How to play on Clay

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by msweigert08, Jun 20, 2012.

  1. msweigert08

    msweigert08 Rookie

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    Tonight is my first match on clay. How should I go about playing it? I am playing in a 3.5 league so I'm sure their shots are nothing but spins, slice, no pace. I play a lot of topspin and a big kick serve, should i change my game a bit?
     
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  2. spot

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    I think you should hit a lot of topspin and a big kick serve.
     
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  3. nickarnold2000

    nickarnold2000 Hall of Fame

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    Nothing new. It's a little harder to hit outright winners so be consistent and keep the ball deep except for the intentional dropshot.
     
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  4. floridatennisdude

    floridatennisdude Hall of Fame

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    I always focus on higher net clearance on clay with more topspin. It takes a little more patience to set up a point on a slower surface than a fast hard court. Fitness is more in play as the points will play a few shots longer. Don't be surprised if a normal point ending shot gets popped back into play.

    Kick serves are more effective on clay. They bounce higher and thus can take your opponent out of the court easier. Kicking to the backhand on the ad court and playing a serve and volley point is one of my go to plays at 40-love or on my ad. Generally I'll get a soft return and I have the whole court to volley into.
     
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  5. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    You did get that he's a 3.5. Not many 3.5's with a kick serve.

    I think that you have to learn to slide, practice doing it with a racket in your hand but not hitting. I played last summer and slid a lot, mostly unintentionally.
     
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  6. msweigert08

    msweigert08 Rookie

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    I guess im the exception...thats usually all I hit. Kick it out wide on the duece court and kick up the line on the ad. Topspin should work in my favor then?

    Are their slice balls going to die or skid or will the sit up a bit longer than grass or crappy carpet?
     
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  7. BHiC

    BHiC Rookie

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    Are you a lefty, then? And slices will sit up much more on clay than on a faster surface like grass. Just be prepared, because if the ball hits a line, it will probably take a crazy bounce.
     
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  8. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    You are doing this backward unless you are facing a lefty. You are intentionally hitting kick serves to people's forehands at the 3.5 level? I'd say at a MINIMUM 80% of serves should go to the backhand at that level.
     
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  9. floridatennisdude

    floridatennisdude Hall of Fame

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    Per his post, he claims to have that as one of his strengths. Thus, I encouraged using it.
     
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  10. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    IMO the number one issue for a first timer on clay is getting the timing of your strokes correct. Clay takes a bunch of the pace off the ball when it bounces, so it is easy to get ahead of the ball. This is particularly true of fast groundies and serves.

    Once you get the timing down, the rest of the game is pretty similar to hard court.
     
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  11. floridatennisdude

    floridatennisdude Hall of Fame

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    With some finesse, a ball will seem to die on a drop shot. On a penetrating slice, the clay will grab it and sit it up.

    Takes some getting used to since the bounces are just different. You might find yourself lunging at a ball that you are used to having penetrate through the court because the clay grabs it and pops it up shorter than you are used to.
     
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  12. rabidranger

    rabidranger Rookie

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    I play 3.5/4.0 on a ladder and played clay for the first time in my life about a month ago. Aside from the irregularities that pop up on the court I didn't find it was all that differant to play.
     
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  13. GlennK

    GlennK Rookie

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    Good luck tonight Mike.

    I was looking forward to playing at Brookside this year so I too could experience their clay courts. Unfortunately, when we play them at their courts, I'll have to miss it due to teaching a summer course at our local college.

    This is their first year in the league. I hope they come back next year.

    Glenn
     
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  14. Larrysümmers

    Larrysümmers Hall of Fame

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    dont try to slide. you will break your neck and die. thats the first thing everyone tries to do.
     
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  15. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    Love to meet you for a singles match on clay or hardcourts. I fly to most major cities in the US.

    Please pm me. I let you report your findings of my shots to this forum.

    If you are a 3.5 if should be a fair match right?
     
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  16. jdubbs

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    You are correct... my skimming skills aren't what they used to be. I blame the internets.
     
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  17. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I would add that clay really rewards spin. Spin serves, extra topspin -- drives people nuts.

    Also, you have to move your feet more because the ball bounces higher than you expect.
     
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  18. mib

    mib New User

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    At all levels. Just look at Nadal. Probably 90% of his serves are to the backhand.
     
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  19. msweigert08

    msweigert08 Rookie

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    Um, Weird......?
     
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  20. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    incomplete post
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2012
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  21. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    Mike,

    You made the comment "I am playing in a 3.5 league so I'm sure their shots are nothing but spins, slice, no pace."

    Yeah, that pissed me off. I find the comment arrogant and called you out. evidently reading comprehensive isn't your thing.

    Want to hit agianst me? I fly to Cleveland. Let's set up a match between me a 3.5c player and you a 3.5 S player.

    Is that more clear for you?
     
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  22. athiker

    athiker Hall of Fame

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    Agree, I wouldn't try to suddenly learn to slide at match time with no previous practice. Just focus on balance. Its harder (slower) to change direction on clay. So make sure you get balanced as opponent strikes the ball so you can react well in either direction. By the same token I find it useful to hit behind an aggressive fast player more often on clay if they fail to split step as you hit.

