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. Avles

    Avles Hall of Fame

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    Hey Caesar--

    I saw that on another thread you referred to Todd Martin as a true sportsman-- so I thought you might be interested in this story.

    Key quote:
    Sounds like you might need to re-evaluate your opinion of either Todd Martin or the underhand serve.
     
  2. FloridaAG

    FloridaAG Professional

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    Anyone can do it occasionally for the element of surprise, if you do it regularly, in my experience, 4.0's here will adjust and start punishing you.
     
  3. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Bump!!

    Someone served underhand to me at sectionals. And it was the weirdest thing ever.

    I was playing 7.0 mixed against a 3.0 gal and 4.0 guy. The gal was pretty frazzled, not a strong player. Struggled with the pace of shot coming back at her. Struggled to get her serve in, although I didn't think she was doing too badly.

    We lost the first set, but we figured out a strategy that was working in the second set and took the lead. It was the woman's turn to serve to me. She stepped up to the line and the following conversation ensued:

    "30-all. I'm going to serve underhand now."

    "Pardon?"

    "I said I'm going to serve underhand now. I just wanted you to know."

    I wondered whether this was some sort of trick, but no. She served underhand to me and my partner. It was just a bloop of an underhand serve, nothing tricky or special. She did this for the remainder of that service game, but then returned to an overhand serve for the rest of the match.

    On the changeover, I said something like I appreciated her letting me know she was going to do that. She smiled and said something noncommittal. (After the match, I heard her tell her captain that she wasn't serving well and didn't think she could get the serve in any other way).

    OK. We get to a 10-point tiebreak and I am serving match point down. By then, my arm was about to fall out of the socket because I've been nursing an injury. The thought crossed my mind to serve to the guy underhand. I thought, "Hey, she did it, and it would probably mess him up."

    And then I realized I couldn't do it. Not unless I issued a warning first. What kind of tool would I be if I pulled a trick like that with her having set such a high standard for courtesy and fair play? But if I issued a warning, this 4.0 would stand right on the service line, hit a drop shot, and that would be the match.

    So instead I double faulted to hand them the match.
     
  4. MNPlayer

    MNPlayer Semi-Pro

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    I'm inspired.
    In the spirit of fair play, I'm going to announce spin and placement for every serve in my next league match. "Here comes a wide slice!"
     
  5. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    Way to go! :confused: At least you still have your integrity :-?

    So an underhand serve is OK if you "announce it" first? That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Should I yell "DROP SHOT COMING !!!" the next time my opponent is 10 feet behind the baseline and I am about to hit a dropper? Why is it OK to hit any type of shot you like at any other portion of the match, but when serving you must obey a different set of rules?

    There are a lot of guys at my level (3.5) that struggle with a slow, low flat serve. Is it wrong to give them slow, low, flat serves until they prove they can do something with them or to sneak them in now and then? So an off speed, short slice serve is fine if it's done "overhand", but if you use a sidearm or underhand motion it's "bush"? This argument just doesn't make any sense to me.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2011
  6. MNPlayer

    MNPlayer Semi-Pro

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    To be fair, there is a difference between serving and other shots. By serving you are starting the point, so there has to be some kind of agreement about signifying when you are both ready to start. In general, the server should wait until the receiver is ready (although the receiver is supposed to play at the "server's pace"), and the point starts when the server puts the ball in play. The server is not obligated to use a specific motion or ball toss that makes it easy to read the serve (or Sampras would have been banned), which is why I think underhand serves are perfectly legitimate.

    I think using an underhand serve to taunt an very inferior player is bad form but so is blasting them in the chest with a monster serve. It's not the technique itself that's bad, it's the context in which it's used.
     
  7. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    totally agree.
     
  8. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    Hear hear.

    In the same spirit, I am going to anounce my intention as I hit every single shot:

    Winner down the line!
    Shanked error!
    Dropshot coming!
    Watch for the lob!
    Come on!

    Okay, maybe not the last one :)
     
  9. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Seriously, though.

    Wouldn't you have felt a little weird trying to surprise/trick your opponent when they had the chance to do it to you but chose not to?
     
  10. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    It is not my problem if my opponent thinks its necessary to tell me what serve they are going to send my way.


     
  11. andfor

    andfor Hall of Fame

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    In a social match, maybe, depends on who I'm playing. In a tournament, serious or league match, no.

