Doomed to being just a 3.5 NTRP player?

soyizgood

G.O.A.T.
I played a 3.5 match just now and lost. I feel like scum. Another guy old enough to be my dad. He had not played events in a while, but he beat me 6.0 6.2. I only made 5 DFs today (2 in the final game and at that point I already knew it was over) and was only able to hold once. I blew several break point chances in the process. At 2.0 in the 2nd set I tossed my racquet at the fence after I failed to break. Threw my racquet at MP to the fence after my shot dumped into the net.

He beat his previous opponent 6.0 6.1, so he definitely knows what he's doing. Still, I have NOTHING positive about my play to take from it. I choked on break points, I got too tight during the few times I did get aggressive, I played his game the 1st set and got burned, I lost all faith in my shot-making ability, I was unable to move him around the court because I feared making UEs going for the corners (when I didn't make errors he'd lob me or pass me by the narrowest margins up the line), I berated myself and mumbled throughout the match, etc. Went home and blasted papers off my desk.

I truly suck. No other way to put it. All 3 of my opponents this weekend said I had certain elements of my play they liked. But if that was really the case I wouldn't be fuming and typing here right now. My 1st opponent raved about my backhand, my volleys, and even my serve. My 2nd opponent liked my stroke mechanics and my volleys. Today's opponent said I hit a lot of topspin.

I'll probably go drink some cheap wine and try to get this out of my head somehow.
 

HunterST

Hall of Fame
I played a 3.5 match just now and lost. I feel like scum. Another guy old enough to be my dad. He had not played events in a while, but he beat me 6.0 6.2. I only made 5 DFs today (2 in the final game and at that point I already knew it was over) and was only able to hold once. I blew several break point chances in the process. At 2.0 in the 2nd set I tossed my racquet at the fence after I failed to break. Threw my racquet at MP to the fence after my shot dumped into the net.

He beat his previous opponent 6.0 6.1, so he definitely knows what he's doing. Still, I have NOTHING positive about my play to take from it. I choked on break points, I got too tight during the few times I did get aggressive, I played his game the 1st set and got burned, I lost all faith in my shot-making ability, I was unable to move him around the court because I feared making UEs going for the corners (when I didn't make errors he'd lob me or pass me by the narrowest margins up the line), I berated myself and mumbled throughout the match, etc. Went home and blasted papers off my desk.

I truly suck. No other way to put it. All 3 of my opponents this weekend said I had certain elements of my play they liked. But if that was really the case I wouldn't be fuming and typing here right now. My 1st opponent raved about my backhand, my volleys, and even my serve. My 2nd opponent liked my stroke mechanics and my volleys. Today's opponent said I hit a lot of topspin.

I'll probably go drink some cheap wine and try to get this out of my head somehow.
I've definitely been in the situation where you play badly and feel like crap. I'm a very competitive person and I understand being upset, but man, you're taking this ENTIRELY too seriously.

Think about it: some guy hit a rubber ball over a net more times than you. Is that the end of the world? You weren't playing in a Wimbledon final, you were playing an old guy in a 3.5 match.

From what I've seen, you take virtually no joy in your successes and completely berate yourself for your losses. I understand that. In fact, I'm guilty of it myself, but it's pretty silly considering we're just guys playing the game for fun.
 

Topaz

Legend
This has been such a great thread to read back through again, and for me, especially my own posts from just about exactly a year ago.

And here I am, still at 3.5, getting ready to start another season at both 3.5 and 4.0, but with a lot of technique changes from last year. Pretty much, I've got the goods, but it is my head that still gets in my way.

It was especially valuable reading CoachingMastery's posts again, too.
 
At 2.0 in the 2nd set I tossed my racquet at the fence after I failed to break. Threw my racquet at MP to the fence after my shot dumped into the net.



I'll probably go drink some cheap wine and try to get this out of my head somehow.
Ugh, don't be that guy. I'm all for being competitive, but in the end you're playing a game. You hit balls and try to keep them inside some lines. It's not the end of the world. Your life does in fact still have meaning.
 

GuyClinch

Legend
To me I always thought the 3.5 to 4.0 jump was the biggest. In my view a 3.5 is a guy who can play the game. Whereas a 4.0 is a player how is legitmately good at tennis. When people see a real 4.0 play IRL they think - hey that guy is GOOD (at least most of the time). Its a big jump - your going from being a guy who plays pretty often and knows what he is doing to a guy that can beat most guys who play..

This is why true to the myth most people get stuck at 3.5.. Its only big deal because its tennis and people have such an ego in this sport. No one is surprised if they can't go out on the basketball court and beat most of the kids down in the park if they "work at it." Tennis is one of those sports that seems easier then it is..I guess. So in my view don't feel to bad if you can't get to 4.0. Most people don't get there - ever. Though sadly 99% of people get there in their mind - the self-rated people..haha.
 
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equinox

Hall of Fame
Please, most 3.5's could grab a giant oversize racket like the new vortex super spinners. This would instantly raise his level .5 and push him to the top of the 3.5 pile.
 

ttbrowne

Hall of Fame
3.5 isn't so bad. We are in the majority anyway.
You'll probably make 4.0. I would be there today if not for having to have a job. When I was laid off, I played 4 times a week, maybe 5. My game got real good. But now, I'm working again and am down to ONCE a week.
Hang in there.
 

