Transition from 3.5 to 4.0 doubles

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by raiden031, Dec 9, 2008.

  1. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    I am going to face solid 4.0 players this year in usta doubles competition which is a new experience for me. What should I expect to be the biggest differences between playing against top 3.5 players to playing top 4.0 players?

    I have a decent all-court game with emphasis on my big serve and powerful forehand groundies. My return of serve (mainly backhand side) is probably the biggest weakness of my game. Volleys and overheads are reliable but not huge strengths. I can play well from any position (ie. close to net, at service line, at baseline, way behind baseline, etc.). I rarely lob unless I'm completely on the defensive and have little choice, and usually choose to just pound it between the opponents when they are both covering the net well.

    How do you think I should approach matches differently against 4.0s?
     
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  2. lwto

    lwto Professional

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    My friend.. pounding the ball between a 3.5 player is one thing.. pounding the ball against better comp is another. Better comp.. 4.0 + will not only be able to pound ball for ball with you, but they generally pound it back hard.

    Better pick up your volley game.. and the best shot I have found to pick up in doubles and has worked wonderfully in singles is the .. topspin lob..

    good luck!
     
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  3. SlapShot

    SlapShot Hall of Fame

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    Your returns (if they are truly your weak point) are going to need major work at 4.0 dubs. If you hang a return at 3.5, it may or may not get jammed down your throat, but most likely, any legit 4.0 netman is going to be able to end the point in a hurry.

    Also work on your second serve. Work on making it so that your second serve can double as a first serve - a weak second serve at 4.0 makes it tremendously hard to hold unless your first serve percentage is in the 80% range.

    If you haven't had much doubles experience period (I know that you're primarily a singles player), there will be a steep learning curve for doubles. You can't get away with as much in doubles, and you'll definitely need to learn to place your shots as well as put pace on them.
     
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  4. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    As a S&V singles player I also play a lot of dubs. I sure hope you know how to hit a good kick/twist serve and a slice serve, b/c those flat bombs dont work so good in dubs. You need, NEED a high first serve percentage as well a serve that allows to close in on the net. I hit kick serves 99.9% of the time in dubs, and its really effective. Because your serving more outwide, you will have access to some nice angles out wide. Take advantage of this and try and hit the corners with good spin. Ive played people that have 90-100mph serves and they get frustrated when they see the ball blocked back at them and theyre in the middle of no mans land. Dont make that mistake. Also, power is really nothing in dubs. All about placement and consistency in my opinion

    Thats my 2 cents right there
     
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  5. ohplease

    ohplease Professional

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    It will really depend on what you do and don't do well. Some player's talents are just more naturally suited to singles or doubles, and scale accordingly.

    While I can more than hold my own at singles at my current computer level, that's not quite true at the levels above. In doubles, I can comfortably play even 2 levels up - though admittedly, my win percentage drops significantly. All that said, the biggest thing I've personally noticed in going up the ladder in doubles is how much more lethal you need to be on both serve and return. You simply have less time and fewer shots to set up your team for a winning volley or overhead before the other guys do. Groundies are nice, but they simply don't happen often enough to be the foundation of a winning strategy.

    If there's really that big a disparity between your forehand and backhand returns, you can expect nothing but service winners to your backhand and tattooed partners off of weak backhand returns until you shore that up.
     
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  6. SlapShot

    SlapShot Hall of Fame

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    Agreed. I find myself using my kick serve at least 75% of the time in doubles - I can heat them up when I need to, but that robs me of time to close the net and quite a few 4.0 and up players are able to use my serve power as their means to generate power.
     
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  7. talock

    talock Rookie

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    return of serve (both sides), 2nd serve, volleys, topspin lobs, good positioning -- all are invaluable for higher level doubles.

    if you can do these you could probably get by with mediocre groundstrokes. seriously, though, you rarely get a chance at clean groundstrokes in good doubles competition...and when you do, it likely has to be more of a controlled, placed shot, rather than the baseline power shot. a good dipper can useful.

    i'd learn a topspin lob right away. it's a fairly easy shot to learn if you are good at generating spin and have good control. it's SOOO effective in doubles and useful for singles too.
     
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  8. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    This is really the main thing I worry about in the jump in skill level.

