I may have cracked the 8.0 mixed code (3.5/4.5 edition)

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I'm a 3.5 older lady, and 8.0 mixed has always been a huge challenge. I am not strong from the baseline, so I get overpowered. My volleys are good for my level, but they break down badly when faced with the pace and spin 4.0 and 4.5 guys can generate. I don't know my win percentage in 8.0 mixed as a 3.5 or when I was a 4.0, but wins were rare. It was humiliating and demoralizing to miss return after return, to be picked on for two hours, to be pushed back behind the baseline, and to have my lobs while trapped back there punished.

Well, I've figured a few things out.

  • Placement is way more important than power. I used to try to smack my volleys or overheads hard enough to put them away. This never worked, and I made too many errors doing it. Now, I am more likely to hit a drop volley than a penetrating one, and I am more likely to hit a slice passing shot than a blast. And when I'm really using my brain, I can place a volley in a spot where both opponents will try for it.
  • Slice returns are money all night long. If I can touch the return, keep a firm wrist, and move forward into it no matter how hot the serve is, good things happen. I can at a minimum start the point, and if I'm lucky my slice will give the opposing guy trouble.
  • Receive the woman's serve as close to the service line as possible, and slice it into her alley. Being close opens up an angle so the opposing guy has to leave early to reach it, so discourages poaching. And if he leaves early enough, slice it into his alley.
  • Get out of NML, especially after serving. Back the heck up because the opponents' best play is not a drop shot with my lightening fast 4.5 at the service line. Their best move is to crush my serve back at my feet, so serve and get ready to defend.
  • My job is not to win the match. My job is to not lose the match. Get some balls in the court and let my 4.5 partner do his job.
All of these things are quite different from what I do in ladies play, so it has been an adjustment. I can't go so far to say this season has been fun, but so far I'm 3-0, all match tiebreak wins.

Cindy -- who only pretends to listen cheerfully when her 4.5 male partners coach her on stroke mechanics
 
It's impressive that you are actually observing, thinking, changing, adapting, and aware of all the things happening in a match. No problem if people don't do it, some are just there for exercise or being outside, but it's pretty cool when someone thinks about strategy, it matters if you want to win.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Slice returns should be heavily angled away from the net man or lobbed, otherwise they will be killed in doubles.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
Your points 1, 4&5 are the most important to me ....

Point 1 in placement over power works in ladies' and mixed .... would probably work in any match situation
Point 4 also is important in both .... either stay back and be ready or go all the way in
Point 5 Hurts the pride but yes, it is the lower ranked female's to lose in a mixed match. Severely limit your UEs and get the male's serve back in play

Good job overall, especially as you were hesitant in playing 8.0 mixed at all
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I play frequently in NML in ladies. The lob is a constant threat. The drop shot or short angle is also a threat with some ladies, so being feet behind the baseline is too risky. Painting the baseline with power and pace i cant handle is not a threat in 3.5 ladies.

But yeah, it is really hard to use your head and go for the smart placement on volleys rather than bash.
 

Nostradamus

Bionic Poster
I'm a 3.5 older lady, and 8.0 mixed has always been a huge challenge. I am not strong from the baseline, so I get overpowered. My volleys are good for my level, but they break down badly when faced with the pace and spin 4.0 and 4.5 guys can generate. I don't know my win percentage in 8.0 mixed as a 3.5 or when I was a 4.0, but wins were rare. It was humiliating and demoralizing to miss return after return, to be picked on for two hours, to be pushed back behind the baseline, and to have my lobs while trapped back there punished.

Well, I've figured a few things out.

  • Placement is way more important than power. I used to try to smack my volleys or overheads hard enough to put them away. This never worked, and I made too many errors doing it. Now, I am more likely to hit a drop volley than a penetrating one, and I am more likely to hit a slice passing shot than a blast. And when I'm really using my brain, I can place a volley in a spot where both opponents will try for it.
  • Slice returns are money all night long. If I can touch the return, keep a firm wrist, and move forward into it no matter how hot the serve is, good things happen. I can at a minimum start the point, and if I'm lucky my slice will give the opposing guy trouble.
  • Receive the woman's serve as close to the service line as possible, and slice it into her alley. Being close opens up an angle so the opposing guy has to leave early to reach it, so discourages poaching. And if he leaves early enough, slice it into his alley.
  • Get out of NML, especially after serving. Back the heck up because the opponents' best play is not a drop shot with my lightening fast 4.5 at the service line. Their best move is to crush my serve back at my feet, so serve and get ready to defend.
  • My job is not to win the match. My job is to not lose the match. Get some balls in the court and let my 4.5 partner do his job.
All of these things are quite different from what I do in ladies play, so it has been an adjustment. I can't go so far to say this season has been fun, but so far I'm 3-0, all match tiebreak wins.

