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-   -   I Keep Trying to like Mixed, but just can't (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=466467)

JackB1 06-11-2013 06:22 AM

I Keep Trying to like Mixed, but just can't
 
Anyone else with this issue?

I just love playing tennis and all things tennis, but playing Mixed just drives me crazy. The difference between the men and women is usually very pronounced and so EVERY MATCH eventually turns into this:
1) whenever you need the point...hit at the girl
2) to end a rally quick...hit at the girl
3) guy hits at girl.....repeat, repeat, repeat.

Also, MOST women are just playing mixed tennis for social reasons and are very casual about winning or losing. With myself being very competitive, its not a good combo. It seems like EVERY team has 1 or 2 strong female players and then the rest of them are interchangable and near the bottom of the ratings level you are in. There just aren't enough really good female players to go around in these leagues and that causes lots of disparity between the male female's playing levels.

I keep trying to like mixed every season, but every year I keep asking myself "why"? I keep thinking this time it will be different...more fun..more competitive, but its not.

tennixpl 06-11-2013 06:32 AM

do you have a regular partner? practice too if its competitive for you, if your partner wont practice then they are that social player and find a new one. this would be no different than if it were a man. some ppl play for fun , others for beating the snot out of ppl, others to get outside and gab. if is she isn't of a great skill level find a partner who wants to compete first. I'd ratehr play with a 2.5 who wants to fight than a 3.0/3.5 who just wants to be in the sun for an hour.

Other than that don't play standard doubles. if your partner is getting hit have her stand back at the baseline, clearly define territory . wit ha weaker partner i say cover the line and don't worry about anything else.
or if she doesn't want to move back have her move a lot closer, some ppl have good reflexes and its when they have more time they jack it up. have her sit on the dang net, it might work.

as for opponents don't be afraid to hit it at the girl for real, and if you go for the guy aim low....in most of these situations the guy is a net predator and will poach everything he can, they are usually not ready for low balls, they are waiting for that soft nice ball hit back to the lady.

tennismonkey 06-11-2013 06:38 AM

playing mixed means just rewiring your approach. play regular men's league if you want regular tennis.

you play mixed tennis if you like your tennis wacky and like a good challenge. these challenges include:

1 - you must hold serve every time.
2 - you must make just about every return.
3 - you must help your partner hold serve.
4 - you must at least break your opposing female's serve and as a bonus the guy's serve too.
5 - you must put your partner in winning positions.

funny thing is this is the same strategy for regular dubs. the difference is how aggressively you execute this strategy.

Cindysphinx 06-11-2013 07:07 AM

Interesting post, OP.

First, I would say that if you don't enjoy playing mixed, then don't. You don't say your level. But if you are a 4.0 guy playing 7.0 mixed, that is a full-on nightmare. Maybe play 8.0 or even 9.0?

Anyway . . . I disagree strongly that most women are playing mixed for social reasons. If you are talking USTA, the women are playing either because they enjoy the pace/challenge of playing with guys, or they think it will help them improve.

Although I very much want to win at mixed, I rarely do. So I don't act like it is the end of the world if we aren't winning. This is especially so given that the reason we lose is usually me. Perhaps you are misinterpreting your partner's casual attitude as not caring when it is not?

Finally, I disagree that teams have 1-2 strong women and the rest are at the bottom of their rating level. In my experience, the weakest 4.0 women want nothing to do with 8.0 mixed. The ones who do play mixed either like it or want to improve, but they are usually middle of level or higher. Because there are far more women wanting to play mixed than available playing slots, the women who get an invitation tend to be solid.

Now. I am also struggling with whether to continue playing mixed.

My issue with mixed is that I cannot seem to find male partners who play a style that will help me. If winning depends on me standing in the back corner trying to rally with a 4.0-4.5 guy or trying to hit passing shots against two opponents at net, we are going to lose. So if my partner stands there passively at net waiting for me to set him up, he will be waiting a long time.

I need a partner who is brave enough to poach and who understands he is going to have to help me hold. I have only come across one such guy.

These guys must exist, though. I know this because my female opponents seem to have found such guys!

spaceman_spiff 06-11-2013 07:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cindysphinx (Post 7499397)
My issue with mixed is that I cannot seem to find male partners who play a style that will help me. If winning depends on me standing in the back corner trying to rally with a 4.0-4.5 guy or trying to hit passing shots against two opponents at net, we are going to lose. So if my partner stands there passively at net waiting for me to set him up, he will be waiting a long time.

