Dreaded 4.5m/3.5w in a mixed 8.0 league

Shroud

G.O.A.T.
I run into this a lot...again, how can you criticize mixed when you struggle to return a supposedly weaker player's serve? That means you struggle to create your own pace, and you aren't moving your feet and preparing for the shot. Against the guy you have no issues, because he is providing the pace. This is why many women *can* return guys serve...we know how to use your pace.
Fair enough. But its more like I struggle to reign in the pace I create. Its because I am hitting at the damn service line. It should be easy just hit down come in, but yeah I clobber the fence half the time. Yeah I find myself getting bored, mind wondering, looking at my watch as the ball travels to me....

So how do you handle those no pace serves?

Last match I just sliced it all back and we won. But I hate that. I should be able to tee off and punish those serves...
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Cindy, why not just play 7.0 then, as someone else mentioned? How is it good for you? Mixed doesn't prepare you for women's dubs, they are two different worlds.

Me, I am the 3.5 you all complain about. I'm computer rated. I play 7.0 and 8.0 and played 9.0 in the past. My advice...if you do not enjoy it, DON'T DO IT. Seriously. There are plenty of other options in tennis.

G4, do you guys not have combo mixed in your area? 7.5, 8.5, 9.5?
Topaz, good to see you!

The answer for why I don't play 7.0 mixed with a 3.0 male partner is simple: There are not nearly enough 3.0 guys to go around. Add to this fact that captains know that a mixed team where the woman is higher rated is less competitive than when the man is higher rated. Then add in the fact that it is harder to captain a mixed team when you have some players who cannot be partnered. I do not think I could get on a 7.0 mixed team, period. (I was offered the chance to do it a few years ago but declined. The captain's sales pitch was, "Your partner is really more of a 3.5, but he's going to rate as a 3.0!!" I'm not interested in cheating to win league matches, so I said no.)

I do think playing mixed is good for me. Unlike some, I struggle with pace. Once you've played mixed, though, there is no pace in a ladies match that can bother me.

But all of this begs the question. If we are going to toss out the concept that we want everyone on the court to be within a certain range of one another, why stop there? Why not let a 2.5 woman partner with a 5.5 man? Because huge gaps in skill level sucks the fun out of tennis for everyone.

Come on. Is there anyone within the sound of my voice who doesn't agree that an 8.0 with all players at 4.0 is more consistent with the purpose of having ratings in the first place than when you have the 4.5 guy/3.5 woman pairs?
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
4.5 guy and 3.5 woman is ridiculous.
For all players to be close to even, the women have to be the 4.5's, the men strong 3.5's, usually.
Exceptions in cases of strong 4.5 women who can hit the snot out of the ball, and 3.5 men who can't volley or react.
 

Shroud

G.O.A.T.
4.5 guy and 3.5 woman is ridiculous.
For all players to be close to even, the women have to be the 4.5's, the men strong 3.5's, usually.
Exceptions in cases of strong 4.5 women who can hit the snot out of the ball, and 3.5 men who can't volley or react.
Yep but you run into them. IIRC San Pablo beat the crap out of me with that combo and was the 2nd time I faced it.

It was good since I couldnt get by with my soft spinny kicks and had to start hitting the serve, but losing sucked.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
I'll chime in here from a different perspective...

I'm a strong 4.5 guy. Here are the reasons why 8.0 mixed is my favorite event:

8.0 mixed is basically a completely different sport than regular doubles. I'm a person that really enjoys competing in singles because it's both a physical and mental battle. Regular men's doubles is much less enjoyable for me than singles because I don't get nearly as much physical exercise. But mixed 8.0 is another story - in fact, I find myself getting more winded and physically exhausted playing 8.0 mixed sometimes than I do playing singles. I'm an extremely competitive person, and for my 8.0 mixed team to win, it means I'm covering 3/4 of the court.

In singles, I only need to cover 1/2 the court (the deep half), because with my serve being a shadow of its former powerful self, I rarely get opportunities to come to the net in singles against good 4.5-5.0 singles opponents. In 8.0, my style is completely different - I take the net at every opportunity. I serve and volley every ball on my serve. Serve to my forehand, and I will play a safe chip and come in. Serve to my strong 2hb, and I will either lob over the gal or play a safe cross-court shot and come in. Any time my opponent lobs my partner's alley, it's my responsibility, and I try to get there in time to spike an overhead smash. My 3.5 partners know this, and so she is trained to stay on top of the net and slide over to the middle to give me a wide smash lane and be ready to put away the the defensive reply to the middle of the court. If the reply gets popped back over her head to the opposite allwy, then it's my responsibility to chase it down and take the backhand overhead before it bounces. Running alley to alley while maintaining the offensive in the point is a great workout!

My record clearly indicates that I am much more dominant in 8.0 mixed than I am in men's doubles. In general, the only times I lose in 8.0 are when I play against another the 4.5m/3.5w combo and the opposing dude outplays me. I think I have won at an 80% clip overall in league play, while my record in men's doubles over the years is more like 50%. One thing I really like about 8.0 doubles is that I feel like I have much more control of the outcome of the match. In men's doubles, whether I win or lose is usually a matter of whether I was paired with a strong or a weak partner, since the team with the weakest link seems to always lose. In 8.0 mixed, the team with the strongest player on the court almost always wins, and I have won many matches with weak 3.5w partners as long as they were willing to follow my instructions on strategy and court positioning.

Another thing I like about 8.0 mixed is that it is more of a strategic puzzle type of sport compared to regular doubles or singles. The key to winning in 8.0 mixed is finding unconventional formations that put our team in favorable positions.
On my service game, I always use Aussie in the deuce - that way it discourages a lob return over my partner's head because I can easily roll left to right for the overhead smash

When my partner serves, I use the Aussie formation when she serves from the ad side - this way I can either execute a planned poach or fill the center of the net without getting burned if the returner guesses right and goes behind me because my 3.5w partner gets to start from the center hash and can more easily cross to cover either alley. When I use the Aussie as my poach position and I hold my move until the last instant, most 4.0 guys, and even many 4.5 guys, have a hard time getting a solid shot past me.

The 3.5 ladies on my team really enjoy 8.0 mixed. They know their role on the court (hugging the net and angling off anything hit at them), and they take pride in executing that role. As long as my partner can get 1 return past the net person per game on her return, that's usually good enough to put us in position to win the match.

