Mixed Doubles Etiquette?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by conditionZero, Jul 13, 2009.

  1. conditionZero

    conditionZero Rookie

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    My wife and I play 6.0 mixed doubles. I only started playing tennis after I met her and so most of the rules of etiquette I learned from her.

    Nothing makes her more mad then when the man on a mixed team serves his hardest to the woman on the other side. In my experience about 1/3 of the people we play against do this. It really only seems like a problem in combo leagues when the man is a 3.5 and has a pretty hard serve, which can be a lot for a 3.0 woman to handle.

    Is this considered proper etiquette everywhere? If so, at what level do you abandon it?

    Just for the record, I personally believe this is a silly unwritten rule. If a woman is playing tennis with a man on the opposing team she should expect more powerful shots, especially since once the ball is served there seems to be no unwritten rule against hitting ground strokes as hard as you can. That said, I don't serve my hardest to the opposing woman (not that it would bother her) and try to avoid any hard shots at her when she's playing the net.

    Any thoughts?
     
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  2. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    There are numerous threads exactly like this on the board.

    There is no unwritten rule about hitting to the woman in mixed. If a woman can't handle the added pace, they shouldn't be playing mixed. That is why they have women's leagues. I have yet to meet someone in real life who has a problem with men hitting hard in mixed, thats why I'm curious why this topic comes up so much here.
     
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  3. Swissv2

    Swissv2 Hall of Fame

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    In powder puff social tennis, sure - you don't have to hit as hard, but in competition or competition practice both mixed doubles should make an effort to hit normally.
     
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  4. PeppermintMocha

    PeppermintMocha Rookie

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    I competition, mixed doubles etiquette is same as doubles etiquette, imo. Like Raidon said, I've yet to meet a woman who actually got mad/upset when a guy's hitting hard at her during a mixed doubles match.

    I have, however, met a mixed COUPLE, who got mad/upset after a match after they got double bageled. But that was because they were playing another couple who's level were way above them.

    The ONLY time I got pissed off when a man hit HARD at me, was during a social doubles, during WARMUP. This guy hit the ball hard and straight at me ball after ball. I was like.. wtf is wrong with him??
     
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  5. hewittt

    hewittt New User

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    I usually concentrate on spin serves against women in mixed as it's usually just as effective and doesn't make you look like an *******. If she starts hitting strong returns I'll pick up the pace.
     
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  6. conditionZero

    conditionZero Rookie

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    That's pretty much the idea.

    Isn't 6.0 mixed doubles by definition "powder puff social tennis"?????
     
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  7. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    If you say that a top 3.5 player (max allowed in 6.0) is a powder puff tennis player, then I guess that would be accurate. But obviously thats not the case because there are 3.5 players who can hit 100mph serves and hard groundstrokes, of course they are just simply not going to be very consistent. But they are still going to be found in 6.0 mixed.
     
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  8. Cruzer

    Cruzer Professional

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    In league play anything goes. If a woman isn't prepared to face whatever the opposing man hits to her then she shouldn't be playing league tennis. My wife and I have played mixed together for ten years and she has no problem with taking on anything the opposing man hits to her.

    Social/non-league mixed is a whole different story. Firstly it depends on who you are playing with. Some social mixed matches are just as intense as a league match. Others are a lot of hit-and-giggle. Some women like the hard shots from the men since it helps them get better and others will give you dirty looks if you hit a ball with any pace towards them. When the man has to patty cake his shots to the opposing woman because she will get upset if a hard ball is hit to her it makes mixed doubles not much fun for the men. It is a big reason a lot of guys won't play mixed.
    Mixed doubles can also be pretty boring for the guys since the reality is the vast majority of the balls are hit to the woman. That's a big reason my wife likes mixed, she gets to hit a lot of balls. I usually arrange some singles tennis, i.e. REAL tennis after a round of mixed doubles so I get a chance to play.
     
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  9. todd03blown

    todd03blown Rookie

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    When I play mixed in ATLA and USTA I hit the same exact hard serve to the man and woman. No different for me, including groundstrokes!!
     
