Underhand serving: poor sportsmanship?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by lendl1986, Apr 24, 2012.

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Underhand serving (entire tournament). Poor sportsmanship?

  1. Yes

    23 vote(s)
    13.9%
  2. No

    142 vote(s)
    86.1%
  1. lendl1986

    lendl1986 Rookie

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    Shoulder tendonitis prevents me from serving for an entire tournament.

    I'm considering underhanding. Would inform my opponent during warmup. No "sneak" underhands like Chang. Might try some side spins and backhands.

    It's going to be embarassing, but it's my only option for this 4.0 mens tourney.

    Is this poor sportsmanship?
     
    #1
  2. maggmaster

    maggmaster Hall of Fame

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    No way man. I got beat in a 4.0 tourney by a former racket ball national champ. He served underhand, sidehand and every other way but normal. After beating me he apologized for his unorthodox game. I told him the truth, his unorthodox game was better than my game on that day. I have beat him since but there was nothing unsportsmanlike about how he played, just different.
     
    #2
  3. Scar1358

    Scar1358 New User

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    well in my opinion if it is like a serve that you would actually use as your first option then go ahead it isnt bad sportmanship. (tell them first so they dont get offended). But if your going to do it because the other guy is bad and you are trying to show off with not even trying to serve then yes that is very bad sportsmanship. I've seen some games where a guy just starts to serve underhand because he is teasing the other guy. (im in highschool)
     
    #3
  4. floridatennisdude

    floridatennisdude Hall of Fame

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    I tore my labrum and rotator cuff in a tourney. I was playing singles and mixed. By day 3, I had regressed to under handing it. In my semi final singles match, it cost me the second set and tiebreak...the guy got used to it. In mixed, it didn't seem to affect our results.

    It's just really hard to be unpredictable when you only have an underhanded. It takes significant practice to become good at that serve.

    As for sportsmanship, there is no issue with it. Even if you just pull this serve out once per match. It's legal and fair. If the opponent complains, it's probably because it's working.
     
    #4
  5. BobFL

    BobFL Hall of Fame

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    If you have no other choice but to serve uh then just don't play. Recover first and take care of your injury...
     
    #5
  6. tennismonkey

    tennismonkey Semi-Pro

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    it's part of the game. but i like the idea of telling your opponent why you're doing it and that you're not trying to show them up or be an azz.
     
    #6
  7. precision2b

    precision2b Semi-Pro

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    It’s a legal shot and like tennismonkey said I like that you are going to tell your opponent first…
     
    #7
  8. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    I disagree, I would not tell them ahead of time. Could you imagine any other sport/situation where you would have that kind of conversation? Of course, you probably are going to practice that shot during the warm up.
     
    #8
  9. Orange

    Orange Rookie

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    No, a legal underhand serve is not poor sportsmanship unless it is done deceptively (i.e., after having served the rest of the match in a typical way, a server tries a quick underhand serve for the purpose of tricking his opponent).

    While it would be atypical to inform your opponent and would not normally occur in another sport, it would be the gentlemanly thing to do in this sport. It is a particularly classy move to inform him of your injury, because this information also tells him that you probably can't hit overheads, either.

    I disagree strongly with the poster who said that you shouldn't play tennis until you can serve overhand. What, you should just let your muscles turn to jelly as you are recovering? Perhaps I am particularly sympathetic because I'm frustrated by being sidelined with an injury for just a few days!

    I know a high school player in this situation. He is otherwise the school's best player, so if he doesn't play every other player must play up a spot.

    I say, play, have fun, and good luck!
     
    #9
  10. josofo

    josofo Semi-Pro

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    i have a practice partner that serves exclusively underhand. he says he has been doing it for 12+ years and when he did tournament he would tell people he serves underhand before hand because a lot of people would get mad.


    but yeah he is pushing 4.5 while serving underhand. he leads me id say about 40 sets to 3.


    he holds his serve the majority of the time obviously. i think a lot of 4.5 would beat him because they would be able to consistently punish him on the return of serve. i am not quite good enough to consistently hit winners off his serve in fact i hold my serve vs a lot more than i break his serve.
     