I need a partner who is brave enough to poach and who understands he is going to have to help me hold. I have only come across one such guy.

These guys must exist, though. I know this because my female opponents seem to have found such guys!

I'm not sure if this applies to you, but the thing I find with people who ask for help holding their serve is that there are a lot of things they can do to help themselves.

For example, serve down the middle, a lot. If you serve out wide all the time, your partner has to be wary of the DTL return, and poaching becomes a much riskier venture. If you go down the middle, even if it's to your male opponent's forehand, it still gives your partner a chance to move over and join the point. To that end, don't stand way out wide on your serve. Stand so that you can hit a serve down the middle that makes your opponent stretch.

Also, don't be afraid to hit a groundstroke down the middle. Just like with the serve, if you hit wide groundstrokes all the time, poaching becomes a much riskier move for your partner. Unless you're playing a very aggressive woman, the chances are she isn't going to come flying across the net to poach when you've got enough time to take a full swing at a groundstroke. If you put the ball down the middle, you're partner can move over and help you out a bit.

You can also lob & volley. Lob down the line, come to the net, have your partner take a step or two back to cover the counter lob, and dare your male opponent to hit passing shots.

JackB1 06-11-2013 07:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cindysphinx (Post 7499397)
Interesting post, OP.

First, I would say that if you don't enjoy playing mixed, then don't. You don't say your level. But if you are a 4.0 guy playing 7.0 mixed, that is a full-on nightmare. Maybe play 8.0 or even 9.0?

Anyway . . . I disagree strongly that most women are playing mixed for social reasons. If you are talking USTA, the women are playing either because they enjoy the pace/challenge of playing with guys, or they think it will help them improve.

Although I very much want to win at mixed, I rarely do. So I don't act like it is the end of the world if we aren't winning. This is especially so given that the reason we lose is usually me. Perhaps you are misinterpreting your partner's casual attitude as not caring when it is not?

Finally, I disagree that teams have 1-2 strong women and the rest are at the bottom of their rating level. In my experience, the weakest 4.0 women want nothing to do with 8.0 mixed. The ones who do play mixed either like it or want to improve, but they are usually middle of level or higher. Because there are far more women wanting to play mixed than available playing slots, the women who get an invitation tend to be solid.

Now. I am also struggling with whether to continue playing mixed.

My issue with mixed is that I cannot seem to find male partners who play a style that will help me. If winning depends on me standing in the back corner trying to rally with a 4.0-4.5 guy or trying to hit passing shots against two opponents at net, we are going to lose. So if my partner stands there passively at net waiting for me to set him up, he will be waiting a long time.

I need a partner who is brave enough to poach and who understands he is going to have to help me hold. I have only come across one such guy.

These guys must exist, though. I know this because my female opponents seem to have found such guys!

Hey Cindy....I do enjoy reading your posts BTW.

Hope that didn't come off as "anti-female" because I certainly am not. I just realize we are different creatures.

As far as level, I play ALTA which is an organization similar to USTA but they use different levels. I play A4, which would translate to around 8.0 mixed. It may be the teams I have been on, but I would say "most" or around 3/4's of the women seem to be more interested in catching up with the latest gossip, etc. and playing the matches is kind of secondary. A great example was last week when our opposing line forfieted late and me and my partner were both there waiting to play. Another team said "we'll play you guys just for fun" and I said "sure", since I wanted to play, but my partner was like "I dont really want to".

Cindy, you come accross as NOT the typical female mixed player and I would love playing mixed with a partner that was so passionate and competitve about her tennis, but you are the exception IMO. Most women dont even want to discuss strategy at all and just want to be left alone. Another example....my partner has a weak serve and was getting destroyed by the opposing male. After the first set, I suggested that we try something different, like me playing the "I" formation, called poaches or even playing Australian, but her response was "I don't want more things to think about while I'm serving". I shrug and walk away and she continues to get pounded and loses every serving game.

I think part of the problem is that many of the women on these teams just don't belong at this high a level and end up staying on these teams to play with friends or with their neighbors, etc. Then you end up with lines where there is a huge disparity between levels and the games turn into "guy hits at girl". In the rare times where the levels are close to equal, then mixed can be a very enjoyable experience, but unfortunately it happens very rarely.