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  10. conditionZero

    conditionZero Rookie

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    Whoa! Just kidding.

    But since you brought it up, why would a "top 3.5 player" want to play 6.0 mixed? And I'm just curious, don't get offended.
     
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  11. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    I actually hit more spin serves to the woman because its more effective against them than against men, so why risk the double fault when you don't need to? With men its worth it to take risks on the serve because they are much more likely to take advantage of a sub-par serve and go for a big return. Thats definitely a strategic choice, not one of ettiquette.
     
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  12. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    I'm just pointing out that usta leagues are fairly competitive so if you join one, you should expect to face opponents of the highest skill level allowed on the other side of the net, which in this case could mean a 3.5 who is on the verge of a computer bump to 4.0.

    There are various reasons a top 3.5 might play 6.0. Could be they are partnering with their wife, or they have friends that are lower rated, or they just want to get in more matches than just being on a 7.0 team, shot at winning a championship, etc.
     
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  13. conditionZero

    conditionZero Rookie

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    As I stated in my original post, I think it's silly to expect the man to serve differently to the woman, however, a man on the verge of 4.0 should be able to offer up serves with enough english to keep a 3.0 woman completely off balance without pounding them straight at her.

    The only bad thing about a strong 3.5 paired with 2.5 is that it tends to turn in to a two-against-one match once they fall behind, with the stronger player trying to get everything. It doesn't bother me as their opponent, it just seems like it wouldn't be much fun for either of them. My wife and I have pretty good success against these match ups because she's smart enough to play the weaker player as much as possible. Of course my ego causes me to still try to beat the 3.5 at his own game.
     
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  14. Keifers

    Keifers Legend

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    I think most women expect to face hard-hit serves and groundies in mixed.

    The boundary line for me is when a man is going out of his way to over-power the woman and, in particular, when he hits hard directly at her at net. That's just "bush league," imo, and it should be called out. Say something -- figure out what's effective to say -- because it's better than saying nothing.
     
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  15. conditionZero

    conditionZero Rookie

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    But the woman doesn't have to play at the net. I think if she chooses to play aggressively by being at the net the she's fair game.

    The reason I brought this up in the first place is because if I don't get pi**ed at the man serving hard to my wife then she gets pi**ed at me. But even she expects to get balls hit hard at her at the net when she chooses to be there. Personally I don't do it because I would feel like an a**, but I don't blame others for doing it.
     
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  16. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    Sure, what they can do and choose to do are two different things. I enjoy hitting flat 1st serves more than spin serves, but I think its just stupid for me to do that in mixed against a woman because of the percentages. I will only beat myself if I have an 'off' day when hitting flat serves. I don't care if its too much for them to handle or not though.

    Thats one of the strong reasons why a 3.5 won't play 6.0, because its often boring and frustrating. Everyone has their own reasons for playing one division over another.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2009
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  17. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    I think your wife is wrong about the serving, but right about the net play. However I think its bad sportsmanship to seek to hit players who are at the net. Anyone who is a good sportsman should feel at least partially apologetic when they hit someone with the ball. If you seek out to injure your opponents, you are playing the wrong sport. Maybe boxing is a better sport for them.
     
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  18. conditionZero

    conditionZero Rookie

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    It sounds like you and I agree. At my level I actually think it's an advantage to have an opponent trying to smoke serves. It tends to translate to a lot of free points for me.

    We played a guy in a tournament a few months ago who had all the shots, young, fast, etc. I won't guess at the mph of his serve, bit it was frickin fast! The hardest first serve anyone ever hit at me by a mile. Everytime he served to my wife it looked like she was in a game of dodge ball, just trying to get out of the way. Oddly, when he served to me he hit every single one out or in to the net! Every single one!!!! :confused:
     
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  19. conditionZero

    conditionZero Rookie

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    Correctiton: Every single first serve.
     
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  20. Keifers

    Keifers Legend

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    You're right, of course, the woman doesn't have to play at net. To be clear, I object to line drives directly at the woman at net (especially when he doesn't line drive at the man at net). That's just me, tho...

