Playing A Practice Match With Weaker Players

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Cindysphinx, Jan 25, 2008.

  1. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I'm playing a 2-hour practice match on Sunday. I'm doing this as a favor to a former teammate who captains a competing 6.5 team, as they needed a fourth or they were going to have to cancel their court. I didn't know when I agreed who the three other players from her team were.

    I now know who they are. One is a 2.5 who is so weak that I didn't take her onto my 5.5 combo team last year. Another is a low-end 3.0. The third is a woman I don't know, but she's a 2.5 who lost her only 6.5 combo doubles match 0-6, 1-6.

    What is my job here? I had kind of figured I wanted to go into the thing with two goals: attacking weak serves (I tend to chicken out and play it safe in matches) and getting more pace on my slice and flat serve.

    I have a 7.0 mixed match that same night, so I had wanted to really use the time to loosen up and tweak these two problems I'm having. Now I'm wondering if I should just do whatever I can to make this easy. Or if there's something else I can work on that will give everyone a fun match. Or whether I should just play as hard as I can and let the chips fall where they may.

    What do you think?

    Geez, I'm kind of annoyed now that my former teammate asked me at all and didn't warn me up front. Dang, if I need a fourth to play with two 3.0s and a 3.5, I don't go looking for a 4.0 . . .
     
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  2. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Just play. Be yourself, and play your normal game whatever happens happens.

    P.S. wait till you get to be 5.0 and you still get asked to play as a fourth in 2.5/3.0 Dubs, it is even more fun then.

    J
     
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  3. Vermillion

    Vermillion Banned

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    yes, just play. go with the flow
     
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  4. wao

    wao Professional

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    If it where me, I would go in with a plan to work on my weakness. If I have trouble with keeping the ball deep I would work on that, I would have just a couple ( 2 ) things that I wanted to work on just like if you go into a lesson. ie. For me it would be my volleys, especially a high forehand which I tend to over hit.
     
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  5. cak

    cak Professional

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    I'm guessing there might be a few weak serves for you to attack, and certainly, practicing slice and a flat serve against weak players is kosher. As long as you weren't planning on taking their weak serves and aiming at their partner's head, I don't think you need to change your game plan. And you never know, they may step up.

    (And a bit off the subject, do they have 2.0s in your area? We don't have weak 2.5s, but we do have 2.0s. The 2.5 level has to be the level with the smallest difference in abilities between the top and the bottom. The 2.0s play 5.5 combo with 3.5s. It increases their confidence and they even win sometimes.)
     
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  6. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Nope, no 2.0s around here.

    We have career 2.5s, though. :)

    Seriously, the playing opportunities for 2.0s would be pretty limited. There are far fewer 2.5s than 3.0s as it is (24 3.0 teams vs. 6 2.5 teams, IIRC). Since there can't be more than one point between partners, 2.0s couldn't play with anyone higher than 3.0.

    You know, by the end of our 12-1 5.5 combo season, my 3.0 teammates were absolutely dying. They just didn't like the huge difference in ability when they took the court with a 2.5. I think the problem was that the matches quickly deteriorated into games of keep-away, only half of the players on the court couldn't hit the ball back and forth more than a couple of times.

    In contrast, I am finding that at the 6.5 combo level, the 3.0 players are not terribly outclassed and there can be some great rallies and great play.
     
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  7. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Aw crud, and I wanted to play 5.5 combi dubs with a cardboard cutout for a partner.

    J
     
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  8. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    LOL!!!! :) :)
     
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  9. NoBadMojo

    NoBadMojo G.O.A.T.

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    JMan

    If you can find one >they're hard to find< i highly recommend the JoPa cardboard cutout..the one where he is wearing the pants with the whales on them. people always get a rise out of it when you yell 'YOURS'! or 'SWITCH!'

    Funny thing just happened. lady asked me if I wanted to play in a 7.0 mixed league with her....i'm a 5.0....those are always tuff to respond to.

    I've been meaning to ask you if you hooked up w/ my buddy PaulyP and if so, how's that helping w. the tennis fitness?
     
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  10. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Ya, five weeks in, and all going well. Hoping to be a monster by springtime and the outdoor season. Tournaments starting shortly. 3 tourneys in Feb, 2 on clay 1 hard. Time to stop running my mouth and put up some round wins eh?

    J
     
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  11. Silent

    Silent Semi-Pro

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    I hate to break this to you, but there is absolutely no way that you will truly enjoy this, tennis-wise.

    Play your best, then when they tell you to go easy, do.

    If you try your weakest shots on them from the start, they'll still ask you to go easier, but you'll have nowhere to go !
     
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  12. NoBadMojo

    NoBadMojo G.O.A.T.

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    good go! so let's see..Paul has trained Ginepri, Kendrick, Harkleroad, Merissa Ervin, Delic, etc, and now JollyRancher to complete his resume....we're expecting big things from you bro. ohhh..Gimel as well.....if he can get him <briefly> into the top50, there's hope for you...... ;O
     
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  13. tbini87

    tbini87 Hall of Fame

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    definitely work on being aggressive with your serves and most other shots. work on whatever you need to work on. go for winners off their weak serves. try to make the most of it by working on your game and getting better!
     