Even though I am dominant in 8.0, I have to work very hard each and every match and cover a lot of ground to make it happen. I think the most enjoyable matches for me are when I play a tough 4.0/4.0 combo where both players have good skills. Sure, I often get the "it feels like you're everywhere" comment after the match from frustrated 4.0/4.0 opponents, but I think my opponents also enjoy the mental and strategic puzzle of finding a way to beat me, and they appreciate that I play a very strategically unique brand of mixed tennis than they are used to seeing.
 
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D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
@tavlerajm having a 3.5 partner dutifully hug the net while I cover the rest of court is ideal, and maybe I would play more if I had that type of partner more often. maybe I just get partnered with too many that want to be just as involved or worst, insist on staying back because their "best" shot is the lob or cc groundie...

to be fair, most 4.0 guys I run into just want to stay back (because they can't volley).
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Traveljam,

I mean no hostility here, and I like your contributions to the board. But your post demonstrates exactly why 4.5s should not be permitted to play 8.0 mixed and should have to play 9.0 mixed with partners/opponents of comparable skill. A few highlights from your post:

My record clearly indicates that I am much more dominant in 8.0 mixed than I am in men's doubles.
One thing I really like about 8.0 doubles is that I feel like I have much more control of the outcome of the match.
When I use the Aussie as my poach position and I hold my move until the last instant, most 4.0 guys, and even many 4.5 guys, have a hard time getting a solid shot past me.
Sure, I often get the "it feels like you're everywhere" comment after the match from frustrated 4.0/4.0 opponents, but I think my opponents also enjoy the mental and strategic puzzle of finding a way to beat me, and they appreciate that I play a very strategically unique brand of mixed tennis than they are used to seeing.
I get it, I really do. I am a 4.0, and I could have a terrific time and get a great workout by playing against 3.0 and 3.5 players. I would probably employ a lot of the tactics you describe. I would probably win 80% of the time. My vanquished opponents would be dazzled by my Mad Tennis Skillz.

But that is *not* what league-based play is supposed to be. It is supposed to be about balance to the extent this can be achieved. What you are doing may be fun for you (hey, who doesn't like dominating and winning?), but I question whether your opponents "enjoy the mental and strategic puzzle of finding a way to beat [you]." That is not what I hear from my 4.0 male and female teammates when they find they have to play a 4.5 guy. What I hear more frequently is something akin to, "Great. I came all the way out here to get smoked in an hour."

Don't get me wrong: The rules allow you to do what you are doing and beat up on lower-rated men and women in mixed, so you should keep right on doing it if that floats your boat. I just happen to think the rules should be changed (while recognizing that they never will be).

You made my point perfectly. Thank you.
 

g4driver

Hall of Fame
Lee D,

Thanks for your post.

You unveiled the secret.

4.5 guy and 3.5 woman is ridiculous.
For all players to be close to even, the women have to be the 4.5's, the men strong 3.5's, usually.

Exceptions in cases of strong 4.5 women who can hit the snot out of the ball, and 3.5 men who can't volley or react.
And LeeD posted the secret to beating 4.5 men / 3.5 women.

A few years back, as a 3.5 I approached a strong 4.5 lady. I gathered a handful of near 4.0 guys and she brought strong 4.5 women and we created an 8.0 mixed team. In the second season, our 18+ and 40 + team went to State. The 40+ team went unbeaten locally. 8-0 record . Their were no 4.5 men and it was evenly spilt 3.5 men and 4.0 men

I never lost an 8.0 match to a 4.5 guy/3.5 lady when I played with three separate 4.5 women in 2013. Two of the 3.5 guys on the 8.0 team also had success against 4.5 men/3.5 ladies. One of our 3.5 guy/4.5 lady pairs lost to a dominate 4.5 guy / 3.5 lady 10-8 in a 10 TB, but not before the 4.5 guy recognized how good these 3.5 guys were. So last year, this 4.5 guy who had beaten my teammate called me and asked to play on my 7.5 combo team. Yes, the 4.5 guy called and asked if he could play 7.5 Combo with a 3.0. He was 8-0 at 7.5 combo. :) He was bumped to 5.0 last Dec. So a near 4.0 guy who remains a 3.5 today and a 4.5 lady lost 10-8 in a match TB to a 3.5 lady who will be bumped to 4.0 in Dec and to the guy who is now a 5.0. The 4.5 lady is and will remain a 4.5 lady.

4.5 men do bring a different aspect to 8.0 mixed, but they are beatable as Schmidt has posted. The 4.5 men / 3.5 women nationwide win roughly 6 of of 10 matches.

Is that so out of balance as to ban 4.5 men as Cindy wants to do? It isn't IMO.
 
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schmke

Hall of Fame
One simply has to accept that Mixed is a different game like @tavlerajm mentioned. But it isn't always different in the same way as you can have significantly different attributes of players particularly at 8.0. A 4.5m/3.5w doesn't always win, nor does a 3.5m/4.5w, but they tend to win more because there is an opportunity for the stronger player to "problem solve" and make the most of the advantage they bring to the match.

I've said before that I think that the effective 1.5 level difference between a 4.5m and 3.5w is too much and I'd prefer to see Mixed be combinations on the 0.5s so the gap between players is no more than 0.5, but in lieu of that happening, just accept the game is different and requires approaching the strategy differently and in more varied ways depending on the match-up, and have fun dealing with the challenge.
 

g4driver

Hall of Fame
Cindy,

I am curious if the 8.0 Mixed League you play in is 18+, 40+, or 55+ or maybe you play in all the leagues? Why do I ask? Because I have two 4.0 female friends who play 55+ mixed, but they who refuse to play 18+ and 40+ just because of the pace of the men. They were on the 40+ 8.0 team that went to State, but asked the Captain to stop playing them in 40+

I don't find 18+ and 40+ leagues to be that much different both in 7.0 or 8.0 Mixed. I don't play 55+ but I do have friends that play Men's, Mixed and Combo at 55+

There are a core group of 55+ men 4.0 players at my club who don't play 18+ or 40+ Men's 4.0 any longer. They were 3.5 men who won State at either 60+ or 55+ then lost in the Finals at the Southern Sectionals. About half of them were bumped to 4.0. At 18+ 4.0 and 40+ 4.0, these guys struggled mightily and after two years, they gave up those teams as the matches were completely lopsided.

