Hit with a kid that plays open 18 and mens - didn't completely embarrass myself

rkelley

Hall of Fame
I was hitting against the wall today and one of the kids who plays junior open 18 level (and apparently some mens open tournaments) at our little club asked to hit with me. I thought I'd share:

We rallied for a bit. He can hit huge topspin off his lefty forehand. When he hits that to my bh I have to step in and take it on the rise or I'd be against the fence and the ball would probably still be over my head. He has a good 2hbh and he can slice. I was hanging in the rallies OK. He's obviously better than me and he's fast, but I did some damage. I was taking big cuts at the ball, but I was trying to use a lot of topspin, especially off my fh, to maintain control and I was maintaining a pretty high level of consistency.

He then asked to play a set. I thought that I'd get killed, but I again I did OK, in no small part due to a fair amount of UFEs from him. His serve was very good, but he was going for a lot and had quite a few double faults. He could have taken a bit off and it still would have been quite effective against me. We were into the 2nd set before I actually started getting back some decent balls. He had a nasty lefty American twist that he only pulled out a couple of times, but it was a winner for him every time. I could read it though, so I think I could have made the adjustment if I'd seen it a few more times. He tried to run around his bh on my second serve and go for the big forehand, so I served to his fh a lot to catch him out of position - worked OK. The rallies were actually more even than I thought they'd be. If I hit a weak ball he'd usually put it away, but I tired to just put the score out of my head and keep swinging big but going for high margin placement. I won some 10 ball rallies, hit some winners, forced some errors, got lucky some times (shanked a drop volley off my racquet to win one game - had to apologize for that one).

Final score was 5-7, 3-6. If he went for bit less on his second serve and pulled out that American twist a few more times, and was a bit more conservative on the 2nd ball returns he probably could have made it 2-6, 2-6. If I was serving a bit better I could have pushed the score a bit more to my favor. Still I was happy to be able to hang with him in the rallies more or less.

His thoughts after we played:
  • He thought my bh was better than my fh. Interesting, because I think the opposite. My bh is flatter, I can hit it hard, but I can get way more racquet head speed on my fh, so more spin and pace. Most winners come off my fh.
  • He thought my fh was pretty flat, but I was hitting with what I would characterize as quite a bit of topspin. He could definitely get more topspin on his fh, but his topspin mostly didn't bother me and actually gave me more time to get into position for my shot.
  • He didn't say anything about my serve, but I need to focus in it a bit. I've been working on my ground game for the last year and my serve hasn't gotten a lot of attention. It's been my strongest stroke, and I got some points off of it today, but overall it's starting to lag my groundies. My second serve definitely needs a bit more pop, both spin and pace.
 

jdubbs

Hall of Fame
Getting 8 games in 2 sets of an open player is very good...I don't know your level, but I got bageled the last time I played an open player, and I'm a high 4.0/low 4.5, so that's an accomplishment.
 

HunterST

Hall of Fame
Getting 8 games in 2 sets of an open player is very good...I don't know your level, but I got bageled the last time I played an open player, and I'm a high 4.0/low 4.5, so that's an accomplishment.
Well, I don't mean any disrespect, but just because someone PLAYS at that level doesn't mean they're hugely successful or of a very high level. I know quite a few guys who played 18s and opens and are about a 4.0 level.
 

rkelley

Hall of Fame
I don't know my level either. I generally say 4.5 ish, but I don't have any tournaments to back that up.

Relative to his level, I don't know how much this kid I played is winning in the tournaments that he's entering, but I don't believe he's getting blown out in the first round. There's another high school kid that plays at our club who is ranked in junior opens in SoCal (16 or 18, not sure which). The guy I played said that this other kid's better (I'd agree), but they're in the same ball park. The guy I played is actively coached and trying to get into a college program. He gave me a couple of tips on my fh footwork.

The varisty high school kids here in San Diego are just crazy good. There are a lot of good coaches around and parents with money to pay for them. You can play all year round, so it's a pretty nice situation for tennis.

I play another guy who used to play 5.0 tournaments, and this kid is better - especially if he can reduce the UFEs.

I posted just to share because I haven't had the opportunity to play someone at this level before, and to encourage all of the older guys (I'm 49) that you can continue to improve as you get older. This kid would have completely eviserated me two years ago.
 

