I just got bageled by a 3.0 with no control

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Deleted member 776614

Guest
It’s so frustrating! He often comments that he lacks control and doesn't like rallying for that reason. I've hit with him before I would have said "I’m the better player" but I guess I need to win the next match or I can’t.

It’s hard when you can’t read (edit: changed from predict) what’s going to happen - short low balls or moon balls that land deep, serves that a foot in the box or catch the front outside corner that all seem totally random.

Of course I made my share of mistakes, and being tired from a grueling 2hr 3.5 match in the heat yesterday and playing in the heat again today made it harder. I was in such disbelief I basically forgot to problem solve, which is the polar opposite from how I played yesterday.

Tennis is such a head game. I really wanted to win, and it got in my head and I thought too much, and if I’m thinking while I’m hitting it never goes well. At least I have a few ideas what I can work on for next time (short low balls and recovering from them, and utility shots to name a few.) Oh, and serves. I just changed technique so my serve fell apart too easily.

And just to point out, I started playing this year, this is my only my second round of club league matches, and it was only 1 set.
 
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Max G.

Legend
I think that's the one of the key differences between practice and match.

In a practice or warmup, you get the same shot over and over again. In a match you almost never get the same ball twice. You're not supposed to *predict* what the opponent is going to do very well! Not being able to predict what's going to happen is completely 100% normal and should be so normal as to be unremarkable.
 
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Deleted member 776614

Guest
If you are having trouble with a 3.0 with no control I think the only thing you need to do is to keep the ball in play and make no mistakes, it doesn't matter how ridiculous it looks.
Thank you, this is exactly my problem. I tried to make every shot pretty and refused to just bunt the ball back. I told myself to let him make errors but I was too cocky to listen, which made every shot seem like I was going for a highlight reel since they were mostly off chasing down mishits.

He won his last match which was against a USTA clinic instructor - a guy with a great shot if you hit near him, but with no mobility.
 
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Deleted member 776614

Guest
I just told my coach to not let me leave the service line until I demonstrate complete control, no more than 50% power.
 

ChaelAZ

G.O.A.T.
Yeah, mental aspect is a big factor for me. Any level that plays loopy shots and lacks pace has been a challenge. It is all on me though, so as much as I hate playing those kinds of opponents, I need to do it more to develop better resilliance against mental indifference, preceived boredom, and level drops. Probably one of the areas of the sport I could make the most improvements that would apply in so many more situations than just those kinds of opponents too.

That said, as much as I have improved over the years, it ain't ever easy and it might be I never fully embrace that kind of play.
 

darkhorse

Semi-Pro
I had a match earlier this year like this, the guy shanked every 3rd shot (not exaggerating, maybe even being generous), and somehow the ball would always land no more than a foot away from the baseline. I lost, largely because like you say, it's tough to read the shot when the person hitting it has no idea where it's going, let alone the guy on the other side of the net.

The next time I played him, I won 6-0, 6-4. It's frustrating to play somebody like that, plus it's not very fun. The second match I just focused on getting the ball in play and figured out that bringing him forward or moving him side to side was effective.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
I play practice matches with my wife all the time. She is a 3.5 woman with no control. Usually she gets 0-2 games against me in a set. Her patronus is the Blind Squirrel. When she calls him out, she becomes unbeatable. Framed shot winners, net cord winners, lobs to the back line, you name it. I just have to ride the squirrel out until it disappears, usually after about 3 games. About once a year she gets into Blind Squirrel mode and it lasts a full set and she beats me. Fortunately the Blind Squirrel is a fickle creature and can't be summoned at will. But you know when it has made its presence known as all of a sudden this scattershot player can't miss a thing.

Point is, folks with little control sometimes win because fate favors them for a match. Never worry about losing a single match to anyone. Good days and bad days happen.
 

Chalkdust

Rookie
I play practice matches with my wife all the time. She is a 3.5 woman with no control. Usually she gets 0-2 games against me in a set. Her patronus is the Blind Squirrel. When she calls him out, she becomes unbeatable. Framed shot winners, net cord winners, lobs to the back line, you name it. I just have to ride the squirrel out until it disappears, usually after about 3 games. About once a year she gets into Blind Squirrel mode and it lasts a full set and she beats me. Fortunately the Blind Squirrel is a fickle creature and can't be summoned at will. But you know when it has made its presence known as all of a sudden this scattershot player can't miss a thing.

Point is, folks with little control sometimes win because fate favors them for a match. Never worry about losing a single match to anyone. Good days and bad days happen.
Easy way to prevent a blind squirrel from finding a nut... cut off its legs.
Works in tennis as well.
 
