advice, he likely already knows. I would "act the way you want him to feel".

    Works for me.
     
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  9. Fedace

    Fedace Banned

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    Tell him you have a hot girl waiting after the match.
     
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  10. Jim A

    Jim A Professional

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    I usually just tell my partner I have 3 rules when it comes to doubles (acting all serious)
    1. Hit the ball as hard as you want
    2. Curse as much as you need to
    and.
    3. Never say "Sorry"

    that usually works.

    otherwise its dependent on the match. Earlier this season both my partner and I were getting tight in the 2nd set after winning the first 6-2. We were down 4-5 in the tiebreak having blown a 3-0 lead (I lost both points on my serve, very 3.5). As we changed sides (damn you Coman) I just reminded him that they had to serve it out to just stay in the match and no matter what happened we couldn't lose the match right here. He hit 2 great volleys and then I finally won a point on my serve to close it out.

    At Districts (Mixed) we had a real nasty altercation late in our final round robin match, my partner made a call and their guy went beserk. It put us up 6-5 in the 2nd and she was serving for the match. It was obvious he rattled her and I was trying to get her focused. We were playing outdoors and I walked up all agitated "I can't believe that guy, what is he doing out here...etc..and then noting the source of my ire was the guy in the banana hammock right behind the court at the pool. She couldn't stop smiling, hit 3 great first serves and we closed it out.

    Find their buttons, most people respond to humor (You played bad and I played worse) etc..
     
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  11. Caesar

    Caesar Banned

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    Smile, joke, take his/her mind off the match. Make it clear you don't care if you win or lose (even if you do). If they complain about their mistakes, shrug and point out your own. If they hit something well, grin and laugh and congratulate them.

    Don't get negative with your talk, but don't do it with your play either. I had a shocker of a night a couple of weeks ago playing lower-level doubles... could not land a forehand to save my life. To compensate, my partner backed right up when I was receiving. The result? I knew he didn't trust my groundstrokes, it made me tighter, and because he wasn't at the net to poach it put less pressure on the guy I was rallying crosscourt with. All out disaster.
     
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  12. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I think some players get nervous because of things their partner is doing. Then the partner says "Relax." Totally not helpful.

    Better, I think, is to take responsibility for bad things that happen so your partner doesn't tighten up because she feels she is playing badly.

    So. Say my partner gets passed down the alley. I won't say, "Make sure you move wide with the ball." I will say, "Oh, wow. My bad. I didn't get as much on that serve as I wanted." If my partner misses a groundstroke in a rally, I will say, "Darn it! I should have taken that second ball but I wasn't paying attention." Anything that relieves them from responsibility seems to help them avoid getting tight.

    Also, I think it is really bad to make suggestions right after your partner misses. Like, the partner misses an overhead only to hear, "You didn't turn on that one." Or "Don't play so close to the net." To me, this feels like my partner is evaluating me during points, which makes me tight.

    Lastly, some players seem to come with an Auto-Correct feature. After every miss, they volunteer some advice to fix it. So I have to deal with the frustration of having missed, I have to figure out what I will do differently, and I have to listen to corrections from my partner. They probably don't even know they are doing it, but it gets really distracting for me.

    The most extreme case was a recent match. I hit a FH from the ad court, and it went wide. The reason was that I tried to run around the BH but got jammed. My partner at net immediately turned to me and said, "You need to make sure you don't break your wrists when you hit your BH. You tend to do that." Oh, wow. Now I'm being evaluated by someone who isn't even watching.

    If you want your partner to stay loose, make sure your Auto-Correct Button is in the off and locked position.
     
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  13. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Oh, that issue of when and how to back up from the net is so tricky!!

    I have had the same situation. My partner backs up from the net when I am serving or receiving. It makes me incredibly tight, as it is a clear vote of no confidence.

    But I have also been on the other end of this. My partner, for whatever reason, keeps sending the ball straight to the waiting racket of the net player. Or can't hit a low passing shot when opponents take the net. Or keeps popping the ball up. If I say, "How about if I move back so I'll have a better chance of getting some of those balls back?", they will argue with me.

    I haven't found a good solution to this. Usually, I will stay up there for a few more points, but if the problem continues then I will back up without their permission. Which effectively kills the partnership.
     
