Main differences between a 4.5 and a 5.5

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by jdubbs, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    Played a former D1 player yesterday who still plays a lot of league tennis on a 5.5 team. Wow it was eye opening. Here are the main differences I experienced:

    Serve -I could handle his serve pretty well, as he wasn't tall and didn't have the angles a taller server would have, and I kept my returns deep, but any return I hit "average" he was immediately dominating the point.

    On my serve, his returns were all deep and at my feet. And my second serve...forget about it. My 2nd serve is actually decent and spinny, but he crushed it. That caused double faults as I felt I had to hit the ball a lot harder on my 2nd.

    Groundstrokes: My average shot -decent topspin, medium power, was immediately put away with force. This doesn't happen at 4.5!
    So I started hitting the ball harder -a lot harder-than I was used to. I could hang for 3 or 4 shots, but then I would either hit long or into the net. He seemed like he could hit these groundies forever. All of them hit with force and deep, even his defensive shots were a foot away from the baseline.

    Net: He didn't miss a shot at the net. Perfect form on volleys. Also, he passed me, though I think I won about 50% of my shots at net.

    Fitness: There are no points off when playing someone of this caliber. So you're expending a lot of energy on every point. This has a wearing effect and the UE's started piling up the deeper into the set we played.

    It was a beating, even though I won the first game with huge flat first serves and putaways on my FH side surprising him. Was happy I got that game, because I didn't even get to deuce on any other game.

    It was great to get the beat down as a learning experience and makes me see where I need to go. I wasn't overwhelmed and stayed in a lot of points, but it took me absolutely crushing shots just to put myself in position to win a point. Hard to do consistently for a 4.5!
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2012
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  2. GRANITECHIEF

    GRANITECHIEF Hall of Fame

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    And you didn't even have to pay him. Good experience.
     
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  3. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    It's crazy how tired you can get when one of these guys beats you 1 and 0 isn't it!
     
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  4. jakemcclain32

    jakemcclain32 Banned

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    And when you annihilate those shots, it doesn't even matter, does it? Pace doesn't even bother them.
     
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  5. floridatennisdude

    floridatennisdude Hall of Fame

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    I don't play anyone 5.5 regularly, but what I have found against a 5.0 player I hit with is that his ball goes 10-15mph harder on all shots and he is 10-15% more accurate. He is probably 10-15% fitter too...so call it the 10-15 rule.

    And I agree with the return of serve...my second serve gets pummeled by a 5.0 whereas most 4.5s can't do that. I would assume no chance against an even higher rated guy.
     
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  6. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    Well, not completely true. You have to place it hard into the corners, get them on the run and stay aggressive. This means you have to have the ability to truly put balls away, as you might have to hit 3 winners every time just to get a single point. There is no let up. This makes it really tiring as everything has to be working for you. Let up a little and boom, 3 games go by like nothing.

    I don't have the perfect form or fitness, and don't know if I'll get there, so I'll probably just stay at 4.5. I mean, certain points I look great and win points, but can't do it consistently. Can't wait to play the next 4.5 match as I think this experience can only improve me.

    Coolest thing was he's a really nice guy and we did some drills afterwards and he had some pointers for me.
     
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  7. jakemcclain32

    jakemcclain32 Banned

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    I had a 5.5/6.0 give me pointers a few months ago. We started hitting, and I pound this forehand right at his feet. All he did was chip it right back over the net like it was second nature, where I netted it. That's all I meant...at that level, it's a different world.
     
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  8. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    See, that's why I think it's fine for a 4.5 to play A/Open, to open his eyes, his mind, and his imagination. If you only play 4.5 and 5.0's, you get a distorted look at reality.
    You were almost bagging on a friend of yours who played A/Open tourneys, a nice losing record, no hope for a victory....but that's WHY you play at the higher level, to see what tennis is all about...:shock:
     
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  9. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    good thinking lee d. And the higher level guys appreciate a first round pigeon too. Less work.
     
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  10. ctromano

    ctromano Rookie

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    experience, practice time and patients; I think are the difference between the 4.5 and 5.5, i used to aspire to become a 5.5 when I was in high school and was one according to my coaches at SDSU but once i actually got rated a 5.5 by the usta and played in open tournaments I didn't feel any difference, now i'm almost 50 years old and play like i never seen a tennis racquet in my life, time with tennis is the difference my friends some of us never truly realized what we had.
     
