My Tennis Infrastructure Has Collapsed

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Cindysphinx, Apr 30, 2013.

  1. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I used to have a practice partner. She went back to work and is rarely available anymore.

    I used to do weekly clinics with a pro with a rotating group of 4.0 women. This was terrific practice and instruction. Two of the women are rarely available, another is often injured. We just disbanded the clinic, which has existed in some form since 2006.

    I used to do weekly private lessons. I could still do this, but I am not getting anywhere (to be expected given lack of practice opportunities). It is hard to make progress on 60 minutes of instruction a week.

    That leaves me doing little but playing matches. This, too, has cratered. I'm losing and losing, my consistency is dropping, my confidence has evaporated. Just a month ago, I was winning against tough opponents, and now I can't put a ball in the court.

    I need to reboot. How does one turn it around against such headwinds?
     
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  2. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    Random thoughts in no particular order:

    1. Join a flex singles leauge run over the Internet if available in your area.
    2. Join a flex doubles and/or mixed leauge
    3. Buy a ball machine to practice alone
    4. Hit on a good wall once a week - great way to practice basics
    5. Check local public clubs to see if they have round robins - maybe meet some new players
    6. Join another USTA team to meet new players - I play ALTA which is local team league like USTA teams and this is how I met most of my practice partners.
     
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  3. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    You, sir, are a genius.

    Your post reminded me that our county facility now has a ball machine for $10/hour. Not only that, but indoor court time costs just $10/hour beginning May 1.

    Now I can work on what my pro wants me to do and generally find my Mojo!
     
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  4. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Try craigslist and meetup.com
     
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  5. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I poked around on craigslist and left, somewhat alarmed.

    There seemed to be three types of ads.

    1. Pros looking for students. I have a pro, so this is no help.

    2. Self-described beginners looking for a hit. Oh, dear.

    3. Men looking for women for a hit. Just a hit, they promise. They're married, see, so they don't want anything other than a hit, they swear. They just like to hit with women, see, that's all. : cringe :

    Maybe meetup . . .
     
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  6. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    There are many 4.0 and 4.5 men who post here on CL, and I have seen a couple of women posting too.

    You should post and specify you need women only. Ignore any creepy posts from men pretending to be women. You can always ask them to show up at your club. Then it will be clear if they are faking it. If you can't tell even then, run..........

    meetup here has at least 3 groups I know of. Some of them are the ones where you have to meetup and pay $2 or bring a can of balls, etc. Ignore all that and just put out a message that you just want to play one on one.

    I forgot to mention tennisopolis.com

    Also globaltennis network.com (join the 2 words)
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2013
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  7. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    Cindy, I wish you luck on your recovery.
     
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  8. JRstriker12

    JRstriker12 Hall of Fame

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    Hitting and practice partners come and go. When they drop it's just time to find new ones.

    FWIW- I've had several long-term practice partners but due to changes in schedules, work, family, life in general - we no longer hit very often. It just happens.

    Found some new hitting partners on tennisopolis and also reaching out to other players on a few tennis email lists I'm on. Also started a new clinic which just ended and I got the contact info of everyone who I might want to hit with. I've also asked other players I know if they know of anyone who might want to hit or is looking to practice.

    Just wondering, the pro doesn't have any other students that could fill your clinic? Have you though about reaching out to other players you know?
     
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  9. Playtennis

    Playtennis New User

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    Maybe ask your pro if he could recommend any hitting partners your level or put up a sign at a local club? Flex matches are a great way to get matches in which don't count. I struggle also to find hitting partners. Can you get into another clinic?
     
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  10. Gut4Tennis

    Gut4Tennis Hall of Fame

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    They all found out you write about them non stop and they just feel weird about it
     
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  11. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    She changes their names, though.
     
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  12. jrs

    jrs Professional

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    How about take a week off!

    How about take a week off relax and don't think about tennis. For some reason when I take a break - my game improves. I guess in my mind hit perfect shots - without playing - I don't have all those unforced errors screwing up my mental game!

    Good luck getting your game back - everyone has ups & downs.
     