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  14. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    Tough in some regards, but I remember all the people who were better than me who played with me and helped me get better by doing it. I guess you can consider it 'paying it forward' and work on your game as best you can. You now have helped someone like I'm sure someone helped you - the scales are even and you can say 'no' next time! ;-)
     
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  15. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    Work on your weaknesses. Use strategies that you know work at the higher levels even if you aren't good at them yet. That will also make the score more competitive because you might hit more errors. I know its easy to fall into the trap in a practice match where you think "geez, these players suck and there's no excuse for me to not blow them out". So by focusing on weaknesses, you dont have to think of it as you playing poorly if you don't blow them out.
     
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  16. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    OK, I played. Like someone said, it was Seriously Not Fun.

    One lady turned up about 20 minutes late. No apology, no explanation. Needed a warm-up, too. Ugh.

    It was an interesting exercise. I felt like I had Attention Deficit Disorder. I planned to go in and work on weaknesses, but I wound up trying to work on everything, which isn't too helpful. Missed too many volleys, missed too many approach shots, didn't come to net enough, couldn't buy a first serve. Still, they thought I played great.

    NOT.

    Oh, and the other thing that was interesting is that it was very hard to poach service returns. They are all quite capable of returning serves from players of their level, low, flat, away from the net person. I'm surprised I didn't see more moon balls.
     
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  17. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    I've actually played a few practice matches left handed (I am RIGHT handed in case you were wondering) to keep it entertaining. Of course - the trick is for them not to notice or they might get offended.
     
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  18. tfm1973

    tfm1973 Semi-Pro

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    i thought it was interesting that you thought you played quite terrible with the weaker players that day. i don't think it's coincidence. we tend to play up or down to the level of our opponents. but i'm a big believer that your real skill level is how you play on your worst day.

    so just because you can beautifully volley a 4.5 guy's 100 mph topspin forehand coming straight for your head and punch it for the winner doesn't mean all that much if you can't also handle a 2.5 lady's 30 mph blooper and hit a quality volley even though the ball is coming at you so slowly dust is collecting on it. ;)

    plus i think it's tennis karma - you were at one time that 2.5 player and there were people who were much better than you. i hope they were as gracious and humble as you. :)
     
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  19. wao

    wao Professional

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    I can understand your feeling of not playing up to your ability/expectation's. It happens to all of us. Anytime I go into a lesson/match like you did, I have 1 or 2 things I really want to work on. It is hard to keep focused on just those 2 things ( ADD ? ) it's like focusing on your game plan, I have to keep reminding myself.
     
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  20. Doc Hollidae

    Doc Hollidae Hall of Fame

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    In the future, I'd probably try and go into the practice with a more open mind set. Regardless of level of play, there's always things that you can work on or new stuff to try out. I've found that when I go in with the attitude I'm better and I'm not going to have fun, that I end up just getting lazy and end up wasting both my time and the person that asked me to hit's time.

    Also I find myself more open to playing with lower level people in doubles than in singles. While it sucks if your partner is getting picked on, it can force you at times to take matters into your own hands. This doesn't mean trying to cover every ball and hit shots on your partners side, but be more aggressive. This might mean poach a little more, work on lob returns, try for sharper angles, etc. Playing against lower level players also is a great time to practice serving and volleying as you'll be under less pressure with weaker returns. I've been playing with a bunch of 3.5's and 4.0's in practice and have started to see angles and opportunities I hadn't seen before simply because I was never looking for them. At the 4.5 and 5.0 level, the pace is different and I'm more prone to react with what I'm used to than think of the 2-3 options I have. So playing down has given me the chance to see angles and get more confident in poaching when I'm playing at my normal level. Before working on that stuff, I had much less variety in my game and was a lot less effective in dubs.

    The one thing about playing with a weaker partner is that is exposes things that you might not necessarily be used to and puts you in situations that you wouldn't be in with an equal level partner. This is good because when match time comes around you're prepared to react in those situations.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2008
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  21. shell

    shell Professional

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    Great post, Doc. I hadn't really thought of it like that, but you are exactly right I think. Rather than thinking in terms of shots or stroke production, practicing strategy seems a much better opportunity and use of the court time againt weaker players. Those strategies are the things that we chicken out on in a tight match and fail to practice enough. It is how we get "match tough" after all.
     
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  22. Doc Hollidae

    Doc Hollidae Hall of Fame

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    The thing I like most about playing down and working on things is that you have a slightly larger margin of error. The lower levels won't punish you like your normal level would and they usually don't hit at the same pace. Also while you're trying things out, your level of play might not be the 4.5 or 5.0 with all the new stuff you are working on or try out. So your lower level opponents aren't completely outclassed and still have fun.
     
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