Why do so many good servers THINK they carve the ball?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by HunterST, Jun 21, 2013.

  1. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    If you ask a big server how they hit a slice serve, I've found that a lot of them say they carve around the outside. Even though high speed video shows this isn't the case, there must be something behind it.

    What is your theory on why big servers get this feel?

    I think part of it is they are indeed striking the right side of the ball rather than the back. anything else?
     
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  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Loose grip allows the racket to deflect slightly in the hand, folowing the ball a fraction of a second longer than just a pure chopping motion.
    I still say, a player who slices his serves is a lower level player. A good player slices his serves and adds some topspin to bring the ball down to the court, allowing him to swing faster.
    The extreme curve of a pure slice only bothers players who have never seen it.
     
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  3. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Oh, I dunno.

    I'm a 4.0, and I hit almost all of my serves as slices. I can hit a flatter serve, but why bother? In my experience, most players are quite proficient in hitting an average-for-level flatter serve, and the chance I will miss is higher.

    I can also hit topspin, but the quality is not great so I use it only when my slice leaves me temporarily or the returner is hurting me and I need to try something new.

    In fact, I tend to wonder why more 3.5-4.0 players don't learn a slice. It is really not that difficult. There are a lot of people who say they love hitting against pace. I have not met many people who claim to love hitting against spin, and even fewer enjoy returning serve whist wrapped in the side curtain.
     
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  4. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    Well I think it's the best way to visualize it. As you mention it does show that players don't actually carve the ball, but the best way to learn a slice serve is to imagine "peeling the orange" or whatever analogy you like to think of it. Serving (for me at least) is all visualization on what I want to do with the ball. :)

    -Fuji
     
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  5. bertrevert

    bertrevert Hall of Fame

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    Dwell time.

    That, and constant repetition.

    I would reckon that Pros having hit same shot so many times could get into micro-feel, persuasive thinking, visualisation. In order to get that ounce more heat or intent out of their shots they may (wilfully or not) feel a little more during the dwell time. So much so that they're attuned to what they think is going on during the instant of contact. Whether they are right or not is immaterial.

    I am not saying Pros are not mere mortals and they have something special going on. Rather only that they are into what goes on in the contact instant and would seek to feel it all the more or have some effect upon that.

    Maybe as a consequence of getting so many other variables down pat they/we are free to enjoy contact points.

    We all see the ball big on some days, we can all feel the ball on the racquet some days better than others, or within a session, we can all hit a hot streak. I reckon at those times everything is singing from the same hymn sheet. One result can be that you just feel the ball all the more in the contact instant.

    Btw, are you thinking of the Pat Rafter video where he talks about his serve? (I think it was on FYB) I think he talks about "carving" the ball. I watched that video and just walked around thinking how surprised I was that he came out with that. He glided over technics to very quickly talk about... "feel".
     
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  6. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Who are the pros who say this, apart from Pat Rafter recently in the WiH video?
     
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  7. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    Never said pros, just big servers. I know Jeff Salzenstein, a former pro, also has a video saying he carves the ball on slice serves, though.
     
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  8. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    My apologies to CindyS......
    A "good" server in the male ranks.
    A WTA player slices up to top of the 7.0 level.
    A good male server abandons the pure slice around the top of 4.5 level but some, like ArthurAshe, resurrected the slice to beat JimmyConnors in a GrandSlam tourney, then give up on it immediately after........knowing I was right..:)
    A strong slice bother's no male player above 4.5.
    A strong slice with topspin bother's even 7.0 men.
     
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  9. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    They might be carving more on the outside on out-wide serves.
     
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  10. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    You guys need to read post 2 again, maybe even try to understand what I described.
    Just like a topspin forehand, the loose grip allows the racket to deflect slightly, retaining impact for a slight millesecond longer, creating the "carve" effect, rather then the normal linear swingpath.
     
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  11. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    A guy I know has incorporated whatever it was in that video into his own Pat Rafter serve after watching the video, and I have been on the receiving end of that serve a few times. He announces it ahead of time, and sure enough it behaves differently in the air and after the bounce. Strangely they did not bounce high but sort of skidded (but with top spin) and twice caught the bottom of my frame. I cannot vouch for whether he is doing what was in the video or it is his own creative interpretation, but it is different in some way.
     
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  12. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Your bud added more sidespin, less topspin, which is why the ball didn't bounce up over your shoulders.
     
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  13. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Just ignore some of LeeD's comments. The out-wide slice serve causes immense pain even at the top-10 ATP level.
     
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  14. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Said the guy with a 3.5 level man's serve to a lady with a 4.0 woman's serve.
     
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  15. kvan

    kvan Rookie

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    Who DOESN'T struggle against a serve out wide and a punishing groundstroke/volley to the open court?

    Of course, there are people. Spaniards come to mind.
     