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  13. Vilgan

    Vilgan New User

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    Group lessons might also be a source of getting to know people at your level.
     
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  14. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    don't neglect drop feeding... worth doing for an hour a week to work on some technique.

    also, it's easy to practice serves on your own.
     
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  15. Tennisguy3000

    Tennisguy3000 Semi-Pro

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    What about using the contraption at home between games? The PracticeHit is a great way to groove your strokes & footwork between games.

    I just joined two more small outdoor tennis leagues in my area. At $ 60 each annually including court time it's a deal that is hard to beat.

    Good luck in finding more people & matches to play ;-)
     
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  16. mmk

    mmk Professional

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    That is a really good deal. Is that PG county? I belong to Aspen Hill in MC, and I think rental is $30/hour, but that includes court time. By the way, there seems to be a lot of women playing during the day at Aspen Hill.
     
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  17. Clintspin

    Clintspin Semi-Pro

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    I think the "Back To School" article in the current version of 15/30 is a good read for you.

    See if you can get on a team for the DC/Maryland women's Suburban League. It's fun playing one club against another and you will meet new people.
     
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  18. tennis_ocd

    tennis_ocd Hall of Fame

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    Just tell them your club has a battery powered machine that takes care of all your needs just the way you like it... men will understand.

    Good luck... fwiw, I've had great success at busy public courts but it's predominately men; very few women feel comfortable hanging out.
     
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  19. wrxinsc

    wrxinsc Professional

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    move south = a lot of tennis opportunities all year long = profit. :)
     
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  20. anubis

    anubis Hall of Fame

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    Cindy, you say you are losing a lot? Perhaps you have plateaued at your current skill level and your opponents have "caught up" to you. I think its time to learn some new tricks by taking some more private, 1 on 1 lessons with a new teaching pro, someone with whom you haven't played with yet.

    Perhaps a new teaching pro may find some inconsistencies with your technique, ones that you never thought you had. Perhaps just a few minor adjustments to things such as:

    * timing
    * shot prep
    * balance
    * weight transfer

    ... may mean the difference between extended 20 shot rallies and easy winners after only 5 or 6 shots.

    Sometimes we rely on our old habits because they used to work well. Those old habits don't work forever, though. The tennis community evolves around you and everyone is seeking to defeat you. If you have "street cred" in your area, then perhaps people are gunning for you? perhaps your opponents want to take you down on the court. Perhaps they've been studying, working hard, and it's finally paying off.

    the good thing is, you can do the same.

    Good luck :)
     
    #20
  21. heninfan99

    heninfan99 Legend

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    OP, I understand. One of my regulars in my hitting group moved to another country and another is injured. Meetups can be okay sometimes but also maybe asking coaches if they have students that are looking to hit. Asking at a bunch of tennis clubs too. I'm sure you'll find some people to hit with.

    Also, don't hesitate to ask a teaching pro for leads right after a lesson. I've done this once and started hitting with his student right there & then.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2013
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  22. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Thanks for all the replies, folks. You're right that it is up to me to kick-start things, and today was a good start.

    MMK, the price at our county facility really is just $20 for machine and court time together, which is a steal. This facility gets smokin' hot inside in the summers because there is no AC, but I don't mind. Today was just fine.

    So I went down to this indoor county facility, which has six courts. Only two were being used (someone was taking a lesson), so I had a whole wing to myself. The manager positioned the machine (Playmate) and taught me to use it.

    It was awesome! I wanted to do the specific things my pro has been trying to ingrain and break some bad habits. So that's racket head up on takeback (not flopping around all limp-wristed). Doing the footwork to get around the ball (instead of letting the ball come into my body and snatching at it). Left leg bent to allow transfer (no stiff-kneed hitting). Lo and behold, I started to get some decent muscle memory going.

    Even with the machine sending the ball right to me, it was kind of tiring. So I also hit some half-volleys (horror show), inside out BHs (no problem), approach volleys, (decent) and drop volleys (meh).

    I saved the best for last, though. I set it to send lobs, so I got to practice overheads and FH and BH swinging volleys.

