serving my way to 4.5. good or bad?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by RollTrackTake, Sep 20, 2012.

  1. RollTrackTake

    RollTrackTake Semi-Pro

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    background, been playing tennis for 20+ years. never played high school because I preferred baseball and other sports. still play(ed) well and competed with guys who played organized tennis. flash forward, I played 4.0 usta (self rated) singles & dubs last season. Year before that played 4.0 dubs only. decided to take my tennis game more seriously and have been putting in a lot of practice time. where i find the practice has paid off the most is my serve. I was having to grind out wins and losing matches because I could only get my 1st serve in, on a good day, 50%. this past summer season I landed my first serve somewhere in the 75% range and won every match (12 matches). the captain of my clubs 4.5 team asked me to play as a sub (singles & dubs) on his team while still playing 4.0 full-time. I practiced with a few of the 4.5 guys and in just rallying these guys were controlling the play. played a practice tiebreak and I beat one of them lost by a point to the other because my serve was able to force them in to weak shots. Do you ever so knowledgeable posters of TT think it will help or hurt my game to play at a higher level when only one part of my game that works well on said level?
     
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  2. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    Play at the higher level.

    First of all it sounds like you're competing with them. At this point you're leaning on your serve mostly to win. That's fine. It doesn't sound like you're completely over your head when you rally with them, but they are better than you. Playing with these better players will help you improve the other aspects of your game and get them up to the level of your serve.

    Also, a lot of tennis is a game of serves and returns. If you're beating 4.5s with your serve, then you're beating them.
     
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  3. tennismonkey

    tennismonkey Semi-Pro

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    it works for john isner. . .
     
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  4. RollTrackTake

    RollTrackTake Semi-Pro

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    When it comes to rally's I revert to playing defense mostly. I don't have the power to blow winners past these guys unless they shank one to me. My main concern is that my ground game and strategy may not develop as it did when I was grinding out points figuring out when to approach, drop shot, etc... At the lower level.
     
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  5. RollTrackTake

    RollTrackTake Semi-Pro

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    I've seen Isner pound some incredible winners! He may not have a great all-around game, but for the modern pro game he's got the tools.
     
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  6. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Sounds like your game is good enough to win without much of a serve, so now that you have improved it quite a bit, your improvement is legit, so I would play at whichever level seems appropriate and not look for reasons to "play down".
     
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  7. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    Play 4.5. That seems to be your level. Practice your serve a lot. Practice your groundstrokes even more and make them better.
     
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  8. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    Why don't you continue to play on both teams for awhile. I think it is best to play a mix of players - some a bit stronger than you and some a bit weaker. This way you get challenged and see your weaknesses and you can work on new things and honing your strengths against the weaker competition.

    Also, now that your serve has improved, maybe pick another shot and work on improving it.

    Congrats on the improvement.
     
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  9. RollTrackTake

    RollTrackTake Semi-Pro

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    I'll probably play both as you suggest. Not sure which shot I should concentrate on next. Return of serve is likely as I am facing a much higher caliber of serves (1st & 2nd's) then I'm used to. I will probably aim at placement and pace. At 4.0 I faced some hard flat firsts and some decent kick seconds. At 4.5 these flat serves are placed better and the kick serves really tend to jump off the court. I also need to turn my 2HBH into more of an attacking stroke. I need to figure out what will keep me in every point when I'm not serving, then aid me in taking control of it.
     
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  10. Larrysümmers

    Larrysümmers Hall of Fame

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    play at the higher level because it will force you to get better, if you put the time in that is.
     
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  11. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    The 3 most important shots in tennis are: (1) serve, (2) return of serve, and (3) cross court groundies, in that order. IMO, you are on the right track. If you really want to up your game, continue focusing on serve and add these other parts of the game to your practice routine, and, play a lot of practice sets.

    According to Vic Braden, the average amateur rally lasts for 2 shots in play before someone hits an UE, or, less likely, a winner. The average pro point lasts for 3 shots in play before someone hits an UE or winner. Hopefully, you can see the wisdom of focusing your practice time on serve and return. The reason CC groundies are so important is because under most circumstances, assuming the point lasts that long, deep CC is the high percentage target.
     
