"If you're not playing matches, you're not playing tennis"

I dropped this bold proclamation while talking to a tennis acquaintance.
Rallies and lessons are one dimension.
Playing matches is another multi-layered dimension.

Do you know people who don't really play matches or leagues?
I always encourage them to play in a club league to get the full experience of tennis.

Yes, this is from the same person who uttered the immortal words

Playing USTA may be the biggest impediment to stroke development....

Tennis is full of many contradictions!
 
Strictly speaking, if you aren't keeping score, you're not "playing", you're "practicing".
Yup, scored matches.
I don't care if friendly match, club league, or USTA, or open tourney.

Scored matches of at least 2 sets, at least once in a while
Or you're not a tennis player
You are someone who hits tennis balls.

There are hitters, and then there are players.
 

pabletion

Hall of Fame
I dropped this bold proclamation while talking to a tennis acquaintance.
Rallies and lessons are one dimension.
Playing matches is another multi-layered dimension.

Do you know people who don't really play matches or leagues?
I always encourage them to play in a club league to get the full experience of tennis.

Yes, this is from the same person who uttered the immortal words

Playing USTA may be the biggest impediment to stroke development....

Tennis is full of many contradictions!
Well.............................................. I beg to differ.....

let me explain myself: I LOVE playing matches and tournaments, I'm very competitive, sometimes TOO competitive and can get a teeny bit aggresive (don't know if aggresive is the right word, but maybe I bark off more than I should, critizise myself, scream etc...), but I love the competition. Its why I play tennis, to compete, of course to excersize, but I just can't wait for the next tournament. I work on things, strokes, repetitions, weaknesses, patterns, serve, all the works, in order to improve and rise my competition level (yes, that is your true level, where you can actually compete, not your forehand, your bh, or your serve, but your competing level).

But this is me. And other folks as well. I know plenty of tennis buddies that just HATE playing tournaments, because, in their point of view, it just lowers their level, they have to deal with the "dreaded pushers" who just want to win the match and they just hate it. So to them I say, just dont play tournaments then. Tennis is supposed to be fun, if you dont enjoy tournaments why would you ever enter them? And these are friends that I play with regularly, and I consider to be around my same level, we have great matches, BUT, they are easy to break down, I mean, they are those typical players who like a good rythm, who can consistently hit the ball hard, but just cant handle dead balls, or junk balls. And I've come to terms with the fact that, if you're going to play a tournament, at ANY level, even open level, you're gonna face the style of tennis you DON'T LIKE, because winning tennis matches is all about breaking down your opponent, hitting to their weaknesses, looking for your own strenghts.

But its not about telling these guys "oh, you dont play real tennis because you dont play tournaments..." leave them be! I'm convinced tournaments are not for everybody! There are GREAT tournament players who, if you see them play, you'd say they SUCK, no smooth strokes, and sometimes no strokes at all, just mere athleticism and competitiveness. I still struggle regularly with these guys, sometimes I beat them, sometimes they beat me, but THIS is part of the game, of competitive tennis. Sometimes you win without having any fun, just, you know, grinding it out, out-pushing them, or whatever, you do what it takes, or what is in you on any particular day. Some guys just really hate this kind of tennis.

There are some (few) days where I dont play a match, I just hit for an hour, or two, and those are GREAT workouts, it just feels amazing to just hit out, pound groundie after groundie, with no consequence.

It all depends, like I said, first and foremost, tennis must be fun.
 

thehustler

Semi-Pro
Well.............................................. I beg to differ.....

let me explain myself: I LOVE playing matches and tournaments, I'm very competitive, sometimes TOO competitive and can get a teeny bit aggresive (don't know if aggresive is the right word, but maybe I bark off more than I should, critizise myself, scream etc...), but I love the competition. Its why I play tennis, to compete, of course to excersize, but I just can't wait for the next tournament. I work on things, strokes, repetitions, weaknesses, patterns, serve, all the works, in order to improve and rise my competition level (yes, that is your true level, where you can actually compete, not your forehand, your bh, or your serve, but your competing level).