    Forget practice partners for now. If I can ingrain these FH stroke/footwork changes and practice moving back for overheads, I am going to start playing much better.
     
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  23. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    We can use the ball machine for free at my club. I use it to work on mechanics, and things my pro wants me to work on. It is a great tool, but it does have shortcomings. All in all though it can help you work through problems and help keep the rust off your game when you're not playing a lot.
     
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  24. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I expand my infrastructure by just hanging around the club. Yesterday, I saw a junior boy practicing his second serve and I volunteered to return so that he need not worry about the balls. It was a great experience. Not one adult I know can hit serves like that, and he served to me continuously for 30 minutes with maybe 3 faults. I call that impromptu infrastructure.
     
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  25. JRstriker12

    JRstriker12 Hall of Fame

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    IIRC - the ball machine room at the last club I belong to wasn't much cheaper/hour than a regular court. Only advantage is they have a bunch of cameras set up to capture your strokes, but I wasn't sure recording was included in the cost of ball machine use.

    Thought about getting a ball machine, but man those are expensive!

    Sounds awesome!
     
    #25
  26. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    You better think about it deeply. Two players in my club shelled out $600 each to co-buy a ball machine. Apart from the hassles of who carries it in his car and come to the club at what time, the enthusiasm seems to have died off very quickly. Hauling it back and forth, positioning it, operating the remote control - are all hassles unless someone does it for you. One of the guys has taken to asking guys to stand on the same side of the machine and return his shots and also help operate it. He ends up getting 2 balls coming to him sometimes. Basically, the lack of socialization made it less fun. Both of them are back playing old-man doubles as they always did.
     
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  27. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Whenever I see people on the public courts with their own ball machines, it looks very discouraging. There seems to be a lot of adjusting and fiddling and whatnot. Then they get to hit a few balls and it is time to collect the balls and start all over.
    Ugh.
     
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  28. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    You got it!
     
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  29. JRstriker12

    JRstriker12 Hall of Fame

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    Interesting. Of course a ball machine wouldn't be my only source of tennis, but I'm not dropping cash on one anyway, that could pay for a lot of lessons. equipment, court time, etc....

    Yeah, but some that's what I need, just to hit a few buckets to groove a stroke. Could be a useful tool, but as I said, a machine is WAY outside my tennis budget.
     
    #29
  30. larlarbd

    larlarbd Banned

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    Ahh Cindy , You should come over to Bangladesh for a visit , atleast you have the option of a ball-machine ( every imported equipment in Bangladesh is 300-500% tax so if I buy say something for 100USD$ after import tax ( not to mention the gigantic shipping cost) it's usually like total 500USD$ ). No Joke.

    When my regular practice partner for 11yrs quit - I was distraught for over a month , but gradually in last 3yrs things have gone well , now the guy I hit with is no-where near as fun as my old-pal ( he blew a knee-cap ) , but I've gotten used to him & I just do a lot more off-court work ( gym,swimming,cardio, other-sports : badminton/soccer/cricket etc ) than I used to before.

    But for a year or so It was very hard keeping the motivation or keep on going on court ....

    Just remember , if you are having a 'boring' time w/ball-machines - some huge-tennis-fans on other part of the world might not even have that as an 'option' , so .......

    Just Saying Cheep-up & have faith - things will turn out your way - Good Luck Cindy , I loved reading your threads - I felt it was quite spunky, good reads.
     
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  31. stapletonj

    stapletonj Semi-Pro

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    Cindy - add some weight training specifically upper body. I forget who said it, but youu don't play tennis to get in shape, you get in shape to play tennis. Especially as we age.

    re: portable ball machine - The problem is that nobody wants to have enough balls to hit long enough, THEN they set the machine to hit balls to them too fast. Slow down the rate at whihc balls are hit at you so you can THINK about the stroke. It's PRACTICE time, NOT Aeorbics time.

    Have a plan set up when you go to do a ball machine workout. Half the "fiddle with it" time is b/c you set it to throw you this ball and you change your mind 1/2 way through.

