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-   -   Main differences between a 4.5 and a 5.5 (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=427911)

jdubbs 06-12-2012 09:29 AM

Main differences between a 4.5 and a 5.5
 
Played a former D1 player yesterday who still plays a lot of league tennis on a 5.5 team. Wow it was eye opening. Here are the main differences I experienced:

Serve -I could handle his serve pretty well, as he wasn't tall and didn't have the angles a taller server would have, and I kept my returns deep, but any return I hit "average" he was immediately dominating the point.

On my serve, his returns were all deep and at my feet. And my second serve...forget about it. My 2nd serve is actually decent and spinny, but he crushed it. That caused double faults as I felt I had to hit the ball a lot harder on my 2nd.

Groundstrokes: My average shot -decent topspin, medium power, was immediately put away with force. This doesn't happen at 4.5!
So I started hitting the ball harder -a lot harder-than I was used to. I could hang for 3 or 4 shots, but then I would either hit long or into the net. He seemed like he could hit these groundies forever. All of them hit with force and deep, even his defensive shots were a foot away from the baseline.

Net: He didn't miss a shot at the net. Perfect form on volleys. Also, he passed me, though I think I won about 50% of my shots at net.

Fitness: There are no points off when playing someone of this caliber. So you're expending a lot of energy on every point. This has a wearing effect and the UE's started piling up the deeper into the set we played.

It was a beating, even though I won the first game with huge flat first serves and putaways on my FH side surprising him. Was happy I got that game, because I didn't even get to deuce on any other game.

It was great to get the beat down as a learning experience and makes me see where I need to go. I wasn't overwhelmed and stayed in a lot of points, but it took me absolutely crushing shots just to put myself in position to win a point. Hard to do consistently for a 4.5!

GRANITECHIEF 06-12-2012 09:40 AM

And you didn't even have to pay him. Good experience.

mikeler 06-12-2012 09:42 AM

It's crazy how tired you can get when one of these guys beats you 1 and 0 isn't it!

jakemcclain32 06-12-2012 09:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jdubbs (Post 6626015)
Played a former D1 player yesterday who still plays a lot of league tennis on a 5.5 team. Wow it was eye opening. Here are the main differences I experienced:

Serve -I could handle his serve pretty well, as he wasn't tall and didn't have the angles a taller server would have, and I kept my returns deep, but any return I hit "average" he was immediately dominating the point.

On my serve, his returns were all deep and at my feet. And my second serve...forget about it. My 2nd serve is actually decent and spinny, but he crushed it. That caused double faults as I felt I had to hit the ball a lot harder on my 2nd.

Groundstrokes: My average shot -decent topspin, medium power, was immediately put away with force. This doesn't happen at 4.5!
So I started hitting the ball harder -a lot harder-than I was used to. I could hang for 3 or 4 shots, but then I would either hit long or into the net. He seemed like he could hit these groundies forever. All of them hit with force and deep, even his defensive shots were a foot away from the baseline.

Net: He didn't miss a shot at the net. Perfect form on volleys. Also, he passed me, though I think I won about 50% of my shots at net.

Fitness: There are no points off when playing someone of this caliber. So you're expending a lot of energy on every point. This has a wearing effect and the UE's started piling up the deeper into the set we played.

It was a beating, even though I won the first game with huge flat first serves and putaways on my FH side surprising him. Was happy I got that game, because I didn't even get to deuce on any other game.

It was great to get the beat down as a learning experience and makes me see where I need to go. I wasn't overwhelmed and stayed in a lot of points, but it took me absolutely crushing shots just to put myself in position to win a point. Hard to do consistently for a 4.5!

And when you annihilate those shots, it doesn't even matter, does it? Pace doesn't even bother them.

floridatennisdude 06-12-2012 10:10 AM

I don't play anyone 5.5 regularly, but what I have found against a 5.0 player I hit with is that his ball goes 10-15mph harder on all shots and he is 10-15% more accurate. He is probably 10-15% fitter too...so call it the 10-15 rule.

And I agree with the return of serve...my second serve gets pummeled by a 5.0 whereas most 4.5s can't do that. I would assume no chance against an even higher rated guy.

jdubbs 06-12-2012 10:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jakemcclain32 (Post 6626120)
And when you annihilate those shots, it doesn't even matter, does it? Pace doesn't even bother them.

Well, not completely true. You have to place it hard into the corners, get them on the run and stay aggressive. This means you have to have the ability to truly put balls away, as you might have to hit 3 winners every time just to get a single point. There is no let up. This makes it really tiring as everything has to be working for you. Let up a little and boom, 3 games go by like nothing.

I don't have the perfect form or fitness, and don't know if I'll get there, so I'll probably just stay at 4.5. I mean, certain points I look great and win points, but can't do it consistently. Can't wait to play the next 4.5 match as I think this experience can only improve me.