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Deleted member 776614

Guest
Thanks everyone, it helps! Yeah the Blind Squirrel thing seemed like it was going on both sides of the net - his balls were landing on the inside edge of the baseline, side service box, or somehow floating just enough to clear the net, while mine were a foot out or catching just too much tape.

I realized since I made my racket changes that I haven't done any practice with ground strokes from near the service line or inside. My new setup is a lot heavier and I'm pretty sure I was getting tense trying to hit soft/short shots since I don't have confidence with it yet. It was either that or trying to hit powerful TS groundies when I shouldn't have been. So that's what I'll work on. I want to be able to do mini tennis with full, controlled swings before I go back to working on anything else (other than serve practice.)
 

Curtennis

Semi-Pro
Thank you, this is exactly my problem. I tried to make every shot pretty and refused to just bunt the ball back. I told myself to let him make errors but I was too cocky to listen, which made every shot seem like I was going for a highlight reel since they were mostly off chasing down mishits.

He won his last match which was against a USTA clinic instructor - a guy with a great shot if you hit near him, but with no mobility.
If my opponent can’t hit winners, why am I going to tax myself with going all out on first serves, big ground strokes, taking balls early on the rise… if I’m playing someone that can’t finish a point in hitting 15’ high top spin shots the entire match.
 
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Deleted member 776614

Guest
It's the best advice you've gotten in this thread. But, go ahead and blame it on your racket. You'll go far.
So you were undefeated in your first year, and now you're here giving crap to new players trying to figure it out; I guess you made it pretty far.
 

Bambooman

Rookie
If my opponent can’t hit winners, why am I going to tax myself with going all out on first serves, big ground strokes, taking balls early on the rise… if I’m playing someone that can’t finish a point in hitting 15’ high top spin shots the entire match.
Not sure if you're saying you won't try or you will win despite not trying.
 

Curtennis

Semi-Pro
Not sure if you're saying you won't try or you will win despite not trying.
It’s hardly not trying. It’s hitting deep safe shots that force a rally to continue. If my opponent can’t hit a winner, I’ll just feed my highest percentage shot over and over again. Eventually the errors will add up and the match will be over. I’m not going to try and hit winners and raise my potential error rate against someone who can’t capitalize on poor shots.
 
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Deleted member 776614

Guest
Which is the exact opposite of the approach I took. This is a lesson for me on winning vs having fun.
 

Bambooman

Rookie
It’s hardly not trying. It’s hitting deep safe shots that force a rally to continue. If my opponent can’t hit a winner, I’ll just feed my highest percentage shot over and over again. Eventually the errors will add up and the match will be over. I’m not going to try and hit winners and raise my potential error rate against someone who can’t capitalize on poor shots.
I see. Interestingly this seems to be the recipe used by superior players who then lament losing to a pusher.
 
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Deleted member 776614

Guest
...except he had the caveat, "If my opponent can't hit winners."
 

Curtennis

Semi-Pro
Which is the exact opposite of the approach I took. This is a lesson for me on winning vs having fun.
Lets remove the passion and your feelings from this and use basketball as a substitute (hopefully you’re not super passionate about this either).
If you had a 1 on 1 match against someone you felt couldn’t guard you, would you keep taking 17’ fadeaway jumpers or would you just go for the unguarded layup?

if you lost cause you tried to make highlight reel plays while your opponent put together a winning game plan, you’re the fool. I mean no offense to you personally.

Just last night I had a USTA tournament match against someone I found out pretty early on could not get a ball past me. I lost the first game on my own serve due to a double fault and some nerves. In the second game I realized I was better than this guy and I lost the first game, he didn’t beat me. I dramatically reduced my errors at that point and won the set 6-1. In the second set I had all the confidence in the world and he was clearly upset. However I was already on a roll and dialed in because my first set I just concentrated on moving him back and forth, in and out. My accuracy was on point.
In the second set I took the accuracy that I built up and injected some more power into my game. I won that set 6-0. Sure this guy was outmatched and self rated for the wrong skill level I suppose but the point remains. I beat myself the first game with a double fault and just stupid shots. I didn’t allow that to happen the rest of the match.
 

Curtennis

Semi-Pro
I see. Interestingly this seems to be the recipe used by superior players who then lament losing to a pusher.
I don’t understand what you mean by a superior player. Self described superior, or truly a superior player? If the former, I’d argue I hear the exact opposite that you hear.

