I'm also going to post something here from an old thread-
Originally Posted by keithfival
Just had the coolest experience! Went to some cruddy courts nearby to hit against the wall and there's a 5.0+++ hitting serves after a lesson. I ask if he wants to hit. We hit for over 2 hours and man did I learn some things. Now, some of this is not really applicable to my 4.5 matches because, a) no one in the league is nearly as good as this guy and b) no one plays the old school style like this guy so the matchup is totally different, and c) there are things that ARE effective against the 4.5s that were disastrous against this guy. So, this isn't so much "how I'm going to change my game right now" as much as "how real tennis works" or "what to do if I ever face a 5.5!" But, regarding yesterday's pushing vs crushing discussion it was hilarious apropos.
1) The. Only. Thing. That. Mattered. Was. Depth. Any rally shot not near the baseline was 1-3 shots from the end of the point. And all my hotshot 4.5 defense and passing shots added up to exactly nothing. Wherever I went with the pass he was there to easily kill a volley I wouldn't get to on the 3rd bounce. So there was no "making up for lost ground" with defense. Once I left a ball short it was too late. Over.
2) If I tried to be aggressive and hit anything hard to either side it had to be a winner or almost winner, in other words, total commitment to ripping it. Any sort of 80% FH drive to either side to "start working the point" was returned for a winner by him on the next shot. Either a sharp angle cross court or deep down the line in the corner. Every time. It was nothing more than teeing up a winner for him. Hard rally shots down the middle were safer. Now, I could win some points by attacking, but if I attacked I had to go with 100% commitment and rip it hard, deep and close to the lines.
3) Slice was useless unless it was a deep. Anything midcourt he'd hit an effortless winner, just brush his one-handed backhand at a ridiculously short, sharp angle right on the sideline. So easy.
So, that's basically what I learned. All rally shots deep, (pace didn't really matter at all, a deep puffball was better than a FH drive that wasn't as deep) and when attacking, attack 100%. Man it was fun.
This is exactly my experience as well. I also find that in most matches I watch between rec. players, USTA juniors, college players, etc., the person keeping the ball deep most consistently wins.