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WBF 02-23-2008 03:21 PM

Mixed Doubles Question
 
(Question at bottom)

Background: My fiancee essentially first picked up a tennis racquet in the summer of 2006. She's fairly athletic, and has improved quite a bit. I would say she would have no trouble at the 3.5 level (she has been approached by teams when we hit), and could potentially play at the 4.0 level if she improved her serve and perhaps volleys (we focused on groundstrokes for a long time).

Sooo, now she has expressed interest in some more competitive play! I'm quite excited, and think it would be great for her to get some match experience. She's probably going to consider a 3.5 league (one that approached her) this summer, although we are also interested in some mixed doubles!

So here's the tough part... If I am a college level player (around the 5.0 level at the moment, perhaps higher by summer-time, as I am undergoing heavy conditioning for the first time in a looong time), and she is somewhere between a 3.0 or 4.0, what sort of tournaments should we look to play in? I'm not really sure how things work in mixed, apart from adding up each rating, but how would the big differential here come into play?

Thanks for any help!

Topaz 02-23-2008 03:32 PM

Look for open mixed tournaments.

Rated I guess you guys could do 9.0 (5.0 plus 3.5), but I'm not sure if they would allow such a big difference in rating between the two players. USTA mixed leagues generally don't allow more than 1.0 between partners, so I would just check the rules where you live, and for a particular tournament.

As the female and weaker player, she should expect a lot of balls hit her way, obviously. The two of you will have to work on some way of neutralizing that, especially against two evenly matched opponents. In mixed, it is usually the female that makes the difference.

And you should hit her lots of serves. Tons. Billions even. All kinds. Don't back off. That return of serve is *crucial*!

Moz 02-23-2008 03:39 PM

Good luck WBF - that's great news. It will be interesting if you love playing mixed with each other or hate it!!

From my experience the mixed doubles tournaments on the USTA website are very poorly attended and are often cancelled through lack of entry - unless they are very high standard. Even then the national over 30's mixed had just 3 couples this year.

It's worth looking for smaller local tournaments at the local racquet clubs which will not be on the website but will often have better draws.

Cindysphinx 02-23-2008 03:40 PM

Here, you two couldn't be a mixed USTA league team unless she wants to self-rate at 4.0 (which would nix her for the 3.5 team).

Methinks she might not be ready for 4.0 on a 9.0 mixed team unless her volleys are spectacular. If not, they'll crack everything to her at net and it will be a long hard slog.

Maybe she could play 3.5 this spring and then if she dominates you'll have a better idea?

fe6250 02-23-2008 03:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WBF (Post 2112558)
(Question at bottom)

Background: My fiancee essentially first picked up a tennis racquet in the summer of 2006. She's fairly athletic, and has improved quite a bit. I would say she would have no trouble at the 3.5 level (she has been approached by teams when we hit), and could potentially play at the 4.0 level if she improved her serve and perhaps volleys (we focused on groundstrokes for a long time).

Sooo, now she has expressed interest in some more competitive play! I'm quite excited, and think it would be great for her to get some match experience. She's probably going to consider a 3.5 league (one that approached her) this summer, although we are also interested in some mixed doubles!

So here's the tough part... If I am a college level player (around the 5.0 level at the moment, perhaps higher by summer-time, as I am undergoing heavy conditioning for the first time in a looong time), and she is somewhere between a 3.0 or 4.0, what sort of tournaments should we look to play in? I'm not really sure how things work in mixed, apart from adding up each rating, but how would the big differential here come into play?

Thanks for any help!

I think the toughest part is the differential and that you would be throwing her into a 'fire fight' with little experience - give your own level of play. I think Cindy has it right in letting her get some match experience at the 3.5 or 4.0 level and make sure she is comfortable with the level and competition before throwing a 5.0 male at her to smash serves and groundstrokes!

Whatever you decide - I'm sure it will be great fun as you get the mixed doubles 'up and running'.