    I play alot of doubles, its just I'm not as solid as I am in singles because my groundstrokes are what give me the edge in singles, and they aren't as much of a factor in doubles. I can break serves in singles because I don't have a problem getting my returns in play. A match I might win in singles 6-1, 6-0, I will probably win 6-3, 6-4 in doubles (if you could somehow clone my singles opponent) because I will have trouble breaking them.

    I usually go for a hard flat first serve and kick/twist second serve. If my first serves go in I will hold easily. Some opponents are bothered by my second serve because of the spin, but others not so much. Nobody, even the highest 3.5s can attack my 2nd serve though. I would say I'm a little ahead of the game as far as serving. I might work on hitting more spin serves as first serves, but mainly I've been avoiding that to work on my flat serve percentage because some days its not so consistent.
     
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  9. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    So far all of the commentary has been on stroke prowess. I would disagree. Your strokes are your strokes, they will improve by and by (noone is interested in having their strokes not be as good as they can make them). The thing you can change right now is to use standard doubles strategy. This is not to say that there aren't poor doubles teams at every level including 4.0, there are. Heck even at 5.5 doubles there will be teams made up of two singles players who don't really care for doubles.

    Your chance of running into a partner who is interested in using doubles strategy (or at least be aware that there is such a thing) will be higher at 4.0than 3.5, but it still won't be 100%. Be part of the fraction of folks who are interested.
     
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  10. talock

    talock Rookie

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    this is SOOO true. good post. a doubles team with solid strategy will beat a doubles team with two comparitively better singles players playing doubles. it really is a different game than singles, and should be treated as such.
     
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  11. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    Well I use doubles strategy to the best of my knowledge. I think that other than execution issues, the only obvious shortcoming in my strategy is that I rarely use lobs, and I don't use signals when my side is serving.
     
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  12. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    OK, just checking, many (most) don't. Carry on.
     
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  13. Tennisman912

    Tennisman912 Semi-Pro

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    Raiden031

    Respectfully,

    I agree that hitting hard, flat first serves consistently is a mistake, unless as suggested you can get in over 80% first serves hitting them flat (which is unlikely IMHO). Also, if your second serve kick/twist don’t bother all returners at 3.5, 4.0s will consistently return it well (you said some are bothered by it and then others are not and then said most 3.5s cannot attack your second serve so not sure exactly what you mean here). I recommend you shoot for solid kick/twist serves on the first serve and keep your first serve percentage over 80%. Get it to your opponent’s weaker stroke (you can control the location of BOTH your first and second serves, right?), usually the backhand, and make them beat you with their weaker stroke. Also swing that serve into the body and save the harder flatter serves to keep them off balance.

    Being consistent is much more important in 4.0 than 3.5. You must keep in it play consistently. Your weak BH return is going to be a problem as once they see it is weak, you will get most serves to that location so you must work on that ASAP. Not all 4.0s will notice this and consciously get the serve to your weaker stroke, but the good ones will. Learn a consistent lob and be able to dip the ball to your opponent’s feet at will.

    Good luck. It will be a big adjustment.

    TM
     
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  14. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    Your making a mistake with your flat serve. Dont do it. What exactly is wrong with your kick serve? Do you just like serving with power vs spin or what, because im telling you this will not work. Hit a flat serve every here and there, but if you can kick the serve out wide to the bh then thats much better than a flat serve that gives you no time to apprach the net. If you want to hit flat serves then I sure hope you can run like a 8 second 100m dash, because you need close in on the net FAST. My serve isn't that fast at all, mabye 60-65 mph AT BEST but it is still the best part of my game. Why? It kicks 6 feet and has a good amount of sidespin, goes in 90% of the time, and my opponents cant block it back because it isnt that fast. Doubles isnt about power.

    Are you lacking anything in regards to your kick serve or do just like to hit bombs? If you need some help with the kick serve then this is the right place to ask
     
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  15. SlapShot

    SlapShot Hall of Fame

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    Do yourself a favor and relegate the hard flat serve to the "to be used very sparingly" department. Work on your kicker - at 4.0, a flat serve with no action won't challenge many players, even if you're cracking the 90 mph threshold more often than not. Learn to place your kicker, and learn a slice (if you haven't already) from both sides.
     