Carlito

Semi-Pro
I played a 3.5 match just now and lost. I feel like scum. Another guy old enough to be my dad. He had not played events in a while, but he beat me 6.0 6.2. I only made 5 DFs today (2 in the final game and at that point I already knew it was over) and was only able to hold once. I blew several break point chances in the process. At 2.0 in the 2nd set I tossed my racquet at the fence after I failed to break. Threw my racquet at MP to the fence after my shot dumped into the net.

He beat his previous opponent 6.0 6.1, so he definitely knows what he's doing. Still, I have NOTHING positive about my play to take from it. I choked on break points, I got too tight during the few times I did get aggressive, I played his game the 1st set and got burned, I lost all faith in my shot-making ability, I was unable to move him around the court because I feared making UEs going for the corners (when I didn't make errors he'd lob me or pass me by the narrowest margins up the line), I berated myself and mumbled throughout the match, etc. Went home and blasted papers off my desk.

I truly suck. No other way to put it. All 3 of my opponents this weekend said I had certain elements of my play they liked. But if that was really the case I wouldn't be fuming and typing here right now. My 1st opponent raved about my backhand, my volleys, and even my serve. My 2nd opponent liked my stroke mechanics and my volleys. Today's opponent said I hit a lot of topspin.

I'll probably go drink some cheap wine and try to get this out of my head somehow.
I played in the same tournamant as you and based on your other post, I think I can figure out who you are. The people you lost to weren't that bad based on their records. The guy you lost to in 4.0 advanced even further and is now in the quarters. It looks like you kept the first set close and imploded in the second with a 0-6. That is a sign that you just checked out mentally. Just keep your emotions is check and STAY FOCUSED.

I hope you don't take this the wrong way try not to be so dramatic and try not to over think things. Tennis is a very simple game. You can't let your emotions beat you before you even step on the court. Just go out there and compete hard and have fun. If you are out there thinking about your mechanics too much you will have too much going on in your head. Forget about the past and focus on one point at a time. I know it is very chiche but it is also very important.

If you really want to improve to a higher level, you have to get a lot of match play in agaist better people. I play a a few 5.5 guys and although I ofter take a beating, it makes my matches in lower divisions seem easier. After every match I feel like I inch a little closer to there level. But you also have to compete with people on the same level as you because you need to be put in close matches and figure out how to win them.
 

soyizgood

G.O.A.T.
I played in the same tournamant as you and based on your other post, I think I can figure out who you are. The people you lost to weren't that bad based on their records. The guy you lost to in 4.0 advanced even further and is now in the quarters. It looks like you kept the first set close and imploded in the second with a 0-6. That is a sign that you just checked out mentally. Just keep your emotions is check and STAY FOCUSED.

I hope you don't take this the wrong way try not to be so dramatic and try not to over think things. Tennis is a very simple game. You can't let your emotions beat you before you even step on the court. Just go out there and compete hard and have fun. If you are out there thinking about your mechanics too much you will have too much going on in your head. Forget about the past and focus on one point at a time. I know it is very chiche but it is also very important.

If you really want to improve to a higher level, you have to get a lot of match play in agaist better people. I play a a few 5.5 guys and although I ofter take a beating, it makes my matches in lower divisions seem easier. After every match I feel like I inch a little closer to there level. But you also have to compete with people on the same level as you because you need to be put in close matches and figure out how to win them.
That's three years in a row at that event where I lost by a worse score in the 3.5 match than in the 4.0 match.

2008 won 63 64 then lost 75 60 in the 3.5, lost 64 64 in the 4.0
2009 won by default then lost 60 61 in the 3.5, lost 63 61 in the 4.0
2010 won 61 64 then lost 60 62 in the 3.5, lost 63 61 in the 4.0 (somehow he counted it as 64 61 but oh well)

Mentally I don't tend to hold up when things are looking down. I don't know why. I've comeback down 5-1, 5-2 in casual matches before. I admit I criticize and scrutinize my playing before, during, and after matches. I am an analyst by trade so I almost can't help myself in that regard. Maybe I expect too much out of myself and/or disregard/overlook/neglect things I have done okay as far as playing. I am more emotional when I make mistakes than when win I make good plays (you will never hear me say "come on!" and rarely ever do fist pumps). I might have to find ways to encourage myself in matches.
 
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You have to ask yourself whether getting down on yourself has an effect on your shot selection and footwork. Do you go for a backhand winner down the line when you're 6 feet behind the baseline because you might feel that you're "not being aggressive with it" that particular day? Stuff like that can be the difference in matches like this.
 

Kostas

Semi-Pro
lol...OP is a basketcase....

You don't need practice so much as therapy imo :)

Just relax and go play tennis...how can this possibly be enjoyable to you?

Stop thinking about every shot on every point and just go play. You're not getting paid for this are you?

Just go have fun...the improvement and winning will come soon enough.
 

soyizgood

G.O.A.T.
You have to ask yourself whether getting down on yourself has an effect on your shot selection and footwork. Do you go for a backhand winner down the line when you're 6 feet behind the baseline because you might feel that you're "not being aggressive with it" that particular day? Stuff like that can be the difference in matches like this.
On Sunday's match I noticed at a few points I just really couldn't/didn't move my feet. I wasn't physically tired, but probably dwelling over a previous point I lost. Got tense when stepping up to put an approach shot as I messed up a few of those that day. A few times I was desperate to hit a winner but that was mostly due to frustration or perceived opening.

