Skill/Experience?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by MarinaHighTennis, Jul 22, 2013.

  1. MarinaHighTennis

    MarinaHighTennis Professional

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    So at the local club I met this one guy (45-50 years old?) who played tennis with one of my friends and he asked to rally with us. Anyways, I thought "he's alright", "solid", etc. and I thought he was probably on the same level with us. However, when we started to play practice tiebreaks did I realize how wrong I was.

    Yes he is solid, but it seems that none of our shots gave him any trouble at all. I mean no trouble at all. He is a wall. He has a no bouncer slice that he constantly uses, and every one of his shots felt extremely extremely uncomfortable for both me and my friends. We had a hard time winning even a single point off of him and hes just looking like hes not tired or sweating. He basically didn't even do anything special its just that he completely destroyed our games.

    Is this a technique/skill that he has or does he play like this because of his experience. He is 30-40 years older than I am so maybe its just that he knows the game better? I just hope that when I become that age, I can hit like that as well. So is it skill or experience that allowed him to beat us so easily?
     
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  2. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    Keep playing him and eventually you will win. :)
     
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  3. DirtBaller4

    DirtBaller4 Rookie

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    Both,

    Crafty players take away your time and make you hit uncomfortable shots to get weak returns to put away.

    I have played with guys as old as 80 who could volley from anywhere on the court and just gently land it just out of reach with barely taking two steps. This is the kind of opponent you have to figure out, and will not be beaten with raw power or simply tracking every ball down.

    Everyone has a weakness, find his and exploit it. You could incorporate a few of his shots into your own game to give him some of his own medicine.

    Did you notice Nadal backhand slicing at Wimbledon this year, I am pretty sure he did that because he simply couldn't stand it being done to him.
     
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  4. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    Is this a real question?
     
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  5. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I was volunteering at a junior tournament this past weekend, and let me tell you a good junior boy would absolutely demolish these adults. These guys thrive when the pace and spin are there for the sake of it and not because they are effective. Against juniors who serve and hit hard with spin, these guys will be nowhere near the ball.

    That is why such solid guys who mostly slice and block are never seen above the club level of play.
     
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  6. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    Most likely he's one of these guys who stands 3 feet inside the baseline and half volleys everything, making him seem like he's covering far more court then he really is. It's the main component to remaining competitive as you get older.

    The key against these guys is to just hit deep moonballs and drop shots..don't bother with anything else, because he's there waiting to just block back any pace.
     
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  7. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    I'd talk about it slightly differently...

    ..."skills" is kind of ambiguous. Stroke production...how well you execute individual shots such as the forehand, serve, and so forth, is what most players generally think of as the beginning and end of "skills", but the reality is that "skills" are whatever tools you have that help you outplay your opponent. Athletecism is a skill, and without it, you can have the best stroke production in the world, but you're going to struggle against a better athlete with so-so skills, at least most of the time.

    Similarly, "experience" is kind of nebulous. There's a whole bunch of players who have many years on the court, but they haven't learned much from it. The converse is that smart match play and skillful use of the whole court is not limited to players who have been on a court since God was in short pants. I'm 65, and I lost to a skinny 18 year old kid in a Men's Open match last weekend. He has about a 125 mph serve and heavy forehand and backhand...but he can also slice the ball, volleys well, and can play defense better than most of his peers that I've seen.

    So to me the package really is thus:

    You need to have clean stroke production, that's the lowest level building block. Without a serve with which you can vary pace, spin, placement...all the while getting 60% of your first serves in...there's no point in talking about strategy.

    Second, you need to be an athlete, and always be working on becoming a better one. Watch Murray and Djokovich at this year's Wimby final: both guys playing 10 to 12 stroke rallies on every point, making few unforced errors, varying their shots to create an advantage, running and stretching to play defense...for 3 sets, and you know they could have done it for 5.