    #10
  11. tennisjon

    tennisjon Semi-Pro

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    I coach college tennis and our first singles serve underhand about 90% of the time. It started out her freshman year because she had a torn muscle and couldn't life her arm over her head. After just 10 minutes she developed a good sidespin and lob serve. These two serves worked great until she played a really good player and she, on-the-spot came up with a flat forehand serve with a lot of power. Two years later, even though that muscle is healed, she has had other injuries, but she found that most people got so frustrated playing against her style that they mentally crumbled. Over the past two years other players on the team have served underhand due to injuries or to prevent double faulting.

    It is legal. It is different. It works.

    The only time I would say its poor sportsmanship is if you are healthy and you are playing against a significantly weaker opponent.

    On our men's team, we have played against NYU and Amherst, both ranked teams (as were we) and they had players who served exclusively underhand due to injury. They won in both cases. We are so used to returning overhand serves that underhand serves play tricks on the brain.

    Personally, I don't understand why more people don't use it, especially at lower levels where people's overhand serves aren't a weapon.
     
    #11
  12. alidisperanza

    alidisperanza Hall of Fame

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    While I agree that it's noble of you to inform your opponent, how is serving underhand any more "deceptive" than hitting a particularly wicked slice after driving the ball flat all match? Provided you are not doing anything in your motion to distract your opponent, I see this as a perfectly valid method of serving. Similarly to some of the above posts, I had to serve underhanded for a period in High School becuase I dislocated my left shoulder and couldn't extend it up to toss the ball. In turn, I developed a one hand backhand, and a particularly wicked "Chang" serve.

    I propose to you this; is hitting the "American" or "Jamaican" twist serve any different? A righty serve with lefty spin on it.
     
    #12
  13. Delano

    Delano Rookie

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    I saw an underhand serve used routinely at a DI match. Watching the match, I got the impression that the UH serving player had trouble with second serve consistency, and had been advised by her coach to just go ahead and serve underhand rather than double faulting.

    It worked alright. Not as good as a consistent second serve kicker, but her opponent was a heavy-topspin player (probably from growing up on the european clay courts) and had trouble getting under the backspin underhand serve. It also put the returner in the middle of the court where she had to either retreat awkwardly to the baseline or hit a good approach and take the net, where she clearly wasn't comfortable.

    All in all, it wasn't ideal, but it wasn't a disaster either. I'd be willing to try it, because I have a generally ok serve that occasionally just goes off the rails. Serving underhand would not only help me avoid those double faults - it would probably reduce the fear of the double fault (which might actually end up reducing the odds that I'd get the yips).

    Unfortunately, under handed serving is a little socially awkward... while I kind of agree that there's no obligation to broadcast the fact that you're serving underhanded, I personally would avoid an underhand "quickserve".


     
    #13
  14. Larrysümmers

    Larrysümmers Hall of Fame

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    yesterday i underhanded/sliced the serve on match point. wasnt an ace but it was an unreturnable serve.
     
    #14
  15. Orange

    Orange Rookie

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    Serving underhand is deceptive when, having missed one's normal first serve, one very quickly pulls a ball out of his pocket and serves it underhand for the first time in a match without going through the normal ball-bouncing and wind-up that accompanied all the previous serves and with the intention of tricking the opponent.

    Such a serve is legal but unsportsmanlike.
     
    #15
  16. leech

    leech Rookie

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    Agreed. Very different from what the OP described as having to serve underhanded due to a medical condition; no element of surprise there.
     
    #16
  17. tennisjon

    tennisjon Semi-Pro

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    Agreed. Of course then you don't return it and say you weren't ready. lol
     
    #17
  18. alidisperanza

    alidisperanza Hall of Fame

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    Hence I qualified my statement right after the quoted sentence. The above poster brings up a valid point: if you're not ready, you're not ready.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2012
    #18
  19. cknobman

    cknobman Legend

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    There is nothing wrong with it at all. If your opponent cant deal with it then it is their problem.

