What skills are most important for singles specialists?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Cindysphinx, Feb 5, 2007.

  1. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I'm trying to identify who among my 3.0 ladies players would make a good singles specialist. We want 4-5 singles specialists, and I've identified 3 clear choices. That leaves two more.

    Once we eliminate players with poor groundstrokes or poor fitness or no desire to play singles, we're left with many candidates.

    How important is it in singles at our level to have a big first serve? Or a consistent serve? Or good footspeed? Or topspin groundstrokes? Or slice groundstrokes? A good overhead? Is it a deal killer if someone has a weak side (e.g. weaker backhand)?

    Or is it as simple as using the weaker volleyers as singles specialists?
     
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  2. Dunlopkid

    Dunlopkid Guest

    At the 3.0 level, I would say that the most consistent players should play singles. Consistency is huge at the 3.0 level.
     
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  3. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    I am a born singles player, and play dubs when I have to. So maybe I can help with this. I would say the most important thing would be that the person wants to play singles, that they enjoy it. I live for competition, for that time when you are serving down 5-6 in the third set, and need to hold to get into a tiebreak. If you have someone who is competitive, and mentally tough, not someone who plays for fun and to hang out with their friends, that would be my first criteria. I love the Roman gladiator aspect.

    As far as strokes go, on groundies, I would look for someone who hits through the court well, I understand that this is 3.0 but you can still watch them hit. When I give lessons, without a word from the people during the first lesson, just by how they hit, I can tell singles players from doubles players. Volleys are probably the thing you have the biggest leeway with, If you have a poor volleyer, who is otherwise a solid player, that lack of ability will hurt you more in dubs than singles. Good overhead is the same, more important in dubs than singles. As far as serving, you can get away with a not so good serve in doubles, as there is less of an area for the opposition to hurt you, and they are already under pressure from your partner. In singles you will be in more trouble with a lame serve, and conversely if you have a good serve, you will only get to serve 1/2 of the games for your team in dubs, and you will get to use that good serve for all of the service games in singles.

    J
     
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  4. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

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    Consistency!!!! And some knowledge of strategy...corner to corner, put away short balls, and having a down the line shot (at least on one side if not both) will help. Also, a strong first serve, consistent second serve...or, someone who doesn't DF often.
     
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  5. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    The person who can hit groundstrokes deep with consistency. If you do that you can win a ton of singles matches. People who go for winners get killed at that level because they aren't as good as they believe- Just find the person who gets to the ball early, gets it back deep, and can do it repeatedly.
     
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  6. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    When you say "hits through the court well", are you referring to achieving depth? Or do you mean whether they actually finish the stroke? Or something else?
     
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  7. Dunlopkid

    Dunlopkid Guest

    Consistency is def the key at this level.
     
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  8. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Hitting through the court is about more than just depth its about the ball carrying back after the bounce to force your opponent back. Doubles players especially have trouble with this, as their shots are hit with placement and angle to get them where they want them (Past a net player, low over the net, angled cross return) while singles players are more about forcing the opponent back, getting them out of position. Look for people who drive the ball, more than steer it (I am sorry if this doesn't make sense I am new to the boards and it is much easier to describe and show in person rather than convey in words).
     
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  9. JHBKLYN

    JHBKLYN Rookie

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    You should have those who want to play singles play each other and see who are the better singles players. As others said, at this level, just getting the ball over consistently is enough to win matches.
     
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  10. cak

    cak Professional

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    Good point JHBKLYN. It's easy to set up a singles ladder. The top two available get to play. People who really want to play singles can work on their game, and might even make it to the top by the end of the season.

    (And I'm jealous, on our team the singles players are pretty much anyone willing to play singles. And that still leaves us with less than 4 or 5.)
     
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  11. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    Cindy- don't you think that you are going way overboard by having singles "specialists" at 3.0? At that level let people go out and play and see who enjoys playing singles. There is just no need to have people on your team that only play singles unless you have people that only want to play singles.
     
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  12. rasajadad

    rasajadad Hall of Fame

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    Cindy,
    At that level (even up through 4.0), it's possible that you have players who are competent players, but have no idea or skills to play doubles. You know, bad position, wrong shot selections, can't return crosscourt, or who are really weak at net, e.g.

    Move them over and don't split up a good doubles team.
     
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  13. rletizia

    rletizia New User

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    I always thought at any level, skill is more important at doubles and movement at singles. Why would level matter? Players are going to make mistakes no matter what and especially at 3.0 - 4.0.