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  16. talock

    talock Rookie

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    I just don't buy this logic, sorry. you just posted a few days ago that you (a self proclaimed 3.5) had your consistent kick serve/net-rush torn apart by a 4.0/4.5 level player (i realize this was singles, but still). serving at a high level is about variety in consistency, not just consistency. the reason kick serve work well against low level players is that many can't handle the spin AT ALL. By 4.0 you will be up against players who will notice immediately you are hitting the same serve every time, adjust accordingly, and begin to crush low paced balls no matter how high or wide they kick. picking up the pace of the kick serve will help, but mixing it up with different spins, flat serve here and there, and placement both inside and out is key. at 4.0 you will not beat players with the same slow kick every time. A 4.0 should not have a problem returning a slow paced serve.

    think of it from the returners point of view. in what instance are you least likely to make your best return? for me, a 4.0, it is when i'm presented with a serve i did not expect. are kick serves harder to return than flat? sure, but if you keep serving me kick serves every time i will adjust to that. i struggle much more when people mix it up.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2008
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  17. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    I did get killed by the 4.5, but like you said, I'm just a 3.5 (upperend 3.5, but still a 3.5). I'm not saying do a kick serve all the time (thats what I do, doesnt mean its right). Also, judging my play from a match where I was playing someone a whole level better than me isnt the best way to judge me. This guy was flat out better than me in every way. Anyway, Im saying hit spin serves in general. Hit slices and kicks and vary the placement. Flat serves dont do squat in dubs, they dont go in enough. In singles flat serves are fine, but when you need to get the net fast it wont work. Once again, I dont mean to say hit all kick serves, but hit spin serves in general. You dont really want a really fast serve in dubs or S&V singles play. My kick is a little on the slower side, but I'm able to get to the net in time and make my first volley from a good position. This is more important than getting an ace here and there with a flat
     
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  18. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    I will tell you from watching playoffs of 3.5 doubles versus 4.0 doubles, that the 4.0s move better at the net and use more team work such as called poaches. Also, you see a lot longer volley points, where the net men with quick hands at 4.0 were able to return shots that were winners against 3.5's. Also, the 4.0 were less one back/one up. The 3.5's tended to stay back after the return of serve. So, in summary, expect more net play, and expect the net man to return even tough volleys.

    As an aside, the 4.5 playoff teams actually hit the ball softer than the 4.0 teams, but were extremely accurate in angle and depth, such as numerous touch lobs just over the reach of the opponents.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2008
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  19. talock

    talock Rookie

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    i understand what you are getting at, and I agree in general, i just truly feel it is more complex then you are making it. the OP IS asking about playing a level up from what he is used to, which IS similar to what you posted in the other thread in some ways, as the players WILL be better than what he is used to. he is asking what adjustments need to be made, and adjusting to a higher standard of opponent IS one of the adjustments.

    Secondly, i disagree that pace on serve is unimportant in S&V and doubles. placement is most important, but if an attackable return can be created by overwhelming pace and placement, that works too. obviously, we can all agree (i think?!?) that spin variety, pace, and placement variety together in one package is the best scenario...i.e. if you have spin and placement variety and can add a little pace without sacrificing the other two, it is benefitial.
     
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  20. TonyB

    TonyB Hall of Fame

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    A couple of things:

    1. 4.0+ rated players do not make nearly as many unforced errors as 3.5s will make. You will not get as many free points. Probably count on HALF of the number that you see at the 3.5 level.

    2. If you play "conservatively" like you would if you were playing 3.5s, you will get crushed. Play your game. Don't be afraid to take chances.

    3. Your weak service return will very likely prevent you from breaking any decent 4.0+ server. Even if your team only has one weak returner, that's usually enough to virtually guarantee your opponents their service games.

    4. The 4.0+ level players will immediately spot your weaknesses and exploit them. They will lob you to death, as you admit that your overheads aren't the best. Also, they will charge the net, because as you've already admitted, your lobs aren't the best. The difference between 3.5 level and 4.0 level volleys is considerable.

    Just telling it like it is. Sure, there's always the chance you can catch a low-to-mid 4.0 level team on an off day and end up with a win, but don't count on it. Count on losing unless you play at your fullest potential, which means be aggressive but play percentage tennis. Don't go for incredible winners... just choose the best shot and execute it as best you can. Don't be afraid of hitting your shots.
     