Cindy -- who only pretends to listen cheerfully when her 4.5 male partners coach her on stroke mechanics
so this means the 4.5 guy has to cover 80 % of the court ?? LOL
 
It could be phrased a different way: as a 4.5 guy, what are good characteristics of my 3.5 female partner?
- Keeps the ball in play: no matter how good I am, I can do nothing if my partner doesn't get the ball in.
- Recognizes the two roles are different: that's not to say to never go for an offensive shot but ease back on the poaching if you keep missing
- Plays her strengths and tries to avoid her weaknesses: of course, the same can be said for me too
- Doesn't feel like she has to do something way out of her comfort zone: I'd much rather she play completely within her comfort zone and if we need to adjust, we'll cross that bridge later

If anyone's going to succeed, @Cindysphinx, it's going to be you because you're observant enough to pick up on these things and wise enough to make adjustments within your wheelhouse.
 

chatt_town

Hall of Fame
I'm a 3.5 older lady, and 8.0 mixed has always been a huge challenge. I am not strong from the baseline, so I get overpowered. My volleys are good for my level, but they break down badly when faced with the pace and spin 4.0 and 4.5 guys can generate. I don't know my win percentage in 8.0 mixed as a 3.5 or when I was a 4.0, but wins were rare. It was humiliating and demoralizing to miss return after return, to be picked on for two hours, to be pushed back behind the baseline, and to have my lobs while trapped back there punished.

Well, I've figured a few things out.

  • Placement is way more important than power. I used to try to smack my volleys or overheads hard enough to put them away. This never worked, and I made too many errors doing it. Now, I am more likely to hit a drop volley than a penetrating one, and I am more likely to hit a slice passing shot than a blast. And when I'm really using my brain, I can place a volley in a spot where both opponents will try for it.
  • Slice returns are money all night long. If I can touch the return, keep a firm wrist, and move forward into it no matter how hot the serve is, good things happen. I can at a minimum start the point, and if I'm lucky my slice will give the opposing guy trouble.
  • Receive the woman's serve as close to the service line as possible, and slice it into her alley. Being close opens up an angle so the opposing guy has to leave early to reach it, so discourages poaching. And if he leaves early enough, slice it into his alley.
  • Get out of NML, especially after serving. Back the heck up because the opponents' best play is not a drop shot with my lightening fast 4.5 at the service line. Their best move is to crush my serve back at my feet, so serve and get ready to defend.
  • My job is not to win the match. My job is to not lose the match. Get some balls in the court and let my 4.5 partner do his job.
All of these things are quite different from what I do in ladies play, so it has been an adjustment. I can't go so far to say this season has been fun, but so far I'm 3-0, all match tiebreak wins.

Cindy -- who only pretends to listen cheerfully when her 4.5 male partners coach her on stroke mechanics
lol at your last quote. :)