    Who likes to move and run a lot on the team? Those are my singles players.
     
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  14. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    Your best bet is to have them all play against each other, just play to one set, and from there pick the ones who played the best (of those that are willing to play singles).

    Ignoring that, I'd pick ones who can hit the ball most consistently. I wouldn't focus on serve, strokes, or anything but consistency. And you can't choose them based on their doubles performance, you'd have to watch them play singles since its a completely different game.
     
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  15. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    From my experience, doubles requires better ball placement, volleying, and positioning than singles. Singles requires better groundstroke consistency and movement. At 3.0 in singles, if you can keep the ball in play, you are guaranteed to win. At 4.0, thats not really true because if you give them short balls every time, they will put them away much more.
     
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  16. Fedace

    Fedace Banned

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    Speed is important. You must run the hills and go up and down the football stadium 50+ times and do sprint drills side to side court drills 50+ times everyday.
     
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  17. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Well, no.

    The idea of having singles specialists came from the advice on the subject from people here at TW. I asked a few months ago, and the consensus seemed to be that you need singles specialists to win team matches. If you can't win at singles, you must win all three of your doubles matches, which is a tall order.

    Also, I was on a 0-12 team last season that didn't have singles specialists. Interested players kind of dabbled in singles. Despite being a doubles specialist, I was tossed out there at No. 1 singles for one match, with no practice at singles beforehand. I was whipped 6-1, 6-0 in 45 minutes. I felt like I was playing tennis on a bowling alley because the court felt very narrow to me. I was repeatedly hitting great angles to the doubles lines. I was astonished that my normally good doubles shots were being treated as "short balls" and punished accordingly. So yeah, there's much to be said for learning to play singles properly.

    Regarding the idea of having the players play each other . . . we're talking about women here. Women who are friends. Women who wouldn't want it known that this or that teammate whipped them in singles and as a result was chosen to be a singles specialist. I think everyone will be happier if I just pick four people without saying why, so no one loses face. People will be free to imagine that they weren't asked to play singles not because their groundstrokes bite but because they are so invaluable in doubles.
     
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  18. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    If you're worried about hurting their feelings, then you probably won't end up with a winning team. Take it from me though, most of the people that beat me in singles have lousy technique, yet are able to simply block back all my shots so that I beat myself. Thats why I'd say their actual performance in singles is the only decent way to determine who is best for the job.

    But if you really must base it on their doubles play, pick whoever is best at the baseline. Pick someone with consistent service returns that can hit cross court or down the line without getting poached.
     
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  19. cak

    cak Professional

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    Cindy, do your singles matches have time limits?

    The reason I ask is many of us are saying singles players at the 3.0/3.5 level often don't look like much, but can get the ball over more times than the other guy, and that's how they win. Yes, it's truely pusher tennis at it's worst, but you get the big W. But if you have time limits you need a different type of singles player.

    I play practice matches against our singles players because I don't have a singles game, and often end up at net without thinking about it. They aren't used to that, and like to try out the passing shots/lobs they don't usually try in matches. Because of that, when they stick me out to play singles I have yet to drop the first set. I confuse even good singles players, as well as myself. By the second set they are getting more savy, and my game has to morph into something ugly to win. And sometimes that isn't enough. But, if you have a time limit, and it favors whomever won the first set, you might want your good serve and volleyers to give singles a try because at the 3.0 level it would confound other singles specialists for a set.
     
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  20. sue20852

    sue20852 New User

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    In addition, I would select strong players to play singles, only if they want to play singles. Strong players usually have more developed attributes like fitness, mobility, stroke mechanics, mental toughness, etc., than your average player.

    Sue
     
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  21. Ace

    Ace Semi-Pro

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    Don't they read this?
    You've posted enough to reveal who you are....hahahahah....your teammates will know if they read these message boards!
     
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  22. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    Heheh. I know who she is, I even spotted her on tennislink.
     
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  23. Ace

    Ace Semi-Pro

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    yeah....hahaha....me too. what would her teammates say....? ..."Hey! I'M that WEAK player she's complaining about all the time!!!!"
     
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  24. ohplease

    ohplease Professional

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    Club level singles is really about things like consistency, movement, shot tolerance, and tenacity.

    Since you've got three obvious choices already, I'd keep effective doubles teams together, and of the remaining players, I'd pick the two that tend towards the more boring and patient side of the spectrum. Style points don't count for much, in this case.