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  21. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    Yeah I agree. Really hes just going to have to play and see what a 4.0 is really like. And yeah pace is important, but just like you said placement is more important. Raiden, your just going to have to play and see what you think. When I played my friend (legit 4.5) I never thought a 4.5 would be even close to that good. Honestly, they're just going to be better and you might end up being flat out outplayed by them. By the way, if they turn out really good, dont be surprised to see your whole game fall apart. My whole fell apart the 4.5 I played because well, all my strengths to him were nothing and he crushed me. Your serve might be good, but against 3.5s. Dont be surprised to see them return your serves that are normally aces. I thought no way the 4.5 would pass me that easy because Im always in good position and Im fast (im as fast if not faster than most college tennis players and more fit, no exaggeration at all). What happened was he took my kick serve and RIPPED it dtl each time. Not fun. Anyway, I think we can all agree that increasing the number of spin serves will help overall. Hit your flat here and there, but in general a slice serve in dubs will be a little more effective simply b/c you can close in on the net. Mix it up, but do use your spins. Just try and find a balance with spin,pace,placement ect
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2008
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  22. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    What I mean is that on people who my second serve doesn't bother, they can return it dependably but not offensively. So my second serve is never a liability against even the top 3.5s.

    To the rest, I go for mostly flat first serves because that is where I get the weakest responses. I agree that on some days this can hurt me if my serve isn't on. And against 4.0s I can't afford to make too many mistakes while serving.

    As far as hitting my kick serve as a first serve, I think I will need to improve the serve because mine is not a huge attacking serve, but is mainly dependable and can still generate weak or neutral responses. I'm guessing my serve as it is will work in 8.0 mixed, but probably won't cut it in 4.0 mens.

    Should the change to my flat serve being used sparingly apply only to doubles or to both singles and doubles?
     
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  23. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    No dude, if you got a good flat serve then thats awesome and thats an asset...but not really as much in dubs as in singles. Keep your flat serve and use it 100% for singles if you want, thats fine b/c you dont need to charge the net. You can try usuing a flat for dubs, but I hope your volleys from no mans land are good. Something that might help your kick serve is practice falling into the court just like as if you were going to S&V every time. Edberg does this, kinda just fall into the court. What this does is get some more body weight behind the serve which will increase the pace a bit. This came naturally b/c I S&V, but this really helped me get a little more pace. This is just a suggestion, it may not work for you but next time give it a try and see.
     
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  24. SlapShot

    SlapShot Hall of Fame

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    Your second seve may not be a liability against 3.5 level players, but you'll want to ensure that it doesn't cost you service games at the 4.0 level, so really work on being able to move the ball around even on your second. You said that you really can't afford to make many mistakes while serving, hence the reason to really develop a semi-offensive second serve.

    Personally, I am much more willing to hit a big first serve playing singles - my kick serve tends to force players to pop up returns, and in doubles, that makes for a lot of quick points.
     
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  25. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    lol the kick serve to me is like a godly gift from above:) It works wonder in dubs and for S&Vers. I love the serve, as well as the reaction of the opponent trying to return a 6ft kicker bouncing away from their backhand
     
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  26. Tennisman912

    Tennisman912 Semi-Pro

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    Raiden031,

    Yes, not using your flat serve is more important in doubles than singles. In singles you can go for more on the serve and hit flat serves more often. Now I am not saying don’t every hit a flat serve, but only to mix things up. I generally use the slice or kick serve 80-90% of the time in doubles. And don’t think this limits your options not using your flat serve. I can hit it with full kick or full slice and pretty much any combination in between depending on the situation. As you move up variety becomes much more important. Even at the upper levels, a good kick or slice is a good thing. At 5.0 for example, you still are going to be getting a lot more serves to the backhand with various spins (or their weaker stroke). Why? Because everyone at this level will crack a forehand they get a good look at, and sometimes when they don’t. Remember, when in doubt, make your opponent beat you with their WEAKER stroke, whatever that may be.

    Assuming you are a righty, really work on a good slice serve on the deuce side up the middle. This will be coming into a righty and will give fits to most at 4.0 and below if you get some action on it. On the add side, try a kicker out wide, that will kick away from the backhand of the righty. You really need to learn to be able to play both serves to a spot to make life easier for yourself. For now think of this as getting it to their forehand, into their body or to their backhand, on BOTH first and second serves.