Without bashing myself to no end:

I was able to volley and hit overheads fairly well despite my reservations about hitting them. I probably will make more of a point to do these in future matches. I don't practice these much, so I was surprised at my consistency in those matches.

The backhand can be a weapon and if anything I was too passive with it in the two matches I lost. It's my main shot so I need to make it a point to use it to its full potential. I can hit winners with it as well as get good angles and depth.

The forehand has improved somewhat. I'm not that comfortable dictating rallies with it even though I can mix depth and spin fairly well. I've gotten more consistent using WW and reverse forehand finishes, but I prefer to finish over the shoulder. One guy I hit with has been trying to get me to loosen my grip when I hit forehands to help with racquet speed and making good cross-court strikes.

The backhand slice isn't pretty, but I can usually get it in and have it stay low. The forehand slice I only use when stretched out on defense, but I get most of those in play.

The serve is basically the one area I am overly critical of myself. I can't count on it for a lot of cheap points. It's more psychological than physical for me. I can break serve at a decent rate, but it eats me up when I get broken. I'm 6'0" tall and I can definitely supply power so it bugs me as to why I'm not doing more with the serve. I modified my service motion based on what a tennis instructor advised me to do two months ago. It make just take me a bit longer to fully grasp the concepts he showed me. That and a little longer for me to hit the 2nd serve without any fear or worries.

I know I drive myself nuts. It's just been my belief that the only way to address this is to improve on my mechanical flaws and pick my game apart.
 

supineAnimation

Hall of Fame
It's just been my belief that the only way to address this is to improve on my mechanical flaws and pick my game apart.
Then post some video. People on here are really generous with their time and they (and I) will, I'm sure, give you some great analyses and tips.
 

1stVolley

Professional
...

Today my 1st serve was effective, but my best shot, the backhand, fell apart. I had a couple of games that I had break point chances, but couldn't convert. At times I just felt resigned to ending this match ASAP. ...

I practiced 2-4 hours a day 6 days/week for a few weeks leading up to that match. Granted I expected to lose that match and I also signed up to play a 3.5 match later today. But I wonder if I realistically have any chance at becoming a 4.0.
I extracted some sentences in your post that may indicate your main problem is not technique but mental. Sure, faulty technique can break down under pressure, but so can good technique if you can't control pressure. Certainly, if you expect to lose a match, you might not run down every shot; you might be less aggressive than you could be; your footwork might become sloppy, etc.

Practicing endless hours without monitoring your mental preparation, your ability to reach match toughness, could mean that you are working on the wrong part of your game. And, constantly tinkering with technique is a sure way to not achieve a reliable groove.

IMHO, at a 3.5-4.0 level, it is not a question of having "advanced" techniques like a window wiper forehand or a kick serve that is necessary for winning, but doing the fundamentals right AND being match tough. The fundamentals are: watching the ball, proper footwork leading to a consistent and correct distancing from the ball, keeping the ball deep and knowing when and how to play percentage tennis. You can do all these things whether you hit with a ton of topspin--or pretty flat; whether you can kick the 2nd serve head high--or just place it to the opponent's weaker side, etc.

So, when you play, you might want to carefully monitor your unforced errors and determine what is the main cause. Are you choking (which includes lifting the head prematurely), lacking patience (part of match toughness) and going for the low percentage shot too often. When you hit long, are you just saying "oh crap" or are you noticing how long you hit and mentally correcting for the next time?

These are just some of the things I think are worthwhile check on. And, don't ever beat yourself up about not playing the way you want. You can't fully control the outcome of a match (your opponent has something to say about that). You can't stop your "B" game from showing up. You CAN however do the best you can and let it go at that. After all, tennis is a game; it's not the Cuban Missile Crisis. :lol:
 

soyizgood

G.O.A.T.
Thanks for all the advice people. I've read over these posts several times and it's helped me get some ideas on how to improve and look at things differently.

I've come some ways since I decided to take up tennis as an active hobby almost 4 years ago. I still don't really embrace compliments from people I play with, but I guess that's a hint I'm doing something right.

It's been a crusade for me to get better. On multiple occasions I've injured my left ankle, back, right shoulder, both elbows, both wrists, both knees, and had big blisters on my big toes. Tested out so many different racquets to figure out what works for me, destroyed some racquets out of frustration and a few by accident (mishits), and made an ass out of myself with my temper on numerous occasions, and yet even through all that I still play.

Maybe I can improve enough to get to 4.0, but there's a chance I won't. Time will tell. I used to look down upon my rating, but considering I've gotten here with only a little formal coaching and picking up tips from videos/watching other players/trial-and-error on my part I guess I've done okay. I'm hoping to do better, but I'll likely see improvements in small ways. Being patient is not one of my stronger qualities especially when it comes to being that with me, but I can give that approach a try.
 
You've been playing for four years. How many years do you have left to play, fifty? I find it hard to believe that you won't move up at least 0.5 in that time.
 

moist

Rookie
From my own experience over-thinking can be extremely counterproductive. I started playing as an adult and was quickly competitive at 3.5. I got spoiled by the improvement, and I plateaued. I got absolutely obsessed with why I wasn't getting better faster, and it really hurt my game as well as my enjoyment. The other reality is I was still getting better, just at a pace too slow to make picking apart every match a worthwhile endeavor.