The story is usually “I kept going for winners and he kept hitting safe pop ups back and he edged me out. I’m clearly the better player and got unlucky.”

if the latter, and a truly superior player lost to someone truly inferior then it was just a bad day. Djokavic has lost to some people ranked far lower. It does happen
 
It’s so frustrating! He says "rallying is really hard" because he has no control. I would have said "I’m the better player" but I guess I need to win the next match or I can’t.
it’s hard when you can’t read (edit: changed from predict) what’s going to happen - short low balls or moon balls that land deep, serves that a foot in the box or catch the front outside corner that all seem totally random.
After a game or two, you need to recognize that it probably is random. Once you accept this, you relieve yourself of the burden of trying to read the next shot; just shift to purely reactive mode.

Don't judge him because he lacks control; just accept it and adapt.

Of course I made my share of mistakes, and being tired from a grueling 2hr 3.5 match in the heat yesterday and playing in the heat again today made it harder. I was in such disbelief I basically forgot to problem solve, which is the polar opposite from how I played yesterday.

Tennis is such a head game. I really wanted to win, and it got in my head and I thought too much, and if I’m thinking while I’m hitting it never goes well. At least I have a few ideas what I can work on for next time (short low balls and recovering from them, and utility shots to name a few.) Oh, and serves. I just changed technique so my serve fell apart too easily.
Yes, tennis is very mental. Probably the most important thing you can do is try to play each point separately rather than dwelling on past mistakes or thinking about bad things that might happen in the future. Again, this takes the burden off of you, freeing yourself of past errors and boneheaded plays [which we all make] and allowing you to concentrate on the most important point: the one you're about to play.
 
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Deleted member 776614

Guest
@Curtennis No offense taken at all, I'm here to learn. And yes, I played the game of a fool, to a point that brought me far enough behind that I couldn't recover without my nerves getting in the way.

I have/had some natural ability for this sport as a beginner and skipped the typical beginner lessons/clinics/matches, and this match revealed some weak fundamentals. I never really learned/practiced hitting 25-50% or how to control power w/o spin, so I missed a lot of balls that were short low and wide, and missed sending back the moon balls because I hit with too much spin from too far away.

@S&V-not_dead_yet thank you - I wouldn't have said I was dwelling on previous points, but maybe the loss in confidence to control my power came from doing that subconsciously. I just wanted to comment that I didn't mean to judge, though maybe it sounded that way - 'having no control' were his words; he is an excellent human being, and at least on this day was clearly more effective at using what was in his toolbox than I was.
 
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Bambooman

Rookie
I don’t understand what you mean by a superior player. Self described superior, or truly a superior player? If the former, I’d argue I hear the exact opposite that you hear.

The story is usually “I kept going for winners and he kept hitting safe pop ups back and he edged me out. I’m clearly the better player and got unlucky.”

if the latter, and a truly superior player lost to someone truly inferior then it was just a bad day. Djokavic has lost to some people ranked far lower. It does happen
You tell me. Your quote is the typical one.

These people tend to repeatedly lose to pushers though. It should never be a legit reason to lose. They just don't like how they lost.

I would think a superior player could take the risk of going for winners.
 
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Deleted member 776614

Guest
It's the best advice you've gotten in this thread. But, go ahead and blame it on your racket. You'll go far.
Edit: Actually you were right on this one. I just back to my old stick and had the same problem. I need to work on regulating power.
 
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Traffic

Hall of Fame
I play practice matches with my wife all the time. She is a 3.5 woman with no control. Usually she gets 0-2 games against me in a set. Her patronus is the Blind Squirrel. When she calls him out, she becomes unbeatable. Framed shot winners, net cord winners, lobs to the back line, you name it. I just have to ride the squirrel out until it disappears, usually after about 3 games. About once a year she gets into Blind Squirrel mode and it lasts a full set and she beats me. Fortunately the Blind Squirrel is a fickle creature and can't be summoned at will. But you know when it has made its presence known as all of a sudden this scattershot player can't miss a thing.

Point is, folks with little control sometimes win because fate favors them for a match. Never worry about losing a single match to anyone. Good days and bad days happen.
I think the blind squirrel analogy is great for 3.0 tennis. I find it harder to play against a 3.0 player than a 3.5 player. This has nothing to do with my results. But more about how I play. I find 3.0 tennis is more unpredictable both in terms of reading opponents (set up and form) and probability of shot selection (high percentage). Also the tendency for 3.0 players to go for winners vs high percentage. When they go in, chances are really good they win the point. But if it doesn't go in, then too bad. But if my game is off because my rhythm and timing is off, then my errors tend to go up. And if my errors go up, then my opponents winners > my consistent put the ball in to play shots.
 
