Welcome to 4.5 little boy

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by dizzlmcwizzl, Nov 5, 2011.

  1. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    Previously as a 4.0 I have played up to 4.5 a couple of times. I was always on line 3 with no expectations and I had moderate success against lower tier 4.5s.

    Last night I played the first match of my "career" with the 4.5 monicker next to my name. It was a 9.0 mixed match against a former college tennis player and a woman that apparently was some super jock (although not tennis) in her college days.

    Any who, although I thought I played very well (for me) we went down 5-0 in about 7 minutes. We managed to claw back to make it a respectable 6-2, 7-5 loss, but that was probably due more to them relaxing than us improving. I felt completely unsatisfied with the comments ... "great effort" and "you really fought back there".

    I am committed to becoming a respectable (IE. upper echelon) 4.5 ... but nights like this make it seem so very far away. It is almost like Darth Vader is standing in the corner saying ... "come to the dark side, with a little sandbagging you could be a 4.0 again next season"
     
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  2. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    Welcome to 4.5.

    My personal experience is that the range you'll find at 4.5 (the difference in skill between the lowest and highest in the level) is much greater than that at 4.0.

    Makes sense when you think about it - the bulk of players are grouped around 3.5 and 4.0, and as you get beyond this there are far fewer players to draw from in order to fill up league teams and tournaments, and to get the numbers needed at 4.5 the skill range of players falling into 4.5 needs to be pretty broad.

    Bottom line: it is far, far, harder to make your way up from a 'low' 4.5 to a 'high' 4.5 than to do the same at 4.0.

    But on the flip side, you are going to get the opportunity to challenge yourself against really good players, and win or lose, isn't that what it's all about?
     
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  3. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    I hear this. In Delaware we have a good mix of 3.0 to 4.5 players but there are no options for 5.0 + unless you really travel. The result is that one of the guys on the team we played last night went 43-3 as a 4.5 last year and he believes there is no chance he could get bumped up, because there is no where for him to go. The team that won our local league also managed to win Nationals at 4.5 and I suspect not many of them will get bumped either.

    So when I say upper echelon 4.5 ... I mean I aspire to be able to play line 1 dubs and be competitive at the 4.5 level. I know there is no realistic chance that I will ever consistently beat these 30 year old former division 1 tennis players that reside at the top of 4.5.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2011
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  4. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    There's an old saying that goes...

    ...whether you believe you can do something or you cannot do it...either way, you're probably right. If you really believe you can't beat the 30 year olds, then regardless of what you do, that's probably the way it's going to turn out.

    But it sounds to me like you have the skills and you want to get there, so I think you just need a plan and you need to believe. I've often said that NTRP tends to cause people to self-limit their goals. Yep, there's a wide range at 4.5, largely because when they eliminated 5.5, all the 5.5s squeezed down to 5.0, and all the 5.0s squeezed down to 4.5. And if there are no 5.0 tourneys available, then you know you're going to run into some 5.0s in your 4.5 journey. So, yeah, 4.5 is a tough row to hoe, but to an extent, so what?

    My former coach was Dave Hodge, who played #2 for Baylor, then went on to play the ATP for a couple of years, then got off the tour and became the Men's Assistant coach at CU Boulder, which is where I met him (he coached me on the side, apart from his team coaching). While he was at CU, he won the Colorado Open a couple of times, which is about a Futures level tournament, basically on his talent and athleticism, because most of his hitting was done with his athletes. He then went on become Men's Assistant at Stanford, and is now on the National Team coaches for Tennis Australia.

    Great player and a great coach, and even when I we were rallying easily and he wasn't trying to win the point, it was imposing to see him on the other side of the net. One day I was having all kinds of problems...shanking the ball all over, missing easy shots, making stupid errors, trying for too much. Dave just stopped what we were doing, held a ball up in front of me and said "Don't play me, play the ball. The ball doesn't care who just hit it to you, and as long as you hustle and can get to the shot, you can do something good with it. I know, because you've got the weapons and I've seen you do it." And I immediately started playing two levels better.