Matches are not the time to be doing an in depth analysis of your flaws. Keep the advise to yourself simple (ie "footwork", "watch the ball", "keep your head up"), make the voice in your head lighthearted, and just have fun playing the game. Wait a little time to reflect on your match.

I'm a 4.0 now and I hope to make 4.5 someday, but I understand my real life will change very little if I do or don't.
 

halalula1234

Professional
everyone has days like these.. Usually happends when u dont get enough rest at least for me.

well theres also a thing where someone's game style will be hard for u to play against. Like for me sometimes i play people my level or a little bit lower 4.0-5 etc i usually win but there will once in a while that i loose like basically get thrashed 6-2 etc. I find that those players has a similar game style that doesnt complement mine..for example those who hits with no rhythm ,slice,spin,lob,slicls,drop yuck its frustrating to play them for me, however each time u loose u improve and learn to play against people like those each time.. and sometimes when i play people higher level than me 5.5-6 I beat them a little less than half the time and i find that they hit with much more spin/consistency and rhythm which suits my game,,i really dont do well against people that hits with inconsistent depths/spin. Maybe this could be ur problem against the players u lost to as well.
 

kevhen

Hall of Fame
When I made the move from 3.5 to 4.0, I once lost 24 matches in a row against a steady 4.0 player. I never gave up but just kept playing him to figure out what it takes to beat a 4.0 player. He hit slow and steady topspin on both sides so I had to learn to be patient and wait for the short ball to attack. I had to learn to hit cross court so I would do less running and could cover the court better. I had to learn how to attack him which I did with slice approach shots and then volley or overhead for winner. But the main thing was I had to learn how to be much more consistent. You hit 5 balls in play on every point and you will win every 3.5 match. So back off on hitting so many winners and learn the key to tennis which is consistency. I am now 4.5 rated and still finding ways to improve as my volley has gotten much stronger from playing lots of doubles. I have a slice, kick, and flat serve. Can hit one hand backhands when on the run or on low balls but otherwise will drive the ball with a two-hander. I can even hit left-handed forehands when stretched wide on the return of serve. So just keep working at it, 5 balls in each point, patience, persistence, determination. You can do it! I lost 24 in a row and that one pro lost like 29 matches in a row but try to learn something from each and every loss and then work on what are your weaknesses. Good luck.
 

kevhen

Hall of Fame
Oh, yeah, after I beat that 4.0 guy like 4 times in a row, he never wanted to play me again! He knew I had him figured out and would likely never lose to him again. But I owe him for teaching me those 4.0 tennis lessons.
 

soyizgood

G.O.A.T.
I'm thinking of practicing less. I have this theory that maybe I've practiced too much which in turn puts high expectations on me when I play.

At work we have a 2 person competition of making baskets using nerf balls and hoops. For our first match I practiced for a few days shooting quite a bit. I did fairly well in practice so I thought I would do well when the competition began. I went 0 for 3. My team won as my partner went 2 for 3 and the other team went 1 for 6. Still I was ticked off at myself. This time I didn't practice at all this week. I went 2 for 5 en route to our victory. I didn't expect much from myself nor did I put any pressure. I figured I could make them and it was just a matter of time before they would land.

I'll try this approach for a while. Maybe until I play another event.
 

Steady Eddy

Legend
I accept being a 3.5 player. My late start in tennis, mediocre athletic ability, and limited practice time mean that I won't be more than a solid 3.5. Still, I can beat many people who believe they are:4.0, 4.5, and even some 5.0s, with my boring, steady game. Hah! :twisted:
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Practice is good for fundamentals. After that, if you want to improve as a competitve player, you have to play matches 2-1 over just practice hitting sessions.
If you want to be a great hitter, then just hit in practice, don't keep score.
Unfortunately, lots of great hitters who PLAY a full level below their hitting skills.
Then again, some poor hitters play a full level above their hitting skills.
 

soyizgood

G.O.A.T.
I probably should take some time away from playing tennis. I played another man old enough to be my dad. I hit well in warm-ups, but during the match I was horrible. Every time I went aggressive the ball sailed out. I threw my racquet at the fence 3 times out of disgust. A few times I mentally blanked out and returned serves into the net. I had no rhythm, I went away from playing my game out of fear of making mistakes and that still didn't help, I blew a few easy put-aways and I was tense at the wrong times. I lost 6-4. I went home and obliterated my hamper out of disgust.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
So did you play sets and matches 2 to 1 over your hitting sessions? For a week or a month?
If not, you deserve to choke when you play a match.
 

soyizgood

G.O.A.T.
So did you play sets and matches 2 to 1 over your hitting sessions? For a week or a month?
If not, you deserve to choke when you play a match.
I've only played 2 sets since that event. Haven't practiced as much due to the winds last week, but did hit for three hours with a partner last Saturday.

Losing to men old enough to be my dad who have simplistic strokes just makes me want to commit seppuku (ritual suicide). It angers me to no end when I am unable to execute the shots I've practiced, that I can't dictate tempo, and I make stupid mental errors that add up. Since I lost at the tournament I just have not felt the same about tennis. :( I can't keep my nerves or my temper in check when things go wrong.
 

