Is it bad manners to fire a return of serve at the net player?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by TimeToPlaySets, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. TimeToPlaySets

    TimeToPlaySets Rookie

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    I returned a serve as hard as I could right at the net player. He didn't even get a racket onto the ball, and almost was hit. Is this bad etiquette, or is this fair play? After that he stayed back at the baseline during serve games. When his partner came to the net 2 games later, I did the same thing. Fired a very hard return right at his body, and passed right by him. I won these points, but am not sure if I looked like a jerk.

    This was played in an informal 3.0 to 3.5 league. This means people can play, but also have inconsistency and/or some glaring weakness (weak 2nd serve, etc) In other words, not full experts. Yet, can show glimmers of serious skill (rip a forehand, huge first serve when it goes in, etc)
     
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  2. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    If you're not comfortable at the net, don't go to the net. Having balls hit right at you is a part of the game. Often it isn't even intentional.
     
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  3. loci

    loci Rookie

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    it's within the rules and a perfectly acceptable play.
     
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  4. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    I guess it depends on how "informal" the league is. In league play then there is no problem making someone earn that spot at the net and not conceding the space to them just because they would like to stand there. In social tennis then it probably isn't a good choice and you would likely come across as looking like a jerk. Hard to say what the balance is for you as I'm not really sure what an informal league is.
     
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  5. floridatennisdude

    floridatennisdude Hall of Fame

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    League? Game on

    Social? Have fun
     
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  6. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    Yeah most players (those that can actually play, not the ones that dink balls around on a Sunday morning and call themselves tennis players) have no problems getting blasted at the net. They accept it as part of the game.

    But I will say it's not the most graceful way to win a point, and I would only do it if I'm out of options. For example, if both of them are crowding the net and I can't react fast enough to hit a topspin lobs, then one of them is probably going to get a fast one coming to them.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2013
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  7. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    I agree. I have NO problem with someone firing a ball right at me when I am at the net. If my partner is dinking serves then I need to be prepared for that possibility or back up to the baseline. However, I very rarely use this play myself as I prefer to go around or over the net player if I'm hitting in his direction.

    I do though keep a mental record of who has fired one intentionally at my body and at some point in the match I will return the favor. I just don't like other players thinking I'm intimidated by anything they do so I like to balance out the karma with a shot towards their right hip, either in this match or even a later one.

    There is a 4.0 at our club who is famous (or infamous) for firing body shots at net people. You really have to be on your toes when he's receiving for that first one he is going to try but if you are ready and can volley off a winner then he rarely tries it again. He's got one coming from a match we played several months ago and I even told him to be ready for it the next time we play.
     
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  8. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    Assuming we're talking about competitive tennis among players of reasonably similar ability (no ex-pros playing with 3.0s, no 80 year olds, no one with obvious physical limitations), then I completely disagree with this statement. Ripping shots at the net guy is doubles 101. I want that position at net, and I also don't want him to have it. As long as he's there it's harder for me to take it. I have every right to hit at him, around him, and over him to get him out of that spot. If his partner lays up a sitter, then he has to decide whether he wants to defend the position or retreat back to the baseline. That's part of the game.
     
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  9. Mongolmike

    Mongolmike Professional

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    I'm at the net and get shots fired at me every match. If I can volley successfully, I won't see many more shots at me unless I poach.

    If I volley unsuccessfully, I damn sure better get more shots at me, or the opposing player is not very good at picking up possible weaknesses/patterns.

    And if the opposing player repeatedly and successfully fires shots at me at the net... I better adjust, including moving back to the baseline if that is the best strategic move for our team. At no time do I get upset about it, or plot revenge... its part of the game IMO.

    When I'm at baseline and opposing player is at net during the course of the match I will fire hard at them to see how they react. I also will try to pass them, try to lob them, and try to topspin dip a shot at their feet. Nothing personal, its all part of my probing to see how they react... I'm trying to win. I will try to exploit your weakness. If you do not adjust to protect any weakness, you will lose.
     