Coolest thing was he's a really nice guy and we did some drills afterwards and he had some pointers for me.

jakemcclain32 06-12-2012 11:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jdubbs (Post 6626252)
Well, not completely true. You have to place it hard into the corners, get them on the run and stay aggressive. This means you have to have the ability to truly put balls away, as you might have to hit 3 winners every time just to get a single point. There is no let up. This makes it really tiring as everything has to be working for you. Let up a little and boom, 3 games go by like nothing.

I don't have the perfect form or fitness, and don't know if I'll get there, so I'll probably just stay at 4.5. I mean, certain points I look great and win points, but can't do it consistently. Can't wait to play the next 4.5 match as I think this experience can only improve me.

Coolest thing was he's a really nice guy and we did some drills afterwards and he had some pointers for me.

I had a 5.5/6.0 give me pointers a few months ago. We started hitting, and I pound this forehand right at his feet. All he did was chip it right back over the net like it was second nature, where I netted it. That's all I meant...at that level, it's a different world.

LeeD 06-12-2012 12:10 PM

See, that's why I think it's fine for a 4.5 to play A/Open, to open his eyes, his mind, and his imagination. If you only play 4.5 and 5.0's, you get a distorted look at reality.
You were almost bagging on a friend of yours who played A/Open tourneys, a nice losing record, no hope for a victory....but that's WHY you play at the higher level, to see what tennis is all about...:shock:

arche3 06-12-2012 12:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LeeD (Post 6626602)
See, that's why I think it's fine for a 4.5 to play A/Open, to open his eyes, his mind, and his imagination. If you only play 4.5 and 5.0's, you get a distorted look at reality.
You were almost bagging on a friend of yours who played A/Open tourneys, a nice losing record, no hope for a victory....but that's WHY you play at the higher level, to see what tennis is all about...:shock:

good thinking lee d. And the higher level guys appreciate a first round pigeon too. Less work.

ctromano 06-12-2012 12:36 PM

experience, practice time and patients; I think are the difference between the 4.5 and 5.5, i used to aspire to become a 5.5 when I was in high school and was one according to my coaches at SDSU but once i actually got rated a 5.5 by the usta and played in open tournaments I didn't feel any difference, now i'm almost 50 years old and play like i never seen a tennis racquet in my life, time with tennis is the difference my friends some of us never truly realized what we had.

jdubbs 06-12-2012 12:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LeeD (Post 6626602)
See, that's why I think it's fine for a 4.5 to play A/Open, to open his eyes, his mind, and his imagination. If you only play 4.5 and 5.0's, you get a distorted look at reality.
You were almost bagging on a friend of yours who played A/Open tourneys, a nice losing record, no hope for a victory....but that's WHY you play at the higher level, to see what tennis is all about...:shock:

Its fine to do it, but I'm not paying $50 a shot to lose every time. No way I would pay that to get crushed every weekend. The losing would get to me. Also, I'd have to see improvement for me to keep at it. He just keeps losing without winning a game.

I'll definitely play someone at that level if they're willing, but not in a tourney every weekend.

Blade0324 06-13-2012 06:18 AM

jdubbs, great insight and so true. I had the good fortune of playing a 35's tourney with a friend of mine recently. I'm a decent 5.0 player recently moved from 4.5 and he was top 100 ATP in 1991. Playing against mostly 4.5-5.0 players in the tourney he could hit serves at about 75% that they could hardly return and he could take their best 1st serves and crush them back at them with little difficulty. I was really amazing how different his level was than the rest of us when he was really trying.

bluetrain4 06-13-2012 06:46 AM

Great post, very enlightening, and so true. It's always an eye opener to play someone who is better than you, on another level.

Sometimes I think people don't understand all of the levels of tennis skill. I'm a pretty good 4.5 player. If someone were to watch me hit the ball and play a little, they'd generally think I know what I'm doing, that I'm in some sense "good." But, a lot of people make this determination based simply on things they can readily see - "he can hit with spin, he can hit hard, his strokes look solid, etc.), and don't really acknowledge the intangibles - consistency, placement, tactics, fitness, ability to adjust to opponent, positioning, which really set different levels of tennis players apart. Most 4.5 players when just hitting back and forth with a 5.5, will look fine, not a huge difference. But that's not the case when play begins, as you noted.

Where I live, there's a set of guys who play a lot of tournaments, but there is also a set of decent players who don't play tournaments. Plus, there's a lot of lower rated guys who you just know from around the park, who you've hit with at one time or another who don't play tournaments.