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  16. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    AFTER Ashe beat Connors, during an interview, he said he had to relearn a pure wide slice to serve a low ball to Connor's 2hbh. He'd abandoned the pure slice years earlier, relying on a top/slice that bounce high to an opponent's rightie forehand, or lefty backhand.
    That pure slice serve was specific for that particular match vs Connors.
    Ashe lost subsequent matches to Connors because Connors adapted to hit a low ball wide 2hbh very short angled CC.
     
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  17. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Ashe and Connors stories are old and not relevant any more.
     
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  18. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    I don't know... I have to go with LeeD on this one. I almost never see a pure slice at the 4.5-5.0 levels. It's a very rare thing to see.

    People at this level have big enough forehands where they can handle that serve with ease.

    Hitting a slower spin serve to a 4.5-5.0 forehand isn't a good idea for most unless you're using it as a change up every once in a blue moon
     
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  19. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    He is correct. At the highest levels, pure slice is fairly worthless. That amount of spin is purely predictable, and since all of your energy went into slicing it, it ain't moving that fast either. Now, if you get some pop and top into it, that's a lot more effective. See Federer serving out wide and you'll see that subtle arc is what gives people so much trouble.
     
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  20. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    All the top guys use top-slice.
     
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  21. USArmyTennis

    USArmyTennis New User

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    Even at 4.5 I hit topslice 1st serves and Twist second serves. A few flats down the "T" to win some free points. Both spin serves I try to not only vary placement but vary the angle I hit the spin with, i.e. more top less slice, less top more slice. Second serve is very similar to first but more spin less power.
     
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  22. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    Dunno why but slice is a good one to have.
     
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  23. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    I often wonder why more women don't learn a slice or kick serve. I play lots of mixed with 4.0 to 4.5 women and they all struggle with top/slice or kick serves. They do better against flatter 90-100 mph serves than a 75 mph spinner.
     
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  24. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I think many of them have been brainwashed into thinking that spin is for the men. They consider it an "advanced" play even though it is actually easier than hitting it flat.
     
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  25. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    It does take time to learn a spin serve, but I think most 4.0 and above women could learn a top/slice with practice and it gives you movement on the ball and a more reliable 2nd serve. Well worth the investment.
     
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  26. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Much easier to hit a pure slice serve.
    Most guys give up on this by the time they get to real 3.5, instead adding topspin to their slice.
    Women just don't seem to swing as fast, but the new college level women swing big, like short guys. And NONE hit pure slices.
    I watched UCBerk's team practicing at Hellman couple months ago. The top 6 girls serve faster than me, hit top/slice on second serves. NONE hit any pure slice serves.
     
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  27. Wilson6-1

    Wilson6-1 Rookie

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    This is such a ridiculous post. First, many pros hit slice serves for their first serve. Second, you don't need to hit topspin to swing faster. I don't care if the returner is a 5.0 player, if placed well and struck at 100 mph, the slice serve is very difficult to touch, let alone return well.

    Also, the loose grip theory is silly because a slice serve does not come from behind the ball, it comes from the side anyway. So, some fractional second deflection won't make the racquet come around the ball.

    Lastly, your example of an "extreme curve" for a slice implies that the server is tossing wide, imparting a lot of spin instead of pace. That is not all slice serves. Also, it isn't a bad thing depending on the circumstance. For instance, if you are staying behind the baseline to try to manage serves over 100 mph, I can come back with a serve with such extreme curve to the deuce side that outside the baseline, it is unlikely that you will touch it.

    I am a 4.0 and often play with a wide range of players. The most consistent theme, is few possess the variety of serves described on this forum. Why there is so much talk on this forum of the "need" to hit champion level kick serves is beyond me. It is not necessary, and even if the player can hit an effective kick serve, few hit it with such pace and action that it would be considered a serious weapon.

    If players (3.0 to 5.0) hit an effective slice serve (which is easier to learn than the others), their game would significantly improve.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2013
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  28. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    I don't hit a great slice serve - its too slow. But a pro I had always preached a 'hard' slice serve. So its alot more pace - you are getting more of the ball and some extra slice. This is an effective serve at all levels I think.

    It's like a flat serve with extra slice. When I hit a pure slice though its too slow and guys go around on the side of it and hit a really nice cross court diagonal return.

    It's useful though if you want to score some cheap point by making people run into the net if you are indoors..haha.
     
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  29. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Wilson6-1 is obviously a lower level player. Wilson, notice a few other guys on here, much better player's than you, agree with me.
    Me, I used to play decently in A/Open tourneys in NorCal. But I'm 64 now, can't run at all, have worn out rotator cuffs, getting blind, and have lost tons of quickness thru the past 10 years.
    I still play doubles at 4.5 - 5.0 levels, much better than you....:)
    I might also know a bit more than you, just possibly. :shock:
     
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  30. DirtBaller4

    DirtBaller4 Rookie

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    So LeeD, when does the slice serve technically become a slice and not a combo side/top spin shot? Can you tell if someone hit the ball with 49%slice and 51% top? If you can do that while half blind I applaud you.

