Match Strategy/Questions - Please Read

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by jamauss, May 3, 2007.

  1. jamauss

    jamauss Hall of Fame

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    If you have a moment, please read. I know it's a bit long but I could really use the insight this board has to offer. Thanks!

    Tonight I played a league match against an older, very accomplished player. He's almost 60 (he told me). He looked younger than that but, that's beside the point really. He's 11-1 at the 4.0 level over his last 12 matches.

    Anyway, this guy hit a mean slice off of both sides. It's not the pushers slice either. He hit a deep, penetrating slice with pace that stayed really low to the ground. No "floaty" slice. His serve wasn't anything special, I was able to return it pretty well, I think. He was good at moving me around, left to right, up to net, etc. He even passed me several times with his slice when I came to net! :mad:

    He also frustrated me with his service return. I have a fairly mean first serve (when it goes in, heh) - about 100-110 mph with a slight kick to it. My 2nd serve is pretty decent too. I kick it up pretty high - 5 ft on average I would say. He just sliced my serve back to me or lobbed the return back. What was so frustrating about his lob returns is that they didn't really bounce high enough to hit an overhead from - only about up to about neck height. And most of them came back to near the baseline. So the only shot I really felt good hitting off a ball like that was a moon ball back to him or a slice of my own. (I don't really like trying to take overheads out of the air, I usually let them bounce)

    Last but not least, the guy was an absolute wall. Very consistent, few unforced errors, the only points I won outright on my own ability - were winners that I was able to hit past him. I lost, 6-2, 6-1. Although, looking on the bright side, I'd say somewhere around 8 of those games went to deuce and then back and forth ad-in/ad-out quite a bit. One of my service games had about 15 deuces...:-o I played as well as I could. I was patient, tried to keep myself in points, kept my unforced errors down fairly well, etc. Unfortunately, I think he won all those deuce games.

    My questions:

    1. What is an effective strategy against someone that plays like this? I don't really care to get into a slice-fest with him - he's obviously perfected that shot more than I care to.

    2. How do I put pressure on someone like this to try and force them into making errors?

    3. There are probably more questions I should be asking - any other advice is welcome too.


    Thanks everyone!:)
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2007
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  2. tennis_hand

    tennis_hand Hall of Fame

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    Make your volley and overhead smash better.
    Usually these players can slice well and can throw lobs well, so volley and smash come together to beat them.
     
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  3. oldhacker

    oldhacker Semi-Pro

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    I think you may be missing the point in focusing on the fact that the guy hit a lot of slice. At the end of the day that is probably how he learnt to play tennis (continental grip both sides etc.) way back when and has been doing it for decades and is more proficient and consistant with it than you are with your topspin game so you lost. Also he will have more experience of playing guys with your style of game than you are to his. I first learnt to play like your opponent does but have recently learnt a more modern game as well so I tend to mix it up and play a bit of both. I think you need to use slice against him as well to keep the ball lower as offensive slice is only really possible off higher balls - once it is well below net height slice has to be a lot more floaty. Also hit short angles and draw him in them use your topspin to pass or lob him. With your serves you may need to work more on placement. If you are serving at 100-110mph at 4.0 level and most are coming back then I suspect you are placing them in his hitting zone rather than into the body, down the T or out wide. In my experience an 85mph serve down the T or outwide is much more effective than a 110mph serve right onto the opponents racquet. That way he should not be able to hit so many of those awkward blocked lobbed returns you struggled with. Even at pretty high level. I was watching a 5.0-5.5 standard match at my club the other day and I way amazed how high balls landing on the baseline (either from blocked returns or scrambled recoveries) caused problems and more often than not reset the rally rather than left the player receiving them an advantage. As you say they rarely bounce high enough to enable a strong smash and taking them out of the air is rarely a percentage play. So most times they were bounced and returned with a deep groundstroke.
     
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  4. ericwong

    ericwong Rookie

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    Well, in my opinion, such players do not give you a lot of leverage. I would slice back and if the height permits, drive thru it ,giving a lot of top spin so that it lands deep and kicks( just think how Nadal hits his forehand ). Basically, he is able to slice effectively if the height and pace is right. If that the case, you probably want to mix all your shots. Just like what oldhacker said. Bottomline, do not give him shots he is comfortable with.
     