USERNAME

Professional
He probably thought your bh was better because he had tougher time with it (I'd bet a mil it's cause it's flatter!). Flat shots are not something many junior players are used to seeing, so when you play em you might actually wanna flatten out more if your level allows. Also the close sets, errors and double faults could be a result of him going for more in practice or trying to implement a more aggressive game plan. I did that to gradually get better so I would be confident doing it in a tourny. No offense was meant by any of this, you had to play well to get that many games of a junior open player.
 

rkelley

Hall of Fame
No offense taken. I considered that he was playing more aggressively than he needed to be beat me because he was really practicing to beat his peers.
 

mikeler

Moderator
He probably thought your bh was better because he had tougher time with it (I'd bet a mil it's cause it's flatter!). Flat shots are not something many junior players are used to seeing, so when you play em you might actually wanna flatten out more if your level allows. Also the close sets, errors and double faults could be a result of him going for more in practice or trying to implement a more aggressive game plan. I did that to gradually get better so I would be confident doing it in a tourny. No offense was meant by any of this, you had to play well to get that many games of a junior open player.

I hit with a high school girl at the beginning of the year. My heavy topspin shots came back to me with interest. Did not faze her at all. When I hit slice backhands, it was like she had never seen them before. Very strange.
 

onehandbh

Legend
Well, I don't mean any disrespect, but just because someone PLAYS at that level doesn't mean they're hugely successful or of a very high level. I know quite a few guys who played 18s and opens and are about a 4.0 level.
With juniors, sometimes it's hard to rate them. The top ones are obviously
really good and around d1 level or better and some are winning matches
in futures or higher level tournaments, but below that it runs the gamut.
I played a kid in socal once and he hit hard but
he was impatient and didn't dig up slices well off his 2 hander.
I thought I was impatient!
 
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rkelley

Hall of Fame
I hit with a high school girl at the beginning of the year. My heavy topspin shots came back to me with interest. Did not faze her at all. When I hit slice backhands, it was like she had never seen them before. Very strange.
I've seen a hand full of top junior girls hit, including one who's over at UCSD now. They can hit a ton, but I haven't seen a whole lot of slicing going on. A hard, aggressive slice that has some side tail as well is a great shot and it takes practice to learn to deal with it. A good reply to a slice is to slice it back, but if you don't own that stroke then it can be a problem.
 

USERNAME

Professional
I hit with a high school girl at the beginning of the year. My heavy topspin shots came back to me with interest. Did not faze her at all. When I hit slice backhands, it was like she had never seen them before. Very strange.
YEAH! My gf is playing college tennis like me and over the summer I hit with a few of her teammates, the hard slice and chips became my favorite shot lol. If I hit flat it played right into their game, topspin was good but using that slice to setup points was fun. On the boys side at the mid range junior level, I see like 99.9% of them loading up the topspin like crazy so I flatten the ball out so they dont have time to take a big cut.
 

rkelley

Hall of Fame
On the boys side at the mid range junior level, I see like 99.9% of them loading up the topspin like crazy so I flatten the ball out so they dont have time to take a big cut.
Interesting observation.

When the guy I was playing hit big topspin to my bh, I would step in and take it on the rise, shorten my stroke and punch it back using his pace to beef up my shot - very Conors-esque. The shot I hit back had almost no topspin - it was fairly hard and just skidded on his side. That shot was effective for me even when I hit it right back at him - it never got murdered back to me.
 

davced1

Professional
When you talk about "flat" shots, does it have something to do with the height over the net. I watched the Stockholm Open from first row and the pros generally speaking don't hit very high over the net but of course they put a lot of spin on the ball anyway. Kids and juniors on the other hand tend to hit higher loopier balls but I doubt there is more spin in them than the pros generate. So exactly what is a "flat" shot?
 

USERNAME

Professional
When you talk about "flat" shots, does it have something to do with the height over the net. I watched the Stockholm Open from first row and the pros generally speaking don't hit very high over the net but of course they put a lot of spin on the ball anyway. Kids and juniors on the other hand tend to hit higher loopier balls but I doubt there is more spin in them than the pros generate. So exactly what is a "flat" shot?
For me height on a flat ball is gonna be lower than my normal heavy ball, but it's not like a net tapper, if I had to give a number I'd say my flat ball is like 8-10 inches over the net. Flat is more about catching the ball in front and swinging more through it. Unless your on top of the net even a flat ball will have spin. It's easy to slap flat balls against guys and girls who hit with lots of spin cause the ball jumps into the ideal spot to flatten out, shoulder height. Now when you hit the upper echelon of junior and adult players (college, non-pro) you get the heavy ball, deep withloads of spin and pace, you gotta work for a ball to flatten out on.
 

rkelley

Hall of Fame
When you talk about "flat" shots, does it have something to do with the height over the net. I watched the Stockholm Open from first row and the pros generally speaking don't hit very high over the net but of course they put a lot of spin on the ball anyway. Kids and juniors on the other hand tend to hit higher loopier balls but I doubt there is more spin in them than the pros generate. So exactly what is a "flat" shot?
When I think of flat, I mean little or no topspin. But the term can be relative.

