Tennis is a game of percentages!

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by sinneTennis, May 23, 2007.

  1. sinneTennis

    sinneTennis New User

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    That's what my coach always says... she's always ranting on about 8 out of 10 times, so and so will happen (like they will hit a passing shot), and 7 out of 10, they will hit crosscourt.. etc. Does anyone have a website where they explain the percentages?
     
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  2. Geezer Guy

    Geezer Guy Hall of Fame

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    Almost 4 out of 5 new players ask that question.
     
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  3. warneck

    warneck Rookie

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    SinneTennis, no player is a 100% copy of another.. So a correct percentage calculation can't really be done. But it's about being aware of the PRINCIPLES..
     
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  4. sinneTennis

    sinneTennis New User

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    Im betting you don't know the principles seeing as you spelled it wrong.. :p
     
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  5. sinneTennis

    sinneTennis New User

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    I seriously doubt that seeing as not alot of people know about percentages..
     
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  6. Bodacious DVT

    Bodacious DVT Semi-Pro

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    5 out of 6 statistics are fake.

    you cant really assume that something will always work say 6/7 times, etc, because a player can adapt to changes at any given time.

    tennis is however, 90% mental, and im not making that up
     
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  7. mucat

    mucat Hall of Fame

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    Yes, tennis is 90% mental and 80% racket. ;)
     
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  8. Bodacious DVT

    Bodacious DVT Semi-Pro

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    just remember, 60% of the time, it works every time
     
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  9. jasoncho92

    jasoncho92 Professional

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    Of course since that makes so much sense -_-
     
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  10. All-court Hero

    All-court Hero New User

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    ^^
    A Salute to the greatest movie of all time!
     
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  11. AngeloDS

    AngeloDS Hall of Fame

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    Tennis is indeed a game of percentages. However, you need to be aware of what you do and how people react. A lot of people are "reactive" tennis players, they aren't proactive. Thus, a lot of people will indeed just naturally hit cross-court or down the line depending on what shot you give them.

    You just have to be more observant on what people do and how they respond to your shots.

    The best is to go is go check a few books; one of them is Pressure Tennis and Think to Win.
     
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  12. sinneTennis

    sinneTennis New User

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    hmmmm okay. i understand :-o
     
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  13. Mr. Sean

    Mr. Sean Rookie

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    If tennis were about percentages then everyone would be hitting moonballs and lobs during matches, which still happens when I play some people (SUCKS). I think its more rewarding and more competitive when you actually hit the ball harder and go for some angles especially during singles. What bothers me the most is when people watch these moonballers and lobbers and think that all tennis is played that way. Makes are sport look like a sissy sport. TENNIS IS MORE ABOUT PRECISION, NOT PERCENTAGES.
     
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  14. Noveson

    Noveson Hall of Fame

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    You make OUR sport look dumb...

    It is about percentages, if it weren't then people would be trying to slap winners all over the place and missing horribly(aka you).
     
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  15. mucat

    mucat Hall of Fame

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    Me better... me hit hard, arrrh!! hungry, steak, now...
     
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  16. shindemac

    shindemac Hall of Fame

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    The way percentages work is simple. They add up to 100%. It's simple to understand. You make it sound like rocket science, like noobs can't understand this. 1+1=2.
     
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  17. Solat

    Solat Professional

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    :grin: :grin: :grin: :grin:
     
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  18. Mr. Blond

    Mr. Blond Professional

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    Ok....this is a potential flaming coming my way, but I will venture into this thread with some trepidation.

    The percentages your coach is always touting are those of the safest shot from your opponent. The best way to explain this is with a scenario. Lets say you hit a deep topspin shot into the corner. This shot will obviously pull the player deep off court in that corner as he/she struggles to return your shot. That player has 3 options on that return.

    1. hit a high lob moonball to allow them time to recover after hitting your shot. This is a good option for the slower player, but has some risks in that if the ball is not placed deep enough, you can smash it at the net, or kill it with a good drop volley. That is what you would like to happen to end the point.