    Good advice, and I've kept it uppermost in my thinking ever since. I'm 63, I used to play a combination of lower age groups and Men's Open...I decided to skip NTRP right from the beginning, because I wanted to go elsewhere. This year, I decided to do only Men's Open. So, typically, it's me against a 19 year old kid with spiky hair and a 125 mph serve. Got to play three of those this year, in three separate events. The first time, I lost 6-0, 6-0. Hit some great shots, won lots of points, had my chances, but just didn't turn the corner and win a game or a set. Next match, also 6-0, 6-0, but I won a lot more points and had a lot more chances. I had 40-5 in my first two service games, didn't close the deal. At 4-0, I was up 0-40 on my opponent's serve, didn't press my advantage, and he snuck out of that one. The third match, I lost 6-2, 6-2...and it was real close all the way. So I'm going to keep plugging away, knowing those experiences made me a lot more match tough and a whole lot more confident, and one of these days, I'll win a set. Then I'll win a match. Then I'll win two matches...you get the joke.

    So getting match tough against tough competition is a matter of going out there and taking your lumps and learning, so go ahead and do it. If you get more chances to "play up" in 4.5, by all means, just do it. It may be painful in the short term, it'll pay big dividends in the long run.

    Finally, to move forward, break it down to small chunks and knock them off one at a time. One of the reasons I did a bunch better this summer was that I dramatically improved my serve, and, as a result, I started playing a lot more forcing points from the get go. Let's take a look at what 4.5 players (and, for good measure, 5.0 players} are supposed to do:

    ""4.5
    You have developed your use of power and spin and can handle pace. You have sound footwork, can control depth of shots, and attempt to vary game plan according to your opponents. You can hit first serves with power and accuracy and place the second serve. You tend to overhit on difficult shots. Aggressive net play is common in doubles.

    5.0
    You have good shot anticipation and frequently have an outstanding shot or attribute around which a game may be structured. You can regularly hit winners or force errors off of short balls and can put away volleys. You can successfully execute lobs, drop shots, half volleys, overhead smashes, and have good depth and spin on most second serves."

    Okay...no doubt about it, you have to bring it to succeed at the "high" 4.5 level. But nowhere in those descriptions does it say "Must be able to fly across the Atlantic using only his or her arms." Can you "hit first serves with power and accuracy and place the second serve"? If not, go make that your first priority, then see what it does for your game. Make sense? Keep plugging away, I have a feeling you have more game in you than you think you do...
     
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  5. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    #5
  6. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    Skiracer,

    Playing way beyond your level is a way to end the frustration of losing matches you "should have" won.
    Part of the challenge of tennis is to win matches against opponents who are at your skill level. The ego ("I'm BETTER than 4.0, I know that") is a tough thing to deal with, though, so you play up where you'll get destroyed almost every time.

    I would focus on playing guys at your level or slightly higher, and end this madness of playing opens where you get bageled. Take on the challenge of managing your ego and seeing if you can actually win a match or three.

    I'm playing "up" this year at 4.5 and my goal is to at least reach a semi or final. I was a bit psyched out in my first tourney match but wasn't out of it and can see where I can improve.

    But playing tourney after tourney and facing 125mph serves and getting destroyed means you miss a lot of the mental challenge of tennis. And that's a huge part of being successful at tennis.

    You don't strike me as someone who will take this advice, but I offer it anyway :)
     
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  7. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    I was not really looking for a pep talk, but I appreciate it. I was more or less sending out my thoughts to the ether and figuring maybe someone else would have had a similar experience and could share their observations.

    As for me I am a 42 dude that has only recently come to tennis. I am not admitting defeat by any means but perhaps the most important part of having realistic goals is that they are are achievable. For now I want to push until I become a dependable line 1 dubs player at 4.5. Once I feel I am there I will reassess what my next goal should be.... but if past experience is any guide that is at least 2 or 3 years away (maybe more) and by then I will staring down at 50.

    I think it was LeeD that said ... anyone who is playing their best tennis in their forties was not any good in their twenties. While I have not hit the progress wall yet, I am assuming that at some point my age will begin to limit my progress. Those twenty something ex college players will never get older as there is a new crop every year.
     
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  8. andfor

    andfor Hall of Fame

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    I've read some of your stuff here but find this a little out there. 63 playing opens and getting beat 0-0? Twice. How about sectional and national age groups. I know some 50+ guys who are very, very strong.

    Reminds me of the 14 year old who decided to play up in the 18's because he was tired of playing pushers. Couldn't win in the 14's, still not winning in the 18's.

    If you're doing your own thing, cool.

    As for advice. I lean to the one step at a time approach.
     
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  9. OrangePower

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    Hey, you're the same age as me! Or am I the same age as you? :)

    My story is similar; I started playing six years ago (I did play a bit during high school, but not since). Been a 4.5 for the last 3 years. Realistically, I know that 5.0 is not going to happen, especially since I'm mostly a singles guy. I'm not the best 4.5 out there, but I'm not the worst either, and I'm competitive in most of my matches. My goal is just to keep it that way for as long as I can!
     