I'll tell you what has worked for us is something some aren't going to understand. I know everyone tells you to keep the ball low and I agree with that in most instances, but I've found in the last few weeks what people struggle with the most is balls that are above their eye level(bare with me here). Many coaches will tell you to see the raquet strings hit the ball when volleying....if the ball is low...you are supposed to bend your knees and get down so you can still see the ball hit the strings...but what happens when the ball is above your eye level. Granted I realize if the ball is in the wrong spot it can get your partner killed at the net, but check this out. My wife and I were playing a few weeks ago against a guy who was at least 6'6...huge @$$ serve. We decided to play her on the bh with two hands on the kick serve return to the bh. I return huge serves better with my backhand from the deuce side as all I do is lob them over the girl(who was too short and couldn't put away overheads if they were short and the guy couldn't get turned to hit an overhead if the ball is just placed near the alley whether long or short. She would return the ball high but just above his eye level but not quite hanging or high enough for him to settle in and hit overheads. So he'd hit some high volleys at me which I had already backed up...next ball...wallaahhhhh right over head and he was too close in to crank the overhead. The next week the guy didn't have nearly the serve but we did the same thing to them. Just kept the balls right above their eye level where they weren't sure as to where they were exactly catching the ball. Try it some times...you can't do it every point obviously but it got us out of a lot of trouble especially with the guy with the huge serve. He served some second serves that kicked so high on my forehand but those I crushed at his feet. So we went high and low but we played mostly through the air....once we can get the guy running....we have a much better chance. Cindy do you ever try to serve and volley with the women. It can help cover you in serving...much better to play from close than back. If you back up the other guy is going to do as you said and crush overheads all day. I saw a woman in her mid 50's serving and volleying to men in the alta AA senior league...so it can be done. You don't have to do it to all men but I'd try to learn to do it with women and I'd start doing it in the women's matches to get your confidence.
 

sovertennis

Professional
It could be phrased a different way: as a 4.5 guy, what are good characteristics of my 3.5 female partner?
- Keeps the ball in play: no matter how good I am, I can do nothing if my partner doesn't get the ball in.
- Recognizes the two roles are different: that's not to say to never go for an offensive shot but ease back on the poaching if you keep missing
- Plays her strengths and tries to avoid her weaknesses: of course, the same can be said for me too
- Doesn't feel like she has to do something way out of her comfort zone: I'd much rather she play completely within her comfort zone and if we need to adjust, we'll cross that bridge later

If anyone's going to succeed, @Cindysphinx, it's going to be you because you're observant enough to pick up on these things and wise enough to make adjustments within your wheelhouse.
Another 4.5 guy (who has previously posted about his bewildering lack of success at and enjoyment of 8.0 mixed) here...
I'd add to your excellent list (above):
-Return the women's serve deep and xc, and get one--just one--of the man's serve's back per game;
-If I am on the add side (which I will be when returning and at least half the time during service games), let me take the overheads that are not right to you.
-If I move to poach or cover a shot that's shallow, please also move behind me;
-If you miss a tough volley, no problem because we all do; on the easier volleys, please try to hit them deep, even if you hit them softly.
-When you're at the baseline, please don't back up 4 feet behind it then try to hit a groundstroke. It will likely get crushed. Try to stay on the baseline and play the ball from there.
-Please don't become discouraged. I'm going to miss; you're going to miss, so will they.
-If I make a tactical/positioning suggestion, please don't interpret it as a mansplaining insult. I'm not going to tell you how to play, but I will suggest ways that we may play better together; if you make a suggestion, I'll certainly listen to and try to implement yours.
 

kylebarendrick

Professional
The 3.5M needs to play to his strengths and not try to go outside his comfort level. Helps to have a 4.5F that enjoys pace, but in any event she needs to be able to mesh well with what her partner isn't good at.

Overall don't worry about breaking the 4.5M on the other side. He's supposed to hold his serve. The opposing 3.5F is the weakest player on the court and you need to keep her under pressure. Unless she's right on the net, I'll often hit directly to her to force her to be the one hitting as many shots as possible.
 

Dartagnan64

Legend
I play frequently in NML in ladies. The lob is a constant threat. The drop shot or short angle is also a threat with some ladies, so being feet behind the baseline is too risky. Painting the baseline with power and pace i cant handle is not a threat in 3.5 ladies.

But yeah, it is really hard to use your head and go for the smart placement on volleys rather than bash.
Yeah my wife used to drive me crazy in mixed when she'd bring her ladies dubs court positioning to a mixed match. Hanging out in NML and the service line while guys blasted topspin groundies at her.

But an interesting thing happened on the way to the forum, as the musical goes. After years of this terrible positioning she's become amazingly adept at volleying these drives from mid court. Guys think they are going to just blast her off the court and all of a sudden that ball's being re-directed right back at them. So all my discourses on repositioning have been for naught since she figured it out a different way. Instead of developing better footwork, she developed better hands.