    Third, when I think of strategy that works for a player, I think about developing patterns that work for you and against your opponent. Patterns, that is, that maximize your skills, minimize your weaknesses, if any, and exploit your opponent's weaknesses. Next, you need to figure out entry points into your favored patterns, where a big hint is that the two most important shots in tennis are, in this order, the serve and the return.
    I don't care if you have a huge forehand, if your first serve only goes in once in 10 times, you aren't going to get much of a chance to trot out your huge forehand. Patterns don't have to be complex, and if you have the strokes and athleticism, the KISS principle really does work. Here's the A service game plan for one of the top 20 ATP players:

    (1) Serve out wide on the first serve.

    (2) Always serve to the backhand on the second serve.

    (3) Once the rally has started, always go cross court, but...

    (4) ...look for an opening to hit a big forehand no later than your third shot.

    Obviously, that's not all that happens in this guy's match play. He'll go to net as needed, for example. But those occasions almost become exception conditions. If he executes 1 through 4 consistently, the point will be his by #4 at the latest...and quite possibly, sooner than that...
     
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  8. MarinaHighTennis

    MarinaHighTennis Professional

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    Nope this guy beat a 5 star recruit, 4 star, then 2 college players
     
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  9. MarinaHighTennis

    MarinaHighTennis Professional

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    He beats us behind the baseline
     
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  10. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    He's a really really good player. He probably played at 30% to win every point from you guys. It is skill and technique built up over the 10000+++ hours of serious practice.
    Lots of guys are experienced. They can win their 4.0 and 4.5 matches with guile and knowledge of the game even if their game is not as good as many younger opponents. This guy is (and certainly was in the past) at a different level.
     
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  11. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    sureshs, you should know better than this. I was thinking your post came from someone who had no clue about the different levels of tennis.
     
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  12. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    Then this guy has some talent.

    A 5.0 guy I hit with, who hits hard and modern, told me about playing a former national player from Korea. This player was 52 and hit very traditional strokes, but he hit extremely accurately and never missed. Zero free points. He was very tough.

    MarinaHighTennis, you're a good player. Keep working on your game. Move, set-up, keep your head on the ball, and swing. Good things will happen. Try to figure out what this guy is exploiting and that's your next thing to work on.
     
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  13. MarinaHighTennis

    MarinaHighTennis Professional

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    You kinda defined him haha. Traditional but hes no rec player looking at his shots. Very accurate, never missed, and id say he has magical hands haha. Very similar to santoro

    We were all disappointed losing to him badly but we know hes crazy good. I just hope we at that age can be better than he is. We have like 30-40 years till then haha

    Honestly i dont know what hes exploiting. I wasnt playing bad but we all agreed his shots felt "uncomfortable" if that does us any good haha. Maybe we are not used to old school tennis style of play?
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2013
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  14. Velvet Ga el

    Velvet Ga el Rookie

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    Do you know his background? I think once you get a sense of where's he been, be it low-level pro, national-level rec player, etc., then you will understand why he's so good.

    I suspect he was once much better than you would think, and he's actually on the downside of what was an elite tennis game.
     
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  15. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    It has happened to me before. The way the post was worded implied this was some casual guy. Now it may be revealed that he was a high-level player who has just slowed down a little with age. Maybe someone who played college tennis too. Without knowing some background info, it is easy to think that OP was talking about a casual player.

    Same with the posts which described some club guy serving over 100 mph consistently and then turned out to be a former college player.
     
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  16. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Yeah I am surprised that if OP saw him play several juniors, why did he just not ask him what his background was?
     
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  17. MarinaHighTennis

    MarinaHighTennis Professional

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    I dont know why it never ocurred to me, maybe a lil shy i guess. But he did say something about how i should practice with uci tennis team and him knowing the uci coach(nick named him the "tank"). So im guessing he once played college for d1. He just beat the #1 women from vietnam just now. He doesnt even look like hes trying...
     
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  18. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Got fooled once at the club by a guy from South America who casually borrowed a frame from someone and then started bashing balls at a junior while a crowd gathered to watch them. Turns out he was a Challenger level player who is now a motorcycle salesman and had not picked up a racket for 7 years till then!
     