    2. The player can struggle to hit an offensive shot off of your deep shot. This typically will end up being a topsin shot down the line of the side of the court they are on. This is a very VERY low percentage shot because the ball will have the tendancy to slide wide on this because your shot has topspin on it. This scenario could work out for your opponent, but more than likely, the point will end on their error.

    3. The highest percentage shot for your opponenet would be to return your deep topspin shot with a crosscourt topspin shot. There are many less uncontrollable variables in this shot for them, so statistically they can get it back with less error. Not to mention, corner to corner on the court is the longest distance, allowing them to return with less worry of hitting the ball deep.


    The trick to playing these percentages is to realize that you have just played that aggressive deep topspin shot that will set one of these three events into motion. How you respond to either of these depends on if you recognize it.

    In the high percentage event they return back cross court, if you are moving in to the net, a good volley will take care of their return. If they pop up the lob, again moving in will put that away.

    If they do decide to go down the line and pass, you can reach for it to volley, or just hope the statistics and difficulty of the shot will pull it wide.

    Note that I have been talking about the percentages the entire time, but have never given you any numbers....that is because depending on your opponenet, these percentages change according to their skill. Understanding the eb and flow of a point is something that comes with years of play and eventually you will see it without much struggle.

    realize that this is just one shot in the thousands that can be hit, but it does illustrate the thinking beind high percentage tennis.


    I hope this helps to clarify, and opolagize for any spelling errors it is 6 am when I am writting this.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2007
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  19. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    i hate this....tennis is not a game of percentages. you go out there and you have fun and you hit and you play. i cant even explain it.
     
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  20. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    Actually, at the 4.0 level and below, it IS about percentages and it IS a sissy sport. The moonballer at 3.5 will beat the 3.5 wannabe-basher 8 out of 10 times. The only argument you can make against moonballers is that they will have a very hard time progressing past 4.0 because they are not shot makers. For the guy who plays once a week...maybe that's not reason enough to stop pushing.

    I played a guy indoors as a sub in a 3.5 league back in January. The guy was quite overweight, slow, and about 5'8. I am 6'1 190lbs and at the time I was going to a gym 3 times per week. He had no stroke that would scare anyone. I have a forehand and first serve that makes people think I'm a sandbagger when they see me in warmup...unfortunately, the rest of my game sucks. :D

    I swear to you that he didn't hit a single groundstroke that wasn't a moonball the entire match. The final score was 4-6 6-4-7-5 my favor. Almost every point was either my winner or my error....either blowing the ball past him in a corner, or it being 6 inches long or in the net. No one in their right mind seeing the 2 of us walk on the court would think that he had a chance against me, but I almost lost. That's tennis. It's not basketball or football where athleticism is a huge part of the equation, and that's actually why I like it.
     
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  21. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    I don't think moonballers are pushers - a moonball is hit with a full stroke. But I agree with what your saying. The downside of this is that you can lose to some really unathletic people. It's quite depressing sometimes.

    Pete
     
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  22. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    It can be, but not in the case of the guy I played. I think he had a fairly losely strung LM radical and he was basically just sending the ball about 20 feet in the air over the net, with it landing about 3 feet from the baseline. The fact that he didn't execute a full stroke and that it didn't have much topspin gave me opportunities to absolutely crush some of these..but again..some of my returns went long, some didn't clear the net, and he won points because of that.
     
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  23. Mr. Blond

    Mr. Blond Professional

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    I understand what you are saying about enjoying your play...but you at the same time must strive to improve your game would you not agree? The percentages theory is just one aspect of making yourself better by predicting your opponents replys. I don't know one sport where players do not try to predict their opponents move to their advantage. Why would you hate this?
     
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  24. SlapShot

    SlapShot Hall of Fame

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    That may work at lower levels, but as you move up, you need to begin building your points and playing your strength against your opponents weakness.