This is hard to quantify, but when I'm hitting hard, taking a ball that's around waist high, a foot or two behind the baseline, I have to get a lot of topspin on the ball to keep it in. Even with "a lot" of topspin it's only clearing the net by a foot or so and landing a foot or so inside the baseline. If I don't keep my eye on the ball and focus on the contact point to make sure that the racquet head whips up right moment, then I'll tend to hit through the ball too much. It will clear the net at the same place, but it will land a foot or two long because there isn't the spin to pull it down.

I will vary how much I try to hit through the ball to vary the amount of topspin depending on the situation.
 

davced1

Professional
I thought it was relevant to the thread because there's a lot of talk about hitting flat. My apologies if I posted this in the wrong thread.
 

Funbun

Professional
I think we all believe we hit pretty decent topspin when in fact we don't generate much at all.

I used to think I hit pretty good topspin until I rallied a bit with our county champion, he told that he didn't receive any damaging topspin from his side when he returned my shots. Subsequently, he basically taught me the "lock and roll"/monkeydrum mantra and used that to be loose on the forehand and start my takeback lower.

Some of my friends say that they get a bit of a kick on their side from my forehand nowadays. I still have a lot to work on, though. When I hit with the champ guy, when he went for a winner, it was actually heavy; it had a low trajectory similar to a flat shot, but it literally kicked forward after the bounce. He could really control that topspin.
 

rkelley

Hall of Fame
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1GHk1xVl4k

Here is an example of what I am talking about. It's Raonic vs. Baghdatis and they hit heavy shots here, is this flat balls?
Interesting note on the video:

I mentioned the guy I hit with gave me a tip on my foot work on the fh. I'm seeing both players in the video demonstrating exactly what he told me.

The players set-up in an open stance on their fhs with the right foot slightly back from the left (knees bent, left arm across the body, racquet back and up with the wrist bent back). The tip he gave me was when you swing forward the right foot comes forward to land slightly in front of the left when the swing is done. It's not a step, but I think more that as you straighten your legs and turn your shoulders and hips, the leg naturally comes around to be in front of the left leg.
 

fuzz nation

G.O.A.T.
Interesting note on the video:

I mentioned the guy I hit with gave me a tip on my foot work on the fh. I'm seeing both players in the video demonstrating exactly what he told me.

The players set-up in an open stance on their fhs with the right foot slightly back from the left (knees bent, left arm across the body, racquet back and up with the wrist bent back). The tip he gave me was when you swing forward the right foot comes forward to land slightly in front of the left when the swing is done. It's not a step, but I think more that as you straighten your legs and turn your shoulders and hips, the leg naturally comes around to be in front of the left leg.
That idea makes sense to me. If you're looking to swing with a strong rotational component in your forehand stroke, your momentum ought to carry your right foot forward at least some of the time.

What caught my attention in your original post was how you were surprised with how well you did. Sounds as though your frame of mind was extremely positive, since you figured you would likely get barbecued in a set against this killer. Unless I miss my guess, I'll bet that anything that went wrong with your game was easier to forgive against such a strong opponent and anything your did right was a small victory.

If you think that over and understand your mental approach to that match, you may be able to apply it to almost any setting in the future. While it probably won't be too hard to find that happy place against a tough opponent, it could be invaluable against weaker players that could see as much more "beatable". Assume at your own risk, right?

I'd say that you got a glimpse of how you can play without overly high expectations getting in your way. Think that through and you may be able to manage your expectations much better in the future. That same outlook where you're not going to murder yourself when you miss against a strong hitter can help you play just as well in other settings.

