Targeting the net player on a return of serve

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by time_fly, Mar 23, 2014.

  1. Gemini

    Gemini Hall of Fame

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    You are correct. Then..let me qualify that.. I never hit at my opponent at net..directly. As in square in the chest or at the chest, etc. when I have enough control to hit towards the hip or dip the ball at their legs/feet.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2014
  2. rnitz

    rnitz New User

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    I agree (A being it's perfectly fine to hit at the net man). Sometimes it's a bit tougher in Mixed Doubles, but it's a fair and legal tactic.

    We had this experience in a USTA league 9.0 Mixed league. My wife and I are both mid-level 4.5 players, and the opposing team was a 5.0 male (one of their teaching pros) and his 4.0 wife. Although I have a decent 4.5 serve, the 5.0 male opponent had no problem with it and eventually started nailing every return directly at my wife at net. After a couple of these she came back and said "this is crazy, let's play me back at the baseline where I can handle the pace". Problem solved, no hard feelings.

    As a side note, I did take pleasure that the first time we brought her back to the baseline on my serve, I served and attacked the net but came in cross-court, poaching in front of her back at the baseline and volleying off the pro's return up the line :)
     
  3. ChicagoJack

    ChicagoJack Hall of Fame

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    ^^ Another vote for option A. And (like the previous poster rnitz has already mentioned) anybody who plays 8.0 or 9.0 mixed will find themselves facing this issue pretty frequently. Pretty common to have female 3.5s paired with male 4.5s. I've no problem returning to the net player, but I've also been backed off the net by a hard hitting 4.5 (both male and female) as well. I've never been in a match where it's a problem. Unless of course somebody gives you the menacing stare or celebrates afterwards. As long as there is the obligatory raise of a hand, coupled with ... "oh sorry"... all is well. It's funny because, everybody on the court knows it was an understandable choice, but that Kabuki Theater apology (even the ATP pros do this) takes that little bit of tension out of the air which allows the game to flow freely again.

    Regarding the aiming for the feet thing : It's always preferable to return lower rather than higher. A low dipper is always preferable to a waist high bullet, not only because it's the more sportsmanlike choice, it's preferable from a strategic, and margin for error standpoint as well. But many net players (especially those with weaker volleys) will position themselves right on top of the net, in order to minimize flawed technique, and aiming for the feet is simply not an option.

    Actually, it's standard operating procedure for many seasoned doubles players to go down the line (or at the net player depending upon where he is positioned) on the very first serve of the match no matter what. That just sends the message that you are not afraid to go line and the net player might be less enthusiastic about poaching for the whole rest of the match. It's a way to keep the net player home which will open up your meat and potatoes cross court return game.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2014
  4. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Not just the first point, but it's oftentimes wise to go DTL every 3rd or 4th return if the netperson is showing anxiety or movement towards poaching.
    It's fine to sacrifice a point to set up another at a more crucial moment.
     
  5. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    I had this happen just the other day. League match against very tough opponents. I was returning, and the server hit a very short spinner. By the time I got to the ball, I was at the service line and the ball was about knee high and dropping. I felt my only percentage shot was to drill the net guy. I did, and he got a racquet on it but hit the ball out. I apologized and said "the server made me do it!" He was completely cool about it.
     
  6. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    I still dont know why people think they're surrounded by a social force field when they're at net. I'm not saying "bean people, it's legit" but, I am saying is that you cannot be on the losing exchange by a net player who thinks they have free reign because of the weird psychology that you're never supposed to challenge the net player.

    Usually, the first few games I only hit at the net player. I want to see what they're made of. If they cant put those balls away... it's like there is a winner there every time. A lot of amateur players serve BH, and the net players poaches. If I feel like they're implementing this strategy, I usually give my biggest backhand DTL (singles line) to see what they got. Sometimes you can burn them all together. Sometimes you jam them mid poach. Sometimes you... bean them... no malice intended.

    Also, if you're getting beaned at net, a lot of that fault could be your partners weak serve. I see a lot of 50-60 mph weak spin serves that really should be directed to the net players in doubles. If you're hitting 75+ mph, high spin serves that are getting punished, then that's another level itself.
     
  7. Mr.Lob

    Mr.Lob Hall of Fame

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    I've read this comment several times before. Why blame partners weak serve? It is what it is. Not like he is serving weak on purpose.

    If your partner has a weak serve, and you still play tight on the net, it's your fault if you get beaned. Move back.
     
