Is it considered "bush" to use non-traditional serves at 4.0 level?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by JackB1, Jun 13, 2011.

  1. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    I had someone comment after my match last night that some guys might get pissed off with some of my serves. Every now and then I would throw in a "junk" serve when my opponent had just made an error and right after they usually try to blast a "junk" serve and make an error. I did this maybe 6-7 times total the entire match. My junk serve is usually one that I hit "3/4 sidearm" softly and try to drop it in the left front corner of the box, just over the net. If hit correctly, the opponent returns it right back to me and I then have an open court for the next shot. Another "junk" serve I use is to just slice it in low and soft with a very compact swing. One more is where i just pop it in soft and flat and low and try to ellicit an error.

    My opponent claimed I didn't need to use these serves since my normal serve was very good and that I didn't double fault the entire match (true) so that I didn't need to do these tactics. It's true I don't NEED to do it, but sometimes it's just fun to throw in a "changeup" serve. Is this considered "cheap" or "bush", sort of like an underhand slice serve?
     
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  2. Taxvictim

    Taxvictim Semi-Pro

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    Don't you know that you are supposed to serve and hit the ball to your opponent with a pace and angle they know how to return? If you don't do this, you will be accused of winning through bush league tactics, and the only reason the other guy lost is that he refused to stoop down to your level.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2011
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  3. dak95_00

    dak95_00 Professional

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    My 2 cents:

    Don't worry about what your opponent thinks. Play your game at all times. I highly doubt that your opponent is looking out for your best interest as a competitive tennis player. Remember, that guy was just trying to beat you and will probably be playing that role again soon.

    If I just lost to an opponent and I could get them to change their game to suit me better for the next match-up, I would. "Did you notice that my forehand is my weaker shot?":twisted:
     
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  4. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    To be honest, I don't want to **** anyone off and I play league tennis for good friendly competition. The junky serves didn't really work on the surface, but may have gotten under his skin a little. I am not a "win at all costs" kind of guy and want to play with good sportsmanship. I am just wondering how this is looked at by most guys that play in similar leagues.
     
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  5. SweetH2O

    SweetH2O Rookie

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    I don't think your opponents have any right to be pissed off about it, but there's a good chance that some would be. If you are looking to have a friendly match and not win at all costs I would stay away from it. I'd save the junk serves for when you are playing friends that you know will react to it with a laugh.
     
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  6. smoothtennis

    smoothtennis Hall of Fame

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    I establish a rhythm to my first serve during a match which has decent pace and action on it - it's certainly offensive. During key points in a match, I'll most definitely throw in the first serve change up, and it works 90% of the time to draw a footwork or stroking error. Same thing you mentioned - usually a slice to stay low and move, and very little pace - but with a full out serve motion.

    Other good serves from 4.0 to 4.5 have done this to me plenty of times to good effect. The key is establishing a good solid first serve.
     
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  7. dak95_00

    dak95_00 Professional

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    When I was a kid, I thought everyone should play tennis by hitting the ball as hard as they could. Anyone who dinked the ball was a hack. As I have gotten older and matured (hopefully), I believe that the only rules in tennis that need to be adhered to are in the rule book.

    Is there a section about "junk balling" serves? If not, they are fair game and your opponent better be ready.

    This question could be in any section on this forum where we talk about the merits of "pushers." I think that any style that allows you to gain an advantage and win the match is a valid style of play. That includes junk, pushes, retrievers, etc. I enjoy and welcome the challenge of playing all styles.

    A phrase used in golf by good players when they get lucky would sere tennis players too. When we hit a bad shot but the result turns out to be really good, we'll turn to our playing partners/competitors and say, "That's why we write down numbers on the scorecard and don't draw pictures."

    It is a game about the score/result and not about looks. That is why we have so many good arguements on these boards about NTRP rating and how a guy who looks like a 3.5 is actually a 5.0+ player. Results aren't about looks but are about.....RESULTS. Serve away!
     
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  8. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    it looks crappy, childish and stupid. That is, it looks crappy, childish, and stupid to complain or get pissed off about legal shots in tennis.

     
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  9. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    The difference is I don't do it with the same motion as my normal harder serve, but I try and disguise it best I can by setting up the same way as normal. I make sure the returner is ready and then quickly slice one in. It's almost like a "drop shot" but in a serve, if that makes sense. It draws him in to the net and corner and if I get a 2nd ball to hit will usually have an open court.
     