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  19. MarinaHighTennis

    MarinaHighTennis Professional

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    Haha idk who he is yet but i think im going to start hitting with him now! I hope i can learn his skills.
     
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  20. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    If he plays a very traditional game, and your game is more modern, maybe the thing to learn is not so much how he hits but rather what he's doing and what weaknesses he exploits in your game. You said his shots always made you feel uncomfortable. Why? Is there a shot that you always seem to end up hitting in a rally that you don't like, like low balls, or high balls, wide, slices?

    I'll bet he has a mental checklist of things he's looking for. Things like:

    - weak on balls low and short to the forehand
    - doesn't like to hit wide off the backhand
    - weak on high balls
    - doesn't move to the side on balls straight down the middle - gets jammed

    I'll bet he has shot patterns that take advantage of what he's noticed. Do you recognize any pattern of shots that you get into with him that lead to you hitting balls that you don't like?

    Just some thoughts.
     
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  21. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    The #1 guy from UCI (I think) was hitting at my club in San Diego a couple of weeks ago. The guy I was hitting with knew the kid and they chatted a bit. The kid was very good, and so was his buddy. They were hitting pretty big and not missing much. High quality stuff.

    If you can get hitting time with players of that caliber, and combine it with working on the weaknesses in your strokes and game that those hitting sessions uncover (coach, wall time, video your self, shaddow swinging), that's how you'll see real improvement.
     
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  22. gmatheis

    gmatheis Hall of Fame

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    Sounds like a great person to know to help you improve your game.
     
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  23. willeric

    willeric Rookie

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    I've played several players like that and have generally done poorly. I've seen players ranked as high as 4.5 have that game. The key with their game is that they have mastered the no bounce slice and are very accurate with it.

    My only answer was to hit droppers (kind of risky), or really hit hard topspin (hard to do off the low skidding balls).

    I think a lot of "top spin" players have problems with good slicers.
     
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  24. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    One of guys I hit with has a particularly nasty slice. He can hit it off both sides.

    Here are the things I do:

    - If it's deep I usually hit topspin back, especially off the fh side. The ball is slower than a topspin shot so there's almost always time to get there and set-up. You have to allow for space for the ball to land in front of you because on good slices you're never quite sure where they're going to finally set down. I really try to avoid taking them right off the bounce if I can. You also have to take into account any side spin which is often present. On the set-up I try to get my knees bent and get low. When I swing I really try to rip the racquet up. If I hit through a low, skidding slice too much it's going to be hard to get it over the net and in.

    - If the ball's short I will approach. Depending on which side it's on and the ball's depth I'll slice or go over it. Again, if I go over it (almost always on the fh for me) you really have to get down on the ball and rip the racquet up to get any margin on the approach.

    - Some times off the bh side, if I really get jammed, I'll grip tight with both hands (2hbh) and just swing through the ball with a flat, controlled swing - kind of a Jimmy Connors thing. It's not a super offensive shot, but it can be effective if you get a little pop on it because it will stay low on the other side.

    - On the bh side I will often slice back.
     
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  25. tennis_ocd

    tennis_ocd Hall of Fame

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    Kronemann was/is much more than a d1 player/coach. As was very likely the guy hitting with you.
     
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  26. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Marina,

    You didn't say how you lost or how he won points most of the time. You only said your shots didn't give him any trouble and his shots were extremely uncomfortable. Perhaps you overestimated your skills and underestimated his???

    I saw some youngsters, maybe in early 20s, hitting the crap out of the ball and running like rabbit. Regular city court players, even passionate ones like myself, would be lucky if we could get our racket on the ball. Their serve hit the back fence on an active rising.

    But then there are a few of those 40 something years old who have 15, 20 years of playing under their belt, who mainly play for money, that can play cat and mouse games and beat average players any given day.

    These latter players don't come close to the youngsters though. That's the pecking order I see.
     
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