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  11. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    Its fine to do it, but I'm not paying $50 a shot to lose every time. No way I would pay that to get crushed every weekend. The losing would get to me. Also, I'd have to see improvement for me to keep at it. He just keeps losing without winning a game.

    I'll definitely play someone at that level if they're willing, but not in a tourney every weekend.
     
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  12. Blade0324

    Blade0324 Hall of Fame

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    jdubbs, great insight and so true. I had the good fortune of playing a 35's tourney with a friend of mine recently. I'm a decent 5.0 player recently moved from 4.5 and he was top 100 ATP in 1991. Playing against mostly 4.5-5.0 players in the tourney he could hit serves at about 75% that they could hardly return and he could take their best 1st serves and crush them back at them with little difficulty. I was really amazing how different his level was than the rest of us when he was really trying.
     
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  13. bluetrain4

    bluetrain4 Legend

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    Great post, very enlightening, and so true. It's always an eye opener to play someone who is better than you, on another level.

    Sometimes I think people don't understand all of the levels of tennis skill. I'm a pretty good 4.5 player. If someone were to watch me hit the ball and play a little, they'd generally think I know what I'm doing, that I'm in some sense "good." But, a lot of people make this determination based simply on things they can readily see - "he can hit with spin, he can hit hard, his strokes look solid, etc.), and don't really acknowledge the intangibles - consistency, placement, tactics, fitness, ability to adjust to opponent, positioning, which really set different levels of tennis players apart. Most 4.5 players when just hitting back and forth with a 5.5, will look fine, not a huge difference. But that's not the case when play begins, as you noted.

    Where I live, there's a set of guys who play a lot of tournaments, but there is also a set of decent players who don't play tournaments. Plus, there's a lot of lower rated guys who you just know from around the park, who you've hit with at one time or another who don't play tournaments.

    It's always funny when I come back from a tournament and some guys will ask me how I did. So, for example, I report back that I lost in the first round 6-3, 6-2 (which I did to a 5.0 player in an open tournament two weeks ago), and they'll be dumbfounded - "you lost that bad?" I just cringe and laugh. They don't get it. They think I should win based on my play against them, where I look great because I'm better and in control of the point and doing what I want. They don't seem to understand that a better player will never really let you be in control, impose your game, and you end up looking (and feeling) much worse. And, the 5.0 player who beat me in the 1st Rnd went on to lose 6-4, 6-0 in the next round to some 6.0ish college kid (Blake Baznarik from Vandy). Again, levels. [BTW, I'm very happy I drew the 5.0 player in the first round. At least I could get into rallies, control a few points, win some games, actually "play" tennis. Against a 6.0 college stud, it probably would have been very ugly. LOL.]
     
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  14. JoelDali

    JoelDali G.O.A.T.

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    The 4.5 has better shot selection whereas the 5.5 possesses more power and historically has more muscles in his calves.

    The 5.0 is in perpetual purgatory - hes good but sucks on a worldwide level and should quit the game and sell his PT 630s on TT classifieds.
     
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  15. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    While I never ever succeeded in A/Open, I still think any good 4.5 with high aspirations should compete at that level.
    First of all, unless you are plain unlucky, or really suck, you will NEVER lose every first round match. In over 14 tourneys, I lost in the first round maybe 5 times, and every time, in hot weather that I played at maybe 70%.
    Remember, OTHER 4.5's or lower are entered in A/Open. That's why it's called OPEN!
    And nothing improves your work ethic and knowledge better than hobnobbing at the higher levels, so you can see prep techniques, eq prep, mental focusing, meditation, warmups, and the ATTITUDE it takes to succeed!
    Staying at 4.5 gives you nothing to progress a full level. That works only for guys who really will never move past 4.5.
     
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  16. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    Main difference is: 4.5 is just a recreational hacker, vs 5.5 is a tennis player :)

    Not meant as an insult since I am a 4.5 myself, but at 5.0 and below, we do not have complete games. Whereas players at 5.5+ have complete games - all the shots, footwork, and physical skills.

    Put another way, you can get to 4.5 and even 5.0 with limitations - do not have to have been trained as a kid, can have some bad habits with technique, can be older / not in prime physical shape, etc. Whereas, to be at 5.5 you need to have had rigorous coaching / training (at least at some point in the past), and you need to be in good physical condition.
     