    I can see the bind you're in. Perhaps one solution is to have someone not yourself (preferably a woman or a coach/pro) tell your wife that hard serves to (not at) the woman are entirely to be expected in mixed.

    Or Reverse psych: It would be an insult if he didn't.

    Or, from a strategy pov, it's often recommended that you don't expend too much energy trying to break the man's serve. So perhaps no need to get too worked up about it.

    Or, "You're right, dear, he's a complete and utter jerk. That man will sleep with the fishes by tonight. I just don't want to do it in front of witnesses." :)

    (Sorry...couldn't resist the last one!)
     
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  21. conditionZero

    conditionZero Rookie

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    I can see the bind you're in. Perhaps one solution is to have someone not yourself (preferably a woman or a coach/pro) tell your wife that hard serves to (not at) the woman are entirely to be expected in mixed.

    Or Reverse psych: It would be an insult if he didn't.

    Or, from a strategy pov, it's often recommended that you don't expend too much energy trying to break the man's serve. So perhaps no need to get too worked up about it.

    Or, "You're right, dear, he's a complete and utter jerk. That man will sleep with the fishes by tonight. I just don't want to do it in front of witnesses." :)

    (Sorry...couldn't resist the last one!)[/QUOTE]

    For the record, it's not just my wife, it's most people around where I live. As I've said, I disagree - that's why I wanted other opinions. Maybe it's a local thing.
     
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  22. kylebarendrick

    kylebarendrick Professional

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    To me, any shot hit from the baseline is fair game. If a net player (male or female) can't handle a hard shot from the baseline, then they will see plenty of them until they move back.

    Trying to hit people off sitters or overheads is a different story. There is no need for it.
     
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  23. seleswannabe

    seleswannabe Rookie

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    Coming from a women who play mixed-dubs, I'll take a hard/fast serve any day over a kick serve that I can barely reach. I'm 5'2" so you can imagine how difficult it is to return a ball that kicks up really high.
     
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  24. beernutz

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    Well said.

    If it ticks off OP's wife to be hit hard serves by a man, it ticks me off more that either player on the other team thinks I should hold back on one of my (only) real weapons. If she doesn't want to play mixed, fine, but don't come into a competitive match expecting the other team to offer you up some kind of affirmative action set-aside.

    All that being said, the only time I played mixed league I hit second serves only when women were receiving.

    Intentional headhunting is B.S. no matter what sex the opponent.
     
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  25. Spokewench

    Spokewench Semi-Pro

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    I just don't get this headhunting thing. Yes, I'm a woman. Yes, I love to play the net hard and aggressively. That is where I am better, even against and especially against men. If I am at net and you are poaching you had better go for me at net or an angle away from the incoming server or you aren't playing very good tennis. If you come at me, go ahead - for goodness sake, it's just a fuzzy yellow tennis ball!

    I have a racket. If I can't make a shot I can block the ball away from me or turn to avoid the ball. No big deal
     
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  26. conditionZero

    conditionZero Rookie

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    If you don't think you should be expected to hold back against women the why do you serve second serves only?
     
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  27. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    I was raised that way.
     
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  28. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    This thread demonstrates nicely why I for one will never play mixed league again:

    Seems like there is general agreement on these boards that competitive mixed should be played no differently than any other doubles. This is great in theory. And of course I agree that this is how it should be.

    But in reality, there is a significant minority (both women and men) that expect the man to somehow 'take it easy' on the opposing woman.

    Don't get me wrong, I've had some very enjoyable matches playing mixed league. But every season I've played there have also been a few matches that turned unpleasant in one way or another, and it's just not worth it.

    So I will happily play mixed with people that I know, where we all have a similar expectation of how the game should be played. But I won't play league or with people that I don't know.
     
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  29. conditionZero

    conditionZero Rookie

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    I live in the South where most people were raised that way, maybe that's why it seems to be the norm. I wasn't raised in the South though, maybe that's why I think it's silly.

