Moonballing = hate?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Falloutjr, Nov 1, 2009.

  1. Falloutjr

    Falloutjr Banned

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    I've been watching some videos on Youtube of players on the ATP and WTA moonballing because I love to watch the lob game, and I noticed most commenters had a strong disdain to say the least for the tactic. I find it very effective and I use moonballs on a regular basis and I don't think it's cheap or unskilled or anything. It's simply a style of tennis like SnV. Big serve, very safe 2nd serve, and lots of moonballs and smashes and lots of retrieving. It's not terribly complex or imaginative, but if you master it, I think could be a huge advantage. So why is it that it has such a negative connotation?
     
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  2. ronalditop

    ronalditop Hall of Fame

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    So basically what you're saying is that you're a pusher and you want to be more respected.
     
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  3. Falloutjr

    Falloutjr Banned

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    I'm saying that I frequently use moonballs (80-90%% on FH) and it is a nice weapon for me. I attack when my opponent's give me the chance, though, and I'm not afraid to hit a drop shot or finish a weak shot at the net, and I don't moonball off my backhand THAT often (maybe 40-50% of the time, but I still generate lots of topspin), so I'm more aggressive than a "pusher", but I use topspins and slices as my main weapons, and I stay in long rallies until I can hit a good angle, drop shot, or smash for a winner, or my opponent hit's the ball out or it bounces over the fence for an easy winner. If you wanna call that pushing, then so be it, but I don't believe it is. But if it works, then it shouldn't be disrespected. I'm not asking people to say that moonballers are the GOATs. I'm just saying not to dismiss them as a player simply because they don't adhere to the purist's idea of tennis players.
     
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  4. Nonentity

    Nonentity Rookie

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    because its boring to watch
     
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  5. Falloutjr

    Falloutjr Banned

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    High school tennis isn't exactly a spectator sport :/
     
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  6. VaBeachTennis

    VaBeachTennis Semi-Pro

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    I don't think that hitting a moon ball with a good amount of topspin is "pushing". It's a good tactic that actually works against different styles of players.
     
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  7. ubermeyer

    ubermeyer Hall of Fame

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    High balls are very effective. Nadal uses them a lot, look at him. If you can hit high, deep, consistent, and with lots of topspin, you will win a lot. Nobody can really answer that effectively, if it is hit well enough. When people are flat out hitting them straight up in the air, you can hit overheads from the baseline, but if they are hitting topspin lobs, that is much harder.

    So, go for it.
     
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  8. VaBeachTennis

    VaBeachTennis Semi-Pro

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    Smart tactics at your level. Stick with what is working for you and change what doesn't work for you in a match. For example, what do you do when your opponent likes your moon balls and starts playing them aggressively? Do you just keep on moon balling or do you change your tactics?
     
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  9. Falloutjr

    Falloutjr Banned

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    Exactly. I've hit moonballs to opponent's that couldn't hit on the rise and it would land over the fence. Moonballing is great against SnV (and volleyers in general) and power baseliners, impatient players, players with 1hbh, players who can't hit on the rise, shorter players, etc. so it's a very effective strategy against a multitude of opponents. Offensive lobs are a lost art.
     
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  10. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    The irony is that you will beat most high school kids by rolling back moonballs (a few good ones will punish it) but every one will look down on you for doing it.

    In fact, if you go to 12-13 year old tournaments, you will see kids doing this a lot.
     
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  11. Falloutjr

    Falloutjr Banned

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    Well, players that can handle my moonballs are power players that like to hit on the rise, so to negate their flat shots, I try to keep the ball low with slices and angle them off in every direction to keep them from getting their feet set and play inside out, using my athleticism to outlast them in long rallies and to keep them from setting up a cannon that can wrongfoot me or make me put up a weak shot in general. I'm more than willing to go CC/DTL over and over again.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2009
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  12. ubermeyer

    ubermeyer Hall of Fame

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    Drop shot + lob works well too.
     
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  13. Falloutjr

    Falloutjr Banned

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    Oh yeah. I love moonball + drop + angle volley as well. By the time they run from the fence to the net, they put up a duck that a beginner could put away with ease.
     
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  14. ubermeyer

    ubermeyer Hall of Fame

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    Interesting. Lob them when they're at the baseline and then drop shot. I have actually never tried this.
     
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  15. VaBeachTennis

    VaBeachTennis Semi-Pro

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    Good points. It's nice to see you thinking about strategy & tactics as a person in High School! It's good thinking for any age. How has your strategy and tactics worked for you in competition?
     
