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Old 05-16-2011, 08:42 AM   #212
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 87

Styles make fights is the old boxing axiom, and I had an interesting experience with how changing styles can completely change the course of a tennis match.

I play more than 90% of the time against one partner. We're both over 50, learned to play decades ago and use only limited topspin. Other than that (and that we're old), our games are pretty sound, in an old-fashioned way.

My style has always been Attack the Net, but I don't serve and volley anymore, since I'm too slow and it's too physically exhausting. He's got a trememdously big serve and after that is strickly a counterpuncher. So I'm a 1b and he's a 3 under the classification system.

We play about even, although I've had a slight edge the last couple of months. But yesterday he was getting the better of me. He was keeping the ball deep, I was forcing my approach shots and when I came to the net, I was either watching an offense lob just clear my reach to land on the baseline, a sharply angled (but soft) passing shot clip the sideline (and if I got to one, then the next one beat me on the opposite side of the court) or was forced to volley from below the net. If we hadn't played hundreds of sets then I would have sworn it was luck--nobody could be that accurate--but we've played so much that I know that if I don't make him hit a backhand on the run, then the best shot I'm likely to get is an overhead from the service line or deeper. In short "Opponents playing both Attack the Net and Baseline tennis are fooled into thinking “He can’t keep that up the whole match.” When do these opponents realize their error? Unfortunately, when -- befuddled -- they are shaking hands at the net and congratulating the Counter Puncher on a 6-3, 6-3 victory."

Well I realized it after he'd won two sets at 5-7, 2-6 and we were getting ready to play a third set.

For the third set, I decided I had to me more patient and wait for a short ball to come in. So after we each held serve, he got up forty-love in the third game. I managed to slice his serve into the backhand corner. The ball came back deep so I sliced it into the forehand corner and he made an unforced error.

That started a trend. No matter what he hit, I just sliced it deep to one corner of the court. I was tired and low on energy anyway so standing at the baseline floating the ball back deep seemed ok. We had some very long (and soft) rallies but almost all of them ended with my opponent making an unforced error. I won the set 6-2, and I'm not sure I hit a winner.

I had accidentally transformed myself into a Junkballer Chop Shotter (4b) and without anything to counterpunch against, my opponent didn't have any idea how to win a point. I turned out to be more consistent than he was (a surprise since I usually don't like to play more than 5 or 6 shots before coming to the net).

So I learned that the style I like to play is exactly what my opponent likes to play against, while a style I don't like to play gives him fits. Same players, same skills, different result.

This doesn't mean I'm going to change styles. I enjoy putting the pressure on my opponent and love to hit big volleys and overheads. There's nothing at stake except bragging rights, so I'm going to play the style that's fun, rather than the style that was effective.

I thought, though that it was an interesting experiment.
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