Without silly expectations weighing you down, it's much less likely that you'll be derailed by your mistakes. Regardless of who you're playing against, the errors are going to happen!! Even when the opposition is lighter, that self-awareness can be they key to a consistent positive focus.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
If an 18 year old had to indulge in 10 ball rallies with a 4.5 adult, he is either not good, or not playing seriously. I notice that some of the advanced boys in my club will occasionally play a set with junior girls or adults, and they don't always win. They try to test the limits of their swing speeds, or hit funky shots like forehand slices, or come to the net without a good approach just on a dare etc, which they don't do in a real match.
 

jdubbs

Hall of Fame
If an 18 year old had to indulge in 10 ball rallies with a 4.5 adult, he is either not good, or not playing seriously. I notice that some of the advanced boys in my club will occasionally play a set with junior girls or adults, and they don't always win. They try to test the limits of their swing speeds, or hit funky shots like forehand slices, or come to the net without a good approach just on a dare etc, which they don't do in a real match.
Now I disagree with this. A decent 4.5 can hang in rallies with an Open level player. Its just that the slight advantage on every shot goes to the better player, and they win the point more often than not.
 

rkelley

Hall of Fame
If an 18 year old had to indulge in 10 ball rallies with a 4.5 adult, he is either not good, or not playing seriously.
I should let this slide, but I just gotta ask: How can you make a statement like this without seeing us play? You're in San Diego, right? Come on up to RB and let's have a hit. No big challenge or anything, let's just have some fun. We can just rally or whatever. Weekday nights are best for me.
 

rkelley

Hall of Fame
Now I disagree with this. A decent 4.5 can hang in rallies with an Open level player. Its just that the slight advantage on every shot goes to the better player, and they win the point more often than not.
This is a good description of what it was like. I have good enough form that I can dish out the pace and spin at around the same level that I was receiving it, but I'm just more likely than a better player to mis-time a stroke or shank a ball, especially given all of the heat coming at me and how hard I'm swinging. I also get hurt more when pulled out of position, though I hit quite a few good wide bhs hard cc the night I played this guy (been working on that shot).
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
I should let this slide, but I just gotta ask: How can you make a statement like this without seeing us play? You're in San Diego, right? Come on up to RB and let's have a hit. No big challenge or anything, let's just have some fun. We can just rally or whatever. Weekday nights are best for me.
Where do you play in RB? I want to play on Fri and Sat as my regular partners are not available (I am traveling from Sun)?

BTW, I didn't mean anything about you.

The only open-level player I have played against was a 6'4" guy who was a trained in France as a junior. His shots were quite unreturnable by me at least and my serves were usually pounded away. Then he played in a men's open and was eliminated 6-1 6-0 in the first round by the eventual winner. I can't imagine such players going 10 balls with a 4.5 - it should be over in 3 or 4 max, becoming 1 or 2 as the match progresses.
 

rkelley

Hall of Fame
Where do you play in RB? I want to play on Fri and Sat as my regular partners are not available (I am traveling from Sun)?

BTW, I didn't mean anything about you.

The only open-level player I have played against was a 6'4" guy who was a trained in France as a junior. His shots were quite unreturnable by me at least and my serves were usually pounded away. Then he played in a men's open and was eliminated 6-1 6-0 in the first round by the eventual winner. I can't imagine such players going 10 balls with a 4.5 - it should be over in 3 or 4 max, becoming 1 or 2 as the match progresses.
Sorry. My bad for the snarky reply.

I usually play at the Westwood club, just off West Bernardo. Friday might be a possibility. We're traveling on Sunday too. Shoot me an email at rS_aFnd_b_junkWmQail, removing all the caps, at our good friends at yahoo. I'll give you a better address when I see your email.

Since I've been in San Diego I've played some really good players. I've received more than a couple of good beatings, but it's helped me improve my game.
 

gregor.b

Professional
He probably thought your bh was better because he had tougher time with it (I'd bet a mil it's cause it's flatter!). Flat shots are not something many junior players are used to seeing, so when you play em you might actually wanna flatten out more if your level allows. Also the close sets, errors and double faults could be a result of him going for more in practice or trying to implement a more aggressive game plan. I did that to gradually get better so I would be confident doing it in a tourny. No offense was meant by any of this, you had to play well to get that many games of a junior open player.
Agree. Kids these days seem to have a lot of time because they are mostly hitting heavy top. Takes away any risk but also any reward.
 

Ballinbob

Hall of Fame
I played with an opens player here in Lebanon (he was on vacation like me, hes from Wisconsin), and lost 3-6.

He's a better player than me for sure, and the only reason I got 3 games was because I didn't give him any rhythm. Good open players are just machines from the baselines, so I did alot of S&V on the ad side to his backhand and hit many drop shots/short slices. I tried to S&V to his forehand side, but I got burned repeatedly. I didn't really get a good look at his serve, and didn't have a single break point. I just held serve 3 times and that was all the damage I could do

It was a really interesting set to say the least. I just knew I was going lose fast if I rallied with him from the baseline. And like someone said, if you think you hit a lot of spin, just wait till you play with one of these guys. I think every tennis player should have a plan B if they find they cant win with their preferred style of play
 
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sureshs

Bionic Poster
Sorry. My bad for the snarky reply.