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  16. callen3615

    callen3615 Professional

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    :) :) :)
     
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  17. VaBeachTennis

    VaBeachTennis Semi-Pro

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    They may be looking down, but he's looking up with his victories. ;)
     
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  18. Falloutjr

    Falloutjr Banned

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    Pretty well actually I'll be playing first singles this season. Last season I was dealing with nagging wrist and shoulder injuries so I only played a few matches (only one first singles match), but my body's feeling a lot better and if I keep myself in shape over the winter, I should be able to seriously compete for a city championship this upcoming season.

    As for USTA and whatnot, I don't really have the money for that, but a few college coaches are interested in me so maybe they'll let me practice with their teams over the winter hehe ;)
     
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  19. jazzyfunkybluesy

    jazzyfunkybluesy Banned

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    I like to run up and smash a moon ball so they know not to try that old crap again.
     
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  20. VaBeachTennis

    VaBeachTennis Semi-Pro

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    LOL, pretty smart! Can you flatten out your shots as well and can you punish short balls? If not, those are things that you may want to work on to make your game more well rounded.
     
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  21. Falloutjr

    Falloutjr Banned

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    My moonballs clear the net by 20 feet and land a foot from the baseline. Good luck with that :)
     
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  22. ubermeyer

    ubermeyer Hall of Fame

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    How would you run up? If it's hit with topspin, it's not going to be so slow that you can just run up and smash it before the bounce, unless you were already approaching the net before they hit the ball.
     
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  23. Falloutjr

    Falloutjr Banned

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    I CAN hit somewhat flatter, but I avoid it and playing the net if I can. Flat backhands are easy for me, but flat forehands are harder. I can hit with precision, but power is a bit lacking. I compensate for power with angles because, while I can't smash the ball on a regular basis, if they have to run for the ball and stop, then I've essentially accomplished the same thing as hitting with pace in that I've reduced the amount of time they have to hit the ball, although there's less pressure on them to make an amazing shot. OTOH, it's effective against players who struggle to hit weak balls with pace, and still plays into my hands. With that being said, learning how to crush forehands would be nice ;D
     
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  24. callen3615

    callen3615 Professional

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    Its called an overhead.
     
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  25. volusiano

    volusiano Hall of Fame

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    Effective moon balls with lots of top spin are usually like overheads that look like they may be out, but suddenly drop down very deep near the baseline, and if you don't take them on the rise, they will bounce over your head and beyond your racket reach. You won't be running up and smashing them like you think. You'll most likely have to back way up to catch them if you don't take them on the rise, and usually you'll be out of position and end up returning another moon ball back, or hit it out of bound or into the net. If taking it on the rise, you'll have to time it perfectly and be in the exact position by the bounce. We're not talking about the "give away" moon balls here my friend. Effective moon balls are not a piece of cake to deal with like you think.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2009
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  26. Falloutjr

    Falloutjr Banned

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    Oh really? Is that what tennis players are calling those things that they swing down and make the ball go really fast? Thanks for informing me!
     
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  27. ubermeyer

    ubermeyer Hall of Fame

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    It is very tough to hit an overhead off Nadal's shots from the baseline, though some are headhigh
     
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  28. VaBeachTennis

    VaBeachTennis Semi-Pro

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    Cool, I wish you the best of luck and skill with your endeavors! Keep your fitness level high.
     
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  29. Falloutjr

    Falloutjr Banned

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    Thank you. I'm very athletic, but as you can imagine, I can tire from the way I play so I'll try to hit the gym hard this winter.
     
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  30. VaBeachTennis

    VaBeachTennis Semi-Pro

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    Ok, how many times out of 10 can you hit those shots successfully? What would your winner to UE ratio be?
     
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  31. Falloutjr

    Falloutjr Banned

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    Exactly. I'll hit you moonballs and you smash them. You get more than 5 out of 10 you win the match ;P
     
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  32. VaBeachTennis

    VaBeachTennis Semi-Pro

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    All you have to do is adjust the angle of your swing path. Instead of say a 60 degree angle, make it a 45 degree angle. In plain words make the swing path more horizontal sometimes instead of more vertical. It's good to have variety in your strokes, just in case the other game plan goes awry.
     
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  33. Falloutjr

    Falloutjr Banned

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    I swing through the ball and finish over my shoulder, but my muscles instinctively still think either WW or lob when I hit forehands and still swing up a little bit, so I'll try to work on that.
     
