Against all odds

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by snowpuppy, Jul 1, 2009.

  1. snowpuppy

    snowpuppy Semi-Pro

    Aug 5, 2004
    Last weekend I was sent out to be the sacrificial lamb of my 3.5 team and play singles #1. So far in the season I've been playing double but I wanted to get a taste of what singles play would be like. What I ran into was 6-0 6-0 beat down by a very solid player (to which I later found out plays singles #1 for 4.0 league as well)

    The guy wasn't completely blowing me off the court but he was working me well until I gave up defensive shots or errors. Same thing for the serve. It wasn't untouchable, but the placement, consistency and spin made sure he was on the upperhand as soon as the rally begin.

    I tired to stay focus and worked on at least getting one game but all I can produce are a few deuces. I've tried zeroing on his backhand, rushing the net, but I was simply out classed. In hindsight maybe I should have tried to work defensively instead of a going out all guns blazing attitude but in the end i don't know if that would help.

    My question is this. What would you do in a situation where the other player is clearly a level or two above you?
  2. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

    Feb 21, 2007
    What you just found out.... that the two most important strokes in the game are, in this order, the serve and the return. Look at what you said about points on his serve. The serve and the return are the two chances you have to take control of the point early on. If you don't, you found out what happens next, which is that the other player toys you around the court until you cough up an error or hand him an easy winner.

    From what you say, you did about as well as you could given the mismatch in skills. One thing I would say is that a lot of players think of offense and defense as being an either/or situation. As in, you either play all defense or all offense. The truth is that starting at about the 4.0 level, you're going to play lots of both. If you hit a good serve and your opponent coughs up a weak return, you're on the offense. On the other hand, if you hit a helium ball for the second serve and your opponent cracks a laser beam return, then you're on the defense. The idea is to play defense to get back to neutral, then go back on the offense. For example, your opponent cracks a laser beam return, you chip a backhand deep to the baseline, which gives you time to get back to the center of the court and prepare for the next shot, he is so amazed that you returned his shot that he coughs up a short ball, you hit an approach shot and come to net because you're back on the offense. The really good players make seamless transitions from offense to defense and back to offense again...Murray, Nadal, and Federer are great examples of this type of transition game.

    But back to the basics, work on improving your serve and return. It's the biggest thing that will move you up a level or two, or, while you're improving these shots, play better against a higher level player...
  3. zebano

    zebano Semi-Pro

    Jun 12, 2007
    First off I have to realize that my usual "controlled agression" game won't work. Plan A is to become a tenacious retriever. I hit lots of slices and try to make him hit one more shot. If I'm getting deuces I stick with this, if not I change. Plan B is to go totally offensive and move from hitting shots at ~65% to 80% power and totally teeing off on short balls. I know my usual game isn't good enough so you have to take risks that you wouldn't normally take.
  4. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

    Aug 31, 2006
    If someone is clearly a better player than me, the only thing that usually works is to S&V as much as I can. It never wins me the match, but it is the difference between getting bageled, and losing 6-2. I usually have 2 good service holds per set when I S&V out of desperation.

    I found the jump from playing against 3.5 players in singles to 4.0 players to be very difficult. For instance, when my serve and forehand are on, I could physically blow some 3.5s off the court, but my serve and forehand do not even phase a 4.0 player. What I thought were good strokes really are not very good, because I have a hard time forcing errors on serve or when pounding a forehand to the corner against these players. Plus they are always more consistent than me, so even if I play a more conservative game, I get out-rallied nearly every point. So thats why I go for the net, its either hit or miss, but I still lose in the long run because its hard to play the net consistently in singles without mad skills.
  5. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Aug 31, 2006
    I played a friend in singles yesterday. She is a 4.0 singles player who has played 20 years or more. I am a 3.5 doubles player who has played five years and who is lost on a singles court.

    It was a total beat-down. I lost the first set 0-6. The problem was that I couldn't do anything at all to bother her. Say she hit a serve. I would hit my plain vanilla return deep up the middle. She would crush this ball to one of the corners, hit a wicked slice, or hit a drop shot. I would then miss that ball completely or I would give her an even easier ball to crush. I felt like the ball was always too far away from me and I was never in good position.

    In the second set, we had to stop at 2-2. The difference was that I decided I had to try to attack any ball that I could reach rather than play conservatively. So I hit my hardest and best shots whenever I was in decent position, and I aimed for the side Ts as much as possible. This caused her to miss some, or not reach some balls. I also ramped up my serve, figuring that shot was my best chance to go on offense, and that drew some easy points. I also decided to whack all service returns, as her serve is her weakest shot and that paid off too.

    The other adjustment I made was I tried harder to anticipate. I tried to really focus on the ball as it left her racket and note her body position. That was the thing that helped me get to more balls more quickly.

    Still, I stink at singles. Oh well.
  6. snowpuppy

    snowpuppy Semi-Pro

    Aug 5, 2004
    Thanks for the input. Interesting that most choose defensive first and then ramp up later while i did the opposite that maybe that might be my undoing.
  7. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

    Aug 16, 2005
    Make TT better, use the Ignore List!
    I have thankfully never suffered the dreaded double-bagel beatdown (yet, knock wood) but I have certainly faced opponents who I felt very strongly early on were going to beat me regardless of how well I played.

    On those occasions I have generally resorted to:
    a. hitting everything possible to whatever I perceive to be their weakest strength which is backhand for most people
    b. hitting junk - this seems to frustrate a lot of people, so I have no qualms about resorting to this tactic.

    I would very rarely try being more aggressive, which is how I'd classify switching to S&V, because this usually just makes things worse.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2009
  8. jc4.0

    jc4.0 Professional

    May 20, 2009
    Let the Ringers Ring!

    I think the difference in the advice you're getting here is - did you really think you could beat this person, or should you have tried to relax, play your personal best, and learn from the loss? Sometimes, you just play someone who is a better tennis player than you are.

    First - as long as the person isn't a couple levels above you, there was probably some way you could have won. You first have to figure out their game - how they're beating you - and then adjust your game within your own ability. If you've played your best, and tried everything you could to out-fox them, then in all ways but one - it's a W.

    Roddick is fond of saying - "I learn more from a loss than a win". That doesn't mean he enjoys losing - it just means that next time he plays that guy, he'll be a little better, a little wiser (and revenge will be sweeter!).

    If each time you leave the court, you gain improvement in your own game, and you've learned even the smallest thing from your opponent - you're making progress. Be a sponge - if the guy's good, figure out why - and use it against him next time.
  9. PushyPushster

    PushyPushster Rookie

    Mar 22, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    I try to turn it into a battle of conditioning/attrition. My normally conservative game gets ultra-defensive in an attempt to drag out the first set as long as humanly possible (I've already mentally conceded this part of the match; forcing the guy to run is my only goal). Think of it like a boxer who invests in three rounds of body work. He'll lose those rounds on the scorecard but when round 6 rolls around his opponent will be exhausted.

    You'll probably lose the match anyhow, but every once in awhile the above will work. Hitting super-hard and praying for a slew of miracle shots has never paid me any dividends.

    USERNAME Professional

    Jun 29, 2009
    Well 4 me when I play some1 who is a tad better then me, I play defensive tennis or counterpunch (depending on who im playing.) When it comes to some1 that I kno 4 a fact is much better then me, I go 4 my shots whenever given the chance, I bump up and become the aggressor. If I can get a shot that I THINK can wind up on, ill take advantage of it rather then wait 4 a ball that guaranteed I can open up on and hit a good shot.

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