Hit with a 5.5 player today

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by competition, Jan 5, 2010.

  1. competition

    competition Rookie

    Oct 13, 2009
    What really amazed me the most was how early he took the ball, and every time I was out of position he exploited it. If I ran around my back hand to hit forehand and hit it down the line he smacks it cross court, if i hit inside out backhand winner down the line. Another thing that stood out was that if anything was even kinda short he put it away or at least set up a ball for an easy put away.
    We rallied for about 45 minutes and then played points to 11. I lost 11-4, 11-6, 11-7. While playing points it was competitive, we had some nice long, good points, but it seemed like he could pull the trigger at will. He practically makes no mistakes, if I earned a point I earned it.
    Movement, movement, movement, that and court positioning. I'm 32, a strong 4.5 player, big forehand, good backhand, slice.
  2. TonyB

    TonyB Hall of Fame

    Sep 6, 2006
    Ahhh, "The Lesson." Everyone learns it sooner or later. :)

    By that I mean that players who are 5.0-5.5 are REALLY good. A 4.0 or 4.5 just can't hang with them when it comes right down to it. Consistency is a big thing --- when you know you're not going to miss (like the 5.0+ players), it's easy to hang in the point until you get a short ball or easy putaway. They really do make it look easy.

    I watched a tournament at my local club and this guy played in it:


    He played a 5.0-rated junior (18 year old) who can pretty much wipe the court with most players that I know. Very strong serve (around 110 MPH), cannon forehand, decent backhand, good net play. Needless to say, he lost 6-0, 6-0. Wasn't even close. Pavlovs was hitting clean return winners off of the junior's FIRST serve.

    Anyways, I guess that's what separates the better players from the lesser players -- consistency and ability to hit forceful shots at the right time. In contrast, lower-rated players tend to try to hit forceful shots at the WRONG times, making a tremendous amount of errors and they just don't know how to hang in the point by playing SOLID, smart shots and good defense when required.

    Please note that I include myself in this group :)
  3. Blake0

    Blake0 Hall of Fame

    Feb 17, 2009
    There are different types of 5.5 players, obviously. Some are more control oriented, some and more power oriented, and some are in the middle. Not saying that the control oriented player can't hit power shots, they specialize in control. Seems like you played the control oriented player. They are great at moving you around, hitting on the rise, etc. Very good placement ofcourse, and don't really lack in power. This is actually more of a generalization of anyone above 5.0, although there are other classifications. For example, you could consider roddick, delpo, gonzalez power oriented, obviously. Then there are control oriented like federer, murray, davydenko, nadal.

    One more thing, it feels like you really earn a point against him. Because he rarely misses, rarely goes for stupid shots (unless he gets them in a lot), and now how to play through a point when on the offense and defense. They know when to go for the shots, and when to just keep it in play. It sometimes feels like you have to go for the risky shots to win points against them. If you have solid technique, it's all about movement, like you said, and anticipation. Ofcourse constructing points is a big thing too, and other areas. They anticipate way faster then 4.5 level players or lower do (usually), and seems like they can get to the ball very early. Just a combination of early anticipation and good footwork. Try to read your opponent to know where he's going to go.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2010
  4. Toxicmilk

    Toxicmilk Professional

    Jun 8, 2008
    Ah yeah. I know how you feel. Then first time I played a 5.0+ player, I was shocked by just how much heavier he hit felt, even on the slower rally shots.
  5. 4sound

    4sound Semi-Pro

    Oct 5, 2009
    Match Point
    Consistency - control then power. Generally speaking, a lot of people make a big deal about the heavy hit ball but in reality the power is the last thing the higher level players think about adding to their shots.
  6. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Dec 28, 2008
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    I see movement, always correct, anticipation, and quick eye reflexes the keys that separate the Div1's from the has beens (me).
    Picking the right time to hit hard, or forceful is a key too, of course.
    I hate playing those guys who just move quicker than I can anticipate, and get into position before my ball has landed.
    I get hit as hard, can volley as well, but my feet are glued to cement blocks and my eyes don't tell my brains which don't communicate with my hands on what to do.
  7. crash1929

    crash1929 Hall of Fame

    Mar 14, 2008
    Great fun. When I play 5.5 guys the ball seems to come at you relentlessly. But again I think it best to not think about the ratings and just play each shot as confidently as you can. this is what I will work on next time on the court in this situation.
  8. SlapShot

    SlapShot Hall of Fame

    Sep 7, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    Been there. :)

    If anything, it showed me exactly what it takes to get to that level of tennis, even though I'll likely never even get a sniff at that level. Thankfully, over time, I've adjusted to the pace a bit more, and it's helped me at my own level to realize that the bigger hitters are at my level because they miss more than a 5.0/5.5 level player, and it keeps me calmer on the court.
  9. Vyse

    Vyse Semi-Pro

    Oct 20, 2009
    Northern, MO
    Now imagine playing a pro. You probably can't imagine.

