Argh... Got bageled by a girl

One of regular weekly practice opponents this year is a former Top 900 WTA pro.

I’m not sure if it’s just that she’s a bad match-up for me, or if she’s just really $&@%ing good, but I seem to really struggle against her.

I’m now 0-4 against her. We always play for an hour, and every time I get killed the first set before I find a little bit of success and at least feel competitive in the second set. Last night she even fed me a first set bagel before I got on track.

The closest I’ve gotten to winning a set against her was forcing a 5-5 tie in the second set last week.

I’ve been also playing against a handful of former ATP players, and there are some things that she does considerably better than those guys. It makes me wonder why she didn’t reach a higher ranking than she did.

Her 2hb return is phenomenal. She takes it early on the rise, even on bad-bounce red clay. She cheats to her right to dare me to try to ace her on her backhand side. She always slices her forehand return, but because she takes it so early and is so good at the slice return, it’s very hard to pick on her forehand return by serve-and-volley.

When I first started playing against her and realized her backhand was so good, I thought I’d better hit more balls to her forehand in rallies. Wrong! She just kills me by quickly taking control of the point using short angles with her western forehand.

She’s also a terrific finisher at net, always coming forward when she attacks with her forehand.

She’s ridiculously good at taking forehands up above her head and then using the height of contact to create damaging angles. Even low balls to her forehand and she hurts me with spinny uber-sharp crosscourt angle.

I do better in rallies playing most balls to her backhand, even though her backhand is probably the best backhand I’ve ever played against, either gender. At least this helps keep more balls coming back to my stronger backhand wing.

She’s a mom now, but she is lithe with no fat on her and fast as a gazelle.

One of the things she does well that separates her level from your typical 5.0 guy is the ability to hold her shot a split second longer before deciding where to go with the ball.

Last night, I had just hit a poor first volley a bit short giving her time to line up a backhand pass. My only chance was to try to anticipate which direction - just as she was about to make contact, I see that she is lining up with the ball completely in front of her body with absolutely no spacing (actually negative spacing). Since it would be impossible to hit inside out down the line from that ball position, I anticipate cross-court. But somehow she pulls out some weird backhand-igami and rips an inside-out 2-hander by me. How? I’ve never seen this before.
 
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Oh... and by the way... she is playing with a Head Extreme strung at low tension with really old dead poly. Her stringbed feels like a fishnet. I think I would be spraying balls all over the place if I tried to play with her racquet.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
Sucks when talented people don't go far, usually either don't have enough money to make a serious run, or struggle in competition or with the lifestyle.

My coach has better strokes now than when he was on tour after teaching for 15+ years so there is also that, I don't know how old your girl is but it's possible she played the tour as a teen and has since gotten better.

I'd also be letting TW down if I didn't throw a little shade your way and bring up that WTA girls return much more offensively than you do which changes the dynamic of the points as compared to men (even elite ones) who primarily seek to neutralize.

J
 
I just checked her profile and I see that she was ranked within Top 1000 in doubles last year, even though she’s mid 30s now and only plays a few tournaments per year because she’s busy running her academy, and had been as high as 400 in doubles pretty recently. I suspect she abandoned singles in her mid 20s to have a kid, and may have already been concentrating more on doubles due to more success. I’d expect her to be a bad-ass ad-court doubles specialist on hard court.
 
Hmm. I also see she played a singles tournament a month ago (her only one this year). At age 35, she lost 6-4 in the third to a 17-year-old American currently ranked Top-500.

I think maybe this is a case where the ranking system underrates her because the system rewards players who have enough money to play more matches.

She also played the doubs in that tourney, and reached quarters.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
Hmm. I also see she played a singles tournament a month ago (her only one this year). At age 35, she lost 6-4 in the third to a 17-year-old American currently ranked Top-500.

I think maybe this is a case where the ranking system underrates her because the system rewards players who have enough money to play more matches.

She also played the doubs in that tourney, and reached quarters.
Hence UTR.

J
 
Hence UTR.

J
I’m still having trouble getting behind the UTR movement until they fix the problem of UTR drift.