    Tennis is a game of percentages - the two numbers to keep in mind when playing tennis are 3 and 4:

    3 to 4 feet over the net at all times
    3/4 pace
    3-4 feet inside the baseline

    That's how you win at 4.0 and below.
     
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  25. sinneTennis

    sinneTennis New User

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    Too bad i'm higher then 4.0 haha.
     
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  26. SlapShot

    SlapShot Hall of Fame

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    Well, I was speaking in general terms because more people were asking about percentages.

    If you want a good example, watch how Nadal plays - he is clearing the net by at least 3 feet on every shot. If you clip the tape, you didn't miss by a half an inch, you missed by at least a foot from where you should be aiming.
     
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  27. OrangeOne

    OrangeOne Legend

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    This thread really depresses me (and not just because people seem to miss all of the humour in the first few replies).

    Anyone who thinks tennis is about hitting winners, at almost any level including pro, is kidding themselves. Tennis is about hitting back one more ball than your opponent, and at the upper levels, you can insert the word "quality" in there.

    To the OP - your coach is right to talk of percentages, any good coach will teach a player the likely results of key shots, what to expect when certain things happen.

    Oh - and to those insulting players that almost beat them... why? If someone almost beats you, and you weren't injured or ill, well they're as good a player as you. They may play differently, but that's tennis.
     
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  28. sinneTennis

    sinneTennis New User

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    Agreed :)
     
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  29. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    If someone hits a topspin lob on every shot, that may be a succesful strategy to not get killed, but it is boring tennis and you should be admonished for it. It's not fun at all for the other player. It would be the same if I hit drop shots against fat boy on every stroke because he can't move. That would not be in the "spirit" of amateur competition. This is where the "wimp tennis" attitude comes in. If a guy is going to hit a topspin lob on every shot, I'll give him his win and play somebody else, because he is a ****** and I don't feel like wasting my time.
     
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  30. OrangeOne

    OrangeOne Legend

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    Say what? Who died and made you the judge of what is and isn't exciting tennis?

    Errr, sorry, but I play for my own fun and entertainment, this is usually by aiming to win. And I'll do it any way I see fit!

    Well there's 'hitting' and there's 'competition'. Personally, if I'm competing to win, well I compete to win, employing the best strategy I can.

    Why can't you just beat him? If someone hits a TS lob all the time, smash it back all the time! If TS lobs were the be-all-and-end-all of tennis, Fed would be using them exclusively.

    I will never understand how people can think that some styles are 'right' and some are not! Tennis is hitting one more ball back than your opponent does, and doing so in whatever form you think you can win best with.
     
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  31. SlapShot

    SlapShot Hall of Fame

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    Bullseye!

    I play tennis because I enjoy it, yes, but I REALLY enjoy winning matches, and if I need to hit heavy topspin moonballs because the guy is sending every one of them into the net and giving me free points, that's what I'm going to do.

    No one way of playing tennis is more "right" than another, provided you can win.
     
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  32. SlapShot

    SlapShot Hall of Fame

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    You're a young pup, aren't you?

    Tennis is about using your game to win, and if that means hitting the ball softly and deep (read: pusher), so be it. If you can win like that, then it is a good strategy.

    There is no "spirit" or "goodwill" when it comes to amateur competition - is your goal still not to win the match? If I'm playing someone who loves me hitting the ball with a good amount of pace and topspin, I'm not going to do that. I'm going to slice the ball back and take as much pace out of him as I can.
     
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  33. penpal

    penpal Rookie

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    The immature young man's preferred tennis scenario:

    He's playing his match, the girl he likes has come to watch. His opponent hits a hard shot and he crushes a shot back -- hits it so hard it makes a loud pop when it hits the back fence. Hits it so hard it gets the girl's attention (she had previously been looking at a notebook and giggling with her girlfriend). This happens again and again during the match. After the match, the girl gushes over his power and strength - she can't get over how good he is.

    It is irrelevant that he lost the match 2-6, 3-6.