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  10. goran_ace

    goran_ace Hall of Fame

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    Not bush league at all, and not unsportsmanlike either. In fact, from the way you describe how you use, it maybe your oponent should take advice from you. That is a smart tactic at any level. (Granted, at the 5.0+ levels it is just called a changeup and not exactly a junk ball, but you get the idea.) The more variety you add to your serve the more you keep an opponent off balance and guessing. I compare saving strategies to pitching in baseball. If you throw all fast balls all day the batter will eventually key in on it. So if you're ahead in the count you throw in a changeup to keep the batter guessing. Slice out wide is a great changeup to a flat bomb. Another changeup I like to use is a heavy serve at the body or what some call a jammer.
     
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  11. Sakkijarvi

    Sakkijarvi Semi-Pro

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    To the OP, hey, it's legal. I see guys with what I consider 'hybrid' technique out there. Tricky stuff, drop serves, underhand. Not going to make a case whether you 'can' do that, instead will try and speak to what seems like your intent.

    I find drop servers, trick shot-makers annoying to play with. A good workout, competition, that's what is fun for me. Bearing down and getting the win is what it takes to beat them ... but again, it just isn't fun and what is there to prove by winning (in a non USTA setting)?

    Not to condemn what you do, but since you seem to be eliciting feedback on how your tactics might affect others and presumably their interest in playing you ... there's my two cents. No doubt anyone that wants to play tennis can and will find others to do so with: you included. Just think of drop-serve vs. drop-serve battles, and such.

    My recreation is for fun and exercise. I'd rather not spend my time being annoyed, do not need to 'justify' the 'reason'. No way I'd slot you into my rotation of regulars playing that style, but again, you have every right to win any way you can, etc., etc. It seems players with these hybrid styles have a hard time getting hitters to play with them ... there is a reason for that and it doesn't make people that hit the ball bad people, sore losers, and all that.
     
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  12. ibeeskeef

    ibeeskeef New User

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    The only exception I would throw in is the quick, underhanded serve. I would consider that very bush league in a 3.5 or above match.

    The serves you were describing, however, do not sound bush league. I have played guys in league matches that stood so far back on my first serve (even though it is not that quick) that I hit a couple of "drop shot serves" and would up with aces. I hit the serves overhanded as if a normal serve and it was not a quick serve used to catch them before they were ready. It was a legit service motion when they were prepared and I just took all of the pace off and hit it just hard enough to fall over the net. Some may call this bush league, I called it 15-0.
     
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  13. volleygirl

    volleygirl Semi-Pro

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    If he doesnt like it, then hes the one with the problem.
     
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  14. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    I was going to say exactly this--maybe not as well--but you beat me to it. IMO it's "bush" to complain to your opponent about anything they are legally doing on the court.
     
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  15. dcdoorknob

    dcdoorknob Hall of Fame

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    If you used this serve against me and it worked (and it may work pretty well honestly assuming you don't overdo it), the only person I'd be annoyed at is myself for not reacting quickly enough to hit an effective return.
     
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  16. SeriousSummer

    SeriousSummer New User

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    I would only do that type of serve with a friend for the enjoyment of teasing him afterward, or in an extremely competitive situation where I really needed a point and where I thought that was the easiest way to get it.

    Here is why.

    A serve like that, when it works, makes the receiver look like a fool. Nobody likes to look foolish, so many times your opponent is going to be embarassed and sometimes that leads people to be upset.

    Life is too short for me to needlessly upset people, and winning a couple of points just isn't worth it. A drop serve is undoubtedly legal, but it violates an unwritten rule of the game (but custon is subject to change), so I wouldn't do it.

    The OP sounds like he shares my objective is playing--have fun, get some exercise, so I wouldn't recommend doing it for him either.
     
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  17. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    I see nothing wrong with it. I can hit a lot of "trick shots" and hey, if they are going to win me the point at the given moment, I'm going to hit them.

    I FULLY expect my opponent to do the same! If you can hit a shot I can't hit, why wouldn't you hit it? I don't want to play against someone who is holding back because they think their tactics are "bush league".

    Oh and on the change up for serve, I do the same thing you do. I can hit something like 6 different serves, and I use them all with different placements to catch my opponent wrong footed. It works, it wins me points, and usually I can get my opponent to chuckle because they sometimes fall flat on their butts trying to reach them! :)

    -Fuji
     
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  18. volleygirl

    volleygirl Semi-Pro

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    Your comment made me laugh. You actually come across like its a priviledge to play with you and if anyone dares do something which may decieve you on the court, that their priviledge will be taken away. I am guessing there are more people out there would rather not play with someone whos so touchy that a serve like this bothers them as much as you make it appear it would you than there are people who it would truly bother.
     