BreakPoint

Bionic Poster
Losing to men old enough to be my dad who have simplistic strokes just makes me want to commit seppuku (ritual suicide). It angers me to no end when I am unable to execute the shots I've practiced, that I can't dictate tempo, and I make stupid mental errors that add up. Since I lost at the tournament I just have not felt the same about tennis. :( I can't keep my nerves or my temper in check when things go wrong.
Get lots of videos of Bjorn Borg's matches and watch them over and over until they are ingrained into your brain and memory. Then next time you play a match, just keep saying to yourself that you're going to behave and act just like Borg no matter what happens on each point.

Remember that tennis is 90% mental and only 10% physical, so it really doesn't matter how old your opponent is. Think of it as chess on a much larger chess board, and with a racquet and ball instead of pawns and rooks. :wink:
 

Mick

Legend
Get lots of videos of Bjorn Borg's matches and watch them over and over until they are ingrained into your brain and memory.
Oops. instead of watching bjorn borg's matches, lately I have been watching lots of maria sharapova's matches :shock:
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I've only played 2 sets since that event. Haven't practiced as much due to the winds last week, but did hit for three hours with a partner last Saturday.

Losing to men old enough to be my dad who have simplistic strokes just makes me want to commit seppuku (ritual suicide). It angers me to no end when I am unable to execute the shots I've practiced, that I can't dictate tempo, and I make stupid mental errors that add up. Since I lost at the tournament I just have not felt the same about tennis. :( I can't keep my nerves or my temper in check when things go wrong.
Earlier this year, I wasn't playing very well. It was exactly as you describe: Inability to execute what I know I can do.

Then I changed my outlook. See, I had heaped all of this pressure on myself to get ready to play well in the spring adult season so I could be bumped up. I realized that my poor play meant I wasn't ready for 4.0. So I tossed that goal into the trash. I figured I would resume playing solely for fun and improvement.

Yep, you guessed it. I am playing better than ever. Something about not desperately wanting to play well freed me to just do what I do.

Soyisgood, forget your rating. Forget the age of the opponents and their weird strokes. Forget the investment you've made in instruction or practice. Forget everything other than going out and playing a match.

I'll bet tennis will be fun again for you too.
 

GuyClinch

Legend
^^^Yeah being a 3.5 player isn't the end of the world. I try to improve too but I doubt I am going to catapult up the rankings with my casual playing schedule.
 

soyizgood

G.O.A.T.
Earlier this year, I wasn't playing very well. It was exactly as you describe: Inability to execute what I know I can do.

Then I changed my outlook. See, I had heaped all of this pressure on myself to get ready to play well in the spring adult season so I could be bumped up. I realized that my poor play meant I wasn't ready for 4.0. So I tossed that goal into the trash. I figured I would resume playing solely for fun and improvement.

Yep, you guessed it. I am playing better than ever. Something about not desperately wanting to play well freed me to just do what I do.

Soyisgood, forget your rating. Forget the age of the opponents and their weird strokes. Forget the investment you've made in instruction or practice. Forget everything other than going out and playing a match.

I'll bet tennis will be fun again for you too.
Thanks for the encouragement.

I'm a stubborn, mental flake. I was thinking about playing at an event in late May, but after yesterday I don't know if I can stomach the notion of playing another pusher, especially after I return from a vacation in Europe. I refuse to stoop to their level of play, my mindset is to play offensively, and I don't want to get into long rallies all match.

I'm like a ninja in that when I do succeed, I'm almost as quiet as a dead ant. I could win and you wouldn't even know by my lack of expression. When I lose though it's like a big 'L' sign hangs over my head the whole day.

I'll continue to look for ways to improve my mechanics, but mentally I don't trust myself with handling adversity. It's like I need momentum early in a match to make up for my mental fragility. I'm definitely not my best friend when I play. When I'm really getting on my nerves, it's basically 2 vs 1. I can devote a ton of energy bashing and criticizing myself, but I can never seem to devote that amount of energy towards pushing me forward.

Tennis seems to reflect my personal struggles. Tennis used to be a means of getting away from them, but as I've put more time, effort, and threw expectations on my play it extends issues.

If only I could be mentally tougher... sigh
 
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mlktennis

Semi-Pro
ok, I see all the encouragement in the world is not gonna help b/c you have now equated your failures on the court with your real life problems.

The guy in me wants to reach through the screen and give you a BIG slap and SHAKE to wake you up and make you realize tennis is a game!

BUT, as a fellow mental case I realize this won't help at all. I get it. You work soo hard at this craft. Prob more effort than you have ever put into anything and yet few tangible results. Life/parents/teachers have told you that if you work hard, good things will happen. And yet, a ugly pusher type who prob never practiced in his/her life goes out and give you a whipping. Add to the fact this person is 20+ yrs older and slower than you and you just implode under the pressure. Your ego is invested in this outcome and now you get some ephipany moment that you are a loser in tennis just like in life. Am I right?...or is this just my story?

Answer? there is no answer. Somehow, someway you must and WILL realize that you are not a LOSER. That your job, your grades, your bank acct, and yes, your tennis match doesn't define you. You try, you fight, you push through life/tennis to reach your goals and you WILL be the better for it. This is what so many of us are in the midst of and the older experienced folks here are trying to tell you.
 

Ripper014

Hall of Fame
IMHO what defines you is comes two-fold, how you think of yourself... and how others think of you. Only one of those two really count, I will let you figure that out for yourself.

As far as your tennis goes... you are what you are. If you are destined to be a 3.5 player then that is what you are, there is no shame in it. All it means is that other have more skills in this part of their lives than you do.