After my most recent singles match, my UTR was spit out as 10. A month later, my UTR had dropped to 9. Then 6 months after that, my UTR dropped to 8.

I just logged into UTR for first time in 6 months, and it says I’m a 7 now. So I went from a 10 to a 7 without playing a match, just because I sat idle while my past 40+ opponents from 2 years ago got crippled with injuries one by one.

What’s going on? How does UTR know that I’m getting worse just because I quit playing league matches 18 months ago? At least TLS boosts my confidence and thinks I’m holding steady while idle at 4.48.
 

Dartagnan64

Legend
I find the biggest problem with playing high level players is that all my neutral/bad shots that don't get me in trouble against guys my level, get absolutely demolished by really good players.

Cannot get away with a drop shot that lands too deep, a slice that sits up, a short topspin groundie, a second serve that goes to their wheelhouse, etc.
 

schmke

Hall of Fame
I’m still having trouble getting behind the UTR movement until they fix the problem of UTR drift.

After my most recent singles match, my UTR was spit out as 10. A month later, my UTR had dropped to 9. Then 6 months after that, my UTR dropped to 8.

I just logged into UTR for first time in 6 months, and it says I’m a 7 now. So I went from a 10 to a 7 without playing a match, just because I sat idle while my past 40+ opponents from 2 years ago got crippled with injuries one by one.

What’s going on? How does UTR know that I’m getting worse just because I quit playing league matches 18 months ago? At least TLS boosts my confidence and thinks I’m holding steady while idle at 4.48.
Similarly, UTR is likely not going to rate the female you played accurately. If she only plays sporadically, the drift down may affect her too.
 
Just did a UTR spot check on my current rotation of hitting opponents. UTR seems out of whack.

The guy that I play against most often has a ridiculously good forehand. He normally dominates me. But his level can fluctuate a bit, and when I had a good day the same day he had a bad day, I dominated him 6-2, 6-0. I looked up his UTR record, and he has multiple straight-set wins vs UTR 14 guys.
If I’m a 7, this doesn’t seem right that I can beat a guy that spanks UTR 14s. Unless of course those guys he beat had their UTR rating drift up after he beat them?

The gal in the OP is currently listed as UTR 9. And the American currently ranked Top-500 WTA that she recently played evenly is also UTR 9. This doesn’t seem right either.
 
Oops... it turns out my singles UTR hasn’t dropped again... it simply changed to ‘UR’. It was my doubs rating that got dragged down due to inactivity.

Seems like half the players I look up are rated ‘UR’, including players who played a ton of matches as recently as 2 years ago. This is yet another issue with UTR.
 

J_R_B

Hall of Fame
Just did a UTR spot check on my current rotation of hitting opponents. UTR seems out of whack.

The guy that I play against most often has a ridiculously good forehand. He normally dominates me. But his level can fluctuate a bit, and when I had a good day the same day he had a bad day, I dominated him 6-2, 6-0. I looked up his UTR record, and he has multiple straight-set wins vs UTR 14 guys.
If I’m a 7, this doesn’t seem right that I can beat a guy that spanks UTR 14s. Unless of course those guys he beat had their UTR rating drift up after he beat them?

The gal in the OP is currently listed as UTR 9. And the American currently ranked Top-500 WTA that she recently played evenly is also UTR 9. This doesn’t seem right either.
UTR 9 seems way too low for a top 500 WTA pro.
 

navigator

Hall of Fame
Just did a UTR spot check on my current rotation of hitting opponents. UTR seems out of whack.

The guy that I play against most often has a ridiculously good forehand. He normally dominates me. But his level can fluctuate a bit, and when I had a good day the same day he had a bad day, I dominated him 6-2, 6-0. I looked up his UTR record, and he has multiple straight-set wins vs UTR 14 guys.
If I’m a 7, this doesn’t seem right that I can beat a guy that spanks UTR 14s. Unless of course those guys he beat had their UTR rating drift up after he beat them?
There are guys that I've won several games against that I was sure could beat me 0/0 if they were motivated to do so. They just couldn't be bothered to *really* try hard enough. Play this guy again and tell him you'll pay him $250 to beat you 0/0. If he's under-40 and was in the top-300 at one point and still plays a lot of tennis it should be no problem. If he's over 50... slightly different story.