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  17. coloskier

    coloskier Legend

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    I used to be a coach for a top 7 in the USA ranked girl in Girls 18, and I can guarantee you that most 5.0 men would be lucky to win a game against her. Not only is the accuracy there, but she probably hit harder than most 5.0/6.0 guys in my state. The 10/15 rule stated above definitely is a factor.
     
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  18. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    I played an all american girl from a top d1 school a couple of months ago...she had graduated a couple of years ago and maybe wasnt match tough, but still...i ended up losing 3 and 4. Guess it just depends...her serve wasnt that strong compared to the top men, but her groundies were impeccable.
     
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  19. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Totally depends what weapons you have, and how you use it, and when, of course.
    I always mentioned I hit with A women and girls while I was a C player, before I'd won any tourneys. That's because I had the big lefty serve. NOT because I was a good player or handsome, rich, or anything like that.
    That same serve got me hitting time with top 6 ranked A players, while I was still technically a C or 3.5. Some guys would ask me to hit serves at them because their draw featured a couple of big serving lefties.
    So you need a WEAPON....not speed, not consistency, but a winning shot.
    That applies to playing with the A women. To get points, you cannot out consistency them. You CAN get points with a big wide forehand, followed by a short angled volley. Same with a forcing serve, followed by a shot they won't run for.
    That works for lower level A men's, also.
    And for sure, you cannot double fault, ever. A combo 2nd serve out wide low skidded and high kicking helps. You stretch their reach, then once they zero in on that, you hit into the body, dead center right hip pocket, and come to net to END the point, not sustain the rally.
    At similar levels, women The men have to end the point with a forcing shot to have any success, and still LOSE to the full higher level woman.
     
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  20. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    Just watched some 6.0 world ranked juniors play yesterday. Biggest difference besides serve is indeed pace on the shot. These guys hit bigger for their "safe shots", and when pulled wide still hit big returns. I have a 6.0 who wins satellites at my club and a 5.5. The 5.5 guy you would think is more a 5.0 until he gets in a serious match. Against the 6.0 junior he played really well and was losing point play 15-11, 15-10. He was hitting nice and heavy and deep.
     
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  21. mib

    mib New User

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    Why do you say this? I am a 4.0/4.5 and I think my game (and the game of many other players at this level) is fairly complete. Of course, a player who is just a little faster, a little more consistent, a bit more precise and hits a little harder would beat me every time. After all, even someone with exactly the same game as me but two steps faster getting to the ball would beat me any time. Does not mean that his game is more complete than mine.
     
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  22. OrangePower

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    Again, I'm not trying to insult anyone - I am only a 4.5 myself. But if you are 4.0/4.5 and you think your game is complete, you are going to be in for a rude awakening if/when you play a 5.5+.

    Do you have a topspin BH passing shot that you can hit on the run? Can you make 90% of overheads from behind the service line? Do you have placement and variety (kick, slice, twist) on your 2nd serve? Etc, etc. A 5.5+ is going to have all that.
     
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  23. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Heck, I can hit clean BH topspin running shots, have the kick, slice, topslice, and flat serves WITH placement, and I"m still a 4.0, and a bad one at that. Overheads from NML, easy.
    I agree with OP, 4-4.5 is not a very good level, since I can claim 4.0 and play an average of once a week.
     
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  24. mib

    mib New User

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    Actually, I can hit these shots. Of course, a 5.5 will hit them harder, more precisely (especially the second serve) and, most importantly, more consistently. And, likely, he will get to the ball earlier to hit an easier shot as well. I don't have any chance against a 5.5, but it is not because of completeness but because of inferior speed and execution.
     
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  25. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    Perhaps we are getting hung up on terminology... when I say 'can hit these shots' I mean can do it *consistently* and when under pressure, not once in a while when things go right.

    If you guys can do that, then my friends you are better than any 4.5s I know!
     
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  26. mib

    mib New User

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    Perhaps we are :) For me having a complete game means being able to execute various shots in gameplay and play tactically correct tennis.

    It is a little hard to say what "under pressure" means since the amount of pressure on the same shot depends on the skill of your opponent.
     
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  27. Loose Cannon

    Loose Cannon Rookie

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    So true....so true
     
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  28. purple-n-gold

    purple-n-gold Professional

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    Alot

    0 and 0 for the 5.0...err 5.5
     
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  29. decades

    decades Guest

    4.5 is not a recreational hacker. 4.0 - 3.0 are rec hackers.
     