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  14. Coach Carter

    Coach Carter Rookie

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    scream in their face after a silly mistake, "YOU SUCK, YOU'RE KILLING ME, WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU"

    kidding of course, I tend to take the blame for every mistake mine or theirs. going with the, "you're doing great" or "that was close, you're right there"..."we've got this".
     
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  15. Sakkijarvi

    Sakkijarvi Semi-Pro

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    Yell really loud from behind them, "Reeeelax!!!"
     
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  16. eagle

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  17. VaththalKuzhambu

    VaththalKuzhambu Rookie

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    Whenever I play worse than my doubles partner, he/she seems relaxed.
     
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  18. mucat

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  19. peter

    peter Professional

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    One thing I've found that can help is to before the match say something along the lines of:

    It's OK to make mistakes, as long as we still try things!

    (Especially with new partners I've noticed that many are afraid of making mistakes since they think that their partner will think that they suck - they are less concerned about their opponents actually).
     
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  20. larry10s

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    cindy
    thats a great approach to doubles "relationships"
    as you are getting better and gaining experience/insight i hope one day we play mixed together:)
     
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  21. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    I said to my nervous partner today, "I don't give a **** if we win this." Then offered him a Xanax.
     
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  22. blkkirk

    blkkirk New User

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    I like what Cindy has to say. I would add that It is perfectly fine to just acknowledge the pressure and tension. Acknowledge you have been there before - it will get easier as the match progresses.

    I played my first tennis match this year. I have played a ton of competitive sports and was quite surprised how nervous I was. My partner kept telling me to relax. I acknowledged how nervous I was. Telling me to relax wasn't helping so I finally asked him to give me some space and quiet so I could get more present. He did and I slowly got better and better.

    Might just ask if their is anything you can do to help. Sure it might be different for each personality type.
     
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  23. ahuimanu

    ahuimanu Rookie

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    Wish I knew this answer...:confused: I've played a lot of competitive doubles over the years and as luck would have it usually I was usually the more stable (emotionally) partner.

    I think a lot of it evolves around "self" confidence. Sometimes you can pump your partner to play up to his potential, usually I find that the partner trenches deeper into the "shell." Sometimes I think it maybe me... maybe to high octane and it may have negatively influenced my partner.

    I've tried coaching one of my partners out of "choking" but it usually gets worse... Think you gotta take competitive situations as fun and an opportunity to "be your best." As Billie Jean says: pressure is a priviledge! Oh well, just make sure it doesn't rub off on you :neutral:


     
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  24. Coach Carter

    Coach Carter Rookie

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    a few pain-killers can help...

    a lady on the way to league last night had 3 beers...during a 40 mile drive...rode with my partner :(
     
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  25. Ronaldo

    Ronaldo G.O.A.T.

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  26. AR15

    AR15 Professional

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  27. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    Good idea, but with one BIG exception; when you pez your partner with your serve.

    One thing I like to do with my partner is to immediately reinforce what he/she did right, even if we lose the point. If a strong poach ends up with the ball in the net instead of a winning shot, I'll immediately tell 'em that was a good move and to keep going after it. That sort of stuff can keep a partner from getting tentative - that's never good in a doubles setting.

    If he/she double faults, I just say "here we go" or "let it fly". Get them jazzed for the next point instead of mourning the last one.

    If your partner is sort of withdrawn, consider trying to draw them out by getting them "in on the plan". I might just tell my partner how I'm going to serve, where I want to place my return, or who I'm going to pick on. Then I'll ask them what they think. No heavy decisions on their shoulders, but it's a subtle way to make a partner feel more "on board".

    When all else fails... FART JOKES!
     
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  28. Limibeans

    Limibeans Rookie

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    I like to look them straight in the eye after they hit a bad shot and say...

    "You know how to play this game right? Well, do it! Just play your game."

    What this means is that they need to keep playing their game even though they may have missed a shot. The worse mistake a player can make is second guessing themselves because it makes the play unnatural. If they miss an overhead or an easy put away, they need to keep focused on actually executing the shot for next time, not worrying about whether or not they're going to make it. You see too many people "take something off" after they make a mistake. Once that happens, its over.

    You shouldnt do 2 first serves to save match point, but you shouldnt just roll the ball over at 70 mph either cause you're scared of a double.