For a bit of perspective, I was playing an ITF Grade A tournament in Finland a few months back. The guy who won the O35s is 39 and got to ATP 427 while he was a pro (played Davis Cup for Finland). His UTR - which is "official" - is currently 12.4. If we played ten sets I wouldn't get more than one point per game, if that. It would be a ridiculous blowout. The guy absolutely mauled the ball and had fantastic hands. If the guy you played was under 40 and got to ATP 300 and continues to play serious tennis he should be about as good... and it should not be close. In fact, he should be blowing you right off the court on almost every point if he's trying.

The gal in the OP is currently listed as UTR 9. And the American currently ranked Top-500 WTA that she recently played evenly is also UTR 9. This doesn’t seem right either.
The girl's UTR doesn't seem that strange to me if she's no longer a pro and was in the top-1000... 9, maybe 9.5, seems about right. Maybe. But the American girl should be closer to 10, I'd think. I used to play a lot with a woman (she's in that S&V video) who is now almost 30 but a few years ago was around WTA 500 and played Fed Cup for Mexico. She beat the snot out of me the first few times we played until I realized that 90% of her BHs and 80% of her FHs went cross court. Then I just started cheating 3-4 feet from the center hash and everything got easier. By the time she left to coach at an academy I was beating her more often than not. I think she was a UTR 9.5 a year ago, but her rating was "incomplete". But I digress...

My point is that 9 or 10 UTRs below WTA 500 are a bit low but not that crazy. The other issue with UTR is that the vast majority of them are not "complete" - the players don't have enough matches to have official ratings but they post a (BS) number anyway. So a huge number of them are pretty meaningless.
 

TagUrIt

Professional
I’m sure it’s a humbling experience, but it sounds like you enjoy the high level of play. There’s something to be said when you’re playing against someone you know is inherently better. It pushes you and gives you more than a challenge to play your best tennis.

There’s a tennis coach I play against when I’m in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Even though he wins match overall, I still feel a sense of accomplishment if I manage to win a few games. The last time we had a match, he even said I’ve improved.
 
I’m sure it’s a humbling experience, but it sounds like you enjoy the high level of play. There’s something to be said when you’re playing against someone you know is inherently better. It pushes you and gives you more than a challenge to play your best tennis.

There’s a tennis coach I play against when I’m in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Even though he wins match overall, I still feel a sense of accomplishment if I manage to win a few games. The last time we had a match, he even said I’ve improved.
When I play against people my level, I’ve developed a bad habit in my older age of just rolling the serve in without any attempt at offense. But when I play someone better than me, it’s stupid to waste the opportunity to get free points on a first serve. And in some cases, even hitting two first serves is the percentage play. So playing better players helps keep me from being too lazy on serves.

Before I moved down here, majority of my hitting partners were 4.5 guys that I almost always could beat just by relying on defensive tennis. Now almost every day I’m on court is against someone who is better than me. I need to go beyond just defense and extend my comfort zone to have a chance against players above my level.
 
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Would the opposite also be true?

i.e. if you played a bunch of 14-year-old juniors and you were then inactive for a couple of years while they continued to improve, would your UTR increase?
I would think so. Anyway, I still refuse to acknowledge UTR as a legitimate rating system until they fix these issues. TR.com and TLS are not perfect, but at least they have algorithms with sound logic.
 

MaxTennis

Rookie
Would the opposite also be true?

i.e. if you played a bunch of 14-year-old juniors and you were then inactive for a couple of years while they continued to improve, would your UTR increase?
I would think so. Anyway, I still refuse to acknowledge UTR as a legitimate rating system until they fix these issues. TR.com and TLS are not perfect, but at least they have algorithms with sound logic.
This is incorrect. Matches on UTR only last for 1 calendar year. If you are inactive for a year, then you won't have a rating.
 
This is incorrect. Matches on UTR only last for 1 calendar year. If you are inactive for a year, then you won't have a rating.
This is in my opinion a poor way to handle inactivity. When I look up records of players who were extremely active 2-3 years ago. All I see is a bunch of UR’s next to everyone’s name.