JackB1 06-11-2013 07:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tennixpl (Post 7499299)
do you have a regular partner? practice too if its competitive for you, if your partner wont practice then they are that social player and find a new one. this would be no different than if it were a man. some ppl play for fun , others for beating the snot out of ppl, others to get outside and gab. if is she isn't of a great skill level find a partner who wants to compete first. I'd rather play with a 2.5 who wants to fight than a 3.0/3.5 who just wants to be in the sun for an hour.

No and thats part of the problem. Our captain plays different people together all the time, so you have a new partner almost every time out.
That makes things more difficult, since you don't know how they like to play regarding strategy, court positioning, etc.

JackB1 06-11-2013 07:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by spaceman_spiff (Post 7499439)
I'm not sure if this applies to you, but the thing I find with people who ask for help holding their serve is that there are a lot of things they can do to help themselves.

For example, serve down the middle, a lot. If you serve out wide all the time, your partner has to be wary of the DTL return, and poaching becomes a much riskier venture. If you go down the middle, even if it's to your male opponent's forehand, it still gives your partner a chance to move over and join the point. To that end, don't stand way out wide on your serve. Stand so that you can hit a serve down the middle that makes your opponent stretch.

Also, don't be afraid to hit a groundstroke down the middle. Just like with the serve, if you hit wide groundstrokes all the time, poaching becomes a much riskier move for your partner. Unless you're playing a very aggressive woman, the chances are she isn't going to come flying across the net to poach when you've got enough time to take a full swing at a groundstroke. If you put the ball down the middle, you're partner can move over and help you out a bit.

You can also lob & volley. Lob down the line, come to the net, have your partner take a step or two back to cover the counter lob, and dare your male opponent to hit passing shots.

Spaceman, these are all very good suggestions, but most of the women I play with have one way of playing and rarely adjust to what's happening on the court. My partner last week kept repeadily getting caught in no mans land while trying to approach the net. The opposition kept hitting at her feet or wide angled past her. Over and over. I told her "you might want to stay back more". She looked at me like she had no idea why I was suggesting this.

spaceman_spiff 06-11-2013 07:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JackB1 (Post 7499498)
Spaceman, these are all very good suggestions, but most of the women I play with have one way of playing and rarely adjust to what's happening on the court. My partner last week kept repeadily getting caught in no mans land while trying to approach the net. The opposition kept hitting at her feet or wide angled past her. Over and over. I told her "you might want to stay back more". She looked at me like she had no idea why I was suggesting this.

I've played with a lot of men who also just do the same thing over and over without thinking. My advice was aimed more at people like Cindy, who is quite open-minded about new strategies and such.

Also, if you haven't learned yet, it's generally just not a good idea to coach your partner. The best you can hope for is to use a more successful strategy when you are serving/returning and hope that your partner notices how effective the strategy is.

Cindysphinx 06-11-2013 07:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JackB1 (Post 7499478)
Hey Cindy....I do enjoy reading your posts BTW.

Thank you, and right back atcha!

Quote:

Most women dont even want to discuss strategy at all and just want to be left alone. Another example....my partner has a weak serve and was getting destroyed by the opposing male. After the first set, I suggested that we try something different, like me playing the "I" formation, called poaches or even playing Australian, but her response was "I don't want more things to think about while I'm serving". I shrug and walk away and she continues to get pounded and loses every serving game.
Yes, I feel your pain. There are a lot of women out there who want to play exactly one way and will not change no matter how badly they are getting smoked. And it is the same excuse every time: "I'll miss my serves if I have to [fill in blank]."

It's *crazy* stuff. Like, one partner of mine was getting killed on her serves, so we decided to do signaled poaches. I would give the signal to her, and I would hear no acknowledgement. After this happened a couple of times, and told her to be sure to say yes or OK so I would know we were in sync. She refused to acknowledge the signal, saying it would confuse her to say "OK" before she served.

I had another partner who told me to stop faking/moving so much when she was serving because it was distracting to her and making her miss her serves. Oy.

Anyway . . . I would say this is not a gender thing, but an inexperienced player thing. I have played with male partners who refuse to use signals, refuse to consider I or Aussie, refuse to play two back, refuse to lob.

Honestly, it sounds like are just on the wrong team (no steady partners, folks not committed to practice or improvement). Maybe switch teams and see if things are better elsewhere?

OrangePower 06-11-2013 07:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JackB1 (Post 7499273)
Anyone else with this issue?