    I like to mix it up, as soon as I get the guy backed up a little I slide in a slice to keep him guessing. Indoors it is an ace or an UE if I hit a good one, with the curtain and all.

    Now I have faced guys with only a slice second Serve and it gets very predictable, and therefore easy to cut off by moving forward and taking it on the rise.

    What I don't understand is that we are all talking like everyone has the exact same slice serve. I think a lot of people here just write for effect, my motorcycle, disc golf, and scientific forums are much more civil.
     
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  31. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    You deserve a straight answer.
    Notice a few guys agree with me about a pure slice being faded out once the level of play improves beyond 4.0.
    OK, I'll tell you why a pure slice is less effective MOST of the time. Because a sidespin ball that drops IN the court needs to be hit slower to create the gravity pulled, ARC of the ball. The bounce falls into waist high range, the strikepoint most players like.
    A topspin serve, with a slice component, can curve almost as wide, but it can be located over the net wider, because the topspin CURVES the ball downwards, allowing a wider hit serve to still be IN. The top/slice bounces higher, usually chest high, which might fall into the favorites of Western grip returners, I'll admit. BUT, a slice serve, whether top/slice or pure slice, is NOT used all the time, because anyone knows the favored location to serve is to the BACKHAND of your opponent, regardless of how you hit the ball there.
    It's really hard for a rightie server to serve top of the head high balls to a rigthie returner. It can be done at the pro levels, of course, and usually on slower, more abrasive courts. Adding more top, less slice, and location the serve well WIDE of the normal location of the net is one way to bounce your wide serves up past the hitting zone of a rightie returner.
     
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  32. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    Wilson- A pure slice is very hard to hit at 100mph. A pure slice is slow and to the forehand (ie. stronger side) of most players which is not a good idea. Hitting slow spin serves to a 4.5-5.0 forehand won't end well for you believe me.

    You won't get many aces from it because it is slow. A slice serve relies on gravity to pull it into the court so you cant swing as fast. Add some topspin to that and you can hit it much harder with just about the same amount of curve. A top-slice hit at 100mph is doable. There really is a big difference between a slice and a top-slice... Maybe it is a top-slice you are talking about but you need to make that clear.

    Just my two cents
     
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  33. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    You guys been watching vids of the modern pro forehands?
    Notice lots of ball strikes, the racketface turns over on the ball, adding some control in the topspin, increasing dwell time some. How do they do it?
    They use a relaxed grip which allows the racket to SLIGHTLY twist in their grip.
    Same with carving a top/slice serve.
     
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  34. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    I like to use the concept of carving too. Granted, it may not actually be happening but it helps me visualize the angle thru contact. Even the Serve Doctor guys at Bolliterie's uses the word carve in his youtube videos. I like to think hit up and carve over the top from 10 to 2 for a kick serve.
     
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  35. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I think this is mostly right, along with his earlier post about how even the Pros
    will carve more when they really want to take it super wide.

    I think of the 3 main slice versions as the Power slice, Top-slice, and the wide
    carving slice.

    Power slice is for aggressive 2ond and some 1st serve. The ball still spins in the
    direction of a other slices, but with more power and less rpms. Uses more of
    a pronation at contact vs a carve.

    Also worth noting, the top-slice can be powered or carved, depending if you
    want more spin or more power.
     
    #35
  36. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I agree they can and sometimes do learn to hit with more spin, but often seem
    to struggle to grasp the concept of hitting the ball with racket face other than
    perpendicular to racket path. They don't seem to be able to easily learn to have
    the racket travel in a given direction with the face canted off of that path.
    Ex.. swinging low to high, they tend to open the face to the upward swing,
    giving more of a moon ball than a glancing blow for spin. :???:
     
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  37. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    While watching the UCBerkeley women's team practicing at Hellman Courts, I can safely say 4 out of the top 6 singles players can hit top/slice serves, and first serves at least over 100mph. Most of their top/slices first serves were bouncing close to chin high at the baseline, their seconds higher but slower, and some could hit real twists.
    New generation, not the old girl throwing players of old.
     
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  38. Wilson6-1

    Wilson6-1 Rookie

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    Typical, instead refute the post, you attack the other individual. And, your mythical career on an anonymous tennis forum does not impress. As for your "level", you either play at a level or you don't. I can always tell when people exaggerate when they start giving ranges.

    Fact is that pros use slice serves (for their first serve) every day. And your comment that any player beyond 3.5 stops using slice serves just shows how little you really know about tennis. This forum can't help that you have some inflated selective memory of your glory years with your 130 mph serves, but some of your posts are so arrogant and wrong, it is expected that you would get mad when people actually correct you.
     