But this is me. And other folks as well. I know plenty of tennis buddies that just HATE playing tournaments, because, in their point of view, it just lowers their level, they have to deal with the "dreaded pushers" who just want to win the match and they just hate it. So to them I say, just dont play tournaments then. Tennis is supposed to be fun, if you dont enjoy tournaments why would you ever enter them? And these are friends that I play with regularly, and I consider to be around my same level, we have great matches, BUT, they are easy to break down, I mean, they are those typical players who like a good rythm, who can consistently hit the ball hard, but just cant handle dead balls, or junk balls. And I've come to terms with the fact that, if you're going to play a tournament, at ANY level, even open level, you're gonna face the style of tennis you DON'T LIKE, because winning tennis matches is all about breaking down your opponent, hitting to their weaknesses, looking for your own strenghts.

But its not about telling these guys "oh, you dont play real tennis because you dont play tournaments..." leave them be! I'm convinced tournaments are not for everybody! There are GREAT tournament players who, if you see them play, you'd say they SUCK, no smooth strokes, and sometimes no strokes at all, just mere athleticism and competitiveness. I still struggle regularly with these guys, sometimes I beat them, sometimes they beat me, but THIS is part of the game, of competitive tennis. Sometimes you win without having any fun, just, you know, grinding it out, out-pushing them, or whatever, you do what it takes, or what is in you on any particular day. Some guys just really hate this kind of tennis.

There are some (few) days where I dont play a match, I just hit for an hour, or two, and those are GREAT workouts, it just feels amazing to just hit out, pound groundie after groundie, with no consequence.

It all depends, like I said, first and foremost, tennis must be fun.
I agree. I stopped playing leagues and tournaments in 2008/2009. Just got tired of the grind, giving up a weekend for a couple matches with random times. Tournaments were at least 45 min away in good traffic, in worse traffic it could be 2 hours, so not much incentive to go home, change, etc, especially if I was told my next match was a long ways out. I've just decided to hit with different groups of people for a long time and the group has changed. People come and go but the tennis remains. I think if you have a good group of players who are around the same level, or maybe some are a little better than others and you enjoy each other's company then that's just as good, if not better than a tournament. At least you know the guys and you can hang out afterwards and it's likely close to home.

Only thing I don't do is practice. I just can't do that. I'm practically bored 2 minutes into a warmup and just want to get the starty parted.
 
I don't play tourneys either. Not worth the overhead.
To clarify, I am specifically referring to those who have NEVER graduated to playing matches, in any manner at all.
Also, I specifically said "friendly matches". As in informal scored set with a friend. Keeping points.

My typical week of tennis consists of drilling/lessons, leagues, just rallying, and friendly sets.
All.
 

2nd Serve Ace

Hall of Fame
I don't play tourneys either. Not worth the overhead.
To clarify, I am specifically referring to those who have NEVER graduated to playing matches, in any manner at all.
Also, I specifically said "friendly matches". As in informal scored set with a friend. Keeping points.

My typical week of tennis consists of drilling/lessons, leagues, just rallying, and friendly sets.
All.
So you are the Ash Barry in this s..t show.

Good on you mate!
 

Dartagnan64

Legend
Certainly one can't consider themselves a tennis player if they've never play a match of tennis by the rules of tennis.
But I don't think you have to compete in leagues or tournaments. I play a Saturday men's doubles thing every week. We play standard sets and switch partners after each set so we end up playing 3 different sets with 3 different partners. I'd certainly call that "playing tennis" even if its not a formal match.

Whereas I have friends at the club that only hit cooperatively. I've never seem them even hit a serve. But man they are consistent at mid court rallies. Really nice grooved strokes but i wonder how they'd do when things became competitive.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Certainly one can't consider themselves a tennis player if they've never play a match of tennis by the rules of tennis.
But I don't think you have to compete in leagues or tournaments. I play a Saturday men's doubles thing every week. We play standard sets and switch partners after each set so we end up playing 3 different sets with 3 different partners. I'd certainly call that "playing tennis" even if its not a formal match.