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  5. oldhacker

    oldhacker Semi-Pro

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    Another quick point I would make is that while you need a highish ball to hit offensive slice it is not possible if the ball is too high - you need to hit down on the ball to hit slice and you cannot do that if it is too high. So topspin can be effective in negating it if you hit with enough. There are a few younger players at my club with big western forehands who hit with enough topspin so as to make an offensive slice to hard for me to play against them when returning one of their big forehands. You may find that heavy topspin will cause the slicer to back off way behind the baseline and so open up the court for you to hit a short angle.

    It is also, for most people, a more natural shot to hit slice on the backhand so it may be worth playing to this guys forehand more rather than the backhand which is the strategy I guess you mainly use at 4.0 level.
     
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  6. Serve em Up

    Serve em Up Rookie

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    Did you try moving him front to back using drop shots?
     
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  7. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    The thing that you need to understand is when someone slices everything they will have a very tough time hitting at your feet as you come to the net. They simply can't hit that dipping passing shot. Make a good approach and come to the net and pick off the slice when its above net level. If he lobs he will be lobbing with backspin so its easy to run down if you can't take it as an overhead.
     
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  8. jamauss

    jamauss Hall of Fame

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    This is one of the few things I did with success. My drop shot is fairly decent so I did it right off the bat on a few service returns and I usually won those points. The only problem was if I didn't drop it short enough, he'd usually win the point.
     
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  9. Supernatural_Serve

    Supernatural_Serve Professional

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    When you play anyone his age. Make him run.

    Forget about powering him off the court, the balls are all coming back. He's probably been playing a long time and has consumed many a player trying that approach.

    Also, be extra careful about your positioning on the court, he is going to exploit this as much or more than anything by hitting the ball just well enough for you to struggle to get to it.

    Also, assume he has a superior tennis mind.
     
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  10. Doc Hollidae

    Doc Hollidae Hall of Fame

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    Take a little off your serve and make it more about placement. Then come to the net as often as possible. Sitting around the baseline and trying to outhit they guy probably won't happen.

    Another strat that can work well is bringing him to the next. Take him out of his comfort zone and put him in situations he's not comfortable with.
     
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  11. Dave

    Dave New User

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    My First post....hello everyone...

    I have an opponent much like the one described in the OP. I've found that the most effective strategy for me is to hit to his FH. His BH slice is almost automatic and lethal with lots of control, and his forehand is decent, flat and penetrating, but at least on the FH side I can get a ball to hit. Keep driving it to his FH until you can get him over far enough to put it away.
     
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  12. goober

    goober Legend

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    Hey JaMauss we should play together sometime. You will do a lot better against me :D I suspect we know a lot of the same players. Hmm may be a TW-AZ/Phoenix is in order.
     
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  13. jamauss

    jamauss Hall of Fame

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    Set it up!!!

    TW-AZ/Phoenix sounds great.

    What league/area do you play in?
     
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  14. goober

    goober Legend

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    I am not currently playing USTA leagues just some tourneys. I play in Scottsdale/phoenix area mostly. I do play out at Paseo sometimes which would be halfway in between us. I'll post something in odds and ends.
     
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  15. jamauss

    jamauss Hall of Fame

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    Cool, Paseo is not a far drive for me at all. I work right around that area.
     
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  16. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    1- If you are a S&V, go with that as his lack of topspin will make him vulnerable. If you are a baseliner, you've got to have a great modern topspinning game. This type of game is quite consistent. You mention you made a lot of errors. Perhaps he is just plain better than you.

    2- You aren't going to make him make errors. He has a high percentage based game. You are going to have to beat him, he will not beat himself (he's 60 years old! He already knows this stuff, cold)

    3- Come to grips with the fact that you are going to have to take a long time to beat him and start running him off of the court. Yes, you will start by losing at first (because he is more consistent than you) but you should be in better shape so he may crumple a bit past midway through the match. If he is in better shape than you, you are cooked...
     