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  39. Wilson6-1

    Wilson6-1 Rookie

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    A slice serve is not as slow as a top-slice serve. I am not sure why you belive that it is easier to generate pace from a top-slice serve.

    An advanced server can easily serve a slice serve over 100 mph. And I don't care what level a recreational player is at, slice serves are easier to disguise and will produce many aces.

    Therefore, I am not referring to a top-slice, since it will kick up even more on serve.
     
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  40. fruitytennis1

    fruitytennis1 Professional

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    First of all the phrases "aces" and "recreational player" don't really go together
    It is much easier to serve a top/slice over 100mph and in than pure slice..
    LeeD's tennis ability may be questionable but he usually/occasionally has the right info and in this case he is correct.
     
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  41. Wilson6-1

    Wilson6-1 Rookie

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    I am not sure if you are trying to say that recreational players don't hit aces or if you are simply trying to argue semantics of the words I chose.

    In regards to the actual response, if your position is that it is easier to control and get serves in with top-spin, that would be correct. However, that doesn't mean that it is easier to generate pace and it doesn't mean that a slice serve is not still very effective at all levels (which has been my point from the beginning).

    As far as the other poster, his posts aren't all bad and some are factually correct (and entertaining at times), but sometimes his posts are just out there.
     
    #41
  42. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    LeeD's tennis ability is not questionable. I've claimed "high 3.5" now for well over one year.
    I usually bagel or breadstick new 4.0 singles players, can lose to medium 4.0's who have speed, consistency, and are not afraid of me hitting too many clean winners. But those guys are my friends, who don't fear me, have nothing to lose.
    I've hit with maybe 5 guys who post here. From Shroud, RobFL, Deepak, Alex, Kiteboard (only once for 15 minutes, but I've played lots with his hitting partners) and all will vouch I"m at least a 4.0.
    I claim lower than most people would. One huge reason I wasn't asked to play for Albert's Fields state winning 4.0 team was because I would get questioned about claiming "4.0", when in fact I had beaten 9 of the 12 member team guys, NEVER lost a set to any of them, and had played A/Open in the past. One guy, Mark the nightraider, hasn't lost a set to me, but we only play at night, later than 9PM. He's No2 on that team.
     
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  43. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    I don't speak for everyone here, so someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but no one doubts your 3.5-4.0 NTRP. They doubt the skills you claim you have and that go along with that NTRP. 3.5s don't tend to hit 100 mph firsts and American twist seconds that kick up 6 feet. They tend to hit 70-80 mph flat/slice firsts and 60 mph slice seconds. They also don't tend to have the ability to consistently engage in 20+ shot rallies at any speed without pushing like that kid in the other thread can who you say is also a 3.5.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2013
    #43
  44. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Easy solution.
    I"ve named a few guys who have hit with me.
    Why don't you ask them?
    I'm one of the most open guys as far as hitting with anyone who comes onto this forum site. I've stated my phone # countless times, I've mentioned exactly where I play, most of you know my real name. I have nothing to hide, and I'll hit with anyone short of 5.0......but they better be at least league 3.5.
    I'd be wasting the time of a solid 4.5, except in doubles, and a 3.5 is wasting my time on court.
     
    #44
  45. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    I imagine your playing level to be what I see when I pull up any Youtube video of 3.5-4.0 tennis. None of those guys have abilities like you claim. That's all.
     
    #45
  46. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    "it was just my imagination, ........running away with me....it was just my imagination, running away, with me...... Eddy Kendricks, Tempatations.
    I was playing in A/Open, or nowadaze 5.5 level tourneys in the late '70's.
    FredStolle had just retired maybe mid '70's. He cannot play at ATP pro level now.
    I cannot play at even 4.5 levels now.
     
    #46
  47. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    Okay. Let's leave it at that.
     
    #47
  48. coolschreiber

    coolschreiber Semi-Pro

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    But with a degree of topspin when they do so :). Only 3-3.5s hit ONLY the slice component and no topspin.
     
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  49. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    That degree of top spin is included in top-slice
     
    #49
  50. Spokewench

    Spokewench Semi-Pro

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    So, just a little question, you hit most serves as slices (right or lefty?) but either way if you are a righty you slice out wide and do you aim for back left corner on deuce side which would mean you are hitting to most righties strength the forehand; I'm not sure what kind of serve that would give you on the ad side?? a pure slice would be pretty hard to hit down the tee on the ad side. Seems to me that serving from deuce side it would be an okay serve but not the greatest, but not so much to the ad. Wouldn't it go right into the forehand of the opponent? I know you play dubs, so you are going to the forehand on both sides? I do the complete opposite most of the time with a few variations to throw the opponent off. Make those righty forehand dominant players hit their backhand seems to work for me.
     
    #50

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