Whereas I have friends at the club that only hit cooperatively. I've never seem them even hit a serve. But man they are consistent at mid court rallies. Really nice grooved strokes but i wonder how they'd do when things became competitive.
When he said the exact opposite, you replied with long posts.

Now you do it again.

You seem to never learn from experience :)
 

ShaunS

Semi-Pro
I dropped this bold proclamation while talking to a tennis acquaintance.
Rallies and lessons are one dimension.
Playing matches is another multi-layered dimension.
Agreed. This is a fact.

When you're "hitting" without playing to win there's a different focus, and sometimes that's precisely what you need to be doing. Playing matches is a very inefficient way to target parts of your game for improvement. Practice allows you to isolate some specific thing(s), and really work on getting better at them. However, the implementation of those strokes into an actual match is another beast altogether, and it's not to be overlooked.

I've warmed up with guys before who I thought were going to be incredible players, but they couldn't keep their pretty strokes together once we began playing real points. People who rarely play matches also tend to devolve into "pushing" because the focus of their tennis is rarely to end a point. They're used to just keeping a rally going, not looking for ways to end one.

But I don't think you have to compete in leagues or tournaments.
Yeah, any competitive match will suffice. Just so long as you're actually putting those strokes into a whole package that includes serving. I know guys who like to "play a match" by feeding points, and while it's a useful practice for me it's not a match. Serve and Return of Serve make up a disproportionately large part of the tennis game, especially in doubles, and it's not the same thing without them. I'd even argue that you'd get more "bang for your buck" in terms of practice time by exclusively working on serve & return :)
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
Serve and Return of Serve make up a disproportionately large part of the tennis game, especially in doubles, and it's not the same thing without them. I'd even argue that you'd get more "bang for your buck" in terms of practice time by exclusively working on serve & return :)
This. A thousand times This!
With hitting partners we usually spend a great deal of time on Serve/Return plus 1 ....
 

R1FF

Semi-Pro
Well.............................................. I beg to differ.....

let me explain myself: I LOVE playing matches and tournaments, I'm very competitive, sometimes TOO competitive and can get a teeny bit aggresive (don't know if aggresive is the right word, but maybe I bark off more than I should, critizise myself, scream etc...), but I love the competition. Its why I play tennis, to compete, of course to excersize, but I just can't wait for the next tournament. I work on things, strokes, repetitions, weaknesses, patterns, serve, all the works, in order to improve and rise my competition level (yes, that is your true level, where you can actually compete, not your forehand, your bh, or your serve, but your competing level).

But this is me. And other folks as well. I know plenty of tennis buddies that just HATE playing tournaments, because, in their point of view, it just lowers their level, they have to deal with the "dreaded pushers" who just want to win the match and they just hate it. So to them I say, just dont play tournaments then. Tennis is supposed to be fun, if you dont enjoy tournaments why would you ever enter them? And these are friends that I play with regularly, and I consider to be around my same level, we have great matches, BUT, they are easy to break down, I mean, they are those typical players who like a good rythm, who can consistently hit the ball hard, but just cant handle dead balls, or junk balls. And I've come to terms with the fact that, if you're going to play a tournament, at ANY level, even open level, you're gonna face the style of tennis you DON'T LIKE, because winning tennis matches is all about breaking down your opponent, hitting to their weaknesses, looking for your own strenghts.

But its not about telling these guys "oh, you dont play real tennis because you dont play tournaments..." leave them be! I'm convinced tournaments are not for everybody! There are GREAT tournament players who, if you see them play, you'd say they SUCK, no smooth strokes, and sometimes no strokes at all, just mere athleticism and competitiveness. I still struggle regularly with these guys, sometimes I beat them, sometimes they beat me, but THIS is part of the game, of competitive tennis. Sometimes you win without having any fun, just, you know, grinding it out, out-pushing them, or whatever, you do what it takes, or what is in you on any particular day. Some guys just really hate this kind of tennis.