    I'm pretty intense when I play for-serious. I'm one of those people that use anger to help them focus and play better. I'm not like a Safin where my anger "tilts" me and causes me to lose. I think the more angry I get the better I play, because it doesnt affect my shot selection or how hard a hit. It just makes me blank everything else out, past points, spectators, ect.

    Of course I dont to that if I dont know my partner because they it puts all kinda things into their head which amounts to more distractions.

    Because im "like this" I can only play with certain people when it counts. I must have partner chemistry above all else. I can either be the fans to the flame or I can be the oil to the water as cheese as it sounds.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2011
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  29. Caesar

    Caesar Banned

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    That sounds more offputting than reassuring.

    Doubles is a bit of a funny thing where I reckon that keeping loose is more important than really intense concentration. I mean you still have to concentrate... but the points are shorter, the game is arguably more tactical and less technical than singles, and teamwork is obviously a factor.

    I'm incredibly garrulous when I play doubles... chatting, laughing, smiling, eye contact with my partner. As a result we both stay relaxed, we 'feel' each other better, we talk more strategy, and we ultimately play better - both individually and as a team.

    It's a lot more fun as well. I genuinely have a ball playing doubles - not matter how competitive it gets, it's always quite social as well. I think my partners enjoy it as well - I'm always one of the more in-demand substitutes for our club competitions.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2011
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  30. Limibeans

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    That's why I cant play with people like you. I have to play with someone who is encouraged by that sort of thing. I like to have that "fire". I dont like the "casual, laughing, smiling" game that you like.

    When I rip a winner for example, I almost get mad. The thing is that I cant find a word that fits correctly, because its not really "anger" and its not really "focus" its something in between.

    When I rip a ball out/wide/net ect. I almost get mad too. Same as above. It's not really anger, but something similar without being as self-destructive as anger itself.
     
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  31. Caesar

    Caesar Banned

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    That's a little concerning. You might want to chat to someone about that...

    Anyway, my point is that if you had a partner who was tight (like the OP mentioned) then that approach is probably just going to make them worse.
     
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  32. Limibeans

    Limibeans Rookie

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    *roll eyes*

    I guess you'll never understand. People like you think that its some sort of anger issue. People like me see it as a way of pumping ourselves up, focusing, sort of the way I learned when I practiced Kendo and other martial arts.

    A similar emotion is anger, but anger is often self-destructive (see Safin). You can gain all of the positive effects of anger, without the negative, but I just cant find the right word.

    The thread title is about what people do to help their partners. When I find a partner that I have good chemistry with, this method works extremely well.

    I find the "dont worry, be happy" hippy method wont get you very far in competitive anything. Once you lose the fire to compete then you can play "happy go lucky" all you want, you can also drink 5 beers before you play too, who cares?
     
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  33. Caesar

    Caesar Banned

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    I do a lot of martial arts and that's still very concerning.

    You don't have to take things super serious in order to play well. In fact, if you watch most of the top pro doubles teams, they actually smile and laugh and joke between themselves a fair bit.

    Keeping loose and relaxed is one of the most effective ways to play your best tennis.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2011
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  34. Limibeans

    Limibeans Rookie

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    Then I suggest you check your instructors credentials. No real martial artist would be disturbed by anything I said. No competitive person would be disturbed by what I said. You must be taking some fufu-feel-good martial arts.

    If you watch competitive dancing you can even see it.



    You do realize that many pros who are not doubles specialists just "play for points" right? That isnt serious tennis for them. Half the time those players who sign up for mixed events just choose whoever is available. Yes. Even at the top level of competitive tennis.

    You will not see any "doubles specialists" like [mens] Nestor/Zemonic (sp?) or [womens] Black/Huber or Paes/Whoeverthehellheplayswithnow [mixed] just goofing off between points.

    You sound like you've only seen the Hopman Cup.


    Besides, you're still making it sound like I seize up, or stiffen up. You cant honestly believe that Nadal fist pumping, Djoker staring into his box, or Fed yelling "c'mon" are somehow angry gestures and are counter productive.
     
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  35. Caesar

    Caesar Banned

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    Actually, students like you are the ones that make me wonder if they're in martial arts for the right reason.