    Finally, realize that when you feel like you didn't get a workout ro whatever, count how many balls you actually hit. You will be amazed. Depending on the size of the machine, yopu can hit 50 or 100 shots in a row before needing to stop and reload. If the machine is not programmable, you can have it send shots to a certain area. load 50 balls. hit 25 forehands, then shift to 25 backhands from the same spot. You will be amazed how little time it takes you to hit 300 balls!

    Finally, ball machine practice can get boring and it is very easy to let your technique break down as you tire (and you will tire). I like to bring soem towels to the court with me as placement targets. They are big enough to be a realistic target and roll up in your bag very easily. then you can have a realisitc placement goal for your practice.

    enjoy!
     
    #31
  32. equinox

    equinox Hall of Fame

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    Very simple solution. Take a break. Find your passion again.
     
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  33. jrs

    jrs Professional

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    Hmmm not according to my friend from Bangladesh

    Aren't the ball kids in Bangladesh - all very high ranked juniors - my friend told me when his partner gets tired - he just uses the ball kids - who are all better players than club members.

    He also said - no need for ball machines either because of these kids!!!!
     
    #33
  34. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I was about to say - in India too there are plenty of ball kids available for cheap. Many of them are not only better than most 4.5 players, they are also better than the coaches! I have used several of them during vacations, but there is always a "coach" who will take the lion's share of the money and boss over them, while the boys do the actual work.

    There was a time when the kids were not going to school so there was the eternal debate whether they should be used or not (using them encourages them not to go to school, not using them makes them starve as they don't have money and won't go to school anyways and become targets for drug peddlers, etc). Now education is compulsory and free and laws are strict and enforced. So the ball "kids" now are actually underemployed young men who are still referred to as "boys."

    On one session, I was accompanied by my father. He asked one of these "boys" whether he had completed schooling, probably expecting a tale of poverty like he experienced when he was growing up. He said, no, I just prefer tennis and school did not suit my lifestyle!
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2013
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  35. larlarbd

    larlarbd Banned

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    Sadly that maybe so for India , but Bangladesh tennis-infrastructure is not at all that great, Nope - forget about high-rank tennis juniors , there has been only 2 players who have qualified for davis-cup leg 3 , ( that's barely anything ) - none of the junior boys are any good hit & I personally feel like it's slave labour to use ball-kids & pay them less. There isn't much opportunity in a sports like Tennis - plain & simple. India might be different - I did go to india & found during my short stay that ball kids were actually good but maybe very badly treated. They are brainwashed into accepting tennis as their future , why would anyone settle for no-schooling if they had the proper opportunity ? Doesn't make sense.

    Back-to-topic , I do feel when your long-time partner quits or gets busy elsewhere your own schedule does suffer , but with enough determination you can find your way back. Good Luck Cindy.
     
    #35
  36. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    If CIndy opens up her heart to male tennis partners, men will be queing up outside her door. All it takes is one Craigslist ad, Cindy.
     
    #36
  37. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    Sheet, I wish someone would pay me to play tennis and hang around a country club all day, rubbing sunblock on trophy wives by the pool--nah, picking through the garbage dump would be cooler, or maybe better yet, answering phone calls from irate Americans about why their cable service wasn't working.
     
    #37
  38. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Except for the rubbing sunblock part, rest of it can be true
     
    #38
  39. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Larlarbd,

    You sound like a real class act. Thanks for your kind words.

    OK. I played my first match since my two ball machine sessions. I have to say, this is really working for me.

    I took a lesson in which my poor pro tried once again to fix my jacked up FH. I then went over and did an hour on the ball machine. Slow speed, lots of time between balls, just thinking about changing my bad habit and getting some muscle memory together.

    It totally worked. I made far fewer FH errors in my match. I didn't jam myself, I didn't rush the shot or snatch at the ball . . . in short, I didn't hit like Cindy. :)

    Yeah. I think using the ball machine for short, controlled sessions to work on very specific things is going to help me a lot.

    Oh, and one of my clinic buddies wrote and said she also misses clinic, so we are doing one this week. Woo hoo!!
     
    #39

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