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  19. BrooklynNY

    BrooklynNY Hall of Fame

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    Yes, in my opinion it is, but that doesn't mean you can't do it.


    Lendl has served underhand against McEnroe before
     
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  20. yonexpurestorm

    yonexpurestorm Rookie

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    when i played high school tennis i would serve really hard flat serves, and then every once in a while i would throw in a underhand slice drop shot thing. it would kick out wide and would almost be impossible to return because they would be behind the baseline. sometime i would even fake it and then do a normal first serve and they would be running foreward and get caught up. i now play usta tournaments and have never used it because i dont think its very sportsmanlike. i think if i were to use it my opponent would probably not even try to return it and wonder if that was actually my serve. maybe one day ill try it. i do use it against one of my friends and we both try and see who can catch who off guard.
     
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  21. jfish

    jfish New User

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    I don't do that. I consider it fun when playing with people I am very familiar with, like closed friends , and just for fun. My friends do that.
    Martina Hingis served underhanded on more than one occasion (also at the 1999 French Open final against Graff ). Michael Chang did the same serve against Lendl to mix things up and ruin Lendl's game at the 1989 French Open 4th round. Hingis didn't the win the crowd's heart & loose the final. Chang on the other hand won the crowd's heart and went on to the final and won the title.
     
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  22. escii_35

    escii_35 Rookie

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    Quick serving before the receiver is in ready position is bush. Underhand or junky change ups are fine especially if you are having sun location issues.

    If both players are in ready positions let the games begin.
     
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  23. RedWeb

    RedWeb Semi-Pro

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    Just don't apologize after you do it. I played someone who did that last year and I told him to cram his apology.
     
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  24. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    It is OK, but real men don't use these serves
     
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  25. cknobman

    cknobman Legend

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    If you do anything that I dont like then that makes you a hack and/or cheat!!!!!!!!!!!!!



    j/k

    Do your serve the way you like. I played a guy who threw in the junk serve and used to catch me every time. Sure it pissed me off but it forced me to work on my return game to improve reading the service motion and having good footwork. Last time I played him I beat him 3,1 and his junk serve was returned well every time.
     
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  26. ptb5021

    ptb5021 Guest

    Do what it takes (legally) to win
     
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  27. Spin-A-Lot

    Spin-A-Lot Rookie

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    Dealing with these sort of tactics would really help in toughening you up mentally...if you can adjust then you have added to your arsenal..if you crack and lose it, then you still have work to do...if you purposely don't play with these types of people, then you're limiting your growth as a tennis player...if you play in a tournament, you can't choose your opponent can you?
     
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  28. sphinx780

    sphinx780 Professional

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    Is this bush league?

    To some, yes and to some, no. Being that you're goal is more about the social aspect of tennis, go with your gut on what is pushing things too far to annoy or disrupt your opponent's fun.

    A 4.5 guy I play hits this underhanded serve now and again and is able to put it in the upper corner kicking out wide...the first time I played him I was honestly thinking 'aye, that's some cheap crap' Then I came to relish finding a way to punish him for it so it would no longer be an effective shot for him to use.

    But, you know the guys you play with better than us...as you can see from the responses, this is no universal yay or nay.

    Personally, I don't see it as Bush, if it's working, keep using it until you reach a level where it's no longer working. Federer once believed that drop shots were 'bush' league.
     
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  29. tennis4josh

    tennis4josh Rookie

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    Its only the loosers who complain about how their opponents were giving them junk.

    Just yesterday I lost a USTA 4.0 doubles match to two seniors, who were giving us nothing but junk. I could not handle it and I only blame myself for the 4-6, 4-6 loss.

    I have seen many underhand serves at 4.0 level and I don't find anything wrong with that. The game of tennis is as much about tactics as technique.

    For me bush league is when you are clearly superior to your opponents and play in a way that would insult him/her.

    There is no rule that you have to play to your opponent's strength.

    -Josh
     
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  30. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Context matters. A lot.

    USTA/tournament match? Everything is fair game.

    Social tennis with friends who will have a good laugh? Totally fine.

    It's the in-between gray area where you have to be mindful of personal dynamics.