    While on topic I hit this exact shot in a doubles match during a team practice last week. We were getting our butts kicked and I figured what the heck. Surprisingly I actually hit a pretty darn good underhanded serve out of the blue and caught the opponent of guard. My serve was unreturned and everyone was pretty shocked to see me do it. Everyone on court had a pretty good laugh about it.
     
    #19
  20. Orange

    Orange Rookie

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    No, a player is not allowed to claim he was unready for the second serve after the fault on the first serve unless there was outside interference. Also, not being ready for the second serve after appearing to be ready is not excused by not liking the type of serve.

     
    #20
  21. Taxvictim

    Taxvictim Semi-Pro

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    If you're not doing it as a sneak serve, then there's no way it could be considered unsportsmanlike.

    A women's doubles group played next to us all winter, and one woman served underhand every time. It's not a big deal, so long as you aren't doing it in a way to catch the opponent off guard.
     
    #21
  22. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    I think its a bit underhanded.
     
    #22
  23. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I have had opponents serve me UH a few times.

    On some occasions, I have had the opponent declare that they will be serving UH. Sometimes this is done at the beginning of the match, sometimes after the injury flares up. I consider this to be polite, and it tends to enhance good will (as most courtesies do).

    I have also had people bust out the UH serve to try to trick me. Sometimes they just do it. Sometimes they make a big show of trying to disguise it, or take extra efforts to make sure I am ready so I cannot claim not to be ready. Sometimes it backfires and they miss (!). Honestly, those folks strike me as Lame In The Extreme.

    Go ahead and be Lame if you want. Totally your choice.

    Better, I think, is recognize that you will *at most* get one point in the match by surprising your opponent with an UH serve. If it were me, I would rather be considered courteous than try to get that one point.
     
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  24. josofo

    josofo Semi-Pro

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    i do come accross the people that do a quick underhand side spin drop serve and i agree that this play is a bit bush league. but the people usually have given up mentally when they try this serve so i just try to run them down and dont say anything.
     
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  25. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    But are you really being "tricked" by an UH serve if the player practiced it during the warmup, or were you being unprepared to take that serve into account when you knew it was coming sooner or later?
     
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  26. woodrow1029

    woodrow1029 Hall of Fame

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    I don't understand how anyone can ever consider an underhand serve unsportsmanlike, or bush league, or whatever, as long as they are not obviously quick serving when the receiver is not ready.

    Just remember, you can't hit an underhand serve on the bounce. Once the ball leaves your hand, you need to hit the serve before it hits the ground, even on an underhand serve.
     
    #26
  27. North

    North Professional

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    ^^This. As long as I'm not being quick-served there is nothing lame or unsportsmanlike about it, even if it is a sudden change in serve type. People do plenty of other obnoxious things lol so I wouldn't really worry about someone trying an underhand serve if they think that will help them.
     
    #27
  28. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I have never seen anyone hit an underhand serve in warm up.
     
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  29. alidisperanza

    alidisperanza Hall of Fame

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    Come to think of it, most underhand serves are returned for a winner/as a setup for a winner at 4.0+
     
    #29
  30. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

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    Disguising shots is never unsportsmanlike.

    If you're too slow of mind and foot and fooled by this you should find a slower paced sport. Shuffleboard anyone?

    I'm always amazed at the number of TT members who complain that opponents won't hit them shots which they can handle.

    When I find a shot an opponent hates and can't return or it frustrates them I use it more.

    Too many people here on TT want to issue pre-approved lists of shots to opponents or only want easy shots to their strike zone.

    Maybe it's the effect of modern education and the idea that everyone must be equal, everyone gets a trophy, and competition is bad?
     
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  31. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Correct.