At 55+ these 4.0 men still struggle as 4.0 players, and many of them want to be 3.5 players, because they have limited options as weaker 4.0 players. The guys who were not bumped are thankful they stayed at 3.5, and most of these guys are well into their 60s now. Where am I going with this story: 18+ and 40+ Mixed don't seem that different to me, and if you drop one of these 55+ 4.0 men in a 18+ or 40+ 8.0 match, with one of the 55+ ladies who had the clarity to recognize she can't handle the pace, it isn't going to matter if they face a 4.5/3.5, 4.0/4.0 or 3.5/4.0, they are going to have a long day. I played mixed with the 4.0 women who didn't have the clarity to recognize what my two 55+ 4.0 friends clearly saw, and the results were a disaster. I tried it twice with the same type of 4.0 women, then I asked to play with a 3.5 player. I won a match with the 3.5 and lost a match by 2 points in a Match TB with her.

Schmke nailed it. Just accept the game is different and it requires a different approach or do like I have done and just pick a different level with different challenges like 7.0

Wishing you the best Cindy. I found my peace with 8.0 mixed and accepted it. I hope you find that peace as well.
 

willeric

Rookie
Traveljam,


But that is *not* what league-based play is supposed to be. It is supposed to be about balance to the extent this can be achieved. What you are doing may be fun for you (hey, who doesn't like dominating and winning?), but I question whether your opponents "enjoy the mental and strategic puzzle of finding a way to beat [you]." That is not what I hear from my 4.0 male and female teammates when they find they have to play a 4.5 guy. What I hear more frequently is something akin to, "Great. I came all the way out here to get smoked in an hour."

Don't get me wrong: The rules allow you to do what you are doing and beat up on lower-rated men and women in mixed, so you should keep right on doing it if that floats your boat. I just happen to think the rules should be changed (while recognizing that they never will be).

You made my point perfectly. Thank you.
What is supposed to be balanced? I think all that is supposed to be balanced is that each team has a chance for winning. A 4.0/4.0 team has about a 50% chance of winning against a 4.5/3.5 team. A strong 4.0 player should be able to deal with a 4.5 player. The 4.0 level seems to all over the place. Some are getting better, but a lot have peaked and should be moved down. If I feel bad for someone it's not the 4.0s, it's the 3.5. She/He is going to eat a lot of balls. As long as my partner is a strong 4.0, I'm happy for the 4.5/3.5 challenge.
 

RetroSpin

Hall of Fame
My experience, albeit not in USTA, is that a pairing with a female who is .5> than the opposing male is very tough. So that could be a 4.5w/3.5m versus two 4.0s. She neutralizes the other guy in effect, and that puts a lot of pressure on the 4.0 woman.
 

Topaz

Legend
No Topez, our mixed is 6.0 - 7.0 - 8.0 - 9.0 - 10.0

And Topaz you are the partner all the guys want. ;)
Ahahahaha! Not if I have to play FH side!

Too bad, we have combo mixed here...well, we have just about everything. Even tri-level mixed! It can get overwhelming.

But even with combo, you will see the same issues, as a 3.5 can play 8.5 combo with....wait for it...a 5.0! Those combos don't really ever lose, or at least I've never seen it happen. Schmke might be able to weigh in there.

But in general, I think mixed combo tends to be more even playing field, and you can have your 4.0 female play with a 3.5 guy. Though, again, we see more combos with the male as the higher level. I had a great 3.5 guy to play with when I was 4.0, and now we get to play again, as we have swapped ratings!
 

Topaz

Legend
The 3.5 ladies on my team really enjoy 8.0 mixed. They know their role on the court (hugging the net and angling off anything hit at them), and they take pride in executing that role. As long as my partner can get 1 return past the net person per game on her return, that's usually good enough to put us in position to win the match.

.
If someone tries to do that to me, I don't play with them again. Fortunately, I have had great partners that see me more than an alley hugger. I love playing against other combos that do that...the guy overplays and overhits, gets the team out of position, then it is easy peasy. Now, I know lots of people do this, and if it works for *you* and your partner, great!

G4...you mentioned the 4.5 female/3.5 male combo. That combo isn't nearly so dominant in our area usually, though I will say my one team has two of those combos that win all the time, but the gals are strong 4.5 (one is a 5.0 bumpdown) and the guys are really 4.0s. So I guess you could say it is similar to that of the 4.5m/3.5f...they will win if they are at the top of their level.

But couldn't that be said of anyone? A 4.0/4.0 combo where both are at the top of their level are going to be tough to beat. There is a 4.0 woman who plays mixed around here that I hope I NEVER have to play against...because she can handle what even some of the top 4.5s throw at her, and I've seen it happen.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
g4driver,

i play 18+ mixed and 40+ mixed.

yes, the rules probably wont change. i and everyone else has to just deal or vote with our feet.

i thought of another reason this should change, though: there is no 3-strikes dq in mixed. not only must i play computer rated teaching pros, i must also play sandbagging 5.0. good lord.

anyway, i got an invitation to play 8.5 mixed combo for the fall. i will probably decline. i am coming off of an injury and havent played a match in months. jumping out there against 4.5s is probably not a good idea, even though if i had a 4.5 partner it would at least be a fair fight.
 

sam_p

Professional
Topaz, good to see you!

The answer for why I don't play 7.0 mixed with a 3.0 male partner is simple: There are not nearly enough 3.0 guys to go around. Add to this fact that captains know that a mixed team where the woman is higher rated is less competitive than when the man is higher rated. Then add in the fact that it is harder to captain a mixed team when you have some players who cannot be partnered. I do not think I could get on a 7.0 mixed team, period. (I was offered the chance to do it a few years ago but declined. The captain's sales pitch was, "Your partner is really more of a 3.5, but he's going to rate as a 3.0!!" I'm not interested in cheating to win league matches, so I said no.)

I do think playing mixed is good for me. Unlike some, I struggle with pace. Once you've played mixed, though, there is no pace in a ladies match that can bother me.

But all of this begs the question. If we are going to toss out the concept that we want everyone on the court to be within a certain range of one another, why stop there? Why not let a 2.5 woman partner with a 5.5 man? Because huge gaps in skill level sucks the fun out of tennis for everyone.