Enjoy what you can get out of life rather than being disappointed by what you cannot. Embrace every positive experience and learn from any of the negative ones... we are not here forever so live it to the fullest.
 

soyizgood

G.O.A.T.
I just played a 4.0 tonight. Lost 6-3 6-3.

1st set there was only one break of serve. The 2nd set had EIGHT breaks. Once again my 2nd serve was pathetic. I made about 10 DFs and threw my racquet at the side fence twice out of disgust. It was almost as if I took serve lessons from Kournikova or something. I probably cursed or insulted myself about 15+ times during the match.

It was my 1st match playing with the Head Youtek Speed MP. I struggled returning serves with it until I stepped a few more feet behind the baseline. I like to be aggressive, but I only hit 4 or 5 winners this match. Granted I forced some errors with my heavy spin and some depth. Still I could not get into a rhythm and dictate. When my 1st serves did land in I gave him problems. But he told me that I likely drop my front shoulder too much on my 2nd serve.

I don't know what to make of this outcome. IMHO my opponent wasn't that much better than me so I was able to hang with him, service issues aside. I now realize I need to shorten my service return stroke to deal with this racquet (smoked him with a DTL forehand service winner to break him once). My backhand, my best shot, was pretty much a non-factor while the forehand did okay in rallies (sucked when I hit the ball late).

I'm 1-2 vs 3.5s and 0-2 vs 4.0s this year. I did better in my 4.0 losses than in my 3.5 losses for some odd reason.

If only I had a consistent serve... maybe I'd actually win more. Until then the agony continues.
 
W

Winky

Guest
didn't read the whole thread. Did the OP post vids of himself? I'd like to see them.
 

daved

Rookie
My two cents' worth

I'm 45, 46 in three days. Started playing tennis two years ago. Messed around a bit as a kid and played a little squash in college, but had never played even a real practice match in tennis.

Played number one singles on our club 3.5 team this year and went 4-2. That was my first competitive play of any kind other than two matches in a club tournament last summer.

Most of my practicing is practice matches. I'm interested in learning how to win. That said, I do hit compulsively on the ball machine or against a wall whenever possible.

I am 5'11", skinny, former bike racer, soccer player, basketball player, ski racer, etc. I am fairly fit and good at focusing, which are my weapons at this point.

In the last two years, I've experimented with every possibly way of hitting the ball: SW forehand and Eastern backhand with top were first and easiest; two hands off both sides for a few months (check me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Monica Seles possibly the most dominant player fo the last 30 years, before the stabbing?); all shots with a Continental for a few months; S&V and sometimes grind from the baseline. I do about equally well with any of these sets of strokes and strategies.

My two losses this past season were to 4.0 players playing down. Sure ranked "3.5," but also playing with winning records on 4.0 teams at the same time. Sandbaggers. You know them. Lost 3 and 2 to one of the guys and 3 and 4 to another. I was in it both matches but couldn't break through.

At 3.5, I can dictate, even if I'm making some mistakes. At 4.0, I am on my heels at least 80% of the time and I can not afford to make any mistakes -- either too many unforced errors or missed putaways, particularly overheads and volleys.

I did a phone conference with Dr. Allen Fox the other day and told him my goal for next year was to win all my 3.5 singles matches and/or move up to 4.0. His advice surprised me. Number one, he told me I simply would have to practice my groundstrokes a lot more than I do. He said you can't get to that next level without having your basic strokes grooved beyond a shadow of a doubt so that when you default to your worst behavior under competitive stress, that behavior will still be good enough. He also said to put a lot of time in to overheads and volleys. That makes sense to me -- I give up way to many "gimme" points on these shots.

I do have tools that lots of guys never have -- a certain amount of fitness, quickness and mental toughness that I don't see in many other guys I play.

But to get to solid 4.0 or beyond, it's obvious that I need at least one real stroke weapon and a higher level of consistency across all strokes, footwork and tactics.

That said, most of the teaching pros I know say that all the fun is at the 3.5 level. Good enough to be real tennis, but people aren't so earnest about their performance that they take all the fun out of it for everyone.
 

daved

Rookie
My two cents' worth

I'm 45, 46 in three days. Started playing tennis two years ago. Messed around a bit as a kid and played a little squash in college, but had never played even a real practice match in tennis.

Played number one singles on our club 3.5 team this year and went 4-2. That was my first competitive play of any kind other than two matches in a club tournament last summer.

Most of my practicing is practice matches. I'm interested in learning how to win. That said, I do hit compulsively on the ball machine or against a wall whenever possible.

I am 5'11", skinny, former bike racer, soccer player, basketball player, ski racer, etc. I am fairly fit and good at focusing, which are my weapons at this point.

In the last two years, I've experimented with every possibly way of hitting the ball: SW forehand and Eastern backhand with top were first and easiest; two hands off both sides for a few months (check me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Monica Seles possibly the most dominant player fo the last 30 years, before the stabbing?); all shots with a Continental for a few months; S&V and sometimes grind from the baseline. I do about equally well with any of these sets of strokes and strategies.

My two losses this past season were to 4.0 players playing down. Sure ranked "3.5," but also playing with winning records on 4.0 teams at the same time. Sandbaggers. You know them. Lost 3 and 2 to one of the guys and 3 and 4 to another. I was in it both matches but couldn't break through.