    The problem is that the server should not try to hit any kind of serve when the receiver isn't ready, hoping to trick or surprise the receiver.

    As Orange explains, some UH servers deviate from their normal service routine and attempt to quick-serve. That's not cool, whether it is an UH serve or OH serve.

    Funny thing about disguise, though.

    In a match, I hit 90% of my serves as a slice. In warm-up, I hit no slice serves. I hit only topspin serves in warm-up.

    The main reason for this is that I like to build confidence in the warm-up in my topspin serve so I will have the courage to use it during the match. Also, I find it helps me concentrate on hitting up on the ball, which is useful for the slice serve also.

    The incidental benefit is that receivers assume that the serve they saw in warm-up is the serve they will see in the match. This makes it a tad more difficult to groove their return on the slice.

    So I guess some disguise/trickery is OK. Quick-serving is not.
     
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  32. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

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    Whether or not one serves overhand or underhand, serving when the receiver isn't ready is against the rules anyway. The technique is absolutely, completely irrelevant.

    If you serve OH and the receiver is NOT ready you're in the wrong. If you serve UH and the receiver IS ready you're in the right whether or not the receiver was foolish enough to expect only an OH serve.

    And one can serve "fast" whether OH or UH. Dogopolov has a VERY quick motion. By its very nature the UH serve has a very short motion since it doesn't require a full windup. Both a fast OH motion and a UH serve can be startling to a receiver. That's the receiver's issue to deal with, not the server's.

    It's amazing how many players think their opponent is there to be their coach.

    Quick serving when the opponent isn't ready isn't the topic. It's whether or not one can serve UH. Perfectly legal, end of thread.
     
    #32
  33. msweigert08

    msweigert08 Rookie

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    Hahaha what a jerk! That's hilarious
     
    #33
  34. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Neither have I but the OP stated that he was planning to hit it late in the match because he knew he was going to "need" due to injury. Naturally he is free to not practice a shot he knows he is going to use, but I wouldn't recommend it.

    Admittedly neither your nor my experience likely includes an extremely rare situation as proposed by the OP, so may be of limited importance.
     
    #34
  35. woodrow1029

    woodrow1029 Hall of Fame

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    People really over-analyze this type of stuff.
     
    #35
  36. kevten

    kevten New User

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    I played USTA (doubles) regionals in Janaury against a guy that served both overhand and underhand in the warm-up. He used it in his second service game. Both my partner and I missed our returns the first time he used it, but then we adjusted and began winning most of the UH serve points. I am sure that if we did not win the points he would have continued to use it. Since we knew it was coming sooner or later, we were not upset. The guy also had funky a forehand and backhand...
     
    #36
  37. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    Most it goes back to potty training issues when younger and sexual repression when older.
     
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  38. msweigert08

    msweigert08 Rookie

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    I guess I have never seen this happen but how do you guys not just tee off on this or at least flick it back on the baseline right at his feet? I mean, its just like you are sitting there warming up with him right?

    I am not trying to sound like a jerk or anything, I just want to know why am I hearing people complaining about this? I would love if I played against that every time. At least I can return that!
     
    #38
  39. woodrow1029

    woodrow1029 Hall of Fame

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    One of my friends hits underhand serves every now and then, and he is so consistent with it, and it has so much spin on it at such a good angle, it stays so low after hits the court, and it's hard to do much more than just slice it back.
     
    #39
  40. Taxvictim

    Taxvictim Semi-Pro

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    This is OT. Woodrow, I know your new avatar is the hockey logo for San Jose. Because your old avatar was a man in an umpire's chair, however, your new avatar always looks to me like a giant cricket sitting in an umpire's chair.
     
    #40
  41. Ojibway

    Ojibway New User

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    One of my opponents once served underhand, took me by surprise but I did not mind it. It is not poor sportsmanship. Everyone is trying to win and as long as you use your racquet, ball and court in doing so, I am fine.