Come on. Is there anyone within the sound of my voice who doesn't agree that an 8.0 with all players at 4.0 is more consistent with the purpose of having ratings in the first place than when you have the 4.5 guy/3.5 woman pairs?

Then it would be 4.0 mixed doubles not 8.0. The entire point of having it described by the total of the two players ratings is that there are several ways to slice that onion.

As a 4.5 I have generally eschewed playing 8.0 as it is actually quite a bit of work for the 4.5 guy and it is sometimes boring and stressful work since you carry a lot of the expectations and need to stay very aggressive the whole time. 9.0 is more fun for me since it is a bit more even on the expectations for both players. That being said, I don't see why it makes sense to limit the combinations in the way you've called for.

Also, it is worth noting that in the past the rules about the separation between ratings wasn't quite as strict (now the two players in mixed or combo must be within 1.0 rating of each other). I have been told that there used to be 9.0 teams made up of 5.5 men with 3.5 women and the guy was essentially playing singles (except for when the woman served). This does seem rather nuts, and I can tell you that as a 4.5 guy it is not easy to win any points off a 5.5 man.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
If someone tries to do that to me, I don't play with them again. Fortunately, I have had great partners that see me more than an alley hugger. I love playing against other combos that do that...the guy overplays and overhits, gets the team out of position, then it is easy peasy. Now, I know lots of people do this, and if it works for *you* and your partner, great!
You completely misunderstood how I use my partner - I don't want my partner to be an "alley hugger". That would give me too much court to cover and make my job harder. Just the opposite. In fact, I train my 3.5 partner to stay close to the centerline and clog the center of the net, where she can get the opportunity for more winners and stay amidst the action while being a much more effective player than she could be anywhere else on the court. I ask her to be aggressive and go ahead and spike any floaters downward that she can reach as long as she doesn't have to back up more than a step to reach it (you do know what playing Aussie on my serve means, right? It means my partner gets to start from the center, right on top of the net where the return is most likely to go). Instead of going for a winner on a return, I usually try to tilt the point toward a situation where I'm keeping the ball to the side of my opponent's court that is directly in front of me (rather than cross-court), especially making frequent use of the straight ahead lob return to start the point (a typical 4.0/4.0 team will switch and let my lob bounce!). This way, my partner can crowd the middle while hugging the net (not the alley!) without having to worry about getting passed.

On the other hand, what I absolutely can't stand is a 3.5 lady partner who insists on taking an overhead from the service line on her side of the court. This is death for an 8.0 mixed team and a non-competitive strategy. Once you back up to the service line, you are a sitting duck on the next ball. Do that and I won't play with mixed in serious competition with you again. :)

I think the sour grapes I'm hearing about mixed 8.0 are coming from folks who haven't accepted the idea that mixed doubles is almost by definition an unbalanced pairing (yes Ms Sphinx I'm talking to you). If you insist on playing "balanced" doubles style in competition, you will lose, and you will probably be miserable. Balanced mixed is for lazy recreational fun in the park, but not for USTA. Once you start to accept the added mental challenge of the increased strategic complexity of competitive mixed doubles, it becomes more fun and interesting.
 
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Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
well, it seems obvious that " balance" exists along a continuum. the 4.5 guy with 3.5 lady is the single most unbalanced thing allowed in usta league tennis.

i would submit that getting ones kicks from beating up on people who are many levels weaker is what ought to be relegated to the local park.

that said, keep on keeping on. the rules are what they are, so play as much 8.0 mixed as you like.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
well, it seems obvious that " balance" exists along a continuum. the 4.5 guy with 3.5 lady is the single most unbalanced thing allowed in usta league tennis.

i would submit that getting ones kicks from beating up on people who are many levels weaker is what ought to be relegated to the local park.

that said, keep on keeping on. the rules are what they are, so play as much 8.0 mixed as you like.
I think you still miss my point. It's not the beating up on people that I enjoy - I concede that there certainly are plenty of teams in 8.0 mixed that "don't get it", and these matches can be uncompetitive 0-and-1 drubbings, but that's not why I play. It's when you get to the critical match against the top teams, in playoffs and sectionals, and every team is either a 4.5/3.5 combo or a 4.0/4.0 combo where at least one of the players is really a 4.5. It's competitive and strategically challenging for both teams. That's why I play.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
OK. I get it.

There are a lot of people who say that. Like, they are at the top of their level, and they slog through the regular season destroying weaker opponents. For their efforts, they get to go to sectionals/nationals and play a couple of matches, where they say they finally meet up with worthy opponents.

I do get it.

What I don't get is why they prefer to slog through the regular season beating up on weak opponents when they could just play up and get a whole season's worth of worthy opponents.

I suppose getting to the playoffs once in a while is a thrill. I've done it, it's fun. I don't think I would enjoy it much over and over and over. But if the rules allow it, I would be within my rights to do it. Just as you are within your rights to play 8.0 mixed.

BTW, you should understand that your opponent who you "drub" -0 and -1 are likely not so stupid as to "not get it." Anyone with doubles experience knows that they must somehow target the net-hugging, alley-hugging, isn't-allowed-to-take-two-steps-back-for-an-overhead 3.5 woman. They simply lack the shots to do it. I mean, it is really hard for a 4.0 woman to smoke a 3.5 woman's serve hard enough to reliably get it past an active 4.5 at net.

Please understand that you are not winning because your 4.0 opponents are clueless. You are winning because you are .5 levels stronger than my partner and 1.5 levels stronger than me.
 

g4driver

Hall of Fame
Thanks for the reply Cindy. I'm not sure if you can play 55+ or not. I really have no idea your age, but the two 55+ 4.0 women on my team who are pretty good players stir clear of 18+ and 40+ Mixed and only play 55+ Mixed. They seem to enjoy 55+ 8.0 because they are 55+. Maybe you are 51 and simply not eligible to play 55+ yet. If you are eligible, I would suggest trying 55+ 8.0 and 18+ or 40+ 7.0 if you can find the 3.0 men. There are about 300 3.0 men in our local leagues so they are plentiful.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
OK. I get it.

There are a lot of people who say that. Like, they are at the top of their level, and they slog through the regular season destroying weaker opponents. For their efforts, they get to go to sectionals/nationals and play a couple of matches, where they say they finally meet up with worthy opponents.