At 3.5, I can dictate, even if I'm making some mistakes. At 4.0, I am on my heels at least 80% of the time and I can not afford to make any mistakes -- either too many unforced errors or missed putaways, particularly overheads and volleys.

I did a phone conference with Dr. Allen Fox the other day and told him my goal for next year was to win all my 3.5 singles matches and/or move up to 4.0. His advice surprised me. Number one, he told me I simply would have to practice my groundstrokes a lot more than I do. He said you can't get to that next level without having your basic strokes grooved beyond a shadow of a doubt so that when you default to your worst behavior under competitive stress, that behavior will still be good enough. He also said to put a lot of time in to overheads and volleys. That makes sense to me -- I give up way to many "gimme" points on these shots.

I do have tools that lots of guys never have -- a certain amount of fitness, quickness and mental toughness that I don't see in many other guys I play.

But to get to solid 4.0 or beyond, it's obvious that I need at least one real stroke weapon and a higher level of consistency across all strokes, footwork and tactics.

That said, most of the teaching pros I know say that all the fun is at the 3.5 level. Good enough to be real tennis, but people aren't so earnest about their performance that they take all the fun out of it for everyone.
 
W

Winky

Guest
I've thought of doing that before, but not eager to do so on this forum. Even then, I need to get a tripod since my last one broke.
eh why not? Sure you'll get some trolls commenting on it but you might get some good advice too. Just lay it out for people to watch, let them comment, disregard the ******** comments and find a couple of golden nuggets that could spin your game in a completely different direction.
 

jdawgg

Rookie
i read about 4-5 pages of this thread and i have to say there is some amazing advice in here. no advice really for me to contribute because its all been said...
 

soyizgood

G.O.A.T.
I'm still feeling disgusted by my play tonight, but I'm not as depressed as I was in my losses in April and May. If it wasn't for my serve, I could have made the score even closer and perhaps have won.

  • It was my 1st match with the new racquet which is definitely different from the m-Fil 400, which I used in USTA matches for the past 2 years.
  • My return of serve was poor in the 1st set, yet I broke the guy 3 times in the 2nd after I made a few adjustments.
  • 1st time this year I lost without eating a breadstick or bagel.
  • My brain didn't check out in this match until I faced match point.

I need to tweak the 2nd serve. If I can cut down the DFs and increase my 1st serve % I should be able to rack up more wins. It's been almost 18 months since I started this thread. I admit I've improved the forehand, slices, volleys, and backhand in that time. The serve has more pace now. I was so disgusted with losing that I only played one event in 2009, but I've played in 3 events this year.

Four years ago I was on a crusade to improve my forehand and my serve. I couldn't hit BH or FH slices to save my life, my volleys were iffy, and I hit really flat off both wings so I was either hot or cold when going for my shots. Only practiced 1 or 2 times a week then. Improved mostly on my own, various hitting partners, better understanding of my game and racquets that suit it, and just kept playing even when I told myself not to and even through injuries.

I'll keep trying, somehow.
 

ProgressoR

Hall of Fame
^^ on the second serve, i noticed early on this was the weak part of my game, so what TRY to do, and have tried to do, is just develop second serve, the last few weeks.

i have noticed a change - technically I use a spinny second serve and not just slice, but top or top/slice, this has improved consistency and i notice at my level (prob around 3.5 roughly) opponents still cannot tee off a second serve with decent spin on it. I can still miss it under pressure, but most times it is much more reliable.

Funnily enough it meant i have more confidence on first serve now, knowing i have a reliable second, so my first goes in more often and i try more things on my first, sometimes flat, sometimes, top slice, top whatever, knowing i can fall back on second.

Anyway, just some words of advice that seem to be working for me, work on second serve, have a strategy, i decided to learn top (or top slice with lots of top) because i wanted a reliable serve that i could throw my arm at, slowing down racket head speed made me DF more.
 

soyizgood

G.O.A.T.
So much for improving...

Played a 3.5 match today. Once again I did worse vs a 3.5 than I did vs a 4.0. Lost 6-0 6-4....to another old man!!!!!!!!!

I was absolutely livid in my loss. I only made 4 DFs, but it seemed everytime I tried to get aggressive I failed. I can now confirm I'm not that comfortable with this racquet. I probably should have brought my Aerogel 300 as a backup. I called myself a loser, trash, pathetic, lousy, failure, joke, that I suck, etc. throughout and after the match. Flung my racquet at the back fence after MP. I was yelling at myself the entire time going home. I spent all this time, effort, and money... for WHAT?!?! Losing to old folks, exposing my fatal flaws, letting myself down time after time, and never getting closer to being a 4.0 player. I feel like a sorry piece of **** right now.

Anytime I devote myself to a hobby I expect myself to eventually be above average, not mediocre and erratic. I can't hold serve worth a lick despite putting a lot of pace on my 1st serve. I recently spent almost $300 on racquets and turns out I don't play well with them even after I had demoed it. Pissed away $90 to play just two matches. Signed up for a 5-week group advanced class so throw $75 there.

My attitude sucks. So does my mental composure, my lack of ability to hold serve, and my match results. I don't have much time before I begin to lose speed and power. If I don't get up to the next level soon it's almost a given I never will.
 