  8. PMChambers

    PMChambers Professional

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    +1

    If you can't volley why be at net? People with poor BH run around them and stand wide, why don't players who volley poorly hide there weakness as well? There's no law about the servers partner must start inside the service box.

    A lot of social and lower divisional players volley horribly because they don't practice volleying. A lot do even warm up the volley before a game. Learn to practice volleying and teach a feeder to feed properly, most try bash passing shots which is not helping the volleyer.
     
  9. PDR

    PDR Rookie

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    You guys make it sound like you're getting hit by bullets. Just soft tennis balls. Anywhere but the face is ok. I imagine it's pretty hard to hit the net player without their racket making contact first, especially if they're in a ready position with their racket up.

    If their racket is down by their side, you can give them a sharp reminder to be ready.

    exception to the rule are nice old people and women.
     
  10. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    And you play net, regardless, because "it is what it is."

    How often do you see a person getting themselves beaned? I'm pretty sure most of the time it's your partner who hits a sitter (serve, or otherwise) that allows the person to take a huge cut at the ball.

    Maybe you run some kinda back/back vs. up/up and win all the time based on your name. I havnt seen it.
     
  11. Mr.Lob

    Mr.Lob Hall of Fame

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    We've got one guy , in our doubles league, who is a notorious "head hunter". I've seen him hit guys 2-3 times a match... most deflected off the raquet, some hit into the body, a few fly by the head. Despite having good hands, I'm not going to be on top of the net, like I usually am, when this guy is returning a weak second serve. I'm gonna drop back to around the service line.

    But I never blame my partner. I know what my partner can do, and what the guy receiving can do. So I make the necessary adjustments.

    Same with lobs. If I'm at the net, and my partner lobs short, and I almost get nailed... I don't blame my partner. It is what it is. He didn't short on purpose, well I hope he didn't. Maybe 4.5's and up like to play the blame game. I'm not that good.... yet.
     
  12. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    Say your team has returned a ball hard and deep. Now, aren't you glad someone is at the net because they have a good chance of attacking the return.

    But what is your team has returned a ball short without much pace. Now that netman seems to be a liability. Except for the fact that the opposition is 'honor bound' to hit away from him in this situation. But, there is no such fact. The netman is giving your team advantages and disadvantages. You have to take them both.

    So about targeting the netman, go ahead. But if he's really no threat up there, then simply pass him instead of hitting at him.
     
  13. Rui

    Rui Rookie

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    You shouldn't be in the vicinity of short lobs. While the lob is in the air, retreat back to the baseline. Mount a defense from there. :)
     
  14. SStrikerR

    SStrikerR Hall of Fame

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    A. It's a legitimate strategy. If you know that doing something will increase your chances of winning a competitive match, you should probably be doing it...If you're a good doubles team or have good serves you should be able to avoid it happening to you. It happens to me sometimes on my partner's second serve, and I don't complain. I'm ready for that return just in case I need to be, and get my strings on the ball. That's all you can do.
     
  15. Mr.Lob

    Mr.Lob Hall of Fame

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    By the time I see it's going to be short, the opponent is swooping in like a hungry vulture to pulverize the ball. Best I can do, playing close to the net, is peddle back to mount a defense from no man's land. Which is not a good place to be.

    Speaking of an opponent smashing a short lob to your side of the court, how do you respond? You tap out? Turn your back and hope you don't get thumped? Or face the overhead smash with raquet in front? I've done both. A lot of times opponent will hit at my feet. On occasion I can get a raquet on the ball and hit back for a winner.
     
  16. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    Sounds like you dont know how to play doubles, or you shouldnt be at the net at all. You stand on the service line when your partner is serving? That's useless. The only time I EVER do that is in mixed doubles when my girl has a big serve and she is serving to a weak girl that lobs returns. When I stand on the service line I can take every overhead that isnt landing a few feet from the baseline.

    Standing on the service line while your partner is serving because you're getting beaned is not a realistic solution. You should stay 1 ft. from the net, stay low, and protect your face which should only be the thing in view on the serve return. You should stay on the baseline, and let your partner serve and volley.

    Standing there is basically a "park strategy" which has no tactical purpose. You cant realistically poach being that far from the net. You cant play most balls hit in your direction since they will be at your knees at "bean" speeds.
     
  17. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    No high level doubles players stand 1 ft from the net when his teammate is serving. Just sayin... lol. So wrong. With your head poking out? This has to be made up. You actually do this? 12 inches from the net waiting for your partner to serve. Head poking over the net? if I saw that im hitting it right at you. so funny.
     