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  34. VaBeachTennis

    VaBeachTennis Semi-Pro

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    Good, make sure you work on foot work and cardio.
     
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  35. Falloutjr

    Falloutjr Banned

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    Running on the 'mill should be good for endurance and cardio, right? :p As for footwork, I can just do cone drills and hit against the wall in the basement and go indoors once or twice a week to keep my serves up.
     
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  36. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

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    It's because it's boring tennis where people no longer play with balls or setting up points.

    Pushers no longer exist at the 4.5 level. I'd call these players counterpunchers.

    It's not the hard really if the damned public courts gave you more room to back up and hit... THAT'S the tough part, you don't have as much room as top pros to back up and rip a good one back. So you're left with hitting it on the rise, which isn't all that bad, but most people fail to practice it.

    Either that person has a bad response to the moonball, bad movement (doesn't get back into position), or bad anticipation (or a combination of the 3) because hitting a moonball back to you gives them plenty of time to get back to the center of the court, easy for them to retrieve a drop shot and take control of the point with. If you came into the net, you're the sitting duck unless you guess right and put the volley away, which will happen quite often at 5.5+. Depends on how your levels match up. Against 4.5s that might work... I have no real idea. But at 5.5+, it's more difficult to pull off cause a moonball won't draw out a weak shot unless it caught them by surprise as a change-up.

    Same general idea as using a deep, high topspin change-up to back them up, then hit the sharp angle to the same side. It's all about getting the opponent out of position and exploiting the open court.

    Maybe as a ball machine for the players to practice dip drives. I see no way a 4.5 moonballer can be a good practice partner for college tennis unless it's not that good of a team. I've heard of 5.0 and 5.5 top ranked national juniors ending up as nothing but practice partners. Maybe that was just the top D1 schools, but still I don't see a 4.5 moonballer giving too much practice to college players. Just my personal view on it.
     
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  37. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    With a somewhat flat SW forehand and a hard sliced backhand, I like to moon either side towards my opponent while I approach net. Change of pace, location, spin, speed, and height generally gives me a volleyable ball, which I can place into the open court. Just WW a high finish and clearance over the net by 10', too low for them to overhead, too high to groundie pound. Not worth much if I had normal high bouncing groundies off both sides. But I don't.
     
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  38. VaBeachTennis

    VaBeachTennis Semi-Pro

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    LOL. My friend/hitting partner is a teaching pro who uses a western grip and does the moon ball thing. If I give them enough room, they will "eat me up" and go over my head and push me back toward the fence. There are a few ways I negate it:
    1: Take it on the rise when I can and put pressure on him. But I have to watch the UE's
    2:Moonball him back and wait for my opportunity to attack, but he's smart enough to take some of my moonball return on the rise and put me off balance.
    3: If it goes to my backhand, slice it and make him hit up on the ball to set me up for a winner/approach shot.
    4: Hit a high flat return that skids on the ground (forehand).
     
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  39. Falloutjr

    Falloutjr Banned

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    Well I've only been playing about a year now; I'll get better as I play more. Plus, I'm going to a D3 school, so I'll still get a fair bit of playing time.
     
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  40. ubermeyer

    ubermeyer Hall of Fame

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    If you hit a good drop shot and a good moonball I don't think they would really control the point, plus your point about public courts
     
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  41. Falloutjr

    Falloutjr Banned

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    Yeah returning a high bouncing ball with one hand it actually much easier than people make it seem. Can't speak for the 2hers out there cuz I don't hit 2h but if you can get your racquet parallel with the net over your shoulder and slice it, you get a nice return with a decent bit of pace and backspin. And yeah, it's annoying when people take my moonballs on the rise, but by the time they've hit it, I'm back in my position at the baseline, so I can keep the rally going. Sometimes, I'll still moonball to someone who hits on the rise if they're taking control of the rally to essentially reset the point, so, even against people who hit on the rise, it's not a useless shot ;D
     
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  42. VaBeachTennis

    VaBeachTennis Semi-Pro

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    I would like that because I would either try to topspin lob you or pass you. "Try" being the key word. ;)
     
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  43. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    Years ago I ran into an opponent in a tournament who was determined to moonball me. I feel that I am a steady player and played my regular game. We were about evenly matched, but he won the first set 7-5. I resumed playing my regular style and fell behind in the second set. Then I remembered that Vic Braden recommended pulling a baseliner to the net and drilling him. I did that, I could tell he hated being at the net. The strategy worked and I came from behind to take the second set, and won the third set easily.