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Avles

Hall of Fame
Don't know if you're looking for more advice or just venting, but these are my thoughts (full disclosure, I'm a relative novice in my 30s who knows that 3.5 may end up being my ceiling):

1. Stop thinking about your opponents. It's totally irrelevant that your opponent was an old guy. Why do you care about his age? Play the ball.

2. Stop throwing money at the problem. At your level, I doubt there's much point in spending big bucks looking for the perfect racquet. Pick a playable racquet and adapt to it. If you spend money for lessons, do it to focus on developing particular skills, not on quick improvement in results. If you spend money on tournaments, do it because you enjoy the tournament experience (doesn't sound like you do right now). Overall, don't spend too much money! The more money you spend, the more fuel you give yourself for self-recrimination.

3. Stop yelling at yourself. Seriously, just stop it (or at least minimize it).

4. You are not racing against the clock. I don't know how old you are, but if you have the physical abilities to be a 4.0 now, you'll likely have them for some time to come (assuming you avoid injury). My guess is that your technique and mental game will determine whether you reach 4.0, not your athleticism. So you can afford to be a little patient.

5. Maybe forget about the rating for a while?

Hope this doesn't sound too patronizing, and that you find yourself making some tennis and/or mental progress soon.



So much for improving...

Played a 3.5 match today. Once again I did worse vs a 3.5 than I did vs a 4.0. Lost 6-0 6-4....to another old man!!!!!!!!!

I was absolutely livid in my loss. I only made 4 DFs, but it seemed everytime I tried to get aggressive I failed. I can now confirm I'm not that comfortable with this racquet. I probably should have brought my Aerogel 300 as a backup. I called myself a loser, trash, pathetic, lousy, failure, joke, that I suck, etc. throughout and after the match. Flung my racquet at the back fence after MP. I was yelling at myself the entire time going home. I spent all this time, effort, and money... for WHAT?!?! Losing to old folks, exposing my fatal flaws, letting myself down time after time, and never getting closer to being a 4.0 player. I feel like a sorry piece of **** right now.

Anytime I devote myself to a hobby I expect myself to eventually be above average, not mediocre and erratic. I can't hold serve worth a lick despite putting a lot of pace on my 1st serve. I recently spent almost $300 on racquets and turns out I don't play well with them even after I had demoed it. Pissed away $90 to play just two matches. Signed up for a 5-week group advanced class so throw $75 there.

My attitude sucks. So does my mental composure, my lack of ability to hold serve, and my match results. I don't have much time before I begin to lose speed and power. If I don't get up to the next level soon it's almost a given I never will.
 

West Coast Ace

G.O.A.T.
Soy, I've read a few pages - didn't see any mention of any other sports you play(ed). If you're not overly athletic you may be an overachiever, not underachiever (which is what I take from your posts and the negativity).

I would say in your current state, playing tournaments is a waste of time - you're beat before the racket spin. Earlier you said all your friends are 3.5 and worse - if there's no way to hit with better players, the next best thing is to find (or buy) a ball machine. Even the entry level ones can give you a tough ball to hit - and most importantly, TONS of reps - which is the key to gaining confidence - which you need. Good luck.
 
W

Winky

Guest
I called myself a loser, trash, pathetic, lousy, failure, joke, that I suck, etc. throughout and after the match. Flung my racquet at the back fence after MP. I was yelling at myself the entire time going home.
Tennis does appeal to the masochist in us all. Yours just seems a little more... pronounced.. :shock:
 

soyizgood

G.O.A.T.
Still got today's loss on my mind. I'm having various thoughts.

Maybe I should try to get more wins vs 3.5 as my 1st goal. I still don't know why I lose more respectably vs 4.0s than I do vs 3.5s. Maybe I play more loosely vs the 4.0s as I feel I have nothing to lose.

I've noticed I'm a bit slower now than I was 4 years ago. Might be age (33 doesn't feel so kind to me), but also various injuries (ankle, shin splints, knee ligament, etc.).

I think I'm a bit impatient when going for winners/approach shots. Although when I get too hesitant I get burned as well. I might need to get more spin in such situations.

It's psychological when I serve. I don't really trust myself when I am serving, even during the times my serve is working. My hold percentage was abysmal this weekend.

Maybe I should take a break from tennis. Right now it's not that fun for me. I don't have fun when I lose, generally. It seems I'm afraid to lose when I play.

Being a 3.5 isn't a bad thing, I guess. Still, there's nothing special about it either IMHO. I know friends that got stuck at the 2.5-3.0 level and they're content with that. I wasn't so I kept working to improve. I've improved, but not gotten the results I'm seeking. My family has folks that have earned black belts, bowling trophies, raced in marathons, etc. I only have a 2nd place trophy in softball when I was a kid.

Later this month I'll take a class and see if the coach can find something I can make improvements on.
 

BreakPoint

Bionic Poster
Maybe I should take a break from tennis. Right now it's not that fun for me. I don't have fun when I lose, generally. It seems I'm afraid to lose when I play.
IMO, you've summed up your problem with the above paragraph right there. You should play tennis to have fun and not worry so much about winning or losing. You are not a pro. You don't depend on winning a tennis match to pay your rent. Once you start overly worrying about losing, that's when you psychologically will yourself to lose. You've sealed your own fate.

Just go out there and have fun. Tennis is supposed to be fun, not a chore. Once you stop worrying so much about losing, you'll loosen up, play more relaxed, go for your shots more, and probably win more matches in the end.
 
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