    Overall if you give it a chance you will likely really enjoy it. I've come to really like it and jump at any chance to play on clay. I don't know how old you are but if you have any age to you will be amazed how much better your joints feel the day after.

    Oh, and the occasional bad bounces...they happen...just ignore it and move on...they happen on both sides! Have fun.
     
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  23. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    First step on clay (unless you get a short ball) many times is back. You then semicircle into the shot. Takes a while to learn this one, but don't be afraid to play further back than on hardcourt.
     
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  24. Big_Dangerous

    Big_Dangerous Legend

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    What about underspin? I play with a lot of slice, especially on my backhand. :p
     
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  25. msweigert08

    msweigert08 Rookie

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    Cool. I played on some carpet and that was terrible. Thanks for the input ...even from the guy who is creeping on me and got all upset or something.
     
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  26. escii_35

    escii_35 Rookie

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    It depends on the clay.

    On slippery red I slide -> slice my BH on nearly every shot. I love the way the extra body momemtem adds weight to the shot.

    Low slip green is just like hard except all the energy get sucked out of overheads and my body does not hurt afterwards.

    PS: Drag the court even if your opponents say, "It's fine". Bad bounces due to divits are preventable.
     
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  27. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    Are you really trying to get in a cross country ******* match about who the better mediocre tennis player is? All because he said he was playing on clay for the first time and expected spin, slice, and no pace!?
     
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  28. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

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    Are you playing on real clay or har-tru? I played on real red clay for the first time this summer, and the one thing that bothered me the most was the bounce. I played early in the morning when the air was still damp and humid and the ball became very heavy very quickly. Once this happened, bounces were about 5 or 6 in lower than I would have expected, and I had to really concentrate on watching the ball right to the second of impact to make sure I knew where it was. Slice shots barely even got off the ground. It was like playing tennis with a baseball.
     
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  29. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    Spot,

    He didn't say what you wrote. His comment is quoted again below.


    This quoted comment by msweight08 is fXXXXX arrogant to me. I get that it's not arrogant to you. Yes, it pissed me off.

    I get that you are great player, a 4.5 or 5.0 or maybe even a 5.5 And yes, I bring a racquet on the road often. I hit with guys in CA, FL, TX, and other states. So, yes, I am happy to hit with this self-rated guy named Mike.

    So when I read a comment like the one he posted as a self-rated 3.5 player, offering his kickserves (one serve almost all 3.5 and many 4.0 players don't possess), I am more than willing to put my money and my time where my keyboard is.

    I don't care if his comment wasn't arrogant to you. It was filled with hubris. I am sick of fxxxxing self-rated 3.5s who go unbeaten against most 3.5s and have the fxxxxx arrogance this guy does. Yeah, I like to play self-rated 3.5 guys who think they are unbeatable. I have the means to travel around the country thanks to my job, and I hit with a lot of nice players who aren't arrogant. Some are much better than me, some are worse. But it beats the heck out of spending 17 hours in a hotel room.

    So Spot, do you have a problem with the fact that I called the guy out?

    My 4.5 buddy who stopped by my house is reading this thread. He liked that I called Mike out. My 4.5 friend said "yeah his post is a bit ridiculous". I asked him, do you find Mike's post arrogant? Response "Very".

    So Spot, when does one not become a mediocre player? 4.5, 5.0, 5.5 or 6.0 or Top 100 ATP or WTA. Please enlighten me and the 4.5 player in my kitchen with your wisdom.
     
    #29
  30. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    Look out--there's an Internet tough guy on the loose! :lol:
     
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  31. Z-Man

    Z-Man Professional

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    Don't try to change your game--just do your thing, and you should be fine. Over time, you will learn to change your tactics slightly, but the changes will mainly be in your own movement and court positioning. If you want to try one thing, you could hit behind your opponent a little more often. It's hard to change directions on clay. That said, never hit behind a slow or out of shape player. They will usually fake moving to the open court.
     
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  32. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    I'm kind of with G4Driver on this in a way. 'a big kick serve' at 3.5, really?

    And I think of myself as a mediocre player in absolute terms, just as I consider a solid 3.5 league player to be a decent player at the rec level, someone who has worked on their game to get to that standard.
    Nothing irritates me more than a 4.0 playing the NTRP card on a 3.5.

    Face it, if we can't win a round at a futures event, we are just rec league hackers. Fact. (and there is nothing wrong with that!)

    anyway, back to the OP, move your feet, lad, and just play your natural game. stay on your toes as the dropshot you can easily run down on a hardcourt becomes something else entirely on the red dirt!
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2012
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  33. floridatennisdude

    floridatennisdude Hall of Fame

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    I don't think Mike is interested in meeting you. He just wanted some clay advice.
     
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  34. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    yes- I think it was absolutely ridiculous to call him out for saying that he expected nothing but (direct quote) "spins, slice, no pace". Seriously... of all things on this board to take offense to that is just ridiculous to me. To get into a ******* contest about who the better 3.5 player is. (and a 3.5 is by definition a mediocre player... I don't mean that as a slam because I am also a mediocre player) I think its just ridiculous.