    It just seems as though it can't be a pure competition if someone is holding back for any reason. I can forsee close matches where the loser is left wondering what the result could have been had everyone been treated equally.

    If someone held back against me because I'm old (I'm not yet, but hope to someday be) I would be completely insulted!
     
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  30. jc4.0

    jc4.0 Professional

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    Nobody aces me 57 times....

    I agree that in mixed league play, if ya can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen! Of course I love to play against hard serves. I always keep in mind that even a great serve doesn't necessarily win the match. I once played in a local round robin tournament where we needed one player to round out the mixed doubles position and one of the club pros filled in. I wound up in the finals playing against him and his partner. At first he served hard to my male partner (who is about 4.0, self-rated - played in college but not much since) and issued me a really tough kick serve, which I eventually began to read. Long story short, we split sets - and of course as underdogs the whole crowd was cheering us on. This made the pro so mad that he started firing heavy serves - and trying to hit us off the court. We didn't do so well against his bomber serves but guess what - we won that match, and the whole tournament. He stormed off the court without shaking hands! So I'm saying - don't be intimidated merely by a big serve, focus on parts of your game you can control. Ivo Karlovic often hits 50+ aces per match and loses.

    In "fun" games, to keep everything more equal, if one player is way better, he or she should maybe dial it down a notch. Just depends on the situation. I always ask people not to do that, I like to test myself.
     
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  31. Flyingpanda

    Flyingpanda Rookie

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    I totally agree with this. Maybe in the South, there is more emphasis on good manners and etiquette towards women. But tennis is a sport, with emphasis on competition. In a competitive match, you play your hardest, no matter the opponent. It's one of the biggest insults in sports to purposely handicap yourself or hold back based on your opponent. You're basically telling your opponent, "You're not good enough to be playing with me, so I'm going to go easy on you." Maybe in a social match, you'll take a little off the serve just to get some points into play. In a league everything is thrown out the window. The weaker player should expect more pressure on shots and serves and be ready for this. I'm a guy, so I can't speak for women, but I would never hold it against an opponent if he was blasting serves at me and punishing me for hitting weak shots.
     
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  32. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    In Atlanta the girls on our team get pissed at us if we don't hit at them in practice because they sure as hell know they are going to get hit at during the matches. They love just smacking back a hard serve when the guy thinks he can just blow them off the court. Tell your wife that its just what happens in mixed doubles and facing that extra pace is going to make it EASY for her to play women's in the fall.
     
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  33. Dark_Angel85

    Dark_Angel85 Rookie

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    To tell you the truth, in a COMPETITION where something is at stake, anything goes... it would be unfair if any game had any rules stating that one cannot play at their best due to certain gender restrictions or some other reason.

    having said that, it is always a clear staple strategy to aim for the weaker player or aiming at the player who you feel you're getting the most points out of. This not necessarily being the woman in mixed dubs, cause the man could be the one having a bad day as well. It's just quite understood that the women hit softer compared to a man at the same level of play. Even that, I would say it's subjective depending on the type of tournament you're playing, and the competitors involved. However, it still doesn't change the 'hitting to the weaker opponent' strategy.

    There is a difference however when trying to play for competitive purposes or just trying to whack the hardest ball to the woman. I feel it's very ungentlemen-like in whatever standards or competition that people purposely aim to whack their overheads at the opponent when he has clearly given up the point or there is a clear wide open space for him to aim at. Of course, not considering mishits where a gesture and apology would suffice at any levels of competition.

    I mean, it's competition man... the strategy is to win. If you can't take the hits, then you should train harder, learn to take harder shots that match up to your level of competition. I believe that women in general are very receptive and agreeable that they do not want to be patronised and treated like amateurs that we have to feed them balls and hit silly shots to them.

    They're all out to win and take the cake eh? Give them that shot. :)
     
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  34. SlapShot

    SlapShot Hall of Fame

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    I've played 6.0, 7.0, and 8.0 mixed, and have had mixed reactions from women. My flat serve can regularly cross the 115 mph mark, but it's not terribly consistent. As such, I prefer to hit kickers, regardless of level.