If UTR wants to generate more interest, they should simply list the UTR of the player at the time of the match, and never erase it. That’s what just about every other ranking system does. They way they are doing it erases most of the visibility of what happened, because so many old matches have UR next to the names of both players.
 

MaxTennis

Rookie
This is in my opinion a poor way to handle inactivity. When I look up records of players who were extremely active 2-3 years ago. All I see is a bunch of UR’s next to everyone’s name.

If UTR wants to generate more interest, they should simply list the UTR of the player at the time of the match, and never erase it. That’s what just about every other ranking system does. They way they are doing it erases most of the visibility of what happened, because so many old matches have UR next to the names of both players.
I agree, but I think UTR is geared more for those trying to get a scholarship to play tennis and have 20-30 match results for accuracy than us old folks
 

schmke

Hall of Fame
I agree, but I think UTR is geared more for those trying to get a scholarship to play tennis and have 20-30 match results for accuracy than us old folks
Exactly. It works well (it appears) for this purpose, but trying to use it for other purposes (Adults playing league or even tournaments) it is perhaps not ideal yet.
 

ChaelAZ

Legend
UTR has the same limitation any rating scale will have, and that is your level will always be based on the relative level of those around you. Things are not always linear like they appear, or not as much as they appear, even if they try to sell it that way. They even say that kids adn adults at the same level are the same level, which we know is not true and probably also feeds back into @J011yroger 's thread about age and NTRP.





For example. if you looked at the top U18, College, the Pro ratings in a linear fashion:

The top U18 is 15.10 UTR



Which would mean he would be the top College player at the moment



And close to the top 100 on the ATP




Does that seem right? There are some juniors who transition right to top college players, but I would be curious how their UTR ratings change based on the level of compeition. I would guess they probably drop. And the same of college players going to the ATP, where I would also guess their ratings drop substantially based on the level of competition.

So yeah, ratings are always going to berelative to level of the competition you have access to. We tell young athletes all the time, that being the best in our section, is very different than being the best in the state, which is different from best nationally, and VERY different from best internationally.

Yes? No?
 

schmke

Hall of Fame
@ChaelAZ well said, good examples.

Any ratings are going to be relative to those played, and the connectedness of players has a huge impact on how accurate the ratings of two arbitrary players will be. Due to the number of players playing tennis and the pockets of competition they participate in, it is easy to have islands of disconnected players and no system can magically get the relative ratings of these disconnected groups of players right. The more cross-over you get between groups of players, the more accurate things can be, but that takes time, and the connections get stale and less meaningful and so the system must continue to operate with limited meaningful connections between the groups. This leads to situations like @ChaelAZ describes above where it simply doesn't pass the smell test and supports @travlerajm hypothesis that there is ratings creep up for one category of player and creep down for others.
 
They even say that kids adn adults at the same level are the same level, which we know is not true and probably also feeds back into @J011yroger 's thread about age and NTRP.
At least I can compare my UTR with someone outside of my group and get some sort of idea of relative skill level; with NTRP, there's no common denominator.

In the tournaments I've played where juniors were there also, the UTRs seemed fairly accurate [ie I beat someone one UTR below me, a peer, and lost to someone one UTR above me].
 

BallBag

Semi-Pro
UTR has the same limitation any rating scale will have, and that is your level will always be based on the relative level of those around you. Things are not always linear like they appear, or not as much as they appear, even if they try to sell it that way. They even say that kids adn adults at the same level are the same level, which we know is not true and probably also feeds back into @J011yroger 's thread about age and NTRP.





For example. if you looked at the top U18, College, the Pro ratings in a linear fashion:

The top U18 is 15.10 UTR



Which would mean he would be the top College player at the moment



And close to the top 100 on the ATP




Does that seem right? There are some juniors who transition right to top college players, but I would be curious how their UTR ratings change based on the level of compeition. I would guess they probably drop. And the same of college players going to the ATP, where I would also guess their ratings drop substantially based on the level of competition.

So yeah, ratings are always going to berelative to level of the competition you have access to. We tell young athletes all the time, that being the best in our section, is very different than being the best in the state, which is different from best nationally, and VERY different from best internationally.