If you can stand in mid court and get everything back, you can be a formidable force in doubles.

That being said I still think the right answer for 3.5 ladies in 8.0 mixed is to stand in the alley when at net and stand in the far corner when back. Let the 4.5 cover 80% of the court. Boring as heck but it keeps you from being a punching bag.
 

NLBwell

Legend
That being said I still think the right answer for 3.5 ladies in 8.0 mixed is to stand in the alley when at net and stand in the far corner when back. Let the 4.5 cover 80% of the court. Boring as heck but it keeps you from being a punching bag.
That was definitely the strategy when you used to be able to have 5.0 men and 3.0 women. That's why they changed the rule, I assume.
 

Powderwombat

Semi-Pro
Protip: Blast the ball at the female's mid-upper torso for easy points. Won't win you many friends, but WILL win you matches.
 

MRfStop

Hall of Fame
“It was humiliating and demoralizing” this resonates with me. Any time I have played mixed 7.0 or 8.0 as a 4.0 that is what it feels like.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Bump.

Well, that didn't last long: I'm retiring from 8.0 mixed.

I got an invitation to play ladies 4.0 this spring. That would mean I would be on five teams (3.5, 4.0, 7.0 mixed, 8.0 mixed, and 55+). Something has to go.

I thought about it, and I am not getting enough out of 8.0 to keep doing it. The problems are numerous:

1. I don't get to hit many balls. I return, I serve. Most everything else goes to my 4.5 partner. After my last 2-hour 8.0 mixed match, I didn't even break a sweat. I put my clothes back in the drawer rather than launder them. This is not exercise.

2. The things I have to do to be successful are kind of basic. Like, in my last match, I occasionally had an opportunity hit the opposing 3.5 woman's ball. All it took to win the point was tap the ball into her alley, away from the 4.5 guy. Where's the fun in that?

3. This is not safe. I'm supposed to hug the net, right? Well, the opposing 4.5 had a huge FH, so big that my 4.5 partner had difficulty returning his ball at the baseline or volleying it. The guy returned DTL three times. Not once did I even see the ball. He is allowed to do that, but I have always done fine volleying the balls of 4.0/3.5 guys before. I think part of it is that I have to stand so close in 8.0 that I can't defend myself. Me, I think women who complain that the guy hits at them are being ninnies. Well, I'm not complaining. I'm bailing.

4. I'm not improving. Indeed, I am developing some bad habits that are showing up in my ladies matches, like not moving around in the service box but instead staying pinned to the net, or letting balls go by that I could and should poach. I can go entire 8.0 mixed matches and hit no ordinary groundstrokes, just slices, and my regular groundstrokes are starting to atrophy.

5. I don't like the on-court dynamic, and it is not bringing out my best tennis. I feel like I get treated like a drooling moron. Like, if I hit a service return wide, I get told not to aim so wide. All male partners aren't like that, but maybe the huge disparity in level brings out the worst in people?

So. I'll play ladies 4.0 instead, it will be a challenge, I will have to pull my weight and play my best, and I will have to do laundry after a match.
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
There is no shame in deciding you’re not cut out for 8.0 level of play. Good luck with your future endeavours.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
To volley pace effectively, many people can just stick the racket out.

To volley slower balls/slice effectively, the player needs the correct grip and needs to generate their own pace by transferring weight.

That's all I meant.
 

Moveforwardalways

Hall of Fame
I don't like the on-court dynamic, and it is not bringing out my best tennis. I feel like I get treated like a drooling moron. Like, if I hit a service return wide, I get told not to aim so wide. All male partners aren't like that, but maybe the huge disparity in level brings out the worst in people?
I’m not sure why guys do this in mixed. It may be traditional masculinity and the desire to mansplain tennis to a woman, or it may be that tennis is not considered a “manly” sport so they feel the need to puff up and beat their chest. Not sure. Don’t aim so wide? Lol. Like you were aiming to hit it out?
 

dsp9753

Semi-Pro
I played another 8.0 match recently. I recorded some highlights and my thoughts below.


One of the things I have come to realize recently is that I think the better returner should play the duece side of the opponents are good net players. Having the weaker player on the duece side makes it harder to return the ball when the net player has a forehand poach on them. Etc.
 
Top