    Especially in the beginning, expect every ball to come back, always. Those good shots you hit at 3.5 won’t phase a good 4.0. It will take some adjustment and practice to be consistent at the higher level. Even if you get abused in the beginning, PAY attention. You will learn a lot.

    Congrats on the double bump. I think I remember seeing you got a double bump from 3.0 from your national team. It is a process, everyone at the higher levels has gone through it. Don’t let not having instant success deter you. The journey never ends.

    Good luck and let us know how the first few matches go.

    TM
     
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  27. MNPlayer

    MNPlayer Semi-Pro

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    Raiden031,
    I am in a similar situation to you. I just got bumped from 3.5 to 4.0 for the 2nd time and decided not to appeal this time. Luckily I had already found a 4.0 team that would take me and have had a few matches at that level, all in doubles.

    I am presently in a situation where I crush most 3.5 players in singles and doubles, but struggle at 4.0. I've have a lost a couple of 3rd set tiebreakers recently at 4.0 doubles and have yet to win a match against true 4.0 players.

    The difference is definately significant. I did not realize how many weak 2nd serves and other shots I was getting away with at 3.5 that 4.0 players make me pay for. They also have been more smart about targeting my relatively weak backhand. Also more consistent, etc, as other people have said. And they play with much more teamwork that the average 3.5 team - they come to net, move around a lot (which will distract you if you are not used to it), etc. You should work on using signals if you haven't already. I am a decent net player and have had good success protecting my partners serve by signaling and poaching & faking a lot (like 40-50% poaches as long as it is working).

    One interesting things about the flat serve - I also have a big flat 1st serve and when it is working well, it is generally good enough to hold at 4.0. So it is possible to win at 4.0 with a well placed flat serve. The problem is when it goes away for a bit, which is inevitable with such a high risk serve. So I agree with all the people who have suggested developing a good 2nd serve. I'm thinking very good placement with halfway decent pace is the key. That's what I am trying to learn. :)

    Good luck, congratulations, and remember to always have fun!
     
    #27
  28. SlapShot

    SlapShot Hall of Fame

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    Are you from MN, specifically the Minneapolis area? If so, we may have played each other - I played 3.5 for 2 years, and I'm in my second season at 4.0 right now.
     
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  29. MNPlayer

    MNPlayer Semi-Pro

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    Yes, in fact I think I ran into you at the TonLar's drill in Spring Lake Park a while back. I've been lurking on this forum for a while so I think I know who you are (PJ?). You were going to email me but never did :cry:

    Not sure if we ever played in league. There are so many 3.5 flights, and I've never been on a team that made it to playoffs.
     
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  30. SlapShot

    SlapShot Hall of Fame

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    I remember you! I actually had your e-mail address in my wallet, and then my wallet went through the wash. You can drop me a line through here - I'd definitely head out and hit sometime soon.
     
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  31. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    I'd say I can crush most 3.5 players in singles, and can crush the weaker ones in doubles. I am competitive in doubles with the more solid 3.5 players. Occasionally I've played doubles with a 4.0 in the group (but the rest of us were 3.5ish), so I have been against some 4.0 level play, but not enough to really gauge the level. My question is whether its possible to be competitive with top 3.5s in doubles and also be competitive with 4.0s, or do I have to dominate 3.5s in doubles in order to be competitive with 4.0s? Will playing higher level tennis elevate my skill? (ie. when the tide rises so do all the ships in the water)

    There was one time at a social where I played doubles with three 4.0s (one of which was on the verge of 4.5). I felt like I could hang with them and the match was competitive. The speed of the game was faster and they hit the ball harder than I was used to, but they also seemed to overhit alot. So I can't even make the claim that they were more consistent than my 3.5 buddies...but that they could hit the ball harder and still control it. I've also watched some 4.0s play who don't really hit the ball hard but are crafty, so I don't know if they would pose trouble for me in doubles play. I seem to have the most trouble in doubles against good servers, but usually have no problem against crafty players (in doubles) as I would in singles.

    I guess we'll see what happens. I am playing 8.0 mixed and hopefully will do well enough to get attention from 4.0 captains.
     