    Sounds like consistency is key at all levels, something I dearly need to learn
  10. Kick_It

    Kick_It Semi-Pro

    Dec 27, 2005
    Hitting with players that are crazy good has made me more relaxed when playing against the mere mortals.

    I've become accustomed to a great player is going to hit great shots in tough situations. It's going to happen. Approach shots I can hit for clear winners that most opponents won't get a racquet on now come back as lobs that paint a baseline corner for a winner against me.

    It's made me less uptight playing people who are slightly better than me knowing that I can put pressure on them knowing it's unlikely they'll hit such phenomenal shots in those situations - though recognize they can and I am forcing them to beat me.

    If someone can consistently hit great shots under tough pressure against me - they deserve to beat me and I've got no problem with that.
  11. ttbrowne

    ttbrowne Hall of Fame

    May 29, 2008
    It's amazing. One of our pros played #1 Div 1 last year and I see him working with juniors on constructing points crosscourt...he hits hard, harder, and then when he gets a medium paced high ball...BAM!!..crosscourt winner! Dayum!

  12. jrod

    jrod Hall of Fame

    Jan 30, 2008
    My experience in hitting with 5.0+ players is that they rarely miss. The consistency is the biggest difference. There are countless lower rated players who can hit a heavy ball, but to be able to do this shot after shot without missing is what separates these players. Great depth, pace, spin, and placement are consistently maintained by 5.0+ players....not so at 4.5 and lower.
  13. competition

    competition Rookie

    Oct 13, 2009
    Very true, every ball comes back and it always has something on it. Its great to hear everyones experiences playing higher caliber player. I have to say my legs are sore today, sore like they have never been from tennis.
  14. burosky

    burosky Professional

    Nov 9, 2006
    I had a similar experience. It just felt like I had no shots that can hurt the guy. It seemed like there are no shots I can hit that he hasn't seen yet. In hindsight, the feeling wasn't that much different when I was still a 4.0 and played someone who was 5.0. Since I've played with quite a few 5.0s, the feeling isn't as overwhelming now as when I was still a 4.0. In comparison, when I played 4.5s as a 4.0, the feeling was very similar to when I play a 5.0 now. It isn't as overwhelming.

    I guess there is a natural tendency for players to adapt. The ones who are able to competently adapt usually get bumped up.
  15. Tennisman912

    Tennisman912 Semi-Pro

    Jan 19, 2008
    NW Ohio
    One of the best paragraphs on TT paraphrasing what great players do.

    good tennis

  16. Dennis Anyone?

    Dennis Anyone? Rookie

    Mar 17, 2004
    A couple of friends are 5.0+. They're brothers who both played D1 at strong programs in California. (BTW, neither was a top player at their respective schools, but both are self-taught. No lessons outside of high school coaching.)

    At best, I'm a 4.0 and these guys toy with me to keep themselves from being bored. I'm often surprised by the modest pace on some of their shots--while I'm swinging away and making errors. But I'll also say that their flat serves sound different from mine when they bring the heat. I think it's the ball crying.

    One other thing to note: they don't think much about gear. They still use the Wilsons they got for free as student-players in the 90s. Overgrips are ancient. They play in basketball shoes.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2010
  17. basil J

    basil J Hall of Fame

    Jun 6, 2005
    boston area
    I played a 5.0 on monday and got smoked 3-6,0-6. I am a solid 4.0 and I feel like I have a pretty solid game. This guy made me feel like a 2.5. On top of being a lefty, he hit everything with heavy spin and height and would flatten balls out for winners any time they fell short inside the court. What really impressed me was his serve. Everything came with heavy spin and ridiculous pace. I have played many big hitters in my time, but the combo of spin, pace and placement against this kid was an eye opener. My only play was to keep him deep then use short angle shots and drop shots to keep him moving around. That only worked for 3 games, then he made an adjustment and 1-2-3 I was done. Ring the bell.

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