I do get it.

What I don't get is why they prefer to slog through the regular season beating up on weak opponents when they could just play up and get a whole season's worth of worthy opponents.

I suppose getting to the playoffs once in a while is a thrill. I've done it, it's fun. I don't think I would enjoy it much over and over and over. But if the rules allow it, I would be within my rights to do it. Just as you are within your rights to play 8.0 mixed.

BTW, you should understand that your opponent who you "drub" -0 and -1 are likely not so stupid as to "not get it." Anyone with doubles experience knows that they must somehow target the net-hugging, alley-hugging, isn't-allowed-to-take-two-steps-back-for-an-overhead 3.5 woman. They simply lack the shots to do it. I mean, it is really hard for a 4.0 woman to smoke a 3.5 woman's serve hard enough to reliably get it past an active 4.5 at net.

Please understand that you are not winning because your 4.0 opponents are clueless. You are winning because you are .5 levels stronger than my partner and 1.5 levels stronger than me.
I didn't realize USTA league tennis generates so much bitterness. I guess I'm your worst nightmare.
I like you,Cindy, because you're passionate about competitive tennis. I happen to be passionate about the strategic chess-match aspects of tennis, and that's the main reason I enjoy mixed more than regular doubles. Sorry for that.
 

Spin Doctor

Professional
I'll chime in here from a different perspective...

I'm a strong 4.5 guy. Here are the reasons why 8.0 mixed is my favorite event:

8.0 mixed is basically a completely different sport than regular doubles. I'm a person that really enjoys competing in singles because it's both a physical and mental battle. Regular men's doubles is much less enjoyable for me than singles because I don't get nearly as much physical exercise. But mixed 8.0 is another story - in fact, I find myself getting more winded and physically exhausted playing 8.0 mixed sometimes than I do playing singles. I'm an extremely competitive person, and for my 8.0 mixed team to win, it means I'm covering 3/4 of the court.

In singles, I only need to cover 1/2 the court (the deep half), because with my serve being a shadow of its former powerful self, I rarely get opportunities to come to the net in singles against good 4.5-5.0 singles opponents. In 8.0, my style is completely different - I take the net at every opportunity. I serve and volley every ball on my serve. Serve to my forehand, and I will play a safe chip and come in. Serve to my strong 2hb, and I will either lob over the gal or play a safe cross-court shot and come in. Any time my opponent lobs my partner's alley, it's my responsibility, and I try to get there in time to spike an overhead smash. My 3.5 partners know this, and so she is trained to stay on top of the net and slide over to the middle to give me a wide smash lane and be ready to put away the the defensive reply to the middle of the court. If the reply gets popped back over her head to the opposite allwy, then it's my responsibility to chase it down and take the backhand overhead before it bounces. Running alley to alley while maintaining the offensive in the point is a great workout!

My record clearly indicates that I am much more dominant in 8.0 mixed than I am in men's doubles. In general, the only times I lose in 8.0 are when I play against another the 4.5m/3.5w combo and the opposing dude outplays me. I think I have won at an 80% clip overall in league play, while my record in men's doubles over the years is more like 50%. One thing I really like about 8.0 doubles is that I feel like I have much more control of the outcome of the match. In men's doubles, whether I win or lose is usually a matter of whether I was paired with a strong or a weak partner, since the team with the weakest link seems to always lose. In 8.0 mixed, the team with the strongest player on the court almost always wins, and I have won many matches with weak 3.5w partners as long as they were willing to follow my instructions on strategy and court positioning.

Another thing I like about 8.0 mixed is that it is more of a strategic puzzle type of sport compared to regular doubles or singles. The key to winning in 8.0 mixed is finding unconventional formations that put our team in favorable positions.
On my service game, I always use Aussie in the deuce - that way it discourages a lob return over my partner's head because I can easily roll left to right for the overhead smash

When my partner serves, I use the Aussie formation when she serves from the ad side - this way I can either execute a planned poach or fill the center of the net without getting burned if the returner guesses right and goes behind me because my 3.5w partner gets to start from the center hash and can more easily cross to cover either alley. When I use the Aussie as my poach position and I hold my move until the last instant, most 4.0 guys, and even many 4.5 guys, have a hard time getting a solid shot past me.

The 3.5 ladies on my team really enjoy 8.0 mixed. They know their role on the court (hugging the net and angling off anything hit at them), and they take pride in executing that role. As long as my partner can get 1 return past the net person per game on her return, that's usually good enough to put us in position to win the match.

Even though I am dominant in 8.0, I have to work very hard each and every match and cover a lot of ground to make it happen. I think the most enjoyable matches for me are when I play a tough 4.0/4.0 combo where both players have good skills. Sure, I often get the "it feels like you're everywhere" comment after the match from frustrated 4.0/4.0 opponents, but I think my opponents also enjoy the mental and strategic puzzle of finding a way to beat me, and they appreciate that I play a very strategically unique brand of mixed tennis than they are used to seeing.
Um wow. I'm sure you're a nice guy and all, but your post has a faint (actually it's pretty overwhelming) whiff of d!ckishness about it. The gist of what I inferred from your post:

- You're not good enough to play men's 4.5 doubles so mixed 8.0 is a nice opportunity to sandbag without breaking the rules
- You want to be the best player on the court
- You want to be a ball hog.
- You're fine with this category as long as your "trained" little lady keeps to her designated corner, as you direct her.
- You're more interested in winning than getting better at doubles (if you cared about getting better you would play with people at your level, or higher).

Basically it sounds like you want to play this category for your ego, not for the tennis. I have no idea why any woman would want to play with you just to be marginalized on the court and let you hog all the balls. Sounds like they are only interested in "winning" as well, if you can call it that. In which case, I guess your partners are well suited to you.

I don't think rules need to changed but I otherwise agree with Cindy's posts on this topic. A 4.5 man and 3.5 woman have no business being on the same court together, in any context or formation. For the life of me, I gave no idea why a 4.5 man would even want to play with someone at this level, and against opponents who are likely 4.0s. How is that a challenge? Does it feel satisfying to slam winners past a 4.0 woman?

The only reason is for the ego boost and to be glory holes, kind of like when instructors will play down with the club hackers and just try their trick shots and basically ruin the experience for everyone.

4.5 men should punch in their own weight class. And just generally, teams should be balanced for the enjoyment of everyone on court.
 