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  32. MNPlayer

    MNPlayer Semi-Pro

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    To answer your question: I think to be competitive at 4.0, you need to be dominating most of your 3.5 opponents. There will always be a few guys around who are on the 3.5-4.0 bubble (like you) and those matches will be competitive. It is a continuum, after all.

    And playing better opponents (within reason) will make you better, of course. When you can't get away with sloppy play, you'll learn to do it less often.
     
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  33. MNPlayer

    MNPlayer Semi-Pro

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    I can't see a way to email you through here - maybe I don't have the privileges yet because I just created this account. Can you email me at jjanssens@visi.com?

    Thanks, and sorry for hijacking your thread, Raiden
     
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  34. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Sounds like you have a flat first serve that gives 3.5s fits. If so I would keep it (that is, not work on increasing the pace of that shot right now). I would use it as a first serve a fair amount of the time. However as many have pointed out, it is all going to depend on your second serve in relation to your volley skills (if you S&V on the second serve). If you do, then you are going to want a second serve that goes in about 100% of the time and usually gets the type of return that you can handle. If your serve is better, you can get away with weaker volley skills and vice versa. But the key is it has to be consistant. In this situation, go ahead and hit that flat first serve, get some free points. Many say that good first serves are less important in doubles than singles. That is an oversimplification. A dominating first serve that is also consistant, makes you (or your opponent) practically unbreakable in doubles. Maybe a better comment would be that aces are less important in doubles than singles.
     
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  35. smoothtennis

    smoothtennis Hall of Fame

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    Raiden -

    I play a lot of 4.0 dubs lately. Yeah, the jump in skill is significant. Everything is just much more solid, and definately more aggressive net play at 4.0 vs. 3.5.

    Regarding all the discussion on serves. In my last three or four dubs matches against some top level tournament 4.0's - the serve and return have determined the matches in all cases.

    I can boil it all down to this on the serve. Variation and placement. Don't let them groove on your serves. Hit kickers, slicers, twists, medium paced flat, hard flat, etc. I even successfully use a dead off pace no spin slow serve that almost always get's an error out of the returner (only after setting it up with harder spin serves - and it only works a couple of times per match). Like Ballinbob, I use mainly hard kickers - but I change the spin on those all the time. I'll hit a wide moving slice, then a twist and look for a shank or weak return. Keep 'em guessing.

    It is really a key thing I believe to get the returner in doubles to have to take a step to return the serve most of the time. This gives your net man a much better chance at an aggressive move on the return.

    The biggest mistake I see 3.5's make when they play up to 4.0 is getting too excited and trying to hit the ball hard or force the issue when they really have no business doing it. The ability to stay CALM (yet energetic), step forward to close off angles, and place your shots (not kill them) are all very key to beating a solid 4.0 team.
     
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  36. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    My next question is whether there is anyone here who was computer or benchmark rated at 3.5 (not self-rated!) that got bumped up to 4.0 and actually did well their first year at 4.0?

    The good news is that I've played with 3 guys who also got bumped to 4.0 and consider myself competitive with them.
     
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  37. SlapShot

    SlapShot Hall of Fame

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    I was a C rated 3.5 this spring when I played 4.0 - I won about half of my doubles matches, and only lost in straights once. This is my second season, and so far, I'm 3-1 at doubles, and 0-1 at singles.
     
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  38. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    Did you just get that much better from when your 3.5 rating was granted or was it just not that much harder to play against 4.0s?
     
    #38
  39. SlapShot

    SlapShot Hall of Fame

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    I've been getting better at a very fast rate since I came back to tennis - I took 5 years off during college, but played at a pretty high level in HS, so I'm still re-learning my game from then (but playing much smarter with the 8 years of maturity gained in that time).
     
    #39
  40. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    It really depends on the doubles teams that are rated 4.0 in your area, but here are some general things:

    1. Improved team play and communication

    2. Improved play calling and some teams may use formations.

    3. Improved consistency

    4. Better control with their serves, tougher serves, etc...

    5. Improved movement

    6. More aggressive play

    7. Improved understanding of good doubles positioning

    8. Faster play.

    Of course, all of this is debatable depending on the team, the quality of the tournament, etc...
     
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  41. oldhacker

    oldhacker Semi-Pro

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    OP - Just in case you are feeling daunted by the stories of massive serves, punishing returns, put-away volleys all executed consistantly well at 4.0 level here is a video of real 4.0 League doubles players at work.