    Though telling your opponent about your physical limitation could be create problem. They could use that to their advantage in the match.
    I am recovering from a calf strain. So the first time when I started feeling better, I got on the courts to play some doubles. I told everyone that I might not be running fast or making explosive moves....da...many drop shots, spin serves...lost badly, felt bad for my partner. Next time I did not say anything tada...did pretty well.

    So, I feel that you should not mention much about your physical limitation.
     
    #41
  42. woodrow1029

    woodrow1029 Hall of Fame

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    LOL. That's funny. BTW, the man in the umpire's chair in my old avatar was me. :)
     
    #42
  43. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    It's in the rules, just deal with it..

    Had a guy do it to me on match point in an open tournament a couple of weeks ago. I was caught out and lost the point.
    I admit I looked at him and said 'seriously?' but he looked me in the eye and said 'yes, I am very serious'

    I realised I was being silly, why shouldn't he try it? It even worked! I still won (I had 3 MP when he did it) but it was a good tactic.

    (Hi Henry!)
     
    #43
  44. maggmaster

    maggmaster Hall of Fame

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    Just from reading your posts I would have loved to have witnessed that exchange.
     
    #44
  45. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    lol, he's twenty years younger than me, I was all 'yer what?' for about 3 seconds when I suddenly pictured myself and how I must look to the crowd (it was on a show court) and just started to laugh..
     
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  46. Taxvictim

    Taxvictim Semi-Pro

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    That's what I figured. We really appreciate your input in these threads. It's good to have the opinion of a certified chair umpire. I took the written test to start USTA classes to become a USTA official, but then the prospect of spending whole days adjudicating local junior tournaments, what with parents *****ing at me that their kids were getting hooked or whatever, overcame that initial desire.
     
    #46
  47. texacali

    texacali Rookie

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    I used to play with a guy many years ago, I believe he was nationally and So CA ranked in the 60's division and he used the underhand serve almost exclusively. But he was so good at it, he had several spin varieties the best being one that would make the ball bounce parallel to the net away from you or back towards the net. Even if you knew it was coming, there wasn't a whole lot you can do with it (if you got to it). He was one of the few using the original Prince rackets and it was strung really loose, almost in the 40's I would guess. He looked like a hippie and young guys like me thought he was easy prey until that serve and other weird spin shots came over the net.
     
    #47
  48. tennisjon

    tennisjon Semi-Pro

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    I am a 4.5 player who coaches college tennis. I have anywhere from 1-4 players who serve underhand due to injuries or nerves. I never really used underhand serving myself until two weeks ago when an injury prevented me from serving overhand without pain. So, I said to myself, "if my players can win doing it, why can't I"? First serve I hit to the deuce court bounce 7 feet parallel to the net and got an ace. Second serve was to the ad side and it nearly hit the side netting but it was a frame. I missed my first serve on the deuce side and tried a topspin forehand serve which was promptly crushed for a winner. After that, I kept hitting the side-spin first serve and usually just pushed an overhand second serve. On occasion, I hit a lob-like second serve. Overall, it worked pretty well and it was certainly frustrating for the opponent. In the modern game where people prefer to play from the baseline, it certainly forced the opponent to move forward and have to play the net or be caught way out of position. Even at the 4.5 level, it can be effective.
     
    #48
  49. JimBob24

    JimBob24 New User

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    I have seen open level players use the underhand serve due to injury and also open level players like Chris Wettengel use the underhand serve as a surprise to win points. When executed properly it can be a very effective shot, especially against an opponent that is not comfortable being drawn in to the net. It is a legal shot and I don't feel it is unsportsmanlike at all. Your opponent must be ready but it can be disguised. You don't announce to your opponent that you are about to hit a drop shot do you? It is a bit unorthodox and I'm not recommending that everyone use it but you just might want to add it to your game just in case and don't put down those that choose to use it.
     
    #49
  50. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    calling a legal shot "bush league" and "poor sportsmanship", is the height of poor sportsmanship.
     
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