    Barring that, I'd let the people who want to play singles play singles - odds are, two of your top three choices will likely be available, anyway.
     
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  25. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    CAK, we do have timed matches, and you're correct that the winner of the first set usually has an advantage. Many 3.0 singles matches do time out. The first mathematical tiebreaker is total number of games, so if you tank the first set 1-6 but come back nicely in the second set 0-6, you'd win.

    As for serve and volley players, we have zero of them. I am the closest thing we have. Which is why I said "zero."

    Hey, if everybody has figured out who I am, does this mean you'll be coming to my matches to cheer me on? :)

    I'm still trying to figure out who Raiden is. I think I can do it. I just need some time. :)
     
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  26. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Hee!

    I heard a joke once about this sort of thing.

    There was a coach of a mixed doubles team who was expressing his displeasure. He said some of the players don't work hard, don't give it their all, need to work on their fitness, were the weak link.

    All the women were convinced he must be talking about them.

    All the men were convinced he had to be talking about someone else. :)
     
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  27. rasajadad

    rasajadad Hall of Fame

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    Good one! Not a lot of tennis jokes out there.
     
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  28. Ace

    Ace Semi-Pro

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    hahahah....he's said where he's from, and when his matches were.....and even said (about) what his scores were.....

    ah, the anonymous internet......:)
     
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  29. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    I'd be impressed if she could figure out who I was. I don't think I gave out enough info to make it that easy. It was pure luck that I found out who she was; she mentioned her win-loss record and her individual record and I happened to be looking at people in her league at the time and noticed it. I didn't even know she was playing in that league.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2007
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  30. Ace

    Ace Semi-Pro

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    Does your first name begin with a "D"?
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2007
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  31. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    I won't say what my name begins with because I do think you can narrow down who I might be between just a few people. Are you in MD or did you just get curious and decide to poke around the MD leagues on tennislink?
     
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  32. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    Cindy- anyone who would be embarrassed about losing at singles probably should not be playing singles anyway
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2007
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  33. Ace

    Ace Semi-Pro

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    Cindy said she was trying to figure it out. That was just today, and it got me curious.
    You had posted before what county you were in.
    You had also posted after your first match and reported how it went. I admit, I did remember the post, but had to go back and look at it again for the date and the score.

    Theres only one 6.0 Mixed flight in that county, so I assumed that was the one you were in. Not all the teams played on that day you mentioned, which narrows it down.
    You said the score (more or less), so out of two or three matches to view....

    Yeah, I had too much time on my hands I guess. But I took Cindy's post as a personal challenge.... sorry. Your identity is safe with me, assuming I guessed right anyway.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2007
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  34. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Raiden, I think I could find you, but I need to think of someone who plays in your league and navigate my way around. But it looks like someone else has done the legwork!

    Actually, my reason for tracking you down would be entirely benign. My 7.0 mixed team is down to just six guys, with one injured. I think we're going to try to limp along for the rest of the season and then regroup in the fall. From your posts, you sound like a good prospect: solid player who just needs more experience in doubles. When you're trying to build a doubles team from the ground up, players like you are perfect.
     
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  35. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Ha! One of my singles specialist casually mentioned that she is looking forward to playing me on the ladder.

    I tightened up immediately. Losing to a stranger is one thing. Losing to a friend is something else again.
     
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  36. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Yea, when you lose to a stranger he goes home, when you lose to a friend you have to buy the first round!
     
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  37. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    Thank you for the compliment. I think the best thing going for me is that my goal is to improve and climb the levels, not just win. This one woman I play singles with surprises me because she is a dominant 3.5, and I asked her about playing 4.0 and she just shrugged it off like she doesn't want to play at a level where she isn't dominant.
     
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  38. Ace

    Ace Semi-Pro

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    I'd rather lose to a friend. A friend knows your game, knows if you are just having a bad day, and a true friend will play with you even if you can't beat them.
    A stranger could be someone thats walking around telling everyone how they can whip your butt even though you wanted to practice a new shot that day.
     
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  39. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    Friend or no friend, I feel much less stress if I am playing someone that is considered as strong or stronger than me. If I am playing someone where the expectation beforehand is that I am the better player, than I feel alot of pressure to win, and when I don't, I feel embarrassed.

    This reminds me of a singles ladder match I played around September where I was warming up with the guy and right before the match he said something like "I can tell you are a better player than me, but I think this will be a good experience for me". Then he goes and kicks my ass. LOL.
     