    When does someone not become a mediocre player? To me its pretty clearly 4.5. Then you are a significantly above average tennis player. What definition of mediocre would you like to use instead?

    Whats so funny is that you act like you are tired of 3.5 players talking about how good they are but THATS WHAT YOU ARE DOING. You were the one who claimed to be able to go out and whup his ass without knowing anything about his game. How is that any different than him expecting to go out and play 3.5 on clay and expect a certain type of game? When we play Country Club teams on clay courts then we definitely go in expecting spin, slice, and no pace. It doesn't mean that those players can't possess big shots- just that its a reasonable expectation going in.

    And part of this is that I run a big Round Robin in Atlanta and it gets tiresome with 3.5 players who think that they can go out and beat people they know nothing about. They complain about their starting court even though they know nothing about the players placed ahead of them. I just think its really funny that you are the one in this thread talking about how good you are.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2012
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  35. msweigert08

    msweigert08 Rookie

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    Man, I never once said i was good or am taking advantage of other players. Im 4-1 in my first USTA season at doubles. I think im actually not very good. I amhave learning how toyou beatbad players who useis slice andballs offer ni pace, i know this because thats what they do and pride themselves on it. But I guess im arrogant so their is my starting block to becoming the next Andy Roddick.

    Match went well. Enjoyed the clay a lot and favored my glorious god given kick serve and topspin. Took the advice to not try to slide really relaxed my motion and attack the balls that floated. Thanks for the input!
     
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  36. msweigert08

    msweigert08 Rookie

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    Im not sure why my phone inserts words into other words...sorry for that!
     
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  37. msweigert08

    msweigert08 Rookie

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    Also yes my name is Mike. Glad the forum now knows this.
     
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  38. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    I have to ask, since when is having a kick/twist serve the term of being a higher level player? I hit a decent twist and kick serve, and I have for a while now. It's a serve and I think everyone with enough time and patience can learn it. :)

    The serve is the one shot you can practice by yourself for literally hours on end without ever needing a partner.

    -Fuji
     
    #38
  39. retlod

    retlod Professional

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    I taught myself a kick serve as a 3.5. It was easy. I never knew it was a litmus test for greatness.
     
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  40. SimonSNET

    SimonSNET New User

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    Main thing is not to get frustrated. You'll adjust to the surface as time goes on. The movement is the biggest thing for me. If you're unfamiliar with clay, you can't push off quite as much and may lose some quickness. Bounces are also funny, not only on clay patches where the bounce can die or jump up, but also along the lines where there may be a strip of plastic (depending on the court) that can cause it to move more to one side. For ex: if the ball catches the right edge of the line, it could bounce more right that you expected.

    I suggest you try to go early and get an extended warmup if possible. Simply getting a feel for movement on the court will be really helpful.
     
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  41. t135

    t135 Semi-Pro

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    Many of the 3.5's at my club hit kick serves. Not Federer style kick serves, more in the 20-40 mph range. All arm and wrist.

    I see nothing unusual about a 3.5 hitting a serve or forehand with some spin. Power, placement and consistency are another story.
     
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  42. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    The only "big kick" serves I've played against were 4/4.5 players. A legit 3.5 with a "big kick" serve is going to be a rare thing, and is going to have a pretty big advantage over other 3.5s.

    I'm sure there are 3.5s out there that have the time to work on it and can get it right though.
     
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  43. aurelius

    aurelius New User

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    Here's a vid a couple years back from the backyard. You should kick it like this - works even better on clay.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksdP_cocKWA
     
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  44. floridatennisdude

    floridatennisdude Hall of Fame

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    I've seen some legit 3.5s hit respectable kickers. But, usually that is the only serve they have and they lack the ability to mix up speeds and spin. Thus, they are predictable.

    What I don't see is 3.5s that can serve flat up the T or out wide on a consistent basis and have the ability to place a kicker. If they could do that at 3.5, they would surely be winning handily and get bumped up to 4.0.
     
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  45. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    Is that you?

    Very nice. The last one is fantastic. Imagine starting all Ad serves that wide!
     
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  46. t135

    t135 Semi-Pro

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    Well said.
     
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  47. CRWV

    CRWV Rookie

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    Yeah, I call shenanigans on the universal rating minimum to have a kick serve.

    I have a pretty respectable kick serve, but can't hit a backhand to save my friggin life, and my court coverage/conditioning is abysmal. ( I have a shortage of hitting partners so I go out and work on my serve everyday)
     
    #47
  48. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    well they say the serve is the most important part of the game!!
     
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  49. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    I agree that being able to mix up serves is a considerable advantage and trait of a higher level player. Even if you only have 2 different (but legit) types of serve, you won't be a 3.5 for very long.
     
    #49
  50. floridatennisdude

    floridatennisdude Hall of Fame

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    That's my point. A kick serve is only a weapon if you know how to use it. Same as a gun is only a weapon if you know how to aim and fire it.

    If you are just kicking every single time, opponents figure out how to counter it (where to stand, slice or flat return, cross court or line return, etc). The ability to mix up your serves is what starts to become a weapon.
     
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