    And I am not talking about goofing off. I'm talking about smiling and having a joke every so often. Watch the Bryans, watch the Woodies. They're businesslike but they also know the importance of keeping each other relaxed.
     
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  36. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Expand your horizons...

    ...smoke a Quaalude...
     
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  37. Ronaldo

    Ronaldo G.O.A.T.

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  38. jmverdugo

    jmverdugo Hall of Fame

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    I usually hand them a small paper with my rules:

    1. If you double fault I will not play with you again
    2. If you miss a smash I will not play with you anymore
    3. If you jump to poach and then say "yours" I will not play with you anymore
    4. If you get a sitter after my serve and you do not put it away I will not play with you anymore
    5. If you hit a floater and I end up been peg I will not play with you anymore
    6. If you get lobbed and do not switch I will not play with you anymore
    7. If I poach and you do not switch to cover the empty court I will not play with you anymore
    8. If you serve a sitter and I get peg I will not play with you anymore
    9. If you get passed by the alley I will not play with you anymore
    10. If you hit down the line and we lost the point I will not play with you anymore
    11. If you have an easy volley and you hit it back to the player on the baseline and we end up losing the point I will not play with you anymore.
    12. If we lose a point because you did not want to hit the guy on the net i will not play with you anymore.

    Usually things go very smooth after this... ;)
     
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  39. AR15

    AR15 Professional

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    Great Rules!!!!! I LIKE it!


    Don't you just hate when #3 happens to you? And, sadly, I have done it to my partners a time or two.:oops:
     
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  40. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Yikes.

    First, you open with a sarcastic, cutting remark, snidely questioning your partner's knowledge and competence.

    Then, having insulted your partner, you then issue a direct order.

    Finally, you finish by stating the obvious ("Just play your game"), which was exactly what your partner would do if you would pipe down.

    Mmmm, maybe not the best approach?

    Better, I think is too recognize that people have different ways of adjusting their play after a miss. Some people, like you, find it best not to take anything off.

    Recognize, however, that it is not the same for everyone. Also remember that many people feel they know how to address their errors without any help from their partner. If I miss a serve into the net, I know why and will adjust. My partner needs to be quiet and let me do that. Being commanded to take something off, don't take something off, toss the ball higher, keep my head up, blah blah blah . . . . Not at all relaxing.

    Well, OK. Whatever floats your boat.

    As a captain, however, I can say that players with odd partnering styles are less desireable. Their reputation can haunt them. The stronger players on the team have their pick of partners, of course, and they are often unwilling to play with someone who is difficult, too intense, pushy etc. That leaves the player with The Reputation having to take the leftovers, shall we say?

    Food for thought . . .
     
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  41. jmverdugo

    jmverdugo Hall of Fame

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    In all seriousness when I see my partner nervous I just try to play my best congratulate him on every good shot and move on on every bad shot but most of all I try to run to every ball and to get everything back. Also I try to play really consistent and force the others to make errors, this (IMHO) elevates the moral of our team and creates pressure in a good way, like: "man I better start putting some balls in and win some points other wise we are going to have to call 911 to take this guy out of the court...." :)
     
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  42. Limibeans

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    "You know how to play this game right? Well, do it! Just play your game."

    This is how its supposed to be translated.

    "I dont need to tell you what to do or how to play, because you already know, because you're not an idiot. Just do what you know how to do and forget about the shot you just hit. Play your game, ill play mine, we're good enough to win."

    Because you'll never see it that way, you'll never understand the intensity and fire you see in the eyes of many top athletes. Part of becoming a professional athlete is learning the mindset of a champion. Because I was never good enough to advance past futures doesnt mean I cant still hold the mindset of a champion.


    1) I've already stated that I dont "coach" while playing. No one wants to play with a player (even casually) who tries to coach them during a game.

    2) I've already stated that im aware such talk is not for everyone. What I said was that I only say it to people who think like I do. If not, im probably not playing serious tennis anyway, and it doesnt matter.



    Now you're just looking for a fight. I could say so many things right now that I could regret later so I have to be careful.

    The only leagues I play now are casual ones. I'm more of a social tennis player and I play with all types of people with all types of abilities. You make it seem like im "undesirable" because im difficult, but you couldnt be more wrong. I play with NTRP ranges from 2.5 all the way to people who dont even have NTRP's and barely speak English.