    The scenario the immature young man H-A-T-E-S:

    The girl of his fancy is watching. His opponent hits a very soft looking ball his way, he winds up, takes a massively powerful swing, and his shot either plows into the bottom of the net or embarassingly sails beyond the confines of the fence altogether. He looks over and the girl is giggling with her girlfriend (she may or may not be giggling about his shot, as she is only half paying attention anyway, but he is sure she is laughing at him). This happens again and again during the match. After the match, the girl says "Oh, is it over already?" and announces she is "starving" for some french fries ... not a word about the match.

    Again, it is irrelevant that he lost the match 2-6, 3-6.


    :D
     
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  34. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    Wow, we have some serious pushers here.


    To me, there is a difference between a high percentage guy who just gets the ball back with moderate pace and a guy who lolipops over the net with no pace on EVERY stroke. I play a guy from this board regularly who calls himself a "pusher", but I don't view that as a negative...he wins more often than not, he gets to every ball and has no real exploitable weaknesses. When I'm on, I can beat him, but my consistency isn't there yet.

    With the person I played in the league, I'm talking about one specifically annoying player, and you dopes are are wipping out your dime store psycho analysis and jumping to conclusions about my age. :rolleyes:


    I've played another guy who I work with who is rated 5.5 and has won tournaments in doubles and singles, although his age is starting to catch up with him. He described what I'm saying in this way: tennis for most of us is recreational sport...you play to enjoy the game and be competitive. You "play to play". These are the people you enjoy playing whether you win or lose.

    There are some guys who only "play to win" no matter what the circumstances. Again, if I wanted to against the guy I was describing earlier, i could have simply hit topspin lob/drop shot combo on every point, and eventually..well, he may have died from cardiac arrest because he was about 40 lbs overweight. I would have gone home that night bored as hell. Instead, I barely won but I had FUN. I'd probably never play the guy again if he called me to play because it is LAME to play that way.

    I compare it to this..lets say I'm playing basketball, and a guy on my team is 6 foot 8, while no one else on the court is over 6 foot. Do we just feed him in the post all night and win by a large margin..in a recreational game? I go home taking no shots and not even getting a workout? Well, I had no fun, but winning is everything!!
     
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  35. z-money

    z-money Semi-Pro

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    best post EVER
     
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  36. Serve em Up

    Serve em Up Rookie

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    My pro says you play the percentages to select the best shot that it takes to win the point. Give enough effort to win, not more.

    In othe words, if moonballing is your highest % shot, and your opponent can't hit them back. Hit moonballs.

    Once your opponent shows you he can beat your best % shot. You hit something else (maybe faster, deeper, harder) that might not be as high % as a moonball but will make your opponent miss.

    Never show your best stuff, most aggressive lower % shot unless needed to win.

    Rachet up your risk and you effort level until you are winning or until your opponent proves that he is better than you that day.

    He told me this because I have a tendency to be very aggressive and hit hard all the time. I go for everything, hit deep and hard, go for lines. His point was that I would win more (less unforced errors) if I played smarter and hit the highest % shots that I needed to still win. Doing so has decreased my unforced errors and helped me to improve my game. Why go for the lines and risk missing if your opponent has troulble with consistency to good paced shots hit in the middle of the court?
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2007
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  37. ohplease

    ohplease Professional

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    Since when is it your opponent's job to make sure you have fun?

    Win or lose, I want to make sure that my opponents realize that stepping on court with me is going to be WORK. I'm going to find their weak backhand, or their lack of patience or shot tolerance, their poor footwork, their overplaying in positioning - you name it - and I'm going to chip and nag at it until the cows come home.

    In fact, by doing this, I'm doing my opponents a SERVICE. They need to shore up that weakness, and it does their game no favors to politely set them up for shots they already own (assuming they even own it - which they often don't).

    Often, this approach coincides with what some one call "pushing" - but it doesn't have to. It could be S&V, could be lobs, could be short angles - whatever it takes. The point is your "fun" tennis buddies are doing nothing more than letting you stagnate at your level, complacent.
     