  18. tennis_ocd

    tennis_ocd Hall of Fame

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    ? Isn't this is typical high level men's doubles? Perhaps they're start at about 2 to 3 feet from net but immediately move forward so that they're 1 ft from net as serve goes over. If the server's partner doesn't immediately end point from this position they tend to step back a couple feet but they play much, much closer to net than typical rec players....
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEogc_CaExk
     
  19. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    Closing towards the center is standard. But NOT starting with your head poking up 12 inches from the net. Lmao. Just watch any good high school college pro doubles matches.
     
  20. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    Sigh.

    If you have seen "casual" tennis, you'd know that most people are not nearly low enough, and not nearly close enough to the net. We're also talk about a person who is getting "beaned" on serve returns off their partners weak serve.

    If you think I literally mean 12 inches then your racket would be touching the net.

    I didnt think I would have to point out the obvious to these "pros" who apparently have no idea how untrained casual players tend to play.

    Take a look at the very first point in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9Qwgz9bTeo

    Pretend they're not playing I-formation. How many casual players do you know stand that close and that low to the net? Sure, it's not "12 inches", but to a casual player, it would feel like being that close, and that low.

    Remember: the guy I was responding to claims to be "headhunted" and beaned regularly. If he starts at net as close and that low as the first point in the video, the chances of him being beaned will greatly diminish. If he cant make it work, then backing up to the baseline is a good alternative. Standing at the service line (as his indicated) is not the proper solution.

    You would be more than welcome to try. You will either wiz it past me for a winner, make an error trying to [over]hit me. If I even touch that ball it will likely be for a winner because balls with that much [angry] pace are so easy to put away. I've had 90 mph forehands hit at me while I was at net before. Some clown from the internet isnt going to "scare" me by saying "LOLZ IM GONNA BEAN YOU SOEZ".
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2014
  21. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    It's a legitimate strategy at anytime not just the return of serve. I targeted a guy in league play last year during a point. He fell and hurt his wrist. I did not intend any harm but the guy was not the same player after that and it helped us turn around a match where we were in big trouble (other team serving for match).
     
  22. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    Backhand swinging volleys are the worst...

    And im the opposite. I'm still at the stage where if I bean someone that usually helps us LOSE the match because I feel bad lol. I hit a lady in her forehead with a ground stroke from just inside the baseline... and I hit a guy in his face with an approach shot while I was closing in to the net. All accidental of course.

    At some point I do want to have that "remorseless" feeling when I accidentally hit someone because ill need it eventually.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2014
  23. sportsfan1

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    Yes, option a. Even if I am at the net and the opponent is going to try to hit me, it's a valid shot and it doesn't upset me. I rather like the challenge, of course making adjustments so that it's not suicidal.

    If it's a woman at the net, I wouldn't try to blast a return at her, probably just lob over or hit past. Also, I don't think that the returner should hit right at the head/face regardless of who is at the net.
     
  24. Mongolmike

    Mongolmike Professional

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    ???? I'd say you need to play better opponents, and that'll change your opinion.

    Getting drilled in the nuts or nipple hurts... and I wouldn't say a speeding tennis ball is soft. I'd imagine there are plenty of players here who've gotten nailed and had big bruises to show for it... and I bet 90% of them, including me, had their racquet in the ready position and still got nailed. Weak, short serve... big hitter return man taking 2-3 steps inside the baseline ripping their best FH at you at the net.... any hesitation or miscalculation- you're gonna be hit.

    And the "sharp reminder" to tell your opponent to get their racquet up and ready? Seriously? That sounds like a pure social league with low level or older players. I see a player looking not ready, you're darn right I'm taking advantage of it (and no, I do not target a player to hit them- which is different than going at them to force an error).
     
  25. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    Your the one that told people to stand like a hedgehog and 12 inches from the net. Which is stupid. That pro clip he is not 12 inches from the net and he ducks down because it is I formation. If he doesn't he gets hit by the serve. The 2nd serve lo and behold he is not ducked down. And he is in the middle of the box.

    If your going to give advice I would do a bit more research. Yes rec guys stand too far back. And do not close into the net. But telling people to hedgehog 12 inches from the net is not great advice either.
     
  26. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    Think about "why" he's standing so close when they're paying I-formation. Dont be stupid. I said pretend as if they were not playing I-formation so you could understand the "why", which is the same reason I was telling the other person to play tight and low in to the net if you're getting beaned.

    If you're just going to use your ruler and say you won, then, I guess you win.

    You either dont understand the concept or, you do, and you just want to fixate on "12 inches" and say you won.