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  30. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I'm a pretty established 4.0, any league. I can stay here by playing once a week, or once a month, so 4.0 is hack tennis.
     
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  31. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    Lemme guess, you're a 4.5? :)

    I'm a 4.5, as are most of the people in my playing circle, and yeah, we're all rec hackers. We all have pretty obvious weaknesses and undeveloped parts of our games. Same goes for all the 4.5s I play against in league.
     
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  32. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I guess you're not a hack if you can consistently pick up low and half volleys and push them deep to the corner of your choice, you can aim your first AND second serves to within 4' of your choice of target, you know when to play it safe, when to attack, you can cover to within 2' of either sideline, and you don't give your opponent a chance to hit his favorite strong shot.
    That's playing against your peers.
     
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  33. mib

    mib New User

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    That is a strange and arbitrary distinction to make. 4.5 are good players but there are many people who are better, sometimes much better. In addition all levels except for the pros and serious college players are recreational.
     
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  34. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    I would agree and say im the best of the hackers. A good solid 4.5 or 5.0 could beat me most days unless i really commit to this game wholeheatedly.

    I basically try to emulate a pro type game, with varied results. Im finding fitness the hardest part to maintain because dont like working out all that much and like my social drinking.
     
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  35. t135

    t135 Semi-Pro

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    Great conversation. Fitness is the deal in my opinion. Got to be fit to play good 4.0 and above singles and win consistently. After fitness it's the little differences in strokes strategy and mental toughness.

    And doubles is another ball of wax at levels above 4.5 in my opinion. In doubles it really gets down to executing great strokes with effective strategy to win consistently.
     
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  36. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    You need fitness to succeed in 4.0 + only if you can't hit forcing shots and winners contantly.
    But at 5.5, you need both fitness and ball striking cababillities.
     
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  37. JoelDali

    JoelDali G.O.A.T.

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    Could Oprah ever be a 4.5 if she paid for the best coaching money could buy?
     
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  38. t135

    t135 Semi-Pro

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    In order to hit "forcing shots" and "winners constantly" and win; a player has to get to the ball, get in position to hit the right shot, hit the shot, recover and get in position to hit the next shot. And hit most shots with power and usually spin. Serving and volleying, taking trips into the net to close points, backing up to hit overheads, etc. This all takes a lot of energy. Especially if the opponent is a consistent defensive player. And then it's 90 degrees and 70% humidity at match time.

    Being a 4.5 and higher isn't about hitting winner after winner. It's real tennis just like you see on TV...if you're playing legit players. Of course I live in one of the biggest tennis towns in the USA and there are never any gimme matches in singles. Nobody gives up and everybody retrieves everything, especially on clay. I can't remember the last time I played someone who didn't fight tooth and nail to the finish. I'm a solid player with a complete game who can dominate anyone who isn't a high 4.5. Until I get tired.

    Then I start getting to the ball a little late or am slightly out of position. Errors creep in. Gets harder to push with legs into serve, etc. The other player starts to scramble even harder hoping to capitalize.

    Someone would have to be out of touch with real competitive tennis to think that fitness isn't the cornerstone of consistent winning tennis above the 3.5 level. Or play in an area with a bunch of hacks who cant hit more than two real shots in the court during a point.
     
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  39. Rjtennis

    Rjtennis Hall of Fame

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    The main difference I have noticed beyond 5.0 is the speed, fitness and consistency. They really shrink the court on you and can turn defense to offense on a dime. Like others have said, they are extremely solid from all parts of the court, but it is the speed, consistency, fitness and footwork that amaze me the most.
     
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  40. Rjtennis

    Rjtennis Hall of Fame

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    Who are my peers? People who dont work 50 hours a week and can spend a ton of hours on court and in the gym. Wish i could do that, but those arent really my peers.
     
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  41. floridatennisdude

    floridatennisdude Hall of Fame

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    Hey, we sound like 2 peas in a pod.
     
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  42. doctor dennis

    doctor dennis Rookie

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    The main difference I see when playing up a level or two is the rally ball. My rally ball gets bullied and my opponent is able to attack. Against there's I find myself pinned back and struggle to keep at that pace without making UE's. Fitness wise, I'm fine.
     
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