Yes? No?
These ratings do seem right. Sinner is ranked 129 right now with other guys that are around 15 UTR. It makes sense for him to be rated higher than the top college player whos ranking is in the 200s. I get what you are trying to say but top juniors play on tour and so do some college players so there is a good amount of cross pollination. A better example would be @travlerajm whooping on some nationally ranked juniors.
 

ChaelAZ

Legend
At least I can compare my UTR with someone outside of my group and get some sort of idea of relative skill level; with NTRP, there's no common denominator.
That is very true, but I think more because there were not opportunties for juniors to play adults in any USTA leauges or tournaments, for the most part, until you played open which then rating is a moot point.

These ratings do seem right. Sinner is ranked 129 right now with other guys that are around 15 UTR. It makes sense for him to be rated higher than the top college player whos ranking is in the 200s. I get what you are trying to say but top juniors play on tour and so do some college players so there is a good amount of cross pollination. A better example would be @travlerajm whooping on some nationally ranked juniors.

For sure, in some instances it is linear, but the full linear path I am suspect of becuase it is relative and I would love to see data of UTR when juniors play college, and then when college players move to full time ITF. For college players I think they would stay lower on UTR playing college matches only, but get a UTR boost if they win an ITF match or such. I remember Nate Ponwith as a higher UTR14 or close to UTR15, but taking on challengers this year, playing mostly UTR13/14 guys he dropped a bit. I know Jannik might be a good linear case, but I've seen more junior playing college, and college play pro that drop in the larger pool of competitors. Again, it would be interesting to see the stats to see if that is true or not. But the impact for recreational players is a non-issue for the most part since age groups divide a lot of it.
 

rogerroger917

Hall of Fame
Travelers is paying these ex pros etc to play him. And then trying to extract a rating from it. No one ex ATP or WTA is going to try to beat travelers. It means nothing. They are just cruising and winning points when they have to. Trav is redlined every match to post on this thread.

The rating he gets from these matches mean nothing. It's like paying someone to drop the 1st set 0 6 in a challenger match to move up your utr before he beats you 6 0 2nd set and 10 0 in the tie break. Your utr will go up a lot. But the match was never in doubt.



Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
 
Travelers is paying these ex pros etc to play him. And then trying to extract a rating from it. No one ex ATP or WTA is going to try to beat travelers. It means nothing. They are just cruising and winning points when they have to. Trav is redlined every match to post on this thread.

The rating he gets from these matches mean nothing. It's like paying someone to drop the 1st set 0 6 in a challenger match to move up your utr before he beats you 6 0 2nd set and 10 0 in the tie break. Your utr will go up a lot. But the match was never in doubt.
I smell the whiff of sour grapes; someone's having a great time and that really bothers you.

Where exactly in @travlerajm's post did he try to extrapolate a rating based on his opponents' ratings/rankings? I just re-read the entire thread and I didn't see it.
 

R1FF

Semi-Pro
UTR has the same limitation any rating scale will have, and that is your level will always be based on the relative level of those around you. Things are not always linear like they appear, or not as much as they appear, even if they try to sell it that way. They even say that kids adn adults at the same level are the same level, which we know is not true and probably also feeds back into @J011yroger 's thread about age and NTRP.





For example. if you looked at the top U18, College, the Pro ratings in a linear fashion:

The top U18 is 15.10 UTR



Which would mean he would be the top College player at the moment



And close to the top 100 on the ATP




Does that seem right? There are some juniors who transition right to top college players, but I would be curious how their UTR ratings change based on the level of compeition. I would guess they probably drop. And the same of college players going to the ATP, where I would also guess their ratings drop substantially based on the level of competition.

So yeah, ratings are always going to berelative to level of the competition you have access to. We tell young athletes all the time, that being the best in our section, is very different than being the best in the state, which is different from best nationally, and VERY different from best internationally.

Yes? No?
My only issue playing against kids is having to deal with the parents. Especially since UTR has no rulebook and doesnt vet their event organizers at all. Some of the events are a total mess.

Nothing worse than overzealous sports mom/dad.
 