OrangePower

Legend
I think my solution is a good one: Limit 7.0 mixed to 3.5s and below; limit 8.0 to 4.0s and below; limit 9.0 mixed to 4.5s and below.
Then we will not have 4.5 guys complaining that they aren't getting enough of a challenge in 8.0 mixed.
I completely agree that a team of for example male 4.5 and female 3.5 for 8.0 is too imbalanced and should not be allowed.
However your proposal would also prevent a male 3.5 / female 4.5 combo, which ironically is probably the *most* balanced option.

A rule like "male partner may not have higher rating than female partner" would work, but is probably not politically correct due to perceived sexism.
Or have a unisex rating scale, but that will never happen either due to a myriad of other issues.

So unfortunately there may not be a good solution, other than of course to be selective in terms of playing mixed and at what levels.
As a 4.5 guy I don't enjoy 8.0 mixed (and don't play it), and am not crazy about 9.0 although it's tolerable.
The most enjoyable mix for me personally is 4.5 guy with a 5.0 woman, which I find quite balanced and a lot of fun. But that combo is not competitive in 10.0 mixed league.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
The 4.0/4.0 teams that are most competitive in 8.0 against 4.5/3.5 teams are the ones that understand how to utilize their main advantage of not having the weakest player on the court. These teams tend to adopt some of the same strategies that make 4.5/3.4 teams successful - most important of these is that the 4.0 gal needs to crowd the net also to avoid getting picked on by the 4.5 guy. When 4.0/4.0 teams play this way against me, it neutralizes most of the advantage I have and makes for a fun matchup.

One thing every doubles player should ask him/herself: what percentage of balls are coming to me? If the answer is >50%, then you are not playing optimal strategy, and you should adjust by playing closer to net ina more offensive court postion, in order to channel a few balls to your partner. If the answer is <50%, it means you need to tell your partner to take a more offensive position in order to be more effective. Even though my optimal responsibility in 8.0 is covering 3/4 of the court (which means I have to run a lot), my partner is still getting half the balls hit to her if we're doing things right and positioning ourselves optimally.
 

Max G.

Legend
Relevant question, if anyone knows the answer - so what are the actual stats on how much of an advantage do 4.5m/3.5w teams have over the rest?

Something like comparing the number of 4.5/3.5 teams in regular play to districts to nationals, or something about their records.

Because a major quesiton in my mind is whether "you can slice that 8.0 any way" really is true, or whether 4.5/3.5 is the only way to slice it if you're playing competitively.
 

willeric

Rookie
Do a lot of players here not actually play USTA? Every team I have been on plays unbalanced teams. It seems a lot of these replies don't realize how competitive USTA can be. When a team puts up a 4.5m/3.5w in the #1 position, you can guess that 3.5w is more like a 4.0 and can handle it.
 
As everyone has mentioned, continually hit to the 3.5 and break her serve, every time. Years ago, my mixed partner and I (8.0) at the time, beat a (9.0) mixed pair by this exact strategy. (Then I was a 4.0/4.0) they were a (5.0 guy /4.0 girl). By continuously poaching and hitting deep, aggressive shots to her, we were able to win a tense match in 3 sets. Yes mixed is a different breed, but in ANY doubles situation, you want to continually pick on the "weaker" partner.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
In theory, a 4.5w/3.5m combo (unlike the 4.5m/3.5w combo) should have similar level of balance to the 4.0/4.0 team. But the fact that not only 4.5m/3.5w combos, but also 4.5w/3.5m combos, win 60% of the time against 4.0/4.0 combos is very telling. In most cases, a 4.5w is not going to have better physical skills than a 4.0m. However, where she has has the edge over her 4.0m opponent is in her court awareness and ability to strategize and understand court positioning and percentages. The 4.5w knows that she cannot simply step on court, treat the 8.0 mixed match like a 4.5 ladies match, and expect to have a chance to win. She knows that she has to take advantage of her skills advantages and cover up her partner's weaknesses to have any sort of chance to win.

In contrast to the 4.5, the 4.0 player often approaches 8.0 mixed with the poor assumption that he/she is part of a balanced team and that they can step on court and simply play doubles. In reality, a 4.0/4.0 team is not usually that balanced. By making the faulty "we-are-balanced-enough-that-we-don't-need-to-totally-change-our-strategy" assumption, roughly half of 4.0/4.0 teams place themselves at a significant disadvantage in every match.
 

Topaz

Legend
Do a lot of players here not actually play USTA? Every team I have been on plays unbalanced teams. It seems a lot of these replies don't realize how competitive USTA can be. When a team puts up a 4.5m/3.5w in the #1 position, you can guess that 3.5w is more like a 4.0 and can handle it.
Different areas vary in their competitiveness, mostly, IMO, just because of density of population.

My area, as well as Cindy's (basically the same area), is very competitive and there are many people who play, and many VERY good people who play.

So, it can open a different can of worms...that of the discrepancy of ratings across areas. For instance, an average 4.5m in one area may be stonger/weaker than your average 4.5m in another area.

So while some people say 'but of course you can break the 3.5w serve every time'...I know, in my experience, that this is not true...because our 3.5 women can place their serves, and their partners can poach. But perhaps, in other areas, that is not true.
 
Different areas vary in their competitiveness, mostly, IMO, just because of density of population.

My area, as well as Cindy's (basically the same area), is very competitive and there are many people who play, and many VERY good people who play.

So, it can open a different can of worms...that of the discrepancy of ratings across areas. For instance, an average 4.5m in one area may be stonger/weaker than your average 4.5m in another area.

