i have worked very hard in the last year to improve my game. i would consider myself somewhere around a solid 5.0 now, but after 4.5 the ntrp rankings dont really apply anymore. what i have noticed is everyone has good strokes, serves and weapons they can attack with. what sets apart the people that are winning these tournaments compared to me is consistency, accuracy and defensive recovery. by consistency i dont mean pushing the ball. what i mean is when i was playing the 900ish guy i could rally and keep pace with him. my game was solid enough to bang cc's as hard and fast as him. the difference is that i would make the first error or give the first short sitter around 75% of the time. when it comes to accuracy i can hit near the lines pretty well. my main weapon is my ts fh that i can accurately hit, but against this guy he could smash and inside in fh dtl with amazing accuracy. many times he would nail a shot next to the line with pace and spin that i would not expect because i dont get to play players like this very much if at all. lastly, defensive recovery is awesome with these guys. normally i will hit a deep shot that i expect a winner or a short ball for winner, but the top players can extend and whip some pace on the ball back cc for a very nice recovery shot putting them back in a neutral position for the point.
ive realized it is hard for me to succeed in these tournaments because i dont get to practice against these type of players regularly. when i lost in the hb open the guy had a crazy serve. probably one of the fastest i have dealt with. i felt i adjusted well, but its hard to win when it is the first time your seeing something like this. this also happened with the guy i lost to in redondo beach. i am not used to seeing a shot with so much pace just dive in at the last second and kick up on me so hard. players like this take games to adjust to and by that time its too late. the match i lost in redondo i lost the first set 2-6 with a few breaks, but once i was in second i was feeling more comfortable and only lost 3-6 because i let him break me which was the difference. and that break game was at duece to add and back to duece at least 3 times. with every loss i am getting better and learn what i need to work on. i dont see me getting that point anytime soon, but i actually do feel it could be possible now. if i improve as much as i did this last year next year, i might have a shot at going deep in one of these pre-qualies. the only problem would be getting time off work for all the mid-week daytime matches.