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  10. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Thanks...

    ...but I think I'll just keep plugging away. I'm not getting destroyed, I may be losing matches, but I'm getting closer every time. I believe I am gonna win a match or three, and I believe I'm headed firmly in that direction...
     
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  11. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Just keep plugging away...

    ...and look at what Dale Power, age 61, just did...
     
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  12. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Thanks...

    ...this may seem goofy, but it's where I want to go. Note that I'm not treading water...I'm starting to get some games off these kids, and the next thing you know, I'm gonna win a set, and then it gets better from there.

    That probably sounds like a lot of hooey, but my winter sport is Master alpine ski racing, and I'm constantly rubbing elbows with younger, supposedly faster skiers. They put their pants on one leg at a time, and they're not that far away from me. It's not just the young guys, either. Some of the fastest guys in Masters, overall, are in my age group. I've been getting closer to those dudes, and my goal this winter is to get past those jamokes. If I can do that, then I'll get closer to the really fast guys...which is what everybody in Masters, regardless of age class, wants to do anyway.

    So, yeah, what I'm doing probably sounds pretty crazed, but I like it, and I'm stubborn enough to keep plugging away at it and believe I can get into the winning column some day soon. One of my favorite skiers...one of my favorite athletes...is Bode Miller, who has not only incredible athletic and skiing talents, but believes that following those talents can make him the big dog on the porch. I think somebody once said "Bode can seem like the most clueless optimist sometimes...until he does exactly what he says he can do." Which he has, repeatedly. One of the greatest ski racing performances of the last decade was his gold medal, at the age of 32, in the combined in the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, which I watch a lot. If he can do it, so can I...
     
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  13. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    This kind of reminds me of the guys who want to "go pro" if they just put enough effort in.
    Sorry. You don't have the talent, that's the missing part of the equation. The harder thing to do is put yourself into a situation where you have a chance of winning. Then, all of your training and mental toughness come into play.

    Going and getting bageled by guys 1/3 your age is actually pretty easy in comparison.

    I think this has more to do with your considerable ego than anything else. Go and play a 4.0 tournament and lose, and it's harder for you to come here and give advice. You're at the "top of the chain" in your mind, brave enough to play the hardest tournaments. No matter if you're getting bageled, you're "getting better." And then you come on here and tell everyone to do the same.

    Its the same thing with all the threads of guys who want to go pro. They revel in the thought that they are better than 99.9% of other players, so good in fact that they are going to the pro ranks. No matter if they get there or not, they can tell others one day about the time they trained to "go pro."

    I think you're missing out on what real tennis is all about. For example, match point in a 3rd set tiebreaker. Coming back from 5-2 down to win, or conversely blowing a big lead. That's the mental game of tennis you'll never get losing to a college player 6-0 6-0 every match you play.
     
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  14. UnforcedError

    UnforcedError Rookie

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    I very much agree with this post. SkiRacer, you may not mean to but often you come across a little condescending in your posts. You often name drop coaches and accomplishments of people you have hit with, and are quick to say you play open tournaments. It would be more interesting if the players you mention came on here and wrote posts about what people need to do. Playing in open tournaments is not really a big deal because anyone can play in them. In most open tournaments you find a very wide range of skills from very good to not good at all. So I'm confident you will eventually win a match because eventually you will draw someone you can beat. I know this because I play in open tournaments too. I didn't start playing in them until I was consistently winning the ntrp division just below open.

    The general goal of ntrp is to group people of roughly the same skills, it is not self limiting. You don't see a lot of people rising through the ratings because there is generally a big step between the midpoint of each skill level and it takes a lot of work to make those steps. Most people don't want to do the work.
     
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  15. maggmaster

    maggmaster Hall of Fame

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    I play open tournaments in addition to my NTRP tournaments. It helps to see what the goal is, in my opinion. It is not much different than a junior player playing up. Is it possible to just play open tournaments and practice and eventually advance to an open level? Maybe. Is it the best way? Probably not.
     
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  16. jdubbs

    jdubbs Hall of Fame

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    Agreed. I had a steadily better record in 4.0 and realized that the first day of tourneys was kind of a waste as I was playing my "4.0" game which is enough to beat those guys but not the 4.5's.

    Against 4.5's, I realized that I have to use my first serve as a real weapon where I could just hit two 2nd serves at the 4.0 level. Also learning to hit a much harder forehand. And be be more crisp with my volleys.

