i am a 3.5 who wants to get better. i did not lose a 3.5 singles match this year and am just about the best 3.5 in my league (lost 1nce in the 10 pointer in dubs). at 4.0 i only played twice, 1 singles 1 double losing both times.
my practiced partners r 1 guy who doesn't play usta and serves underhand but he would be 1 of the better 4.0's. i have only ever won 3 sets off him. 1 of the better 3.5, i used to beat him up but i put on 15-20 pounds since last year and he practiced a lot with this 4.5 women which improved his game. and the guy i play the most would be a tad above average 3.5 he mainly plays with me and not the other guys around town so i dont really know.
in tournaments this summer i played a 4.5, won the first set in a tiebreaker, then lost the 2nd set 6-0 and lost the super tiebreaker in the third. i think i learned a lot from this match. 1 i served like **** most of the match but i payed like 30 bucks and drove 45 minutes to be in the tourney so i really wanted to win and i just battled him the first set. and i was mad happy i won i think my intensity went down a little the 2nd set. so i learned u really got to battle all the way threw these matches cuz u never know whats going to happen. in fact in my 4.0 match he was beating me down, i was playing that match more safer than i usually do, however i just started playing to safe when i am a power player and he beat pretty easily like 6-2 the first set. 2nd set i was a little more competitive but he was up 5-2 again, then we had these insane 40 shot rallies where we were just pushing. and i won that game so then he was serving and i got up 15-30 by pushing, but then i am like ok, now u got him hitting soft, u should go for some of these forehand and of course i hit them out and lost.
last tournament i did i a 4.0 tourny with like 6 people in it, got to the finals where i face a d-3 player (Rochester u). we had a battle i got up early but he kept on battling me, he was. and i certainly played a pretty good match for me, no pushing, i was hitting solid forehands, moving him around. but i lost 1 long ralley just cuz he was in better shape than me which was annoying.
so in review there is huge value in doing the tournaments and the leagues to improve your game. cuz its 1 thing to say ya i need a better 2nd serve or i need to lose 20 pounds. i need to develop a net game and stop mising frickon over heads. but to actually play the tournaments and see the truth first hand it hits home more. and actually u do see the value in not only improving your skills but just being a better competitor, u know not taking any points off, concentrator more on your serves.