So while some people say 'but of course you can break the 3.5w serve every time'...I know, in my experience, that this is not true...because our 3.5 women can place their serves, and their partners can poach. But perhaps, in other areas, that is not true.
This is so true. I was middle of the road 4.5 in NC and moved to Oklahoma and a 5.0 rated player here would struggle with 4.0s in NC. I beat a 5.0 player in Oklahoma 0 and 1 without trying. The level of tennis in North Carolina is WAY stronger than here.
 

samarai

Semi-Pro
the reality is that as a man, Im just gonna have a hard time teeing off at the female opponent at the net, especially if i know she cant handle the heat.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
gender aside, i have a hard time teeing off against anyone who can't handle the pace spin (eg. picture opponent lobs a sitter or overhead), and net person (guy or girl) doesn't have the knowledge to get out of the way, or skill to move out in time...
 

willeric

Rookie
gender aside, i have a hard time teeing off against anyone who can't handle the pace spin (eg. picture opponent lobs a sitter or overhead), and net person (guy or girl) doesn't have the knowledge to get out of the way, or skill to move out in time...
This is not really an issue with 8.0 doubles, maybe 7.0 with 4.0/3.0. In 8.0, the 4.5 is playing WITH the 3.5 not against. The 3.5 generally doesn't get slammed at the net cause the 4.5 is hitting deep and hard.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I completely agree that a team of for example male 4.5 and female 3.5 for 8.0 is too imbalanced and should not be allowed.
However your proposal would also prevent a male 3.5 / female 4.5 combo, which ironically is probably the *most* balanced option.

A rule like "male partner may not have higher rating than female partner" would work, but is probably not politically correct due to perceived sexism.
Or have a unisex rating scale, but that will never happen either due to a myriad of other issues.

So unfortunately there may not be a good solution, other than of course to be selective in terms of playing mixed and at what levels.
As a 4.5 guy I don't enjoy 8.0 mixed (and don't play it), and am not crazy about 9.0 although it's tolerable.
The most enjoyable mix for me personally is 4.5 guy with a 5.0 woman, which I find quite balanced and a lot of fun. But that combo is not competitive in 10.0 mixed league.
you are correct that a rule requiring the woman to be one level higher would be best.

but i think having the partners be the same level is good enough. there is still imbalance, yes, but many of us play grnder combo. there is imbalance, but nothing approaching what you see with 4.5 guy with 3.5 woman.

sometimes an improvement less than perfection is the best you can do.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
In theory, a 4.5w/3.5m combo (unlike the 4.5m/3.5w combo) should have similar level of balance to the 4.0/4.0 team. But the fact that not only 4.5m/3.5w combos, but also 4.5w/3.5m combos, win 60% of the time against 4.0/4.0 combos is very telling. In most cases, a 4.5w is not going to have better physical skills than a 4.0m. However, where she has has the edge over her 4.0m opponent is in her court awareness and ability to strategize and understand court positioning and percentages. The 4.5w knows that she cannot simply step on court, treat the 8.0 mixed match like a 4.5 ladies match, and expect to have a chance to win. She knows that she has to take advantage of her skills advantages and cover up her partner's weaknesses to have any sort of chance to win.
I have had success against 4.5 w/3.5m pairs. neither of them can blast us off the court, so it is a fairer fight. in other words, we can try to execute a strategy.



In contrast to the 4.5, the 4.0 player often approaches 8.0 mixed with the poor assumption that he/she is part of a balanced team and that they can step on court and simply play doubles. In reality, a 4.0/4.0 team is not usually that balanced. By making the faulty "we-are-balanced-enough-that-we-don't-need-to-totally-change-our-strategy" assumption, roughly half of 4.0/4.0 teams place themselves at a significant disadvantage in every match.
man. you really do not get it.

you are a 4.5 man. go find yourself a 4.5 woman for a partner and play 9.0 mixed against a 5.0 guy and his strong 4.0 woman partner. remember, you said you were a strong 4.5 guy in 8.0, so this 5.0 guy needs to be closer to 5.5. do you honestly think your partner can handle his pace or serve? do you think you can smoke your ball well enough to bother the other woman who has no job other than to bunt winners? how are you going to change how you play when your returns are getting picked off and your best lobs are being crushed?

and above all, is this sort of disparity in level why people play league?
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
I don't know about anyone else, but when I was single, mixed at any level was way more interesting... :p

now than I'm married,... I'll stay at the 9.0 level where the players are a bit closer in skill than 8.0.
 

Explorer3903

New User
Relevant question, if anyone knows the answer - so what are the actual stats on how much of an advantage do 4.5m/3.5w teams have over the rest?

Something like comparing the number of 4.5/3.5 teams in regular play to districts to nationals, or something about their records.

Because a major quesiton in my mind is whether "you can slice that 8.0 any way" really is true, or whether 4.5/3.5 is the only way to slice it if you're playing competitively.


FWIW - Here is some stats I pulled from my USTA Section (This is for one region out six) and it is strictly the regular season (2015) for both the 18+ 8.0 Mixed and 40+ 8.0 Mixed. The breakdown is as follows:


4.5M/3.5W vs 4.0M/4.0W: 28-14 OVERALL; 18+ MIXED 11-9; 40+ MIXED 17-5
4.5W/3.5M vs 4.0M/4.0W: 11- 7 OVERALL; 18+ MIXED 9-6; 40+ MIXED 2-1
4.5M/3.5W vs 4.5W/3.5M: 3- 2 OVERALL; 18+ MIXED 2-2; 40+ MIXED 1-0

Basically the Hybrid teams (4.5 Man/3.5 Woman and 4.5 Woman/3.5 Man) combined to win 65% of the matches against a 4.0 Man/4.0 Woman combo team. I also included the 4.5 Man/3.5 Woman combo against a 4.5 Woman/3.5 Man combo and that is pretty much a tossup: 3-2 in matches, 7-5 sets won, 44-44 games won. What was interesting was that in the 18+ Mixed league, the # of sets won was almost .500 while the 4.0/4.0 combo had a better games won record (189-185). The disparity came at the 40+ level with the 4.5/3.5 combo winning 76% of the matches
 

schmke

Hall of Fame
FWIW - Here is some stats I pulled from my USTA Section (This is for one region out six) and it is strictly the regular season (2015) for both the 18+ 8.0 Mixed and 40+ 8.0 Mixed. The breakdown is as follows:


4.5M/3.5W vs 4.0M/4.0W: 28-14 OVERALL; 18+ MIXED 11-9; 40+ MIXED 17-5
4.5W/3.5M vs 4.0M/4.0W: 11- 7 OVERALL; 18+ MIXED 9-6; 40+ MIXED 2-1
4.5M/3.5W vs 4.5W/3.5M: 3- 2 OVERALL; 18+ MIXED 2-2; 40+ MIXED 1-0