    Since then, I've felt guilty about hitting at him while he was at the net, because I think lobbing him would have worked as well. But the point is, that for many players, being at the net isn't an advantage, it's the place where they can be beaten. Hit a short ball to bring them to the net. (If they put away your short ball, then you're in trouble.) But if they just return the short ball, you'll probably win. Even if they keep retreating to the baseline. They'll get tired pretty fast running up and back for each shot. Eventually, they'll stay at the net. They probably aren't a threat at the net, or they would have been looking for opportunities to go there already. Some people say, "Go up to the net yourself." but I think that's usually a mistake. It's easier to have them at the net, then you can: pass them, drill them, or lob them. That's where they're vulnerable, at the net, not back at the baseline.
     
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  44. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

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    Well then you aren't a 4.5... :shock:

    At a 5.5+ level, you easily could. The thing is, against the faster 5.5s with better passing shots at that level, you would probably lose the point either way because no matter what shot you play, unless you caught them off guard with your shot selection, they can chase the ball down and hit a great passing shot off of it. Then again, you're at the net so you can cover about half of what they throw at you if you guess right.

    The thing is I'm always ticked off when I see high school players face a drop shot and put up a weak "just get it in" reply... If they only anticipated a little, split stepped, and focused, they'd realize they have more time than they think, and can easily put in a great reply. At the net, you open up many options. You can play the deep one down the line, a deep one crosscourt (and easily get both of those shots into the corner), a sharp angle crosscourt, or a dropshot to either side. Now, if you get there even faster, you have the option of playing with topspin and rolling the ball into those corners or at an angle with more pace.

    People try to drop shot me all the time and most of the time I get a winner or force an error from that position because I focus on depth and placement. When you think of it that way, you really have so much room to easily hit into, creating a lot of court for your opponent to cover (and most of the time they don't expect to cover that much court because they stepped inside the court looking for the short reply). In a big point during high school varsity tryouts, my friend (former varsity; new coach so EVERYONE had to try out again) played a drop shot on me. Had he won that point the whole match would've gone his way. I ran up there as fast as I could, and got there early enough to roll the ball deep down the line. He was in no man's land looking for the weak response, and he barely got a racket on the ball and sent it way out. It wasn't even a bad drop shot. I was well out of position behind the baseline, he kept the ball short and had plenty of underspin. But I wasn't off balance so I could easily get to it quickly enough and do something with it.

    The only time I don't win a point after someone drop shots me is when they played it at the right moment (when I'm off balance) and disguised it very well. In this case, I'm off balance so I can't explode into every direction as easily, I wasn't even looking for the drop shot or any kind of slice, and as a result I'll be lucky to get a racket on it unless I was already inside the baseline. A moonball isn't going to put your opponent off balance, and a good response will give them plenty of time to recover their balance if it actually did upset their balance.

    It's not just about using a drop shot when the opponent is out of position, but when they are off balance. When people are balanced and determined to get to every shot, they can pretty much easily get a racket on any ball they put their minds to. In addition to that, they'll find that they actually have more time than they think, and can do a lot more with the ball. As long as I'm focused, I can even get to balls that hit the net and land on my side, and have even gotten winners off of those because I got there so quickly. It's all about paying attention, and using that first quick reaction step.

    Granted, I learned this general response to drop shots from Federer. I saw him easily get to one or two and roll the ball in for a winner from below the net or push it deep. This is why Federer and Nadal can reach so many balls and put something on them - their incredible sense of balance. I've never seen anybody else who's looked so balanced on the court while moving and chasing everything down. You look at Federer when he moves, and it looks so simple and easy. That's because it is! When you're always on balance, moving at full speed isn't that hard because you're in full control of every part of your body. And when Nadal moves, it's more difficult to see it, but occasionally you'll get glimpses of how great his balance is (like him hitting winners off his knees and *** against Federer). I have never been so amazed by anyone else's ability to move to the ball. I mean, have you ever noticed that a lot of shots where he seems to be on the full run for his racket is already back when he's maybe 5 to 10 feet away from the ball and he's still moving at full speed? Then when he gets to the ball he comfortably hits a clean shot. If you look at most other people, they're pumping both arms when they run then when they get there (or are 5 feet away), they stretch out their hand and racket and just reach for the ball and pop it back into the court. There's no real racket movement there. It's just a block or a snap. For Federer it's a push or a roll.