Topaz 02-23-2008 04:09 PM

Cindy brings up a good point...if her volleys are weak, then you will suffer as a mixed team, *especially* at open and higher levels.

I'm in the camp of 'go on out and give it a shot even if you're going to get your arse kicked'. So, if she is up for it, I would say go for it, but be very realistic with her and tell her what to expect.

And then forget the groundstrokes, and work on volleys. Fast, hard volleys. At her face. At her body. Work on positioning and communication. Make sure she can serve where you want her to in order to set you up at the net.

Oh, and did I mention serve to her a bunch, too? ;)

You guys may not be ready for the big time yet, but if she keeps working and getting better, and gains experience, it sounds like you may have a mixed partner for a good, long time! Good luck, and keep us updated!

WBF 02-23-2008 04:33 PM

Thanks for the input!

I was looking at the opens as well, I think we might give one or two a try this summer. She is competitive, but realistic in that she won't be too upset if we lose -we play matches fairly often and she doesn't win, but she enjoys it and is usually the one to suggest starting a set while we are hitting. Topaz, with respect to giving it a shot even if you get your arse kicked: same here. I figure at the very least the experience will give her some confidence in terms of getting used to playing in tournaments and in more high-pressure situations, as well as some challenging tennis!

As for preparation, in terms of returning she will be very, very well prepared :) I hold nothing back when playing against her, and she can actually get some first serves back in play, and does well enough with my second serve. I'll definitely have to start doing some work with her volleys; while she can certainly get most balls back, she has a tougher time not giving up a sitter if the ball is further away, and with putting balls away. Thanks for the tips!

Oh, another thing! Can any of you who started tennis or competitive tennis within memory offer any suggestions in terms of issues you may have had when you first started out playing doubles? I'm not the best teacher, and occasionally leave out obvious details... For instance, she has been playing from ~ 1 foot behind the baseline this whole time, despite the fact that I hit relatively hard and deep balls! This was helpful, but other things might not be...

tbini87 02-23-2008 04:54 PM

i would talk to her about return of serve in doubles. if there is a lot of poaching it seems to really affect newer players. i think they see this huge person @ net and panic and get thrown all out of whack. my advice about that is to pick where you are going with each serve before the shot. for example: serve up the middle i go cross court, serve out wide i go down the line (or whatever she likes to do).

i would give her some major volley practice and tons of overheads. i found it easiest to go right at the net person's feet with my volleys.

oh, and don't forget the lobs. they come in handy when the pressure is on or if she finds herself being overpowered. i will try to think of some more stuff, me being fairly new to dubs myself.

Topaz 02-23-2008 04:55 PM

Video tape her playing a set/serving/volleying/drilling.

For me, it did not really 'click' in my head on some things until I could actually see what people were telling me. Especially on my serve and on my positioning at the net...I *felt* like I was doing what my pros were telling me, and when I finally saw that I most definitely was NOT doing what I thought I was, well, it was eye opening and much easier to work on and improve.

Though, I still get threatened to be whacked in the butt if said butt is not close enough to the net!

The latest thing my pro is working with me on specifically for doubles is 'chipping and charging.' Chipping the return, then get to net. Again, I *thought* I was chipping (and not swinging at returns) until one lesson when the light bulb went off! Personally, I *hate* it!!! I want to swing! Slowly but surely I'm getting better at it (I think!). High levels doubles is played and won at the net.

Fast volley drills at net have also helped my develop faster 'hands' at net as well. It used to be that I would hit a good volley, not expect it to come back, and then be caught off guard when it did. I still get caught, but sometimes I'm doing the catching as well! :)

Cindysphinx 02-23-2008 05:50 PM

Yeah, I'm still a newbie at tennis (started Fall of '04), so I can still remember the early days of doubles. Oy.

1. Make sure she positions correctly in the box and does not stay in one place. She should be in constant motion. Should be retreating when partner is hitting, moving up once ball gets past opposing net person, moving side-to-side to mirror ball, all of that stuff. No alley hugging allowed.