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  10. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    100% truth right here. I will also add that the original question was about return. If the server has even a decent serve then unless you're an exceptional player, intentionally aiming a screaming return at the Net guys body is extremely difficult to pull off, much more likely that it's just supposed to be a powerful return (that you've given up some control over, for that power) and it happens to hit that exact area.
     
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  11. Douggo

    Douggo Semi-Pro

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    At the 3.0-3.5 level, if you hit somebody or come close, tell them you're sorry and didn't mean it (even if it's a lie) and move on. You can't be expected to have pinpoint control - even if you do on certain shots.
     
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  12. cknobman

    cknobman Legend

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    ^ this for me
     
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  13. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Humble brag alert
     
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  14. TimeToPlaySets

    TimeToPlaySets Rookie

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    I think the fairness balances out due to the fact that if you have half decent net game, a low ball fired back at you is very easy to put away. It sort of cancels out. Also, it's not easy to fire back a shot at the net. It's easy to hit it long or into the net. So, I now think it's fair game. Don't like it? Then don't play net.

    Interesting to hear talk about "earning" the right to be at net. In doubles, each point starts with one person from each side already at net. I think I need to learn when to back off the net. Often, I find myself just sitting there as they hit to the other guy. But, on a short hit from my partner, I should sprint back to the baseline, right? B/c I'm basically useless at the net when they're about to put it away (or get hit by an overhead!)
     
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  15. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    As usual, it depends:

    - How competitive is this informal league? If competitive, then testing the net player with a hard shot is legit. If not competitive, your opponents probably now think you're a jerk.

    - What is the skill difference between you and your opponents? If roughly the same, then no problem. If you are significantly better, then you should find other ways to win, unless again the match is very competitive.

    - These hard returns of yours, are they somewhat controlled? Meaning, are you typically hitting them in? Or do most of them end up hitting the back fence without a bounce (assuming they don't hit the net player)? If they are uncontrolled, then I would not be firing them at the net player.
     
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  16. IA-SteveB

    IA-SteveB Professional

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    I think it is perfectly fine. In 3-3.5 I think you have to be ready for the ball to be anywhere at any time so net people should just be ready. As a 3.5 player myself, where I want the shot to go and where it ends up can be a bit different. :) Whether you mean to hit it at a net player or not, I think they should always be ready regardless.
     
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  17. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I"m with the above post.
    Was playing doubles against a big strong 5.5 last year, and he fired 5 consecutive returns of serve at my body, this against my partner's 65 mph slice serve to his forehand.
    I mishit the first 3, dribbling or popping them up. Then got lucky on one, and mishit winners the next two.
    Good practice, one that kept me on my toes. And raised the level of my game.
     
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  18. omega4

    omega4 Rookie

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    You're braver than me.

    Were I in your situation, I'd have camped the baseline. I actually like my head and wouldn't want a big strong 5.5 to tee off on my partner's 65 mph serve.
     
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  19. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I am not braver.
    I am dumber, and more obstinate, of course.
    My partner is a strong 4.0 doubles player, with the weakest serve ever, and he tends to slice wide on duece court. I know this, the opposition knows this.
    The 5.5 is 6'5" and 225lbs., and likes to show off.
    He knew I used to play at that level, and have seen plenty of shots like that.....25 years prior.
     
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  20. omega4

    omega4 Rookie

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    LOL. No, I think you're definitely braver than me.

    I don't want to give any 5.5. with a penchant for showing off the opportunity to use my head as target practice at net!
     
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  21. asimple

    asimple Semi-Pro

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    In combo doubles this used to be one of my favorite plays on both players. It you are successful it has the added advantage that it is a strategy that can potentially cause teams to fall apart. I stopped doing this for 2 reasons. One is that it is not an effective shot against a good team. The more important one is that it encouraged my partners to try the same. In a couple of cases, this turned into a "who has the bigger one" contest against the guy at net, and in these cases my partners came up way short.
     