There are some (few) days where I dont play a match, I just hit for an hour, or two, and those are GREAT workouts, it just feels amazing to just hit out, pound groundie after groundie, with no consequence.

It all depends, like I said, first and foremost, tennis must be fun.
Great post.

But i think i know who TTPS is talking about. Most of the tennis junkies at my old club fit his description. They practiced a lot. But refused to actually compete.

I think you’re right, it needs to be fun, first & foremost. Whatever style of play you enjoy is your own prerogative.

I get not wanting to play against frustrating opponents. I think the solution is easy then, go up a few tiers/levels. Get beat by outright skill rather than pushing/grit/antics of the stereotypical ****** tourney player. And if you cant handle that, the issue isnt the opponents but the fact that one cant handle losing period.

But I dont see any reason to outright avoid competition in some form. Be it casual, league, or tourney play.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
I do know of a few folks who are out hitting regularly, clinics, hitting partners and never ever play an actual match. They are happy with what they are doing and at least a couple of them are very good players skill wise.

Me, I need the competitive match to validate what I have been doing in practice. It is probably kind of sad that I crave that validation but there it is.

And in terms of avoiding the type of player I don't like (anyone who plays vertical tennis, smart dinkers, classic pushers) well, I don't want to avoid them all the time. Going back to that validation thing .... I need to be able to play better against them in order to feel like I have achieved the improvement I am working toward.

What I like about league is that I cannot pick and choose against whom I will play. On any given week I could draw an aggressive basher or a slicer/dicer .... I like being tested against it all win or lose.

This summer I took a break from playing any league aside from mixed (in my mind doesn't really count the same) and have put concerted effort into practice without match interruptions. I think I have made great strides. Now I am really hungry for matches to begin again in 2 weeks .... time for some tests!
 

R1FF

Semi-Pro
I do know of a few folks who are out hitting regularly, clinics, hitting partners and never ever play an actual match. They are happy with what they are doing and at least a couple of them are very good players skill wise.

Me, I need the competitive match to validate what I have been doing in practice. It is probably kind of sad that I crave that validation but there it is.

And in terms of avoiding the type of player I don't like (anyone who plays vertical tennis, smart dinkers, classic pushers) well, I don't want to avoid them all the time. Going back to that validation thing .... I need to be able to play better against them in order to feel like I have achieved the improvement I am working toward.

What I like about league is that I cannot pick and choose against whom I will play. On any given week I could draw an aggressive basher or a slicer/dicer .... I like being tested against it all win or lose.

This summer I took a break from playing any league aside from mixed (in my mind doesn't really count the same) and have put concerted effort into practice without match interruptions. I think I have made great strides. Now I am really hungry for matches to begin again in 2 weeks .... time for some tests!
Sad or not, it is what it is and we are who we are.

Every pro athlete I know is beaming with visible confidence & killer instinct but deep down is fueled by crippling inner turmoil/insecurities.
 

r2473

G.O.A.T.
Sad or not, it is what it is and we are who we are.

Every pro athlete I know is beaming with visible confidence & killer instinct but deep down is fueled by crippling inner turmoil/insecurities.
How many pro athletes do you know?
 

Mark Bosko

New User
Playing tournaments, league play, social matches, hitting workouts, drills, live ball, ball machine, hitting against the back board, serving a bucket of balls, lessons - call it what you want - If I'm holding a tennis racquet and hitting a tennis ball I call it playing tennis.

definition - to "play"
1. engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.
2. take part in (a sport).
 

pabletion

Hall of Fame
Playing tournaments, league play, social matches, hitting workouts, drills, live ball, ball machine, hitting against the back board, serving a bucket of balls, lessons - call it what you want - If I'm holding a tennis racquet and hitting a tennis ball I call it playing tennis.

definition - to "play"
1. engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.
2. take part in (a sport).
Yes. I mean, yasss.

We play sports for fun, most of us, dunno how many actual aspiring pros are roaming in these forums (count them w one hand, at most!).