    I don't get this thread. I have a good dropshot return against weak and second serves and can often hit it for a winner. Topspin lobs often catch folks at the net by surprise. I guess some here would call that bush. If you can hit a winner or force an error it does not matter what kind of shot you hit as long as it's within the rules.
     
  12. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    Not at all, but there is a difference between "surprise" and "trick".
    When you disguise your drop shot as a hard groundstroke, is that
    a "trick" or a "surprise"? How about when you fake a overhead and just
    hit a easy short volley? How about serving a hard low serve 5 times in a row and then hitting an angled slice? Is that trickery?

    Just because my opponent is playing straightforward, doesn't mean I have to. If you are trying to get every edge possible to beat a tough opponent, than what's wrong with that?
     
  13. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    There's a certain symmetry in tennis etiquette.

    If I am generous in giving you a first serve when there has been a delay between first and second, you may feel obligated to do the same for me.

    If I don't strictly enforce the continuous play rule against you, then you may feel obligated not to enforce it on me.

    In this case, this lady extended what she thought was a courtesy -- she warned me that she was going to change what she was doing. She had no obligated to do this, of course. In her own mind, she was extending a courtesy.

    That's why it would have felt very small, weird and discourteous not to extend her the same courtesy.

    I have to say, this is the first time such a thing has happened to me. Every other underhand serve attempt has been done with a careful effort to achieve sneaky surprise.
     
  14. chippy17

    chippy17 Semi-Pro

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    there are many things players will do to win and as long as it is within the rules it is fair game even if it annoys you

    we play a doubles team in our league who spend most of the time (esp when they are losing) doing slice lobs with zero pace over the guy at net, they know that a couple of guys find it hard to deal with this type of shot and find it extremely annoying and i have in the past made various remarks but to be fair they are just using shots in their arsenal to beat us, it is a match

    we have close matches and I have now accepted that tactic as fair game and have just got on with it and instead of getting annoyed I thought use that energy to beat them...which we did last night for the first time!!
     
  15. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    Back to the OP, there are a few of guys in my league who hit serves that are borderline junk ...on every serve..slow, low bouncing side spinners, because that's all they've got. That's all I might have when I'm 50 also.

    It at least keeps them in points, because if they hit flat 50-60 MPH serves into my hitting zone they will be crushed. It's my responsibility to punish them..if I overhit their junk, I only have myself to blame.

    Likewise, if a guy is standing 6 feet behind the baseline to handle my serve, if I drop a dink in, it's his prerogative to get his butt up to the net and punish me for it.

    In my league, most guys will hurt you on a dink serve by just slicing it or drop shotting you back...I can't believe a 4.0 guy complaining about that, he should be encouraging you to continue doing that..unless these are like super nasty devestating drop shot slice serves.

    Even that, he should be able to tell from your wind up that you're goofing around on this serve, at least after the first time you do it. The element of surprise should be gone and that guy should be sprinting to the net.
     
  16. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    This thread is kind of hilarious. Half of the poster's attitude is they would rather lose than use a bush league tactic and the other half shrug their shoulders and feel "by any means necessary" for the win.

    Calling a drop serve "bush league" is kind of like calling the guy who beat you because you were less consistant than him a "pusher". It is a meaningless term mostly reflecting the emotional state of the person who says it.
     
  17. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    Well said!

     
  18. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    I disagree. I think that it's about 80% in favor of doing whatever, as long as it's within the rules and about 20% saying it's "bush".
     
  19. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    Bush league to me is:

    -bad line calls..the rule is supposed to be "when in doubt, call it IN", not the other way around
    -questioning calls when the ball is a foot out
    -taking too much time between games
    -taking too much time between points
    -stalling because you are starting to fade to preserve your silly winning percentage..who really gives a damn, it's a friggin 4.0 league.

    There's really nothing you can do within the rules with your racquet that is bush league..intentionally hitting someone with a shot, maybe? That's about it.
     
  20. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    I didn't read all 160 odd posts before mine so you are probably right. What I mean't by "half" was: "one group".
     
  21. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    Agreed.

    And the things you can do involving the racquet that are bush league:

    1. Intentionally trying to hit and hurt someone, when there's an equally good winning play available.

    2. Throwing your racquet about in a tantrum / hissy fit :)
     
  22. teAlexis

    teAlexis New User

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    I remember my opponent serving an underhand serve, (this was after she had served her normal serve, which was just average). It was in a rec league match. But most of us were former USTA players and we play our best all the time.

