Originally Posted by North
I think people underestimate how effective variety can be but overestimate how easy it is to get good at mastering and using variety.
I usually do not attend my 4.0 ladies team's matches to watch, but last week was an exception. I was able to watch my team contest two singles courts.
The variety on display was really surprising.
Our No. 1 singles player is a lady who is very skilled at figuring out what her opponent doesn't like and giving it to them for two hours. It looked like she rarely hit the same type of shot twice in a row. It would be drive, slice, moonball, drive, moonball, slice . . .
Our No. 2 singles player hit topspin/flat on the FH and slice on the BH. First she would push the opponent one way with a deep shot. Then she would hit a dropshot to the opposite front corner. If the opponent reached it, she would lob or pass. Over the course of 2 hours, the opponent could not see this coming or reach many drop shots in time to do anything with them.
This is a far cry from what I see in 3.5. There, singles players engage in these long (and IMHO dull) rallies where no one does anything but keep the ball deep. Since no one has the power to blast a winner from the baseline Sharapova-style, the winner is the more consistent player.
The 4.0s seemed to use their variety to make their opponents miss. The 3.5s seemed to hang around and wait for their opponents to miss.