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  38. SlapShot

    SlapShot Hall of Fame

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    +1 to this whole post. Hit the nail on the head.

    If I'm out hitting with a hitting partner, that's one thing, and I'm still going to work on my weaknesses and hope that whoever is hitting with me is going to make me work.

    If I'm playing a match, I want to pit my strength against your weakness. I'm not feeding you short balls on your forehand side if you have slapped 4 of them in a row for winners - I'm going to find a new strategy.
     
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  39. spadesss

    spadesss Semi-Pro

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    you can have more winners than your opponent but still lose the match.
    you can more more unforce errors than your opponent but still win.

    tennis statistics doesn't mean a whole lot.
     
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  40. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Hhmmm... how does it feel to be a worse tennis player than a "******"?
     
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  41. SlapShot

    SlapShot Hall of Fame

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    :-D

    Post of the month.

    If you lose to someone, you aren't a "better player" than they are that day.

    /pusher argument
     
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  42. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    Your reading comprehension might not be too good, so I'll repeat once again that I won the match against the moonballer.

    I've been beaten plenty of times by guys who actually play the game. I've never once said that a guy who has beaten me is an inferior tennis player to me...I've never lost a match to an "inferior" player. If they beat me, they aren't inferior. I don't play those guys that I beat regularly anymore. I only play people on my level or better now, and hence there is a lot more losing then there was when I played friends who picked up a racquet now and again..and I'm improving because of it.

    The phenomenom of the aging out of shape club moonballer apparently is quite prevalent judging from the responses here. It must be a riveting match when two of these strategic geniuses mix it up. They probably time out after one set. :smile:

    The moonballer stayed in the match longer than he would have if I had simply used similar tactics against him, but I wouldn't have gotten anything out of hitting drop shots all match and watching him fall over himself trying to get to them. I already know that I can hit a topspin lob and a dropshot.

    That may make you guys feel like strategic geniuses, but it would make me feel bored. "Let's see, overweight, mid 40's, I'll hit one deep shot followed by a drop shot, and he will be done after one set." Good thing I read Sun Tzu!!
     
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  43. penpal

    penpal Rookie

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    Confusing, to say the least. You admittedly had fun, yet you wouldn't play the guy again "because it is LAME to play that way." And what makes you so sure that your topspin lob/drop shot combo would have worked? Isn't it possible that, had you tried this, your opponent might have switched tactics as well?


    Not a representative analogy IMO. A better analogy might be a one-on-one match between the 6'8" player who can dunk and is a shot blocker extraordinaire and a 5'9" player who is a decent mid-range shooter but not great, can't even touch the rim, but is quick as lightning/great at stealing the ball off the dribble, thereby making it very difficult for the bigger player to get close enough to make his short-range shots. The taller player can probably still beat the smaller player, but he's going to have to overcome some embarrassing steals and harrassing play. He cannot, however, legitimately fault the 5'9" player for employing tactics that give him the best chance of beating the taller player.

    Now, on one point we do agree -- you have no obligation in rec tennis to play people you don't enjoy playing against (unless maybe you are playing in a USTA league, but that's a different matter). Again, you said you had fun, but if you didn't really have fun then by all means, if he calls you up to play turn him down. All of us have probably turned down matches because we didn't think they would be fun. Personally, there are some players who I refuse to play because of personality issues, and I don't particularly like playing the role of ball feeder to the guys who enjoy hitting every shot as hard as they can while I stand idly by watching their shots rocket into the tarp/fence.

    If you aren't having fun, you shouldn't bother playing this guy ... just don't blame it on the flawed notion that he's not playing tennis the way it's supposed to be played, whatever that might be.
     
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  44. ohplease

    ohplease Professional

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    Your own spurious line of reasoning suggests that there's some relationship between wins and losses and who's a better or an "inferior" player. And yet, you barely beat this guy. If you're better than the ******, it's not by much. Maybe you're ******+. Maybe.