Some people dont like to play matches bc they just dont like what it implies: trying to win, trying not to loose, do whatever it takes (within the rules) to win, period. I know plenty of very good players, like I said, who just dread having to play these types of matches, they hate it, so they wont do it anymore, and its perfectly okay. I on the other hand, love the challenge of trying to beat good pushers with my style of tennis, it does validate what I've been working on, exposes my weakneses and areas where I need to work on. I know very good players, around 4.0, one that is actually nationally rated as 4.0 (I beat him always btw ;) ) that just decided they dont want to have to "waste their time and tennis" playing pushers. BUT they do enjoy playing matches against similarly leveled opponnents, or even slightly higher skilled players, like this guy, who is 4.0 and really enjoys playing matches against me.

Then I've seen ppl to who only enjoy hitting, and/or practicing, and you never see playing matches, heck, you CANT get a match out of them! And its okay, for sure they just dont enjoy competing. To each their own, I dont think its really fair to say "they're not really playing tennis since they never play matches". Tennis is so beautiful that you can play it by yourself against a wall....................

TO YOU, OP, not playing matches is not actually playinig tennis, but that is, TO YOU, and I can understand your point. But everyone enjoys tennis differently. I used to push friends to play tournaments, till I understood they just dont enjoy it like I do, so it doesnt seem logical to go out and SUFFER and loose the enjoyment of tennis, doing something you DONT LIKE (Tournaments). The same might go for those who dont like to play matches. If its gonna kill the joy, its just dumb to do it, since we play tennis because we LOVE IT and ENJOY IT so much.
 

ShaunS

Semi-Pro
If I'm holding a tennis racquet and hitting a tennis ball I call it playing tennis.
I know this is semantics, and it's not important at all... but you aren't playing tennis. You're doing some of the things that make up the game of tennis, and that's the distinction. You aren't "taking part" in the sport, just components of it.

Similarly, you wouldn't call batting practice "playing baseball" or going for a run by yourself as "running a race".

TO YOU, OP, not playing matches is not actually playinig tennis, but that is, TO YOU, and I can understand your point. But everyone enjoys tennis differently. I used to push friends to play tournaments, till I understood they just dont enjoy it like I do, so it doesnt seem logical to go out and SUFFER and loose the enjoyment of tennis, doing something you DONT LIKE (Tournaments). The same might go for those who dont like to play matches. If its gonna kill the joy, its just dumb to do it, since we play tennis because we LOVE IT and ENJOY IT so much.
I absolutely disagree with this logic. Hitting a ball against the wall is not playing tennis. To draw another parallel, you wouldn't call shooting free throws by yourself "playing a basketball game".

It's absolutely fine if someone enjoys doing parts of the game, and I wouldn't suggest they have to play matches. However, from a technical standpoint they're not playing the sport of tennis.

FWIW - this is a silly enough debate that I'd never seriously call someone out on this for saying "they're playing tennis" when they're just hitting some balls, but it's a Friday with a little downtime... so here I am :)
 

shamaho

Semi-Pro
I dropped this bold proclamation while talking to a tennis acquaintance.
Rallies and lessons are one dimension.
Playing matches is another multi-layered dimension.

Do you know people who don't really play matches or leagues?
I always encourage them to play in a club league to get the full experience of tennis.

Yes, this is from the same person who uttered the immortal words

Playing USTA may be the biggest impediment to stroke development....

Tennis is full of many contradictions!
Agree 100% with the sense on the post (not exactly with the title itself) - competing just opens up whole new dimensions to the game and challenges to the self that's like a completely different sport
 

R1FF

Semi-Pro
I know this is semantics, and it's not important at all... but you aren't playing tennis. You're doing some of the things that make up the game of tennis, and that's the distinction. You aren't "taking part" in the sport, just components of it.

Similarly, you wouldn't call batting practice "playing baseball" or going for a run by yourself as "running a race".


I absolutely disagree with this logic. Hitting a ball against the wall is not playing tennis. To draw another parallel, you wouldn't call shooting free throws by yourself "playing a basketball game".