    I remember team 3.5 practice one sunny afternoon. Two of the ladies did not like each other very much. Let's call one the Big Server and the other one the Crafty Senior Who Can't Run.

    I was partnered with the Crafty Senior against the Big Server. The Big Server was serving into the sun. Suddenly she hit an underhand drop shot serve to the Crafty Senior, who of course could not run it down because she can't run. Dirty looks were exchanged.

    The Big Server then explained that the sun was bothering her, so that's why she was hitting underhand serves. Then she goes to serve to me. Another underhand serve. I didn't run it down and made no move to play it. 30-love.

    Why?

    Because we were there for team practice. If you don't feel comfortable serving into the sun and your serve is your weapon, you should use team practice to learn to cope with the sun. What you shouldn't do is exploit an older teammate's mobility issue when she hates your guts already. I mean, isn't the point of team practice to practice, not to win cheap points that you wouldn't win against most any other opponents?

    Once I didn't run down the drop shot serve, the Big Server got the message and served normally thereafter. Even she didn't want to to waste her service game hitting four underhand serve "aces."

    So. Consider carefully your audience and what you hope to achieve before you play tricks.
     
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  31. Jim A

    Jim A Professional

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    I play with a guy who hits all sort of spin serves and short over the net. I don't worry that much about it because when we play for real I usually win. As to what Cindy said if he starts doing that during some practice I don't usually try to chase it down and just work on what I need.

    Unfortunately for him when he goes to that style of play he may win a couple points but in the end often winds up losing the match.
     
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  32. ttbrowne

    ttbrowne Hall of Fame

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    If it's in a USTA match, I say anything goes. Use it.
     
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  33. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    All's fair in a league or tournament match. Also, it's fine when hitting with your buddies. If you have a pick-up game wth someone you don't know, you might keep it in the bag until you know them better. You don't want to lose a chance to find another practice partner.
     
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  34. jht32

    jht32 Rookie

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    I agree with this definition of bush league. Similarly, even if you are normally evenly matched but in a particular match, the score is lopsided, don't play in a way that would insult your opponent.
     
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  35. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    The only time I've seen a drop serve that I thought was "bush league" was in an ALTA match several seasons ago. Our guy was the one that did it. It was raining at the house of the line 2 of the other team so their players didn't show up. That means that they defaulted 4 lines and line 1 was the only one that was playing. Our team was up 5-0 in the first set and they were playing against a father/daughter team. My guy was serving and he has a massive kick serve that women normally have no chance against, and I don't thing the girl had returned a single ball in play. My guy was serving up 40-0 and the girl moved way back to try and let the kick serve drop into her strike zone. Our guy drop served to complete the Bagel.

    This is a league match and I do think that a drop serve is a legitimate tactic if someone moves way back to improve their chances of returning the serve. But I also think in this situation it was a bush league move.
     
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  36. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    Just to clarify my original post...

    1) This was in an official league match. Not a social or practice game, but an organized flex league.

    2) It wasn't done to "intentionally" **** anyone off. I usually do it immediately after my opponent makes a bad error and is visibly upset or they are tired after a long previous point.

    3) My opponent's point was that I didn't "need to do it", because my "normal" serves were working fine and I didn't double fault once. He said "I could see it if you were double faulting a lot".

    This was the first time anyone ever complained to me about these serves and he was most upset about the "underhand" ones.

    Sometimes I will also just give someone an easy, soft, flat low serve and see if they try and put it away or not. These serves look "tempting" and most guys will try and kill them to prove to me that they can.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2011
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  37. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    ^Because it was a league match, it's fine.

    Still . . .

    If I were winning with my regular shots, I would not resort to something like an underhand serve. This is really insulting, IMHO. Akin to hot dogging. You're saying, "You, opponent, are so weak I can beat you with my A game and I can even beat you by fooling around." It's the equivalent of running up the score in basketball or football.

    I had something similar (but not nearly as bad) happen to be me in an 8.0 mixed match. We were getting crushed by a guy with a huge serve that neither of us could return. When I served, the guy usually crushed my serve back to my feet and I couldn't do anything about it.

    On match point down, I hit my very best serve. He hit a soft drop shot and started walking to the net to shake hands while I was still trying to run it down.

    Now. Was that strictly necessary?
     
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  38. shazbot

    shazbot Semi-Pro

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    A guy that I play in our club ladder will throw in underhand serves about 5-6 times a match. He even does it in USTA matches.

