Originally Posted by floridatennisdude
To me, when I see a true 3.5 player (ie will be a 3.5 forever) I picture someone that bears absolutely no resemblance to tennis that would be seen on TV.
If they are fit, they have bad strokes. If they have a good forehand, their backhand is terrible. If they have a good backhand, their serve is a lollipop. If they have good footwork, their swings are slow and without pace.
Reason being is that if they were fit, had decent and reliable strokes, a serviceable backhand and a respectable serve, and any signifigant pace on their shots....they'd be a 4.0 or better.
So, for anyone with an average base of athleticism I would start there: fitness, strokes, serve, and power. If you have 3 out of the 4, you might be better than a 3.5. 2 out of 4 and its unlikely you'll be seen as a sandbagger.
This is what I was looking for. That helps tremendously...a real world yardstick that I can understand.
Fitness: Recently lost 25 pounds, but still have about 15 before I would consider myself in prime tennis shape. For 5-10, 195 and 46yo, I move pretty well, but I could definitely be better.
Strokes: Improving, but I still do some ugly things with some shots that come my way....haha. Most times I'm fundamentally sound, but there are still lapses. My backhand is way weaker than my forehand.
Serves: No longer lollipops, but not devastating either. I've worked on this more than anything and it's really coming along.
Power: This I need to develop. I've just started learning to consistently be able to hit groundstrokes hard and deep, but I still do plenty of looping defense on tougher shots.