It's absolutely fine if someone enjoys doing parts of the game, and I wouldn't suggest they have to play matches. However, from a technical standpoint they're not playing the sport of tennis.

FWIW - this is a silly enough debate that I'd never seriously call someone out on this for saying "they're playing tennis" when they're just hitting some balls, but it's a Friday with a little downtime... so here I am :)
Like x50
 
It's not so much avoiding competition... Implies ego issues.
I'm saying some people just have no idea that they are missing massive facets of the sport.
Playing different styles, etc.
They think they are tennis players, but they never play matches, so they are doing one small sliver of the entire experience.
 

tennisisgood

New User
Well.............................................. I beg to differ.....

let me explain myself: I LOVE playing matches and tournaments, I'm very competitive, sometimes TOO competitive and can get a teeny bit aggresive (don't know if aggresive is the right word, but maybe I bark off more than I should, critizise myself, scream etc...), but I love the competition. Its why I play tennis, to compete, of course to excersize, but I just can't wait for the next tournament. I work on things, strokes, repetitions, weaknesses, patterns, serve, all the works, in order to improve and rise my competition level (yes, that is your true level, where you can actually compete, not your forehand, your bh, or your serve, but your competing level).

But this is me. And other folks as well. I know plenty of tennis buddies that just HATE playing tournaments, because, in their point of view, it just lowers their level, they have to deal with the "dreaded pushers" who just want to win the match and they just hate it. So to them I say, just dont play tournaments then. Tennis is supposed to be fun, if you dont enjoy tournaments why would you ever enter them? And these are friends that I play with regularly, and I consider to be around my same level, we have great matches, BUT, they are easy to break down, I mean, they are those typical players who like a good rythm, who can consistently hit the ball hard, but just cant handle dead balls, or junk balls. And I've come to terms with the fact that, if you're going to play a tournament, at ANY level, even open level, you're gonna face the style of tennis you DON'T LIKE, because winning tennis matches is all about breaking down your opponent, hitting to their weaknesses, looking for your own strenghts.

But its not about telling these guys "oh, you dont play real tennis because you dont play tournaments..." leave them be! I'm convinced tournaments are not for everybody! There are GREAT tournament players who, if you see them play, you'd say they SUCK, no smooth strokes, and sometimes no strokes at all, just mere athleticism and competitiveness. I still struggle regularly with these guys, sometimes I beat them, sometimes they beat me, but THIS is part of the game, of competitive tennis. Sometimes you win without having any fun, just, you know, grinding it out, out-pushing them, or whatever, you do what it takes, or what is in you on any particular day. Some guys just really hate this kind of tennis.

There are some (few) days where I dont play a match, I just hit for an hour, or two, and those are GREAT workouts, it just feels amazing to just hit out, pound groundie after groundie, with no consequence.

It all depends, like I said, first and foremost, tennis must be fun.
What about not playing tournaments but playing matches or leagues (anything where the score is kept and there is a winner and loser)? That is question that @TimeToPlaySets asked, no?
 

tennisisgood

New User
Great post.

But i think i know who TTPS is talking about. Most of the tennis junkies at my old club fit his description. They practiced a lot. But refused to actually compete.

I think you’re right, it needs to be fun, first & foremost. Whatever style of play you enjoy is your own prerogative.

I get not wanting to play against frustrating opponents. I think the solution is easy then, go up a few tiers/levels. Get beat by outright skill rather than pushing/grit/antics of the stereotypical ****** tourney player. And if you cant handle that, the issue isnt the opponents but the fact that one cant handle losing period.

But I dont see any reason to outright avoid competition in some form. Be it casual, league, or tourney play.
Agreed! People, learn how to beat pushers and there will be fewer of them.
Get to the net, accept that you might need to hit more than one volley.
Most people I know that don't like pushers hit bad approach shots and volleys but think they are good because they swing a bit faster on serves and forehands. There are many elements to tennis. http://www.15pointsoftennis.com/
 
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