    I never get upset about it and it keeps me on my toes. He has a good serve so I'm usually 5 feet behind the baseline ready to return his serves and his drop serves keep me honest. Granted, I have never lost to the guy, but regardless it's a good strategy he has.

    The only people I can see getting really upset about this are people who "suck" i.e people who actually think they are better than they are, or people who are mentally weak.
     
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  39. Satch

    Satch Hall of Fame

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    #39
  40. spaceman_spiff

    spaceman_spiff Professional

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    It just seems like an unnecessary risk that has no real advantage and will only make you look bad regardless of how the point turns out.

    If your opponent steps up and wins the point easily, you look like an idiot for changing a winning strategy. If you win the point, you're not really better off than you would have been if you served normally and you still look like a bit of an *ss. Either way, you don't really gain an advantage and you come off looking bad, so what's the point?

    But, maybe that's just because I don't play people who can't return those serves.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2011
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  41. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    Sounds like she was coping (copeing?) quite well, having achieved 30-love with her underhand serve. She needs to learn how to cope with crybabies who can't handle a change in tactics. :twisted:

     
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  42. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    If the point is to "win" the practice, then she coped just fine.

    If the point was to learn something and improve, then she lost by wasting an opportunity to learn to serve into the sun.
     
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  43. Netzroller

    Netzroller Semi-Pro

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    If it's an official match an it works - go for it. If you're opponent can't figure out how to deal with it it's their problem.

    Look at this guy (Karlovic), he holds the word record for the fastest serve. Obviously, he doesn't need it as well...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3JsfD22wHQ

    Nonetheless, there will always be opponents who will be pissed at you and consider these tactics be unfair. These are probably the same guys who create threads on TW about how Nadal is cheating by attacking Federers backhand.
     
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  44. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    Maybe. Maybe you lost by wasting an opportunity to learn to deal with an unexpected underhand serve? By the way, if "winning the practice" is not important, why were you keeping score?

     
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  45. kylebarendrick

    kylebarendrick Professional

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    The OP wasn't talking about an underhanded serve. Personally, I love it when someone has a big serve with lots of consistency. Once I dial-in, I can return it very well. The challenging players are the ones that can vary the pace, spin, and placement of their serves, much like a baseball pitcher. That straight fastball may work once, but you'd better have a breaking pitch if you don't want to get creamed the second time through the line-up.

    With that in mind, even when my normal serve is working well I throw in the occasional softer serve with a lot more spin. I'm not trying to trick anyone or make them look bad, I just don't want them to get too comfortable with my normal serves. I guess it is a matter of degree...
     
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  46. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    "The OP wasn't talking about an underhanded serve. " So what? It still is a change in pace, whether underhanded, or simply a second serve.


     
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  47. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

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    I read this thread yesterday, and then went out and practiced a 3/4 sidearm slice serve for maybe 15 or 20 minutes just for the hell of it. It bounced about 6 in off the ground and 15* to the left. It was awesome. I'm playing a rec league match against a friend of mine tomorrow night. I might try it once to see how it goes in live competition.
     
    #47
  48. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    Messages:
    1,319
    Location:
    Connecticut
    be prepared to hear the wittle baby say: "not FAIR...you're not playing RIGHT! WAH WAH!"

     
    #48
  49. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Messages:
    2,633
    Location:
    Newtown, PA
    LOL, no, this is a good friend that I play all the time. He would laugh at it, unless I do it at match point.
     
    #49
  50. TourTenor

    TourTenor Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2006
    Messages:
    883
    I'm with you on this ... learn to hit as many different serves as possible. If you can hit a legal effective serve that comes out of your %%s ... cool, go for it.

    And, as far as Cindy's limited mobility partner getting upset because it is practice, I don't go for it. That person should be thinking about how she can return all types of serves. I know a person who lost his mobility with some knee problems and he ends up working on his block serve returns by practicing on a garage wall for hours at a time. Now he moves in (and I mean 6 feet behind the service line) and you really have to paint the corners of the service box if you want want to guarantee to take him out with a serve. So, work on everything in practice, she shouldn't just expect serves that come into her comfort area for returns.

    The only time I would complain is when you are trying to rally to loosen up before playing points. In that case, if someone is hitting some junk shots (and that includes trying to win rallies with hard groundies) I would say something ... otherwise ... consider it working on your game if someone is sending you some trick shots or serves. just sayin.
     
    #50

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