    And I REALLY wish they'd make public courts bigger... It's a pain in the ass when you can't back up all the way to hit a moonball, forcing you to hit a shot you shouldn't have to, or when an angled shot gets to the fence when you could've easily gotten it back when nothing else was in your way. Whether you'd still win the point is unclear, but at least you'd've had a chance if those stupid fences weren't there. I mean, it's great running your opponent into fences on serves and wide shots, but you kind of feel that things would be better (and more fun) if you had more room to play with.
     
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  45. Falloutjr

    Falloutjr Banned

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    Lol I've been playing about 4-5 hours nearly every day (maybe a day or two when it's snowing too hard) and I can compete with the best high school players in the city who are about high 4.5-low 5.0 and take sets from them, so I must not be too far off from them, no?
     
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  46. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

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    4.0 maybe... 4.5 in one year is just wtf no matter how you look at it. 4.5 is pretty much completely solid tennis. After that you never beat yourself anymore. You can hit moderately hard all day long and still not beat yourself.
     
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  47. Falloutjr

    Falloutjr Banned

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    When I WANT to, I can hit hard. I can rip backhands and get some moderate pace on forehands, with both having good amounts depth and topspin that keep me from hitting long. I just choose not to play power baseline unless it's obvious they can't handle it or my moonballing and retrieving and speed isn't holding up. You can tell from my racquet and string choices power isn't my first choice. Playing defense and being consistent is my first choice.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2009
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  48. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    You're supposed to get 21 feet behind the baseline. This means that sometimes, against topspin lobs is one example, you don't want to let it bounce because it will hop into the back fence and hit the fence too high for you to reach. You need to hit these on the rise or before the bounce. I think of that being part of the game. In the rare event that there isn't even 21 feet between the baseline and the back fence, then there is something wrong with the court, but otherwise you have to figure out a way to deal with the lack of room back there.
     
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  49. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

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    Hmmm... 65 pounds poly suggests power hitting... -.- High tensions are for power hitters. Low tensions are for consistent players (because they use so much spin the can handle the extra pop). I currently use high 40s to low 50s because my strokes generate more than enough control to handle it, so it's free pop for me. Also, my racket's a bit on the light side, so it needs a little bump up in power. But after a certain point, tension doesn't mean anything because players become so consistent in their shots, the only thing tension reflects is their hitting style and the weight of the racket they use.

    And you CAN hit what you THINK is hard. To better players, it's just a rally ball at most. I can hit hard, but to 5.5s it's just a rally ball. Even my best kill shot is probably not that much faster than a 6.0 rally ball.

    I thought I hit insanely hard 1 year into the game, and compared to people around me, it was hard. But it's nothing compared to what I can generate now. Against low intermediates, that would've been a slightly above average shot. Now, my rally balls are above what I hit back then.

    And I remember a pusher who thought he could hit hard... It was more or less equivalent to a normal rally ball at that level... -.-

    Everything is from perspective. The bigger your perspective, the more accurate your relative description becomes. Like, if you compared your hardest shots to everyone else's that plays tennis, you'll find that you hit a pretty slow shot. Moderate pace would be the most correct description. But if you only compared it to maybe one person who hits weaker than you, then you're an incredibly hard hitter. This is why so many people overrate themselves, because they don't know what hard hitting is.

    Oh I can handle moonballs well enough as it is. I'm just saying, it'd be 10x more comfortable to hit one from well behind the baseline, farther than what public courts allow you. I can take them on the rise, after the peak, and maybe in the air (I can certainly hit a classic volley but I rarely experiment with drive volleys though I should). It's ALWAYS more comfortable to take the ball on the drop than on the rise.

    I'm not saying I CAN'T handle moonballs because of the room I don't have, but that it'd be more fun and comfortable if you can play like Nadal and play very far behind the baseline and rip on the ball all day long with lots of height and topspin.
     
    #49
  50. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2004
    Messages:
    4,902
    Moonballs are great shots to win with. They really screw up women. Not that many posters have trouble with the fairer sex but if your playing mixed or something - it's easy points. Just hit moonballs to the backhand side.

    But moonballs - they won't earn you friends. I have found that vast majority of tennis players want to return balls that travel low over the net with pace. If you use pace and these kind of shots to beat them - you are considered a good player.

    Any other kind of tatic is considered "cheap" whether drop shots and lobs or moonballs or short slice junk and so on. Likewise if you try to get yourself 'rated' on this I'd say you lose several rating points if you post any moonballs in your rating video.

    Pete
     
    #50

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