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Deleted member 776614

Guest
I realized some pretty good things over the past couple of days - I actually signed up for a beginner clinic in addition to my regular clinics so I could see what I do differently at different levels of play/pace. So I had 3 clinics in the past week and it has been borderline enlightening:

Regarding risky shots:
I personally need a good target, otherwise it's hard for me to concentrate on where I want to put the ball, and I start thinking about things like legs, follow through, spin/power as opposed to where the ball should land. In other words, it's easier to have laser-like focus on a small target, and harder (for me) to focus on where to put the ball in a bigger area. I think in general I've been focusing so hard on mechanics that I forget to aim, and now by habit I think more about how I'm going to hit as opposed to what I want to happen. It was a lot of work to focus on targets last night, but also very rewarding.

Regarding short balls and power regulation:
Very little of my practice time has been spent using slow, relaxed swings. Generally I'm trying to find the limit of how hard and how much spin I can control. In the beginner clinic it took some effort to pull the reins and focus on swinging up instead of through (though clearly I didn't belong there, but it was so relaxing and good to slow down.) But last night I had 2 regular clinics and already noticed a difference in how I'm hitting the ball - definitely more appropriate for my experience level (albeit less exciting.) It was also interesting to notice how many people in the higher level clinics were doing what I was - trying to kill the ball with power and spin, and most missing the targets by quite a bit, and yet the 'clearly better' players were hitting a little softer but with so much more control.

Also, I took a video of myself and noticed I don't stop moving my feet when I'm running to hit balls that are away from me. I had a few chances to work on this during the clinics and am seeing some improvements.


I feel like this all explains pretty clearly what happened in my bagel match. I'm excited to see how things go during the next couple of matches!
 

FiddlerDog

Professional
Regarding short balls and power regulation:
the 'clearly better' players were hitting a little softer but with so much more control.
Congrats on learning how to hit an approach shot.
Most 3.5 hackers try to hit short balls as hard as they can, right into the back fence.
The higher the level, the softer they hit. Control is everything
 

Bambooman

Rookie
Congrats on learning how to hit an approach shot.
Most 3.5 hackers try to hit short balls as hard as they can, right into the back fence.
The higher the level, the softer they hit. Control is everything
That doesn't seem to be that true at the highest levels. They just hit hard with control. 3.5s start by trying soft shots that gobbled up. Then they swing for the fences.
 
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Deleted member 776614

Guest
I just meant the better players weren’t over-hitting.
 

roadto50

Rookie
So you were undefeated in your first year, and now you're here giving crap to new players trying to figure it out; I guess you made it pretty far.
He's not giving you crap. You just lost to a player who you claim has "no control". What does that make you? Connect the dots bud.

And he responded that way because we've all seen too many people at the 3.0/3.5 level with your attitude - "I just lost to a ________ (insert some insult like moonballer, pusher, no control, can't hit winners etc, etc) but I am really the better player". Singles is 1 on 1. The better player wins.

The reality is you lost because you were the inferior player - you just don't like the way you lost. The first step to getting better at tennis is to get rid of your superiority complex. Like seriously, you lost, and you come in here claiming he had no control??? You may not like the way he said it, but it's true - you couldn't hit the ball inside the lines better than your opponent. Isn't that why you lost? You don't get the balls you want to hit in tennis. You get the balls the opponent gives you. That's why so many 4.0s look like Roger Federer during warm up and get bageled by 50 year old pushers.
 
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puppybutts

Semi-Pro
you don't lose an entire match to someone because they got lucky the entire time. at the end of the day, they are putting the ball in more than you, and that shows they have better control than you. it is mind boggling to me that someone will lament how they lost because they kept making errors going for pretty shots and winners and attribute their own poor performance to a lack of mental focus, a bad day, or this and that. at the same time they somehow attribute their opponent's ability to make less errors to their lower skill level and worse control ?? you say it's not fun to play against someone who hits unpredictably, but do you think it's fun for someone to play against someone who hits errors the entire match?

"i was tired." "i was thinking too much." "i forgot to problem solve." "my serve fell apart because i just changed my technique." you think of all these reasons to excuse why your performance isn't representative of your actual skill level, but don't give any credit to your opponent for not having those same issues. part of being an amateur is your skill level will probably fluctuate by a wide range. sure, sometimes top pros lose to players ranked lower than them, everyone has an upper and lower level of performance level, but the range difference for amateurs tends to be much larger. your ability to play at a consistently higher level is part of your level. maybe your opponent didn't mean to hit that close to the baseline, or didn't mean to hit a shot quite that short, but he was able to sustain his ability to make a shot through the entire match more than you. while he can practice reigning in his targets a little more, you are still practicing getting the ball in play.

you say you just started playing this year as if to preemptively defend why you lost to such a player. you say it felt good to practice in the beginner clinic but then say you don't belong there. no one cares what level you are or should judge what kind of player you lost to. the fact that you just started this year shows you're a beginner, and there's nothing wrong with that. some parts of your game might be more advanced, others might still be beginner. every type of player is a great opportunity to try and improve your own game. try to take excitement in that rather than complaining and having no fun against certain types of players because you think their playstyle means they should be worse than you.
 