I just love playing tennis and all things tennis, but playing Mixed just drives me crazy. The difference between the men and women is usually very pronounced and so EVERY MATCH eventually turns into this:
1) whenever you need the point...hit at the girl
2) to end a rally quick...hit at the girl
3) guy hits at girl.....repeat, repeat, repeat.

Yeah I agree. I find mixed can be fun when it's just social. But when it's competitive, the difference in skill levels between the 4 players on the court is usually noticeably large and that just makes for bad tennis, in the sense that your shot selection gets very biased towards targeting the weaker player (typically the woman).

JackB1 06-11-2013 08:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by spaceman_spiff (Post 7499510)
I've played with a lot of men who also just do the same thing over and over without thinking. My advice was aimed more at people like Cindy, who is quite open-minded about new strategies and such.

Also, if you haven't learned yet, it's generally just not a good idea to coach your partner. The best you can hope for is to use a more successful strategy when you are serving/returning and hope that your partner notices how effective the strategy is.

And exactly how do you do that without suggesting something different?
How do you tell you partner that keeps getting caught in NML or leaving wide open angles to stop doing it? I was hoping she would catch on, but she didn't and the match was almost over.

LeftyRighty 06-11-2013 08:02 AM

The three issues you posted is exactly what happens to me in mixed doubles. The guy just attacks my female partner over and over, and when he hits towards me it's a slice to keep me from hitting with pace.

It's only social though, so it is very annoying that he is the only one on the court trying to be competitive towards the women, and then back off towards me. I'd much rather the guy hit normally towards me, and take it easy on her.

The women I play with just enjoy being out there and aren't trying to compete or anything like that. But it ruins the fun when he jumps in front of his partners shots and yells at her.

OrangePower 06-11-2013 08:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tennismonkey (Post 7499314)
playing mixed means just rewiring your approach. play regular men's league if you want regular tennis.

you play mixed tennis if you like your tennis wacky and like a good challenge. these challenges include:

1 - you must hold serve every time.
2 - you must make just about every return.
3 - you must help your partner hold serve.
4 - you must at least break your opposing female's serve and as a bonus the guy's serve too.
5 - you must put your partner in winning positions.

funny thing is this is the same strategy for regular dubs. the difference is how aggressively you execute this strategy.

It's the same strategy, but the tactics are very different.
Your shot selection in mixed gets to be different to when you are playing dubs with 4 equally skilled players. There are many examples but the lob return is one... let's say you have a strong guy with a weaker woman, when the guy is serving, you will often see a (mediocre) lob return over the woman. This is a good shot for this situation, but a terrible shot choice generally speaking if you are playing men's dubs with 4 decent men.

Cindysphinx 06-11-2013 08:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JackB1 (Post 7499498)
Spaceman, these are all very good suggestions, but most of the women I play with have one way of playing and rarely adjust to what's happening on the court. My partner last week kept repeadily getting caught in no mans land while trying to approach the net. The opposition kept hitting at her feet or wide angled past her. Over and over. I told her "you might want to stay back more". She looked at me like she had no idea why I was suggesting this.

I'll tell you why she is giving you that look.

She is coming to net because she is terrified of getting pinned in the back corner. From there, she must either pass or lob. Whichever she chooses will result in the ball getting crushed into your abdomen. Then you will be angry and might even suggest that she not lob, which won't help. 'Cause she can't set up well on the ball and drive a passing shot, or she would be doing that!

She had decided she would rather launch Pickett's charge than deal with that.

I don't like it when male partners tell me to stay back. They aren't doing anything up there, yet they are trying to get me parked on the baseline.

Let me decide how to die, will ya? :)

Cindysphinx 06-11-2013 08:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JackB1 (Post 7499524)
And exactly how do you do that without suggesting something different?
How do you tell you partner that keeps getting caught in NML or leaving wide open angles to stop doing it? I was hoping she would catch on, but she didn't and the match was almost over.

I can help with this! :)

The way to suggest is to just make neutral observations or talk about what you're going to do. Examples:

Partner is coming to net but botching the approach volley: "Oh, wow. That's some return he has. I wonder what we should do?"

Returner is smoking huge angles she cannot reach: "Oh, wow. That's some angle he's got there. I think when I serve to him I'm going to go up the middle more."