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  22. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Sometimes, you HAVE to fire one at the netperson.
    When the netperson is standing a foot from the net is one.
    When the netperson is standing atop his partner's service court when you are serving is another.
    Like a brushback pitch in baseball, you do what you gotta do.
     
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  23. AtTheNet

    AtTheNet New User

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    If you are at the net, that is just part of the game. As you might deduce from my user name, it is my favorite part. When my partner is serving and I am at the net, I expect/hope that the return will be hit to or at me, so I can either hit a sharp angle shot for a winner, or in the case of a weak return, hammer the ball for a winner. It is absolutely where I love to be on the court.

    When receiving serve, you bet I will hit at the net player to test them. I would not hit viciously hard at a weaker lady player in mixed, but she would get tested all the same.
     
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  24. dcdoorknob

    dcdoorknob Hall of Fame

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    I think skill difference is the biggest thing.

    If you're a decent bit better than your opponents, there isn't really a need to blast a return right at the net player so I would say going right at them is just unnecessary, and quite possibly poor form.

    If it's roughly an even matchup, it's typically fair game as far as I'm concerned. First, they can probably handle themselves fine in that situation, and often can make you pay for trying to hit at them if you aren't careful, and second as others have stated you need to hit it in their direction sometimes for strategic reasons (to keep them honest, etc).

    I'd say level of play is even more of a factor than the competitive/social match distinction. If I'm on the better side of a lopsided league match, I'm probably not blasting through the net player. If I'm in an evenly matched social match, I might, and wouldn't blink an eye if my opponents did the same.
     
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  25. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    If you are keeping score and your opponents are about your level who cares.

    However, I would say that the single biggest weakness of 3.5 players that are trying to get better is that they try to compensate for a lack of control by hitting the ball harder .... at least that was my experience.

    While rifling a ball at the net man will serve a purpose and occasionally work, I would suggest that the path to getting better is by learning control and stepping off the accelerator pedal a little bit.
     
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  26. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    I already mentioned I'd hardly ever do it, and if there was another shot for me to hit, I would.

    One circumstance where I'll NEVER beam it at the net person is, returning a floating serve. Call it being naive, soft, or whatever (I've been criticized as so by my doubles expert friends), but I'm not about to punish the net person for something s/he had no control over. (Except pick a better partner, haha)
     
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  27. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    You hit at a guy? Perfectly fine.
    Only time it is questionable is when it is a woman who is a much lower level player than the guy hitting the ball. At that point, you are playing social tennis and being anti-social.
     
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  28. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    errrrrr.They decided to stand there knowing their partner has a horrible serve (2nd serve), that is indeed in their control. There is nothing that says you have to stand at the net, nor should you if your partner has a horrible serve or you have horrible volleys.
     
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  29. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    "Is it bad manners to fire a return of serve at the net player?"

    Generally no--but, on the first few points of a match--yes. I've done it and had it done to me. Your average player isn't awake yet and he/she could get hurt. I had a guy come right at me hard on the first point of a club match once, the ball glanced off my racket and hit me square in the eye real hard. I had to put ice on it and went to the eye doc the next day to check for damage. It was my fault for not being awake from the beginning and I learned from it.

    I did it stupidly against a pro in a Pro/Am once and she just kind of smiled and said "OH". I realized later it was bad "manners" on my part.

    If we're talking "manners" here and not mortgage payments depending on winning or losing, then don't haul off and wail on the first point or points until everyone's eyeballs are fully woke up.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2013
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  30. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    When you are keeping score in a competitive match, there is no difference between the first point and the last point.

     
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  31. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    Yes, that is a valid point; the problem arises when one player thinks it a "competitive" match and the other doesn't.
     
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  32. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    I think hitting the net man is fair Play but it should only be done if there is no high percentage passing shot.

    If he hits an easy sitter and stands on the net do your best to find a hole for a passing shot. Usually he will Chose one side and the whole court is open. hitting a Player who is already trying to get out of the way and opening 80% of the court is not ok.

    however if you have no obvious passing alley it's ok to hit the net man, especially if he is jumping and waving around to distract you.

    so it's ok to hit a guy to win a Point but not to intimidate or make a Statement.
     