FiddlerDog

Professional
If you get bageled by a 3.0, then you are a 2.5, if such a rating even exists
No one bagels another player with no control. Literally impossible. You literally don't know what that word means. He hit the balls inside the lines.
 

FiddlerDog

Professional
It’s hard when you can’t read (edit: changed from predict) what’s going to happen - short low balls or moon balls that land deep, serves that a foot in the box or catch the front outside corner that all seem totally random.
It's called variety. It is the pillar of expert tennis.
 
"i was tired." "i was thinking too much." "i forgot to problem solve." "my serve fell apart because i just changed my technique."
Fortunately, all of these are things the OP can improve. The first step is admitting the problem and the second is formulating a plan to address it.

part of being an amateur is your skill level will probably fluctuate by a wide range. sure, sometimes top pros lose to players ranked lower than them, everyone has an upper and lower level of performance level, but the range difference for amateurs tends to be much larger.
@Joe Garfield: Brent Abel and Jeff Jacklich spend a good chunk of their "Gold Ball* Hunting" videos on this very topic: how to narrow your skill range variance.

Not a lot of people focus on this topic. I think it's very relevant to me because most of my game fluctuates in a certain range but my returns are way more variable. One of the keys to my improvement will be reducing that variability. It's also deflating to return OK or even well one day and poorly the next.


*A "Gold Ball" is the trophy for winning a national senior championship in your age category [which, BTW, starts at 35]. Abel has at least 10.

Check out the series and see if it resonates with you. I picked up a lot of good insight from "boots on the ground" experience.
 
If you get bageled by a 3.0, then you are a 2.5, if such a rating even exists
No one bagels another player with no control. Literally impossible. You literally don't know what that word means. He hit the balls inside the lines.
I think the two of you are defining "control" differently:

You define it as being able to hit the ball in.

OP seems to define it as being able to hit the ball in and where he intended [which is how I'd define it also].

A shank that goes in but to a completely random spot is "control" by your definition but not by his. If I interpret OP's description correctly, this is what repeatedly happened.

Assuming it's true [I've never lost a match where that was a determining factor], he should have stopped trying to anticipate where the shot was going because that assumes the opponent has enough control to hit it where he wants to. Just switch to reactive mode.
 

HelenCH

Rookie
I think the two of you are defining "control" differently:

You define it as being able to hit the ball in.

OP seems to define it as being able to hit the ball in and where he intended [which is how I'd define it also].

A shank that goes in but to a completely random spot is "control" by your definition but not by his. If I interpret OP's description correctly, this is what repeatedly happened.

Assuming it's true [I've never lost a match where that was a determining factor], he should have stopped trying to anticipate where the shot was going because that assumes the opponent has enough control to hit it where he wants to. Just switch to reactive mode.
But shouldn't it be fairly easy to anticipate where the shot is going? It's not like it is going to make a U-turn or suddenly change direction mid-flight. It doesn't matter where the opponent intended to hit it, they do not announce it, but it should be quite clear where it will go (approximately of course but enough to adjust the position etc.) to before the ball even crosses the net. Shanked or not. I suspect that the OP once they see the framed shot assume that it will not cross the net or that the ball won't stay in, so is surprised when it lands in and they are not ready. But anticipation where the shot is going is independent of the opponents's intentions and execution.
 

FiddlerDog

Professional
But shouldn't it be fairly easy to anticipate where the shot is going? It's not like it is going to make a U-turn or suddenly change direction mid-flight. It doesn't matter where the opponent intended to hit it, they do not announce it, but it should be quite clear where it will go (approximately of course but enough to adjust the position etc.) to before the ball even crosses the net. Shanked or not. I suspect that the OP once they see the framed shot assume that it will not cross the net or that the ball won't stay in, so is surprised when it lands in and they are not ready. But anticipation where the shot is going is independent of the opponents's intentions and execution.
Moot point. No one has even won a match with a bagel due to dozens of lucky shanks and net cords.
OP is delusional. He simply does not know how to play tennis. Welcome to tennis!
3 years from now, he can look back at this thread and laugh
 
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