Female partner can't get a serve in play: "Oh, wow. That's some serve he's got there. Don't worry. He can't serve like that all night, and when he misses a few we'll be all over him. In the meantime, I'll just keep trying to block my returns over his partner's head."

spaceman_spiff 06-11-2013 08:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JackB1 (Post 7499524)
And exactly how do you do that without suggesting something different?
How do you tell you partner that keeps getting caught in NML or leaving wide open angles to stop doing it? I was hoping she would catch on, but she didn't and the match was almost over.

Some things you can coach without coaching.

For example, when your opponent can't hit a backhand to save her life but you're partner keeps serving to the forehand, then between points on your serve you can say things like "I'm going to go at the backhand and see if she coughs up a weak return." If you say that enough and get good results, your partner might decide to give it a go herself. In that case, you haven't told her what to do. You're just telling her what works for you.

That said, I once had to tell a guy that, if he tapped in another second serve, I'd just touch the net and concede the point. The guy had a good spin serve that he hit with a high percentage, so there was absolutely no reason to roll the ball in like he was, especially considering that our opponents were just blasting their returns right at me. I think it was his comment about me struggling to volley with my new racket that was the last straw.

Cindysphinx 06-11-2013 08:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by spaceman_spiff (Post 7499439)
I'm not sure if this applies to you, but the thing I find with people who ask for help holding their serve is that there are a lot of things they can do to help themselves.

Yes, there are things the overpowered woman can try to do, and you listed some of them.

The real problem, however, is something else.

To be good at 8.0 mixed, a 4.0 guy needs to have different tools in the toolbox than many 4.0 guys have. It seems that many 4.0 guys make a living hitting big serves and big forehands.

It seems that many 4.0 guys have underdeveloped volleying and poaching skills. This is especially so with younger 4.0 guys because they are singles players at heart. They never develop good net skills because they don't have to. Then they find themselves at net with a 4.0 woman behind them and a 4.0 male opponent smoking the ball in a way that exceeds their ability to poach/volley. They can't help me hold, so we lose.

I had the pleasure of playing with a 4.0 male partner this season -- a guy I recruited to the team specifically to play with me and help me hold my friggin' serve. I had better results with him than I have ever had in mixed because he was a fearless beast at the net. He didn't care how hard the return was -- he was right up on that net daring the opponents to get the ball past him. If they did, I simply had to drive another ball and he would try again to poach.

4.0 guys like that are an endangered species.

Cindysphinx 06-11-2013 08:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by spaceman_spiff (Post 7499550)
Some things you can coach without coaching.

For example, when your opponent can't hit a backhand to save her life but you're partner keeps serving to the forehand, then between points on your serve you can say things like "I'm going to go at the backhand and see if she coughs up a weak return." If you say that enough and get good results, your partner might decide to give it a go herself.

In that case, you haven't told her what to do. You're just telling her what works for you.

**YES!!**

This is exactly how coaching is done properly.

I once had a partner who didn't do it that way. She would see a weakness in the opponents and then start acting like I was a short-order cook:

"She has no BH -- Hit to her BH!"

"She's short -- Lob your return DTL!"

"She's tall -- Slice it low!"

Dang. If I could execute all those things on command, I would be playing at a higher level.

spaceman_spiff 06-11-2013 08:22 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cindysphinx (Post 7499563)
Yes, there are things the overpowered woman can try to do, and you listed some of them.

The real problem, however, is something else.

To be good at 8.0 mixed, a 4.0 guy needs to have different tools in the toolbox than many 4.0 guys have. It seems that many 4.0 guys make a living hitting big serves and big forehands.

It seems that many 4.0 guys have underdeveloped volleying and poaching skills. This is especially so with younger 4.0 guys because they are singles players at heart. They never develop good net skills because they don't have to. Then they find themselves at net with a 4.0 woman behind them and a 4.0 male opponent smoking the ball in a way that exceeds their ability to poach/volley. They can't help me hold, so we lose.

I had the pleasure of playing with a 4.0 male partner this season -- a guy I recruited to the team specifically to play with me and help me hold my friggin' serve. I had better results with him than I have ever had in mixed because he was a fearless beast at the net. He didn't care how hard the return was -- he was right up on that net daring the opponents to get the ball past him. If they did, I simply had to drive another ball and he would try again to poach.

4.0 guys like that are an endangered species.

Good points. There are a lot of things you can do to give your partner a chance to join the party, but a lot of singles-minded players just want to stay at home so to speak.


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