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  12. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    I agree with this guy a lot ^^^^ all this is correct

    Vic Braden had a saying in the 1970s and it is still true today and it was "take good care of this shot because it is likely your last". Most points are so short - either you or your opponent are likely to miss the next shot.
     
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  13. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    If you can't be broken, you can't be beaten....

    Quite rare though for a someone who plays at 4.5 to have a serve that owns all before them, but a mediocre rest of game.

    That said, if you're winning every single one of your 4.0 matches, you need to step up and kick onto the next level.
     
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  14. Larrysümmers

    Larrysümmers Hall of Fame

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    just dont enter a clay court tourny
     
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  15. RollTrackTake

    RollTrackTake Semi-Pro

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    my summer usta 4.0 section had 6 players. I played each guy twice, then a semi-final and final. the fall season has almost 30 players at 4.0. it will be a much sterner test. I do not expect to win all of them. the 4.5 section has fewer players and that's one reason I'm being asked to play up as a sub.
     
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  16. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    As you play better people I think you're going to find that blowing winners by an opponent gets harder and harder. Your opponents are going to hit harder and more consistently. They're going to be able to absorb your pace more effectively. If that big serve comes back then you have to be ready to slug it out a bit until you get something weak that you can be aggressive with. You need to develop power and consistency. Good shot selection helps a bunch with this. That's not grinding, that's just good tennis.
     
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  17. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    It's hard to ace someone period. Tennis is also a "high scoring game". Even if you win 0-0 all day long you'll still have to serve 25 "aces" and at least twice in a row (or more) per game to win. Of course, you have more than aces, but I just want you to think about how many points are actually played in a set.

    Serves can make the difference between 7-6 and 7-5. I doubt it will turn a 0-0 bagel into a 6-4 6-4 win for you.
     
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  18. goran_ace

    goran_ace Hall of Fame

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    Sounds like you know where you belong. I'd encourage you to play both 4.0 and 4.5. You'll be able to develop/round out your game more at 4.0, add a dimension/tactic, step out of your comfort zone and work on it in matchplay. Just playing 4.5 will not make you a better player, you have to be able to learn and adapt. Expect to play more defense than you're used to, expect more serves to come back and having to play out more points.
     
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  19. RollTrackTake

    RollTrackTake Semi-Pro

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    I agree. my 4.0 singles record last fall was 8-5. This summer with an improved and more reliable 1st serve (albeit weaker competition) it was 12-0. i didn't bagel anyone. almost all the matches were competitive. i just found that holding 95% of my service games makes winning a lot easier.
    shocker I know!! at 4.0 I don't rack up a ton of aces. I get weak returns that allow me to be aggressive and force more errors.
     
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  20. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    You're also going to need to invest your game with practice. It will be very hard to really improve just by playing matches.

    I'm in kind of an opposite mode where I'm mostly just hitting and I rarely play games. I've improved my ground game a lot but consequently my ability to finish points and play games is not as good as it should be, but that's kind of where I'm at mentally right now.
     
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  21. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    Karlovic served his way to 7.0:).

    you should take advantage of that serve but don't neglect other areas of your game because returns will get better as you move up.
     
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  22. UCSF2012

    UCSF2012 Hall of Fame

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    My personal thoughts, bring out your best during a match. During practice, put the ball in with 2nd serves so you get to practice your groundies. Who really cares if you lose during practice. Watch the pros practice. They go for random crap, for the sake of learning.
     
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  23. RollTrackTake

    RollTrackTake Semi-Pro

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    Didn't think of taking this approach. I like this idea. Thank you.
     
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  24. Centerforward71

    Centerforward71 Rookie

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    Play at 4.5. U can win a lot with a very good serve and play defense/counterpunch tennis. I've played up to 5.0 and if I am having an off day and play a player below me with what I described above I can and may lose. Now week serve and defensive game you got no chance. Lots of pros have made a living with big serve and sub par strokes
     
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  25. RollTrackTake

    RollTrackTake Semi-Pro

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    Thanks. I'll find out this upcoming Sunday if my serve will hold up at 4.5. I play 4.5 singles early then 4.0 dubs later. Should be interesting
     
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  26. RollTrackTake

    RollTrackTake Semi-Pro

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    Waited 2 matches before reporting. 1st match at 4.5 I lost 3-6, 5-7. Yesterday I went down 4-6, 3-6. If anything I know now what I need to work on to win at this level.....everything!
     
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