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  40. Sakkijarvi

    Sakkijarvi Semi-Pro

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    <Consistency!!!! And some knowledge of strategy...corner to corner, put away short balls, and having a down the line shot (at least on one side if not both) will help. Also, a strong first serve, consistent second serve...or, someone who doesn't DF often.>

    This by definition is a 3.5 player or better, and a bit much to expect from a true 3.0.
     
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  41. goober

    goober Legend

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    That's some pretty low level gamesmanship.

    Whenever somebody I don't know tells me that I am better than them or take it easy on them because they are not that good, old or whatever I know I better step it up a notch.
     
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  42. JHBKLYN

    JHBKLYN Rookie

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    Losing face? Are you saying people on the team don't know who the better players are? Unless they are in a state of denial, they should know who can play and who can't.

    Despite how good someone's stroke or technique is, you can't force someone to play singles when they don't want to. By picking randomly yourself, you might make some players unhappy. I say get your team together, by a show of hands or racquets, have those who want to play singles be heard and then decide if they are worthy.

    Your team also need to decide whether they want to win or just play and don't care if they come in last place. If your team wants to win, then get the best singles players out there, win your league, get that t-shirt and water bottle, and try to make it to the Nationals. If the games don't matter, then pick whoever you want and let them experience what is like to hit the ball by themselves and do a lot of running around. :)
     
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  43. MordredSJT

    MordredSJT Rookie

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    I'll just throw my two cents in...consistency and movement skills.

    That is all.
     
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  44. JHBKLYN

    JHBKLYN Rookie

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    That reminds me of this guy, right before the match, he was telling me how his feet was hurting and he had this huge headache. I'm already thinking if he had bad feet and a bad head, why would they put him in singles? He must've been a world class sprinter because during the match, with those bad feet, he was running around the court like Carl Lewis.
     
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  45. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    I don't think it was intent. He honestly believed I was better because my strokes were more consistent. But once the match started, he resorted more to blocking the ball because he lacked confidence in his strokes. But he was good enough to beat me doing that.
     
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  46. goober

    goober Legend

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    If you keep playing and practicing you will beat these types of players easily. 3.0 and 3.5 is filled with players with bad strokes and all kinds of weaknesses in their game. Many of them have been playing that way for years so they are consistent in their style of play and enjoy beating younger up and coming players. But you absolutely need to learn how to beat these players to move up.
    Nothing is more motivating than losing to some guy that is 20 years older than you, can barely move and hacking at the ball :)
     
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  47. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    Well the good news is that I still play this guy on occasion. Last time we played 4 sets and I won all of them. He hits alot of short balls and I tore them up, which I wasn't able to do the first time we played.
     
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  48. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    My players know who is strong and who is weak. What they (and lots of players, I'd say) can't stomach is having this proved all out in public and everything. It is easier for a player with poor mobility to believe they were not asked to play singles because they are too valuable in doubles than to face the hard truth that they are too slow.

    All I can do is ask players to play singles. So far, both players I have asked have said yes. I just need 1-2 more (since I plan to play singles myself).

    If I were to get everyone together and ask for a show of hands, then we would introduce the concept of "public rejection and humiliation." Everyone would know player A raised her hand and was passed over for someone else. That's not cool.

    As I said in a prior thread, I think there is a third choice: winning a decent number of matches and thereby putting in a respectable showing, all the while working to improve.

    Coming in last place stinks. I was on such a team last year, and it just casts a pall over everything. I think some reasonable decision-making will put us in contention to win a few and lose a few, and that ought to be make it a good season for us.
     
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  49. cak

    cak Professional

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    I'm still in awe you have a team where there are too many women that prefer to play singles. You might want to publish who your singles specialists are to the team just so those that want to play singles and didn't make the list can look for another team to play singles on. Make another captain's day, share the wealth.:)
     
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  50. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    CAK, I have heard that it gets harder to find singles players at 3.5 than 3.0. I even heard that some 3.5 teams are so desperate for singles players that they will use 3.0s, figuring a loss is better than a default.

    I have two theories. One is that a fast way to move from 3.0 to 3.5 is to play singles, so perhaps 3.0s are more eager to make the leap than 3.5s would be to leap to 4.0.

    The other is that 3.0 singles is significantly easier than 3.5 because at 3.0 you can just wait your opponent out and be a pusher.

    But yeah, I seem to be lucky in the singles department, for sure.
     
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