    That being said, when I was playing 6.0, I only flattened out to a woman twice (same woman, same match), and that was just to make a point more than anything else (her and my partner had a past history, and I got snared in it due to having a few of my balls called out). I have no interest in hitting someone on a serve, and 3.0 women usually aren't quick enough to get out of the way in case I do hit a body serve.

    At 7.0, I don't do it simply because the kicker is much more effective, not out of manners.

    At 8.0, I play much more "normal", because the women at 8.0 tend to be strong enough to handle a decent kick serve, so I will mix it up from time to time.

    IMO, it's absurd for a woman to get offended by a man flattening out his serve, unless he's clearly headhunting.
     
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  35. canadave

    canadave Professional

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    I remember reading in John McEnroe's autobiography that he almost lost it when playing mixed doubles with Mary Carillo once. I forget who they were playing, it was in a tourney, and the guy on the other side zapped an overhead right at Mary, at point blank range. JMac said he was thisclose to jumping over the net and punching the guy--he felt that was completely uncalled for.

    So, the debate goes on even at the highest levels of tennis :)
     
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  36. SplitStepper

    SplitStepper Rookie

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    men who hit hard towards the women are truly pathetic. it makes the game incredibly uncomfortable for everyone except for the idiot hitting hard. ME DUM DUM CAVEMAN....ME HIT HARD ERRRRRRRRRRRR...I'm not impressed big boys.
     
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  37. todd03blown

    todd03blown Rookie

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    yawn.....................for the newbie..........
     
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  38. Keifers

    Keifers Legend

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    Do you have a more useful comment than what you've written?
     
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  39. MesQueUnClub

    MesQueUnClub Rookie

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    Probably b'cos he wants to play with his wife or girl friend.

    I play mixed doubles with my wife and that's the only motivation for me to play mixed doubles. Infact, I have only played mixed with another woman once in my life.

    And yes, I hit slightly slower against women and don't hit straight at them when they are at the net. My wife says she has no problem with anyone hitting hard at her.
     
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  40. Steady Eddy

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    See what a narrow line one walks in Mixed Doubles? I find that when I end up in Mixed Doubles that I'm not as interested in winning as in not getting people angry with me. To accomplish this you've got to take it easy on the woman, but not too easy. Mostly I try to avoid mixed, but sometimes the rotation springs it on me. It's comforting to see that many others have difficulty too. Ladies, don't get angry over: hitting too hard!, or he's patronizing me! Of all the nerve!. We're in a hard spot, mostly we just want to move on to the next set.
     
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  41. equinox

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    If you're weakest on court you deserve to get pegged repeatedly until you back the away from my net.
    Don't stand at net and you'll be safe.
    Until you misread my kicker and it smashes into your head.
    I don't consider a mixed match successful until someone comes off crying.

    BAM BAM BAM
     
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  42. Steady Eddy

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    There's quite a variety of opinions on this! Aren't there?
     
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  43. conditionZero

    conditionZero Rookie

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    Man, I really thought this thread would have faded away by now, but since it didn't I'll chime in one more time.

    There seems to be some points that have gotten lost.

    I was only talking about serves. Not hitting dink serves or easy shots to the woman, just not smashing serves at top speed. Hard kickers are considered totally appropriate.

    My wife and the other woman in the area where we live and play do not expect anyone to hit easy shots to them. If a woman is playing the net she definitely will expect balls to be hit at or near her a fairly high rates of speed. I'm not talking about head-hunting or short lobs smashed directly at her, those are inappropriate whether man or woman. As a matter of fact my wife prefers the ball to come straight at her when she's at the net because she usually will win the point on that shot.

    The odd thing is that it's not really the pace of the serve that matters so much as how it compares to his normal first serve. Even if a guy doesn't serve that hard normally he still seems to be expected to take a noticable amount off as a gesture. Go figure.

    When I started this thread I just wanted to know if this was common everywhere. The overwhelming response by both men and women seems to be no. However, a couple of posters have mentioned numerous other threads regarding this same subject, so it must not be too uncommon.
     
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