    I have no idea why she started to serve this way, but I wanted to win, so I just whipped some winning returns. And that was that! I looked up and smiled. "I dare you" She stopped doing that. :mad:
     
  23. Bedrock

    Bedrock Semi-Pro

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    I love your serve and people who serve like you :)
    Unfortunately too few players developed junk serve yet ;)
     
  24. Chelsie1

    Chelsie1 Rookie

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    Tactics

    Wow! They would have you change your game so that they would have a better chance at beating you? Been there. Don't change your game. It's called a change of pace. Own your game. And be glad you have a large arsenal!
     
  25. Coach Carter

    Coach Carter Rookie

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    I feel that bush stuff is the gamesmanship stuff (bad calls, delays, things done to distract, etc). If you are doing things within the rules to try and win...then you're a competitor. Working with juniors, I would constantly talk to players about strategies etc and would hear things like, "I don't want to be a pusher" or things like that...when you ask them to change it up when they are struggling (to give them a chance to get their strokes back) or throw in lobs to "reset" the point. It's unbelieveable...I wanted to win. I was/will throw the kitchen sink at someone...
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2011
  26. rjw

    rjw Professional

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    Variety of shots makes you a better player/competitor.

    If its within the rules, go for it.
     
  27. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    Hate to say it because I play 4.0/4.5 myself.

    4.0 IS BUSH LEAGUE. The only proof I need is that you've been hitting this kind of serve and it worked for you enough times to keep doing it. So if it keeps working, keep doing it!

    If you did this in a 5.0 league, those players wouldn't mind at all because they would bury you every time, and you would naturally stop doing it.
     
  28. Coach Carter

    Coach Carter Rookie

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    Ramon...give me a break. I had a player on my college team that won over 100 NCAA matches doing this kind of thing...variety is the spice of life bro. You got a lot of guys on here at any level (including 4.5's and 5.0's) that aren't prepared for someone bringing something outside "the box" to the match. If you have a player willing to pull out all stops...and have some fight in them...then watch out!
     
  29. kylebarendrick

    kylebarendrick Professional

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    I don't think that is what he meant. To put it more gently, I thinkRamon was saying that 4.0 is not top level tennis (and he is correct). That is what lets people get away with some of the trick shots that wouldn't work at higher levels. To a large degree I agree with this. The reason we don't see more drop serves at the pro level isn't because the players are ashamed to use them - it is because they would rarely be effective without a major surprise factor.
     
  30. Coach Carter

    Coach Carter Rookie

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    Sorry about that...yes, if you were to do it constantly, then the element of surprise would be gone and a strong player should be able to take advantage.

    I think my thought on this was always playing 1 more ball in than your opponent...period. So many have great strokes, but to play a great ball with pace back to some plays into their strength. I always encouraged my players to be aware of weaknesses or deficiencies and then work your points towards hurting those things. Get away from the mentality of "this is what it's supposed to look like".
     
  31. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    I did watch a match several years ago where Illie Nastase hit a drop serve against Jimmy Connors and won the point. That's the only one I can remember at the pro level. Of course, it had a huge element of surprise and Nastase was one of the best drop shot artists of all time.

    I just think that, in general, higher level players don't make the kind of "stupid" mistakes average players make at the 4.0/4.5 level. The frequency of "ugly" shots you see in league matches goes down as level of play goes up because it's a natural progression to better tennis and the better players can handle the "junk" balls better.

    All I'm saying is, if "junk" shots are working in your league then use them because obviously, these players haven't progressed past the point where they can say they are beyond that.
     
  32. rjw

    rjw Professional

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    I think that at any level, you need to keep your opponent honest. If you can sneak something by them, then just do it.

    Classic example is if you have a good flat 1st serve and your opponent starts to play way behind the baseline, then throw in some junk to keep them honest. If it works great, if not then you eat it.

    At the other end, I'll often stand way behind the baseline or maybe 4 feet inside it, just to throw the server off. I'll move to where I want to be, during the service motion.....works pretty well, even if it's just a distraction that they might see out of the corner of their eye.....it throws them off....others do it to me as well.

    If I know that they want to serve to my backhand, I'll move way over and possibly run around it, or fake....if it's legal and it throws their rythmn off, then you do have a right to use it.

    I am not rude, like even some of the women pros, who bounce around like a pogo stick and and also scream like a banshee.

    If it's a total friendly, then I just chill....
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2011

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