My only issue playing against kids is having to deal with the parents. Especially since UTR has no rulebook and doesnt vet their event organizers at all. Some of the events are a total mess.

Nothing worse than overzealous sports mom/dad.
UTR is not a rule system; they play by USTA rules, don't they?

I've played a few UTR tournaments and they were run as well as any USTA tournament I've played.
 

R1FF

Semi-Pro
UTR is not a rule system; they play by USTA rules, don't they?

I've played a few UTR tournaments and they were run as well as any USTA tournament I've played.
No. They dont have an official rulebook or one designated.

They leave it up to the event organizers, whom are a mixed bag.

UTR used to be just a ratings system. They have begun sanctioning events. Which is a whole new responsibility they are still very much learning. As of now, Im not impressed.

But I love their rating system.
 

sovertennis

Professional
I find the biggest problem with playing high level players is that all my neutral/bad shots that don't get me in trouble against guys my level, get absolutely demolished by really good players.

Cannot get away with a drop shot that lands too deep, a slice that sits up, a short topspin groundie, a second serve that goes to their wheelhouse, etc.
So true, and it's really pissing me off. Against 4.5 guys closer to my age, if I leave a groundstroke a bit short, I usually will get another swing at the ball. Against the 40ish 5.0 guys, that same ball is low hanging fruit. Of course, maybe that's why they like to train with me: it's a confidence boost.
 

rogerroger917

Hall of Fame
I smell the whiff of sour grapes; someone's having a great time and that really bothers you.

Where exactly in @travlerajm's post did he try to extrapolate a rating based on his opponents' ratings/rankings? I just re-read the entire thread and I didn't see it.
I'm combining his other thread with this one in my head. Where he is stating his opponents ATP past ranking. And the score. And how close the match was. Why would I have sour grapes? I pay all kinds of professionals for all kinds of things.

I am simply pointing out if I paid a former atp player every week to play matches and come on here and describe the match like it was a real match it's a bit much for people with tennis experience to not laugh at. It's like celebrity golf or tennis doubles where you get matched up with jack sock and then you say you had a close doubles match against a Bryan brother.

And I do believe trav really cares about his level of play. Stating the truth and things that are obvious sure gets looked down on here.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
 
Got a chance to play her again this morning.

This time I went with completely different strategy. Kept the points short and attacked the net often. I was able to find some effective shot combination plays that allowed me to dictate majority of points.

After trading breaks the first 4 games, I pulled ahead for a 5-3 lead. But the heat was starting to get to me, and I couldn’t close out the set. She leveled the match 5-5 before my hour ran out.

The biggest key to playing better against her this time was avoiding falling into my usual habits of passive counterpunchy play.

My serve was not there today, as it was nearly 100% humidity and 85F, and having applied sunscreen with my hands, I couldn’t grip the racquet securely enough to swing 100%. But I was able to serve-and-volley effectively by flattening out the serve more and taking 80% cuts.

My net game was on point today. I could crisply hit offensive volleys of both fh and bh today, and my overhead was solid. This gave me confidence to approach the net at every opportunity.

The moonball-and-charge tactic, with delayed charge was extremely effective. I usually initiated these with a crosscourt bh moonball from a few feet behind the baseline. I also did it with fh moonballs DTL to her bh. With me feeling like a monster at net, I was able to induce errors just from the threat of my charge.

I also had my 2hb return clicking, and I used it to hit about 5-6 winners on bh returns DTL in ad court. I was crushing some of these really fast.

Finally, I also had success with my slice fh dropshot today. She still burned me once with one of her ridiculous backhandogami shots from ankle-high, but my slice was usually crisp.

I did make some mental errors, and might have won the set if I could have avoided these. Slicing my fh high and deep after she pushes me back behind the baseline was a definite no-no, as she runs around these and pounces with her fh to take control of the point.

I also failed to close to the net behind a dropshot once, and that cost me the point.
 
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Stop with the excuses, there is no such thing as "bad matchup". She is just better than you.
Of course there is such a thing as a bad matchup. There are also delusional people who will invoke the "bad matchup" idea to explain a loss to a superior opponent. The key is being able to differentiate the two.
 
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