    If the team/combo/tournament is serious, I have my demands, which are a partner who shares the same mindset as I do.

    If the team/combo/tournament is for fun, I could care less about who I play with. The only thing that matters then is that they dont expect me to carry them to a win, we're going to play strictly for fun, and if we dont start serious, dont expect it to end serious because we got a few wins.

    Do or do not. There is no try?


    The very first time I self-rated I ended up playing for 8 years straight. The moment a new league rolls around I had people text messaging me their team #'s asking if I wanted a spot, or asking me if I could appeal so I could play in their mixed.

    I play tennis 6 days a week, in 4 different circles, in 3 different leagues (1 is about to start in Sept.), or sometimes with randoms in the park.

    I guess I cant be that hated or undesirable, unless ive been playing with the wall this whole time.
     
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  43. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    You . . . You played futures events?

    I guess that would explain the 120 mph serves.

    It wouldn't explain the 2.5 self-rating, though.
     
    #43
  44. Limibeans

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    You still dont get it, or you're playing dumb and trolling. I gave up on the other thread and im about to give up on this one too. I'm going to try one last time.

    My NTRP is irrelevant. I could tell you its 7.0 or 1.0 and it wouldnt make any difference. You seem to think that NTRP defines a players game, more specifically, limits it to certain things. I'm begging to differ.

    NTRP goes by results. NTRP does not determine what types of shots a player can hit, how hard, or how consistently. It is just a basic guideline. It goes up when you win, or down when you lose (or appeal). It does not automatically "level up" when you learn a new shot(s). It's very possible a legitimate 2.5 player starts a season being a complete failure of a player to developing a piercing forehand and good serve by seasons end.

    You and your fanboys are saying how well experienced you are but I cant possibly imagine how this can be true if the things im saying dont make sense to you.

    A person can go from 2.5 to 3.5 (hypothetical ability) rating in a single season of 2.5. If the YER hasnt yet come out, that person could register to play another league at the 2.5 level but be much more skilled than they originally started with.

    What is so hard to understand about that?

    There are 3.0's who advance to 4.5 in a few years or less, especially if they go to nationals and win a benchmark rating. This doesnt mean they were "ringers" it just means they learned faster than you, had better results, and are more physically able.
     
    #44
  45. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,093
    Hey, I just want to cut through that huge smoke screen and hear an explanation of how you were a 2.5 player who also competed in futures events! I mean, there must be an awe-inspiring tale of perseverance, determination, sacrifice and grit that would make an amazing mini-series.

    Nah, I don't think one's USTA rating defines the shots one can hit or how quickly one can improve.

    It is a very clear and objective measure of who is slinging crap around here, however. So when a person says senior 3.5 women who play adult will lose to 3.0 women who play adult, we all know that claim is bogus because we understand USTA ratings.
     
    #45
  46. Limibeans

    Limibeans Rookie

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Messages:
    162
    Yep. You caught me. I was playing Futures while I was rated at 2.5 NTRP. You say right through that smoke screen alright.

    Great way of trying to bring the other thread (which im not responding to) here. Great way to strawman everything ive said.

    You win. You are the greatest 3.5 senior lady ever. You should have no problems against anyone with lesser NTRP than you, because if you havnt seen it, it cant possibly exist; and if your NTRP is higher you cant possibly lose.

    Your arguments are so convincing; your fact finding, insurmountable.
     
    #46
  47. Caesar

    Caesar Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Messages:
    765
    Lol. Futures. Muppet.
     
    #47
  48. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2007
    Messages:
    31,170
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    Let's call a truce between Cindysphinx and Limabeans :)
     
    #48
  49. ttbrowne

    ttbrowne Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,622
    Man, Some of the new rookies are typing with a lot of crap on their fingers.
     
    #49
  50. dennis1188

    dennis1188 Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Messages:
    768
    Played doubles, on club 3.5 league, twice during usta season, w/ a 'mitch' teamate ,
    both matches during the 'super tie-breaker (I love tie-breakers and serving), 'mitch', during both matches, says, 'hurry , i want to leave for dinner'.

    I won 'serving out', both 'super tie-breaker' , matches , but real 'hate'
    having to play w/ someone, that can not focus on the "WIN" (so, i told him).
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2011
    #50

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