It's always funny when I come back from a tournament and some guys will ask me how I did. So, for example, I report back that I lost in the first round 6-3, 6-2 (which I did to a 5.0 player in an open tournament two weeks ago), and they'll be dumbfounded - "you lost that bad?" I just cringe and laugh. They don't get it. They think I should win based on my play against them, where I look great because I'm better and in control of the point and doing what I want. They don't seem to understand that a better player will never really let you be in control, impose your game, and you end up looking (and feeling) much worse. And, the 5.0 player who beat me in the 1st Rnd went on to lose 6-4, 6-0 in the next round to some 6.0ish college kid (Blake Baznarik from Vandy). Again, levels. [BTW, I'm very happy I drew the 5.0 player in the first round. At least I could get into rallies, control a few points, win some games, actually "play" tennis. Against a 6.0 college stud, it probably would have been very ugly. LOL.]

JoelDali 06-13-2012 07:31 AM

The 4.5 has better shot selection whereas the 5.5 possesses more power and historically has more muscles in his calves.

The 5.0 is in perpetual purgatory - hes good but sucks on a worldwide level and should quit the game and sell his PT 630s on TT classifieds.

LeeD 06-13-2012 07:57 AM

While I never ever succeeded in A/Open, I still think any good 4.5 with high aspirations should compete at that level.
First of all, unless you are plain unlucky, or really suck, you will NEVER lose every first round match. In over 14 tourneys, I lost in the first round maybe 5 times, and every time, in hot weather that I played at maybe 70%.
Remember, OTHER 4.5's or lower are entered in A/Open. That's why it's called OPEN!
And nothing improves your work ethic and knowledge better than hobnobbing at the higher levels, so you can see prep techniques, eq prep, mental focusing, meditation, warmups, and the ATTITUDE it takes to succeed!
Staying at 4.5 gives you nothing to progress a full level. That works only for guys who really will never move past 4.5.

OrangePower 06-13-2012 09:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jdubbs (Post 6626015)
Played a former D1 player yesterday who still plays a lot of league tennis on a 5.5 team. Wow it was eye opening. Here are the main differences I experienced...

Main difference is: 4.5 is just a recreational hacker, vs 5.5 is a tennis player :-)

Not meant as an insult since I am a 4.5 myself, but at 5.0 and below, we do not have complete games. Whereas players at 5.5+ have complete games - all the shots, footwork, and physical skills.

Put another way, you can get to 4.5 and even 5.0 with limitations - do not have to have been trained as a kid, can have some bad habits with technique, can be older / not in prime physical shape, etc. Whereas, to be at 5.5 you need to have had rigorous coaching / training (at least at some point in the past), and you need to be in good physical condition.

coloskier 06-13-2012 09:30 AM

I used to be a coach for a top 7 in the USA ranked girl in Girls 18, and I can guarantee you that most 5.0 men would be lucky to win a game against her. Not only is the accuracy there, but she probably hit harder than most 5.0/6.0 guys in my state. The 10/15 rule stated above definitely is a factor.

jdubbs 06-13-2012 09:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by coloskier (Post 6629198)
I used to be a coach for a top 7 in the USA ranked girl in Girls 18, and I can guarantee you that most 5.0 men would be lucky to win a game against her. Not only is the accuracy there, but she probably hit harder than most 5.0/6.0 guys in my state. The 10/15 rule stated above definitely is a factor.

I played an all american girl from a top d1 school a couple of months ago...she had graduated a couple of years ago and maybe wasnt match tough, but still...i ended up losing 3 and 4. Guess it just depends...her serve wasnt that strong compared to the top men, but her groundies were impeccable.

LeeD 06-13-2012 10:05 AM

Totally depends what weapons you have, and how you use it, and when, of course.
I always mentioned I hit with A women and girls while I was a C player, before I'd won any tourneys. That's because I had the big lefty serve. NOT because I was a good player or handsome, rich, or anything like that.
That same serve got me hitting time with top 6 ranked A players, while I was still technically a C or 3.5. Some guys would ask me to hit serves at them because their draw featured a couple of big serving lefties.
So you need a WEAPON....not speed, not consistency, but a winning shot.
That applies to playing with the A women. To get points, you cannot out consistency them. You CAN get points with a big wide forehand, followed by a short angled volley. Same with a forcing serve, followed by a shot they won't run for.
That works for lower level A men's, also.
And for sure, you cannot double fault, ever. A combo 2nd serve out wide low skidded and high kicking helps. You stretch their reach, then once they zero in on that, you hit into the body, dead center right hip pocket, and come to net to END the point, not sustain the rally.
At similar levels, women The men have to end the point with a forcing shot to have any success, and still LOSE to the full higher level woman.

Power Player 06-13-2012 10:20 AM

Just watched some 6.0 world ranked juniors play yesterday. Biggest difference besides serve is indeed pace on the shot. These guys hit bigger for their "safe shots", and when pulled wide still hit big returns. I have a 6.0 who wins satellites at my club and a 5.5. The 5.5 guy you would think is more a 5.0 until he gets in a serious match. Against the 6.0 junior he played really well and was losing point play 15-11, 15-10. He was hitting nice and heavy and deep.


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