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Jt4S-VS7wZ4&feature=channel

    It really does not look too scary to me. The serves are nothing special, the returns look pretty average, there are plenty of UE's from the baseline and net, the teamwork and movement looks somewhat modest and there is a notable lack of S&V and transitioning to the net by the baseline players.

    If you have been doing well at the level below this and are moving up I am sure you will be fine and you will quickly note and adapt to the differences. From watching the video I would say that if you work an placing your serve with moderate pace, volleying, overheads and getting into the net behind at least your first serve and after weaker serves when returning you should do fine at that level.
     
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  42. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    Often, a 4.0 player is a 3.5 player who is better shape and can, therefore, move better.
     
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  43. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    I agree. These guys don't look like the 4.0s I am used to seeing. But even given their skill level, they don't look all that interested in the match they are playing. Anyone will look less skilled than they really are when they aren't trying their best. Standing straight up as the netman, lackluster footwork etc. Poor example for the OP IMO.
     
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  44. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    Right. I feel like some responses to this question make it sound like its much worse than it will actually be. I think that alot of 4.0s I've watched (and even some 4.5s) don't look very good when watching from the side, and often times I am surprised that I wouldn't beat them (because they were 1-2 levels higher than me) based on how their game looks. But I realize that being on the court verses watching from the side are two different things. I would bet I can out-power the older 4.0 players on serves and groundies, but they might have better placement and consistency than me I'm guessing.

    I just wished I had watched and/or played against a wider variety of 4.0s to really see what the norm is in league play at that level.
     
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  45. oldhacker

    oldhacker Semi-Pro

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    Hi LuckyR - I believe the subject of the league match videos posted by Maverick has been discussed to death elsewhere. IIRC from those discussions the players shown had winning (or at leasy 50:50) records in league matches at that level and the region was pretty representative so the facts stand to support the case that this is what you may expect to find at 4.0 level. Further I have not seen any other videos of 4.0 matches posted on here or YouTube which would persuade me otherwise. As the saying goes the camera does not lie. There is 4.0 singles coverage of the same match which has been derided by many as not being representative yet the reality is that the player shown has an outstanding record at that level.

    As an outsider (not in the US) reading and contributing to the TW forums and keen player of competitive league tennis in the UK I often have a wry smile at some of the over-blown comments posted about the standard of 4.0 league tennis. At the end of the day, irrespective of which country you play in, if you are hammering down well placed 100mph plus serves consistantly, consistantly punishing weaker serves, ruthlessly and consistantly exploiting opponents weaknesses and killing all half makeable volleys then you are at the upper end of the scale of club players which is not a 4.0.

     
    #45
  46. smoothtennis

    smoothtennis Hall of Fame

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    Raiden - let me just also mention btw....

    Aside from winning or losing, just playing 4.0 doubles with good teams is waaaaay funner than 3.5 doubles. The points can be really great to play when guys are keeping it in play more.

    You are going to have a lot of fun at 4.0!
     
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  47. oldhacker

    oldhacker Semi-Pro

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    raiden - as someone with a fair amount of experience of playing at about the UK equivalent of 4.0 level league doubles my advice is not to judge the standard or players by looking at individual elements such as serves or groundstrokes. I have seen so many talented younger players coming onto the doubles teams I run who have been convinced of an easy victory based on seeing their opponents groundstrokes and serves in the warm-up. Only to be off court 40 minutes layer following a 1 and 1 loss. You will get lots of wily and very experienced old hacks at that level. They may not have the prettiest strokes but they can place them well, know the angles and positioning and are completely comfortable with getting into the net and volleying to win points. So if you have a big serve and groundies you will need to learn to use them (probably by taking something off the power and concentrating on placement) and working big time on your volleying (both at the net and on the approach), overhead, positioning, where and when to move and teamwork.

     
    #47
  48. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Whoa there. I was only tangentially commenting on skill level. I agree 100% that 4.0 is a wide, wide grouping with every variety of skill level within it. I can completely believe that this was a 4.0 league match.

    No, my comment was that: "they don't look all that interested in the match they are playing", not that they weren't truly 4.0, or somehow lacked the skill to be 4.0 etc. Same guys playing a match they really cared about would look very different onscreen is my point.
     
    #48

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