    So I can see the steps and obviously have to keep the fitness up as well. It's a good challenge that keeps me interested in the game. I never really understood guys who "play down" to win...what's the fun/challenge in that?

    Conversely, playing up too far doesn't teach you much either. When I've played true Open players with massive games, I'm struggling too much to really learn all that much.
     
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  17. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Okay, fair enough...

    ...good points, and I'm going to cease this NTRP versus Open discussion. On my way out, let me just point out several things:

    - I started off getting bageled, that's not happening any more. Go back and look at my initial post on the topic.

    - Yep, wide range of skills in Open. Yep, good chance I'll eventually end up against somebody I can beat fairly easily. Haven't so far, they've all been very tough, and I'm going to assume that's the way it's going to continue to go, and keep ramping my game up accordingly.

    - I do have the skills, if you're talking just on a stroke by stroke comparison. I wasn't sure that was going to be the case, but since I've started playing Open, it's turned out that way. I've hit aces and service winners against the young guys, hit winning volleys and overheads at net, hit winners from the baseline, gotten enough serves back and worked the points to get break points and break serve, and hit winning passing shots and played some decent defense. I'm just not doing it enough, and in a lot of cases, I'm just getting out-athleted. Okay, so I have to get better as an athlete, which I can do.

    - I like the athleticism, shotmaking, pace of play, and the competitive challenge of playing Open. At my age, I'm not going to be around forever, and to back up and get through, say a 5.0 would take some amount of time to achieve (and it might not happen...I'm not kidding myself about that), and I don't feel like I have that time right now. I don't particularly like losing Open matches any more than I like losing any match, but I'm willing to take my lumps to keep playing, and trying to win, at the Open level.

    So that's my story, y'all enjoy your day...
     
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  18. MNPlayer

    MNPlayer Semi-Pro

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    It's probably really only useful to play way up like that once in a while just to see what it's like. Improvement in tennis takes place at the margin, so I would think playing people near your level is the most efficient way to get better. If your goal is to win open tournaments, that doesn't mean the most efficient way is to start playing them until you win, regardless of how you do. Unless you just want to go around bragging "oh yeah, I play open level, not that pathetic NTRP stuff"

    I played open once in a tournament just to get more tennis, and got double-bageled in the first round. I felt subjectively like it was "close" (I had a few game points after all) but if you asked the other guy, he probably would not have agreed :)

    By the way, I know a guy (no kidding) who has improved from not-a-tennis-player to 5.0 in something like 5 years. This is the fastest improvement I have ever seen or even heard of. He did this all while playing his NTRP level until the USTA bumped him to the next one. Won most of the 4.5 tournaments around here last year before they moved him to 5.0.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2011
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  19. SlapShot

    SlapShot Hall of Fame

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    If you're referred to DC, I think he had a significant advantage being that he was friends with some Gophers players. He's a VERY natural player who had the help of some pretty darned good coaching.
     
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  20. MNPlayer

    MNPlayer Semi-Pro

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    See how rare it is - you know who I'm talking about right away. :)

    Agree with your points, my only point was that he's playing his way up the ladder like the rest of us. Granted his coaching and hitting was with some of the top guys around.
     
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  21. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    Just curious; how old is this DC guy?

    It's pretty rare for someone starting tennis as an adult to get to 5.0; even then, it can imagine it being a little more likely for a natural athlete still in his twenties, versus someone older. I would be very very impressed if someone in their late thirties / early forties could take up tennis for the first time and then make it to 5.0 ever.
     
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  22. yonexpurestorm

    yonexpurestorm Rookie

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    i know what it is like to play up at open when your not at that level. i lost first round in four of them this summer. some matches i felt more in the match than others, but constantly losing and not being put into situations where you have to win points can only go so far. i realized when i played opens i had fun, but since i was supposed to lose it was much easier to play all out and if i made errors and lost at least that was supposed to happen. when i would lose a match at 4.5 i would really learn something. matches that i am supposed to win, but lost really show your weaknesses. also, being in a spot where you know you should win and need to win a few crucial points in order to get that win are very helpful. it is easy to be down 0-3 and lose the the next game and keep playing. but when your supposed to win and the score is 3-3 and the guys breaks your serve, how you respond is a great lesson. when i got back into tennis last summer if i lost the first set i would basically admit defeat. now, i can remember multiple times losing the first set and relying on past experience to regain my composure and win. just the other weak i was down 4-0 in the first set. came back to win 6-4 7-5. in my opinion getting better is just like anything, experience. it is helpful to have experience playing open guys to know what it there, but it is also helpful having experience in crucial match deciding points. just as much as it is helpful to have experience hitting bh's during practice so when you need it you can fall back on your experience. the more experience you gain the better you will be. to bad for me i took 7 years off from tennis before getting back into it and now i am trying to cram all that experience into now.
     