    I agree there. Getting beaned with the hardest tennis hit isnt as bad as getting beaned with a baseball, but it can certainly injure you. I've heard of people getting eye abrasions and i've seen with my own eyes a large bruise to the midsection cause by a tennis ball. Granted, that wasnt a ground stroke, but it was an overhead, it can still injure someone all the same. Volleys are small time considering people dont "volley" at 90+ mph. There is a 5.5 guy here that has a 100 mph forehand... so getting beaned with that on a serve return is going to be like the hardest overhead most people will see in normal rec tennis.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUHuNKI4RkY

    No radar gun, but that is guaranteed pushing 100 mph.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2014
  27. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    Good. I win and your advice to stand 12 inches to net is stupid. Next.

    Anyone who actually plays tennis halfway decent knows why you want to close on the net. You finding an I formation to back up your hedgehog idea is stupid. You could of just said play closer and close into net like every other teaching pro ever on the internet. And if someone is getting beaned playing closer will make it even easier to get hit. Duh.

    let me see. I am getting drilled by the return. My partner obviously has an easy serve to tee off on. My solution is to stand closer to the net and poke my head out only. ? Great advice.
     
  28. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    Let me try explaining this in hand signals...

    The problem is: "I am getting beaned with serve returns on my partners serve" and the original posters solution was to play back to the service line.

    Solution I proposed is not only technically sound (close to the net vs. floating in the middle of nowhere) but it also protects 75% of his body with the net itself. If the ball gets hit straight at his face the racket is there protecting it. If the ball is hit anywhere near him he only has to move his racket slightly to play the ball without risking being beaned. Being that close to the net also insures he has a large amount of court to hit into, and with that kinda pace, even a good chance of hitting a clean winner.

    At this point im not sure if you're trolling, or legitimately stupid. If the problem is getting beaned with serve returns, you need to either move in super tight to the net or play back at the baseline.
     
  29. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    Ok... hedgehog strategy. I think its wrong. Head sticking out with racket in front blocking your face 12 inches from net. Im not trolling you but do you see how stupid this looks? Have you ever seen anyone do this anywhere ever?
    If the poor guy is getting hit already you tell him to hedgehog it? So funny. I understand what your trying to tell the guy. But 12 inch hedgehog strategy with racket face visor is what your getting across in your first advice to him.
     
  30. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    You're in your normal ready position. Just closer, lower, and protecting yourself without giving up your net position by playing all the way back.

    I'm not saying you should be looking through your string bed... wtf...

    I dont know what you thought I was suggesting, and "what it looks like" doesnt matter. Being constantly beaned isnt a normal problem and doesnt require a normal solution. I cant teach him how to improve his footwork or hand-eye coordination. But, I can suggest a solution which will allow him to play net with a weak server, a headhunting returner, still being able to play balls with a good chance of success AND still be SAFE.

    I dont know what your problem is, but im only trying to help the guy. And apparently you think that because "its not 12 inches" you "win", yet you still post, even after I said "you win."

    Now, you think I was suggesting that he looks through his string bed while playing net? You're way off.
     
  31. Baxter

    Baxter Professional

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    I used to play doubles against a guy with an awesome game and lots of mobility. When he got paired up with a real stinker he would ask them to do exactly that, i.e., stand in the doubles alley near the net with the racket in front of their face, and let him cover the rest of the court.

    But seriously, if I'm paired up with a really weak partner I just retreat to the baseline. Sometimes they're insulted, but I really don't give a crap. Safety first.
     
  32. Steady Eddy

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    Aiming for a right-handed volleyer's right hip is old advice. It's not about trying to injure someone. I like to hit that spot even if I have to take something off the stroke to be more accurate. I wouldn't call that "targeting" someone.
     
  33. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    Yeah I win again! Lol. Just harassing you. Sorry.
     
  34. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    You see it a lot in 6.0/7.0 where backing off the net actually improves the confidence in your servers serving. But, that's because they have so little control over where they serve that they're scared to bean you when you're anywhere in front of them, haha.

    Just last week I saw a 7.0 mixed match where the guy framed his serve (probably 80-90 mph) into the back of his girl partners head. And then... on his second serve he serves a 40 mile per hour tap over...

    I love it when im returning to a back-back setup. I just blast the ball as hard as I can to the side of the court with the weaker player. Nothing like hitting at two half-court target zones... vs. trying to return to 4 smaller zones (and one very large dead zone) when they have a normal 1 up and 1 back position.
     
  35. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Against 2 guys back, I'd rather hit a deep shot between them, but favoring towards the weaker player.
    Now they BOTH have to cover the middle, bunch up, and the alleys are open for the next shot.
     
