Playing to the level of your opponent?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by sonnylax, Nov 8, 2004.

  1. sonnylax

    sonnylax New User

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    I just concluded 5 singles matches in 5 straight days. 3 of the matches were in a singles tournament that finished on Friday evening. (I lost in the final game of the singles tournament on Friday to a more powerful opponent.)

    Over the weekend, I had the championship game for one of my fall singles league on Saturday morning and then on Sunday I played in the last regular season game for a 2nd Fall League I'm playing in.

    I ended up with 4 wins in the 5 matches. But I couldn't help shake the idea that I was playing down to the level of inferior opponents (over the course of these matches).

    After a few years of doubles, I've recently started playing singles this Fall. On Saturday, I barely beat a guy (7-6, 6 - 3) that I had hammered a few weeks ago 6 - 1, 6 - 1. In my Thursday night match, I beat a guy (7 - 5, 6 - 4) who had a very mediocre serve. I had a hard time generate my own pace on the ball (against someone who plays soft & spin) and keeping it in play. He was a decent athlete, but it should never have been that close. I played very conservative instead of trying to dictate more of the action.

    Overall, I know I probably played the best in the one match that I lost on Friday night (6 - 4, 6 - 4) in the tournament championship. This guy had a powerful first serve and deep groundstrokes with lots of topspin. I played better in that match because I was tested mentally/physically. I was more focused on my first serve when playing him as well.

    Any suggestions on how to maintain focus when playing inferior opponents? Suggestions on what to do in between points/games to maintain that focus?
     
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  2. thehustler

    thehustler Rookie

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    I know what you're going thru. Sometimes I play a friend of mine who's a pusher just so I know how to handle players like him when I meet them in a tourney. I recently did a league tournament as well. I was never seriously challenged at any point and it was rather frustrating to me. I only had one opponent make me raise my game mentally because I saw how well he could return serve and his ground strokes were good as well. I beat him 6-0, 6-1. What I've learned from playing my pusher friend and opponents that I steamroll is to develop my patience. I just play my game and instead of trying to force anything I just keep the ball in play and wait for my opponent to make a mistake. This allows me to play at my level and them to play at theirs. Whenever I try to force a dtl or some stupid shot that I should not have even done the score is closer than it really should be.

    Another thing you can do is just look for someone's weakness when warming up, or find out what their strength is and take it away. I do this as well and it does help me play at my level because I wind up treating the opponent like any other and not some inferior player. HTH.
     
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  3. Trey

    Trey Rookie

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    If you are not being challneged may be you should move up to a higher level tournament?
     
    #3
  4. Chris.L

    Chris.L New User

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    The trick is not to TREAT them like an inferior player.
    I try to view the match as important as possible,
    MANY MANY times i have ended up struggling through a match against a poor player... rarely, but sometimes... losing the match.
    A guy that was beat 6-0 6-3 tonight beat me 6-4 in a practice set a week ago... yes he was horrible, but i froze up and my quality of play went down the drain.
    Just focus and try to play your game... 99% of the time you will beat them.
     
    #4
  5. axl1892

    axl1892 New User

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    Really, what is the difference what score you beat them by? I'll happily take the W. Don't forget that it's pretty well impossible to play your best against an opponent who can't parry. So you do what you have to do.
    When you're playing someone who is clearly weaker, you have to find something to take away from the match. Maybe you can use the opportunity to match-test a topspin bh return, or try serving and volleying, or whatever else is difficult to do against better opposition. I don't think there is so much value in trying your hardest to win by the biggest possible margin. Better to work on some new things in a low(er) pressure situation.
     
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  6. sonnylax

    sonnylax New User

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    Next season, I will move up at least one level. Should provide a more appopriate challenge, week in and week out.
     
    #6
  7. sonnylax

    sonnylax New User

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    Mentally, it's just tough not to play better against weaker opponents. I let them "hang around" in matches. And before you know it - the set score is like 4 - 3 or 5 - 4. The set should be over by that point. That is more what I'm getting at.
     
    #7
  8. axl1892

    axl1892 New User

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    I get what you're saying. I think a lot of times when I sense the opponent is weaker than me, I get impatient and/or complacent (ie just plain lazy). Either I'm trying to senselessly blast winners from difficult positions, or I'm just casually coasting, not getting up to the ball, not preparing early enough, etc. I think the key is to not get ahead of yourself and play patiently, and focus on executing your shots properly. The rest should fall into place.
     
    #8
  9. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

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    I think when you play weaker opponents you have to be careful not to let yourself get into bad habits. I may experiment too much and slack off with footwork and form, but once I lose a game or two because of this, I will force myself to sharpen up and focus on getting everything back. Unless you are losing sets or picking up bad habits, don't worry about losing 2-3 games a set to a weaker player. Sometimes weaker players do some unorthodox and unpredictable things to win points and it only takes 4 to win one game.
     
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  10. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Don't know why you would "experiment" at this time. Very dangerous to do and this is not a good game plan or strategy.

    When you begin experimenting it tells me you don't have enough confidence in your own game to take control of the match and win.

    When playing a weaker opponent you should play and hone your "A" game as this is probably all you will need to win. Save experimenting for practice sessions.
     
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  11. TwistServe

    TwistServe Guest

    This is definitely true.. Sometimes I play round robin nights where we play 5+ different players, 5 games each. When I play the weaker players, I usually double fault way too much and my game basically sux. When I play the better players, my serve feels like its invincible! So much kick and so much twist!!! I still can't get over this hurdle of playing down on weaker players :( but all in d0 time!
     
    #11
  12. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

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    I experiment against weaker players in recreational match situations but not in league or tournament play. Why isn't that a good time to experiment? I can rip for winners or go to net more or hit bigger second serves and not worry to much about losing the match or set even if I lose a game or two more than normal. Then I start feeling more comfortable hitting those big shots when I do play an equal in a real match. I find out when I should be hitting those shots during recreational play so that I have learned the right shot selection when it really matters.
     
    #12
  13. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Oh recreaaaaational matches. I see.

    The other day I played a 4.0 player. He had a good forehand and a so-so backhand so long as it was in his strike zone. He wanted to play a match against me to see how he would do. He lost the first two sets (therefore the match) and I did what you I think are talking about - I experimented. Except my experimenting is more working on something - like my slice backhand. So instead of hitting my twohander - I would slice everything back. Or I would hit all my serves with a twist. Etc.

    I can see that.
     
    #13

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