    If you're not drilling people by at least two service breaks every set for 6-3, 6-2, or 6-1, you're not better than them. If you can only get past them with a single service break or in a tiebreaker or as you did, by dropping the first set, here's a hint: you're not better than them. They're at your level.

    Like the rest of your game, you're trying to take a shortcut. You barely escaped this guy and now you won't deign to play him? Please. You're ducking him because you know it's more than possible you'll lose to him.

    Barring routine, no pressure wins of 6-3, 6-3 or better (where both sets feature 2 service breaks, aka 6-2, 6-2 or 6-1, 6-1, they're really all the same - just like 7-5, 7-5 is potentially no different than 6-3, 6-3), there's still plenty of game in any given opponent. 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 to someone who sucks? You should be making appointments to play this guy, because you merely survived him, and there's a big difference between escape and a no hope routine beat down.

    Right now, you and the ****** are like a coin flip. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.
     
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  45. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    Because I tried that tactic with him on 2 consecutive points in a game and he almost killed himself trying to get to them and had to take an extensive break aftewards before my next serve. There would have been no second or third set if I continued to do that. I felt bad for him after that and didn't use that tactic again, when looking back he really deserved it. Answer your question? Lesson learned: don't be nice in club play.




    Even though at face value you probably think your one on one analogy is better, it isn't because inherent physical traits are far more important in a basketball game than in tennis. I used basketball as an example of a recreational game that would be made intensely boring by using the most succesful tactic to win.

    And, I used to play one on one with a guy who is 5'6". We had competitive games as long as I didn't just back him down and shot baby hooks and bank shots. I won about 60% of our games. I probably would have won 85% if I backed down on every shot. Guess what? That would have been boring for me and frustrating for him, and we probably wouldn't have played as often because of it.

    The only reason I had fun was because I used his moonballs to practice hitting service line to baseline high bouncing balls for winners. If I had just used the drop shot tactic that would have led to a 6-2 6-1 match, I don't think i would have gotten that much out of the match. Luckily I didn't have to pay a dime to play. If this was in a league that I was paying for, I'd probably have had some words for him at the end regardless of what I had to do to win.

    Anyway, this thread has turned into silliness. I agree with the idea that percentage tennis is more important than winners or precision at most peoples level, and still remains important at higher levels. If you want to win in a league under 4.0, just hit the ball over the net and deep with a shot that has the most margin for error and you have the best chance of winning. Against fat guys, hit drop shots.
     
    #45
  46. Golden Retriever

    Golden Retriever Hall of Fame

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    Well, look at it that way, your overhead and high forehand must have improved by 200 percent at the least. Maybe you should thank him. I would pay good money for practices like that.
     
    #46
  47. Golden Retriever

    Golden Retriever Hall of Fame

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    You make it sound like it is unsportsmanlike to dropshot fat guys. How about tall guys? Is it unsportsmanlike to give them low slices? How about short guys? Is it unsportsmanlike to hit them kickers that kick over their shoulders? Maybe the fat guy wants some exercise and actually likes being dropshot.
     
    #47
  48. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    I think, in the spirit of amateur competition, to dropshot a fat guy on every point is unsportsmanlike, yes. It proves something you already know...he's fat. Big deal.
     
    #48
  49. OrangeOne

    OrangeOne Legend

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    Ahh, the famous pusher line. Interesting that I suggested you smash TS lobs away for winners....

    You drew your experience out from the specific to the general, we're out here commenting on that, and now you're trying to draw it from the general back to the specific?

    You couldn't use the match to teach yourself to be able to smash back the lobs? to hit the lobs back with pace and depth to the corners, forcing a short ball as you job in and put-away the volley? If you're so far in front of the guy you're able to revert to a winning strategy, why not work on other strategies too?
     
    #49
  50. OrangeOne

    OrangeOne Legend

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    Again, you act as if there is only one strategy, to be employed every point.

    Why not work on many strategies? Sure, if you *need* to win, the you could employ your *best* strategy on key points, but work on other strategies at other times?
     
    #50

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