  36. tennis_ocd

    tennis_ocd Hall of Fame

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    I'd be crouched behind net questioning the strength of my stringbed. Luckily rec players that can be goaded into returning serves like that usually put them into the fence. I agree with the strategy of moving forward and using the net to protect your lower body; not so much from injury but the position provides much higher, easier volleys. At the service line it is much easier to be passed or get the dipping, shoetop volley.
     
  37. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Good 4.5's can hit that forehand, and even some strong 4.0's who are confident.
    Easy cure. Grab your serving partner by his collar, lift him off the ground, shake for a while, and tell him to serve to the BACKHAND side, mixing in one wide serve to the forehand for every 3 serves to the backhand.
     
  38. tennis_ocd

    tennis_ocd Hall of Fame

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    No they're not. Madness.
     
  39. Rui

    Rui Rookie

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    NML is way preferable when returning overheads than standing like a target inside the service line. As soon as you know it's short, backup. When he is ready to hit it, split step. And, tell you partner to yell, "short" if he throws up a suicide lob.

    Do as I recommend. Don't turn your back.
     
  40. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Tennis OCD...
    YOU haven't seen it.
    I have.
    SanPabloPark's 4.0 team consists of at least 4 guys who can hit that forehand pace, and while 3 are over 6'3" tall, one is only 5'8" but built around 175 lbs of muscle.
    I cannot hit that hard a forehand. I might be able to tee off on a backhand when confident at that speed, as I"ve hit plenty of clean winners with no reaction from the netplayer or his backcourt mate after he served.
    But, of course, I cannot do it consistently, and neither can the player in the video.
    Not everyone is as weak as you think they should be.
     
  41. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Also, I estimated that MattLin, at 15, is barely a 4.0 level player.
    YOU might think he's a 4.5 at 15.
    In my book, his weak soft hitting, coupled by ridiculous shanking and poor thought to ball placement, no serve whatsoever, with his lack of mixing up his shots, leads to very good 3.5 level of play, no more.
    YOU might think differently.
     
  42. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    If you have seen that forehand in person you'd know how "ballistic" it is. My hardest/flattest forehand is probably only 75 (maybe 80) mph. and at the rec level, that is "blazing fast".

    A 90-100 mph forehand is very, very rare. Even top 10 pros only hit those numbers only once in a while and their normal ground strokes are not that fast.
     
  43. tennis_ocd

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    Just a light morning warm up for the 4.0 team at SanPabloPark.
     
  44. LuckyR

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    OK let's say that your comment is completely accurate, ie that 4.0s and 4.5s at a magic location near you can duplicate unusually low percentage shots hit by Pros. So what part of their game is so incredibly lacking to account for their 4.0 and 4.5 rating? Can they get their serves over the net? Can they even hit a backhand? Can they run at a trot?
     
  45. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    I only saw this post now because someone quoted it. I dont mean to bandwagon, but...

    A 100 mph forehand is about as uncommon as a 135 mph serve. I just want to put that into perspective. You cant "try" to hit that hard. There is a certain degree of luck that comes into play with generating that amount of speed. Not to mention the physical gifts that make it possible.

    With training, many people can "blast" a 100 mph serve, and a 75 mph forehand. No amount of training will raise that number to 100 mph ground strokes, and 135 mph serves. Those types of speed can only be generated by people who are truly gifted. You cant "train" that at all.
     
  46. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    With no data in hand, LeeD will still refute you in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...
     
  47. tennis_ocd

    tennis_ocd Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2011
    Messages:
    2,002
    LeeD is one of the gifted. Backhand speeds that atp pros only dream of from their FH side.
     
  48. kevrol

    kevrol Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2014
    Messages:
    288
    Came here to make a confession. I hit the net guy on purpose last night with an overhead smash.

    We won first set 6-1 and were up 4-2 in the 2nd. Guys partner who has been bombing serves all night long hits a quick underhand cut serve. I'm able to scramble and lob it back. Server hits a weak lob right over the net. I smashed it right into his partner's belly. Bush league gets bush league.

    I faked a sorry, didn't mean it.
     
  49. cknobman

    cknobman Legend

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Messages:
    5,987
    Location:
    Saudi Arabia
    In the wise words of Happy Gilmore:
     
  50. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Messages:
    2,544
    Location:
    Arizona
    You are forgiven, my son. But it seems the sins of the servers are visited on their partners. For it was the server who did the underhand serve, but his partner has the belly that says "Penn 4".
     

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