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  17. jamauss

    jamauss Hall of Fame

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    1. I'm not a natural S&V'er (a.k.a. I'm not great at it, but improving). The other factor as far as S&V'ing goes is that he can pass fairly well still since he drives his slice.

    2. No kidding. :)

    3. We were on the court for about an hour and a half and neither of us seemed too tired out. I'm prepared to be patient and wait for my opportunities to attack.
     
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  18. fearless1

    fearless1 Rookie

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    Ah, you got beat by a crafty old fart who understands that at his level of play, percentages and not necessarily shot making will allow him to win many matches. You're going to have to reflect on your loss and ask yourself how many unforced errors you really hit per set. Think about it. Just 12 unforced errors per set on your part is the same as spotting your "wall" opponent 3 free games per set! In short, it would appear that you got beat by someone who is essentially a pusher. In reality, he didn't beat you. Instead, you gave him the match.

    ALL offensive tennis strategy and tactics must be subordinate to hitting a high percentage of your shots inbounds. Otherwise, it won't matter how many winners you hit if you lose 3 or more points per winner to unforced errors in the process.

    If an offensive or attacking strategy isn't working, that tells me that you don't have the skills to pull this type of strategy off consistently. So, perhaps the first change you need to make is one of consitency and patience against this particular opponent.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2007
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  19. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    1- I suspected as much. BTW, a slicer when put closer to the edge of his shotmaking will dramatically increase his error rate on passes due to the inherant tendancy of slices to go long when driven (you can't fight physics), when compared to topspinners.

    2- You suspected as much.

    3- If you alter your goal from winning points to tiring him out, 1 1/2 hours of that kind of tennis may make him quite tired.
     
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  20. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Go to net, go to net, go to net...

    ...sounds like you're not real comfortable at net, so that's your next thing to work on. Lots of good advice in all the posts so far, but if you wend your way through them, you'll find that it's hard beating an accomplished, no-miss baseliner from the baseline, whether he hits slice, topspin, or flat.

    Get back to basics. What are the two most important shots in tennis? Answer: serve, and return, in that order. Because you're staying back, even though you've got a decent serve, he's able to just roll or chip it back, the point is now neutral, and he's off to the races. As somebody mentioned, the guy probably doesn't move like he did when he was in his 20s, so what you need is variety, not necessarily pace, on your serve. If he likes to slice, he probably isn't going to like a wide slice serve in the deuce court, so work on that. Another standard ploy against somebody like this is lots of body serves. Go right at him, and he's not going to be able to set up, and you may get some cheap points. Having said all that, if he still gets a lot of returns back, and if you want to start the point from the baseline, you've got to run him around, or otherwise hurt him early in the point so you can get to net and finish the point quickly. If you gotta stay on the baseline, as others have noted, move him around, don't try to hit through him. Lots of soft, underspin angles might work. Whatever you do, experiment. There's got to be something he doesn't like, so try to find out what it is.

    On his serve, you've got to chip and charge, at least some of the time. What he wants you to do is hit a return and hang out on the baseline...now you're playing his game.

    I think what I'm saying comes down to the fact that it's going to be tough to beat this guy, because he plays 4.0 tennis to a T. So become a 4.5, or a 5.0, and the problem will go away...
     
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  21. jamauss

    jamauss Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for all the responses/advice! :)

    If there is a "next time" against this guy I think I'll try S&V more. I think I'm good enough at it to use it to hold serve, then I'll just need to attack more on his serve and I think I stand a much better chance.

    I think the mistake I made last time was thinking I should just hang in the points with him until he made an error, but that wasn't a very effective strategy, obviously. Hopefully I can play him one more time before the season is over.
     
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  22. thejackal

    thejackal Hall of Fame

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    another shot that could work for you is the short angled slice (that lands near the corner of the service box). with his bad movement he won't be able to do much with the slice, unless its a drop shot. either way you can then move up and hit to the other corner.
     
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  23. Matt_MS

    Matt_MS Rookie

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    When someone pops back your serve, it gives you a perfect opportunity to hit an angled shot or put one away. Should focus on that.
     
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  24. Bodacious DVT

    Bodacious DVT Semi-Pro

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    you could have just waited a couple minutes. im pretty sure he would have fallen asleep :rolleyes:
     
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