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  23. SlapShot

    SlapShot Hall of Fame

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    I would guess he's in his mid to late 20's now. Not sure of what his athletic background is, but he's a tall thin lefty who plays very smooth tennis - he isn't generally going to overpower someone, but he hits a solid ball and doesn't miss much.

    Found an article on him, and it said that in 2008, he had been playing for 4 years, so he's got about 7 years of tennis in, but he's definitely in the 5.0 realm.
     
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  24. Angle Queen

    Angle Queen Professional

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    Hats off to ya, Dizz.

    And you could be me...replace the 4.0 with 3.5 and 4.5 with 4.0 and you'd be describing my year to-date. I spent all last off-season (in preparation for playing 'up' at 4.0) ramping up speed -- my own serve/groundstrokes as well as those I saw. But did I see any of that at 4.0? Noooooo. It was so much more about placement than power. Don't get me wrong. Those ladies could hum it when they needed to. But they got just as many points by playing The Percentages. I, too, have felt called to The Dark Side since most of the points I won were of the Pusher variety rather than the form of attacking tennis I prefer to live and die by.

    Regardless of what the USTA Powers That Be say I am next year, I'm still committed to my track. And while I never thought I'd see the day when there really was a "4" in front of the decimal beside my NTRP, there's no turning back. Perhaps it's time to listen to Yoda (instead of Darth) and I will:

    Train [myself] to let go of everything I fear to lose.

    Not really a fan of III as I'm Old School, so maybe we'll have to make it:

    Control, control. You must learn control.

    Regardless of how hard (or skilled) the ball is hit at you.

    Good luck and keep us posted.

    Signed,
    Little Girl
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2011
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  25. Fedace

    Fedace Banned

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    was this jock girl hot ?
     
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  26. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    did you really go to Stanford?
     
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  27. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    maybe 30 + years ago ...

    My understanding was that she was an all american at some small college in some other sport (softball ?). Took up tennis after school and has spent some time as a 5.0.

    Currently, she is a somewhat portly older woman who hits every ball she gets to exactly where she wants it to go.

    So I would not say hot ... but very good for sure.
     
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  28. burosky

    burosky Professional

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    Just keep your head up. There is a reason why you got bumped to 4.5. There's no telling how many matches it will take but eventually, you will play a match where you will feel you "belong". When that happens things will start clicking for you.
     
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  29. jhick

    jhick Semi-Pro

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    I think I know the guy your referring to. He is currently playing in 5.0 league, but is still computer rated 4.5. I remember a guy from my nationals 4.5 team beating him fairly soundly twice in 09. Then he told us afterwards that the guy he played was friends with and hit with some of the U of M players.
     
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  30. SlapShot

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    Looks like your player was one of the only ones to beat him in 2009. I thought he had a 5.0 computer rating for 2012, but looks like he's still at 4.5.
     
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  31. MNPlayer

    MNPlayer Semi-Pro

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    Weird, I know he got bumped, he told me himself :) But maybe that was early start... Anyway he should be a 5.0 with his results.
     
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  32. jhick

    jhick Semi-Pro

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    Yeah, the guy on our team was/is a young, solid 4.5 player who like me was briefly bumped to 5.0 after our nationals run in 2009. Looks like he's currently 5.0 according to the computer, but I think he was able to play 4.5 after the initial bump up.
     
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  33. jhick

    jhick Semi-Pro

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    Looking at his results, he would pretty much get smoked by any decent 5.0 in singles. He might have a chance to be competitive with some borderline 5.0's or good 4.5 players playing up.
     
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  34. SlapShot

    SlapShot Hall of Fame

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    He definitely got smoked by Tony, but there have been 5.0 players who got smoked by Tony. :)
     
    #34
  35. jhick

    jhick Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2010
    Messages:
    549
    Location:
    MN
    Yeah, I'm not referring to Tony, more along the lines of former Gustavus players, older open level players, recently graduated top HS players, etc.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2011
    #35
  36. Fedace

    Fedace Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2006
    Messages:
    23,292
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    they should make all advanced mixed doubles have a requirement. All women players must be 30 or younger
     
    #36

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