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  33. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    no problem, if you are keeping score, it is a competitive match. If someone speaks up and says something like "let's keep score, but just play for fun", then that would be one of the occasions it is considered a "non-competitive match". :)


     
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  34. tennis_ocd

    tennis_ocd Hall of Fame

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    Getting beaned in the head on the first return kinda solves that dilemma.
     
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  35. Larrysümmers

    Larrysümmers Hall of Fame

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    as long as you dont act like a jerk, then you didnt look like one. it sounds perfectly okay what you did as described. and as long as you arent sandbagging lol
     
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  36. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    I do hit in the direction of the net person from time to time. I don't think in my mind "I am going to hit them" but I do think "I am going to go hard in their direction". I even do this in mixed at the women if it is a league match. I try not to go at anyone in the face/head area but no problem hitting hard at them.

    I played a mixed match a couple of weeks ago and both the male and female opponents went hard at my partner whenever they got a chance. No problems.

    Funny story: playing mixed about 2 years ago, we played a 5' tall small woman - maybe 105 lbs. At every single opportunity such as a short 2nd serve or sitter, she went hard as she could directly at the chest of the net person. If we were both at the net, usually my female partner would get it. But, I got my share of sitters pounded at me. She had no problems going at us - she was a cold blooded killer. No apologies - nothing - just chin music all day long.
     
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  37. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    We've all been there with a situation like the OP's. To be honest, if I was serving to a similar team, one very reasonable strategy would be to tell my partner: "I'm going to powderpuff the serve to his forehand, watch for it to go long".
     
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  38. fleabitten

    fleabitten Semi-Pro

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    It always depends on the level. The higher levels, no.
     
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  39. westside

    westside Hall of Fame

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    As many people have said, it depends on the level of competition. If you're playing high comp, go for it (though not too often, don't want to seem like THAT guy)

    Obviously if you're playing mixed, NEVER do it.
     
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  40. kylebarendrick

    kylebarendrick Professional

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    I'd do it off a floating serve. I'm not punishing the net player, I'm punishing their team. If I can drive the server's partner back to the baseline I'll do it. This assumes it is a league match of course...
     
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  41. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    If you are not going to "punish" someone's doubles partner for the mistakes, including but not limited to floating serves, made by their partner then you are giving away too many free points and ultimately punishing your own partner. IMO anyway.
     
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  42. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    "It's a league match, Smokey."

    [​IMG]
     
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  43. fleabitten

    fleabitten Semi-Pro

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    Well, unless you are firing at someone better than you.
     
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  44. Anyone4tennis?

    Anyone4tennis? New User

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    If you're playing with a baseball, I would say yes, because a baseball could seriously hurt someone, but a tennis ball? I don't think that anything that is done within the rules should be deemed bad manners.
     
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  45. Anyone4tennis?

    Anyone4tennis? New User

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    . . . but then again, what goes around comes around. You could become a sitting duck at the net the next time a short ball lands on the opposite side of the court, and then it will be payback time!
     
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  46. omega4

    omega4 Rookie

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    I think someone who has been hit with a heavy ball in the face at the net dead on might beg to differ with your assertion.
     
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  47. NTexas

    NTexas New User

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    If you are at net you better be ready, its just part of the game. I like hitting at the body cause it sure makes for a tough volley.
     
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  48. Brian11785

    Brian11785 Hall of Fame

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    I'll reiterate everyone else's consensus:

    Competitive play....no mercy.
    Non-competitive play....don't go out of your way to make enemies.

    I usually apologize when I catch a cross-court return late and hit it hard at the net person (particularly if I'm playing mixed.) But on conscious alley returns or the occasional hard "back the eff up" returns at the person, I never do.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2013
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  49. MeHere2PlayTennis

    MeHere2PlayTennis New User

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    I think its completely okay as long as it works at any level. I would be careful not to use this is in social mixed matches, as you might be called a head hunter.
     
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  50. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    lol, it's more or less suicide at my level...
     
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