I usually play at the Westwood club, just off West Bernardo. Friday might be a possibility. We're traveling on Sunday too. Shoot me an email at rS_aFnd_b_junkWmQail, removing all the caps, at our good friends at yahoo. I'll give you a better address when I see your email.

Since I've been in San Diego I've played some really good players. I've received more than a couple of good beatings, but it's helped me improve my game.
You know that email addresses are not case sensitive, right?

I will always benefit from playing with you, but it may not be the same for you. But that is up to you.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Sorry. My bad for the snarky reply.

I usually play at the Westwood club, just off West Bernardo. Friday might be a possibility. We're traveling on Sunday too. Shoot me an email at rS_aFnd_b_junkWmQail, removing all the caps, at our good friends at yahoo. I'll give you a better address when I see your email.

Since I've been in San Diego I've played some really good players. I've received more than a couple of good beatings, but it's helped me improve my game.
Mail bounced. I think now I know what you mean - REMOVE the caps not replace them with small. Losing my mind here. Will send again.
 

rkelley

Hall of Fame
I played with an opens player here in Lebanon (he was on vacation like me, hes from Wisconsin), and lost 3-6.

He's a better player than me for sure, and the only reason I got 3 games was because I didn't give him any rhythm. Good open players are just machines from the baselines, so I did alot of S&V on the ad side to his backhand and hit many drop shots/short slices. I tried to S&V to his forehand side, but I got burned repeatedly. I didn't really get a good look at his serve, and didn't have a single break point. I just held serve 3 times and that was all the damage I could do

It was a really interesting set to say the least. I just knew I was going lose fast if I rallied with him from the baseline. And like someone said, if you think you hit a lot of spin, just wait till you play with one of these guys. I think every tennis player should have a plan B if they find they cant win with their preferred style of play
Similiar mindset for me, but I can hit a pretty decent ground stroke so I went with that option. It's just consistently hitting it cleanly and keeping it in at that pace, both coming and going, gets pretty tough. I just took the attitude of set-up and rip it, go for high margin placement, and whatever happens is fine. I'm going to miss on some of shots but that's OK. No one dies. In that sense it was really a no pressure situation for me.

Coming in against that kind of pace and spin is really tough. I did it when it was called for, but the approach has to be pretty good or you're going to get a lot of heat coming back.
 
I should let this slide, but I just gotta ask: How can you make a statement like this without seeing us play? You're in San Diego, right? Come on up to RB and let's have a hit. No big challenge or anything, let's just have some fun. We can just rally or whatever. Weekday nights are best for me.
Is this a challenge? Maybe I'll watch too!
 

rkelley

Hall of Fame
That idea makes sense to me. If you're looking to swing with a strong rotational component in your forehand stroke, your momentum ought to carry your right foot forward at least some of the time.

What caught my attention in your original post was how you were surprised with how well you did. Sounds as though your frame of mind was extremely positive, since you figured you would likely get barbecued in a set against this killer. Unless I miss my guess, I'll bet that anything that went wrong with your game was easier to forgive against such a strong opponent and anything your did right was a small victory.

If you think that over and understand your mental approach to that match, you may be able to apply it to almost any setting in the future. While it probably won't be too hard to find that happy place against a tough opponent, it could be invaluable against weaker players that could see as much more "beatable". Assume at your own risk, right?

I'd say that you got a glimpse of how you can play without overly high expectations getting in your way. Think that through and you may be able to manage your expectations much better in the future. That same outlook where you're not going to murder yourself when you miss against a strong hitter can help you play just as well in other settings.

Without silly expectations weighing you down, it's much less likely that you'll be derailed by your mistakes. Regardless of who you're playing against, the errors are going to happen!! Even when the opposition is lighter, that self-awareness can be they key to a consistent positive focus.
Some how I missed this post, but I totally agree with it.
 

Cheetah

Hall of Fame
I should let this slide, but I just gotta ask: How can you make a statement like this without seeing us play? You're in San Diego, right? Come on up to RB and let's have a hit. No big challenge or anything, let's just have some fun. We can just rally or whatever. Weekday nights are best for me.
You're in RB? So am I. Let's hit. I have courts in my complex w/ lights or I can go wherever you hit.

edit: sent you an email
 
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