2. Pick a side for her to receive on and train her in all the shots she needs. For ad, she absolutely must have a BH down the line. She won't use it much, but if she doesn't have it an active net man will make her life miserable. She will also need a BH overhead/high volley.

3. As Tbini87 says, the threat of someone jumping all over at the net can make you spray balls like mad. If she has basically sound groundstrokes like you say, tell her to deal with this mentally by deciding to spank the ball and make him deal with it. You'd be surprised how you can beat a poaching net person if you just focus on hitting a good shot.

4. No lobbing allowed. As a woman playing mixed, it is so easy to get a bad case of lob-itis where you are throwing up a lob because you lose confidence in your groundstrokes, not because it is an appropriate shot for the situation. That two opponents are at net is not by itself a good reason to lob. Perhaps put her on a lob diet for your practice matches -- she can lob no more than twice in a set. And if she is going to lob, she lob the backhand of the woman if possible.

5. Have her to come to net whenever she gets a "Get To The Net Free" card. That is whenever you are about to hit an overhead, whenever you are at net having a volley exchange, or whenever the opposing team is in serious trouble (e.g. I formation).

6. Teach her to watch the opposing net man while you are hitting and start backpedaling the minute she sees any sign of an overhead about to be struck. A lot of women at my level literally just stand there, not even turning their backs or taking any sort of evasive action.

7. Guard against Service Line Creep, where she gradually moves farther and farther back in the box out of lack of confidence. Until they spin one to her feet.

Those are the sorts of things I found difficult when I started playing doubles (heck, they are still difficult!) and the things I still see in teammates and opponents that can cause real trouble.

goober 02-23-2008 06:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WBF (Post 2112558)
(Question at bottom)

Background: My fiancee essentially first picked up a tennis racquet in the summer of 2006. She's fairly athletic, and has improved quite a bit. I would say she would have no trouble at the 3.5 level (she has been approached by teams when we hit), and could potentially play at the 4.0 level if she improved her serve and perhaps volleys (we focused on groundstrokes for a long time).

Sooo, now she has expressed interest in some more competitive play! I'm quite excited, and think it would be great for her to get some match experience. She's probably going to consider a 3.5 league (one that approached her) this summer, although we are also interested in some mixed doubles!

So here's the tough part... If I am a college level player (around the 5.0 level at the moment, perhaps higher by summer-time, as I am undergoing heavy conditioning for the first time in a looong time), and she is somewhere between a 3.0 or 4.0, what sort of tournaments should we look to play in? I'm not really sure how things work in mixed, apart from adding up each rating, but how would the big differential here come into play?

Thanks for any help!

It sounds like neither of you don't have a computer rating either. For tournaments you can essentially play the first year at any level until the end of year end ratings come out . If you go into leagues though it will be a different story and you can get a DQ.

As far as a I know if you play tournament exclusive there are no DQs. I know a 21 year old guy who played one year of college tennis. His first year of tourneys he started out in Opens. He got demolished. He went all the way down to 3.5 and won easily, then moved to 4.5 tourneys and lost again. Finally he ended up at 4.0 where he is now settled. He played every tourney level offered in the area except 3.0 during his first year.

Your locale will probably govern what level you play. In my area for mixed tourneys 8.0 is the highest and then it goes to Open. I haven't seen a lot of 9.0 mixed around here, but your area may be different. You may want to start at 8.0 and see how that goes. Your fiancee may only be 3.0 for doubles if she doesn't have much experience.

WBF 04-17-2008 11:34 AM

Hehe, sooooo.... There's a local tournament here that uses a whacky system, where it simply has 3.5, 4.0, 4.5, Open.... And you need to enter the draw that the best player fits within! So, for my fiancee's first tournament experience, she will be playing open (mixed) doubles. It's going to be awesome :p

2 Weeks to teach her doubles and perhaps get some actual practice in!


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