Basically the Hybrid teams (4.5 Man/3.5 Woman and 4.5 Woman/3.5 Man) combined to win 65% of the matches against a 4.0 Man/4.0 Woman combo team. I also included the 4.5 Man/3.5 Woman combo against a 4.5 Woman/3.5 Man combo and that is pretty much a tossup: 3-2 in matches, 7-5 sets won, 44-44 games won. What was interesting was that in the 18+ Mixed league, the # of sets won was almost .500 while the 4.0/4.0 combo had a better games won record (189-185). The disparity came at the 40+ level with the 4.5/3.5 combo winning 76% of the matches
Pretty small sample, but more or less consistent with what I found looking at a lot more data for 18+ (http://computerratings.blogspot.com/2015/08/what-ntrp-rating-combinations-works.html) and 40+ (http://computerratings.blogspot.com/2015/08/what-ntrp-rating-combination-works-best.html)
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
What was interesting was that in the 18+ Mixed league, the # of sets won was almost .500 while the 4.0/4.0 combo had a better games won record (189-185). The disparity came at the 40+ level with the 4.5/3.5 combo winning 76% of the matches
I would not be surprised if this difference between 18+ and 40+ win ratio is the general rule for the national stats too. In fact, I think it would be a safe bet to put money on it.

I've never played in a 40+ league, but I've noticed that in 18+, those 4.5/3.5 teams with younger 4.5 players tend to be the weakest 4.5/3.5 teams, and it's not coincidence. Many younger 4.5s have better racquet skills than me and bigger weapons, but they haven't yet learned that the key to winning in mixed doubles is coaching up your partner on where to move to in different situations to elevate her effectiveness.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
I guess I have my answer.
Interesting: for 8.0, the only difference between 18+ and 40+ is that the 4.5w/3.5m teams do significantly better in 40+ than their 18+ counterparts. Maybe it's the crafty 4.5 ladies whose doubles skills take more time to mature?
 
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Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I think that the younger 4.5 men are less likely to understand doubles strategy and perhaps think hitting hard is all that matters. I have also encountered some younger 4.5 guys with bad volleys, so perhaps they struggle more. They don't struggle against me -- I can't touch their serves or groundies -- but maybe without a weapon in their volleys they are more vulnerable.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
To get back to the question by the OP, what strategy should a 4.0 use to beat the 4.5m/3.5w combo?

Basically, you need to choose a shot selection that is the opposite of your instincts. For example, your instincts may tell you to either hit hard at the 3.5 gal or the try to lob her. But that's what I, as a savvy 4.5m, am baiting you to do. I want you to throw up the lob so that I have an opportunity for the overhead. If my partner is hugging the net, then attempting to peg her from the baseline is probably not the percentage play. And if my partner is back, I'm generally cheating a bit toward the middle expecting you to try to avoid me and hit the ball toward her rather than me, which gives me easy poaching opportunities. The two best shots to beat me are: 1) pass me in my alley behind me, and 2) lob into my ad alley so that I have to take the lob as a bh volley rather than a conventional overhead.

I don't hit many shots very hard, but I tend to prey on the fact that 4.0 players have tells and tendencies that make it extremely easy for me to anticipate where the ball will go. If you hit to a counterintuitive spot on the court, you have a much better chance to keep me honest.
 

Shroud

G.O.A.T.
To get back to the question by the OP, what strategy should a 4.0 use to beat the 4.5m/3.5w combo?

Basically, you need to choose a shot selection that is the opposite of your instincts. For example, your instincts may tell you to either hit hard at the 3.5 gal or the try to lob her. But that's what I, as a savvy 4.5m, am baiting you to do. I want you to throw up the lob so that I have an opportunity for the overhead. If my partner is hugging the net, then attempting to peg her from the baseline is probably not the percentage play. And if my partner is back, I'm generally cheating a bit toward the middle expecting you to try to avoid me and hit the ball toward her rather than me, which gives me easy poaching opportunities. The two best shots to beat me are: 1) pass me in my alley behind me, and 2) lob into my ad alley so that I have to take the lob as a bh volley rather than a conventional overhead.

I don't hit many shots very hard, but I tend to prey on the fact that 4.0 players have tells and tendencies that make it extremely easy for me to anticipate where the ball will go. If you hit to a counterintuitive spot on the court, you have a much better chance to keep me honest.
Thanks trav. This is helpful!!
 

willeric

Rookie
To get back to the question by the OP, what strategy should a 4.0 use to beat the 4.5m/3.5w combo?

Basically, you need to choose a shot selection that is the opposite of your instincts. For example, your instincts may tell you to either hit hard at the 3.5 gal or the try to lob her. But that's what I, as a savvy 4.5m, am baiting you to do. I want you to throw up the lob so that I have an opportunity for the overhead. If my partner is hugging the net, then attempting to peg her from the baseline is probably not the percentage play. And if my partner is back, I'm generally cheating a bit toward the middle expecting you to try to avoid me and hit the ball toward her rather than me, which gives me easy poaching opportunities. The two best shots to beat me are: 1) pass me in my alley behind me, and 2) lob into my ad alley so that I have to take the lob as a bh volley rather than a conventional overhead.
Having been on the other side of this match up, I wouldn't recommend these. Passing down the alley is always a low percentage play. Passing down the alley on the 4.5 side, a really bad idea unless he is over committing. On the 3.5 side, maybe a good play but still low percentage.

I would start with what shots the 3.5w does not have. And in my experience, she is using a forehand grip for volleys. Most players don't take this into account. They try to rip a forehand right into her, and she easily puts it away. I would recommend try to give her high balls. Sounds stupid until you realize that hitting high forehands with an eastern grip is tough (It she has a continental grip, this wont work). Hit loopy topspin over her head, if it ends up being too low, she is still going to struggle. If it is a good deep shot, move in to the net. The 4.5 is going to try a running pass off a deep ball and the advantage goes to the 4.0s.
 

kmadonna

New User
Try using Australian when serving. Assuming the 3.5 plays the deuce court, this makes it harder for the 4.5 guy to poach after the 3.5 return of serve pinning 3.5 at baseline and it is also easier to lob over 4.5 as you have more court to work with. Serving Australian to the 4.5 guy in the ad court opens up the middle of the court, gives the server a forehand after the return of serve which can be hit into the middle of the court which might catch the 3.5 leaning into a backhand volley or at least gets the 4.5 running. 3.5s tend not to hug the net as much when the australian is used against their partner and you can even dump one at her feet as well.
 
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