My first USTA league singles match...

kevin qmto

Hall of Fame
I hadn't played a competitive match for 10 years. Joined a 4.0 team for the first time. Here's how it went. I've spared you (most) of the terrible points. long story short, I'm the guy in the green shirt, and it doesn't go all that well for me. I have trouble with my backhand during anything resembling a pressure situation, and for long stretches of the match, I just felt like I couldn't come over the top of the ball and keep it in the court, when I have no trouble doing so when just rallying. Also, Steven (black shirt) can really wallop the forehand when he wants to.

Yes I know I'm doing absolutely nothing with my serve, my shoulder is kinda bad, and my form is too, so yeah weak serve.

Just watch a min or two if you want, you can tell me what I'm doing wrong, I won't be offended. Thought I'd at least be more competitive at a 4.0 level, but maybe not...
Final score was 1-6, 2-6
Age 29
Racket: Adidas Barricade

 

atatu

Legend
Looks like a pretty good 4.0 level to be honest, that guy hit a big serve. I would just say try to improve the consistency on your forehand side, you missed a few that you shouldn't have. Maybe be more selective on when you approach, but overall I thought you looked good for 4.0 ! Also, ditch that slice forehand.
 

Diablo XP

Rookie
I agree that is not bad at all nor anything to be ashamed of. I agree with atatu about slice forehand, and the guy in black hits a deeper ball than you. My opinion is you need more depth of shot. Kudos to you for being brave enough to post video and ask for comments!
 

J_R_B

Hall of Fame
That guy is a pretty solid 4.0. Don't worry, everyone struggles at the start of playing USTA (unless you're an out of level ringer recruited to dominate people, LOL). My advice is to keep playing more matches under pressure to win for your team. The results will come. Your game isn't bad.
 

zaskar1

Semi-Pro
kevin q
looks like a pretty high level 4.0 guy you faced.
often times the score doesnt reflect the level of the match
you were able to assess the opponent correctly, and knew how to defend your weaknesses
i thought you played pretty good, as it appears you are at the same level.
usually winning and losing when the opponents are at the same level is just consistency.
i would say, play more matches so you are use to the pressure of playing matches.
once you develop confidence, you will start feeling better and win matches.
competitive singles is not easy
z
 

FuzzyYellowBalls

Hall of Fame
Don't be so hard on yourself, your opponent was sharp, maybe he had the best day of his playing month that day or maybe he was just battle tested. It's not easy to jump into competition after being off, but kudos for having some great shots and footwork, you didn't look lost out there.

One thing though, your opponent, can't argue with the results, his forehand is consistent and a weapon, but why is he hopping on one foot most of the time he hits it? I need to film myself more and see if I am doing something silly like that.
 

nyta2

Hall of Fame
top 3 things that came to mind:
1. hit to his bh when serving... his fh was hurting you, but i think on the bh side it seemed like a 50/50 battle
2. you seem fit(ter), and quicker... than your opponent... many points where you're out of balance or out of position where i'd have thrown up more high lobs vs. forcing him to hit more balls
3. you often drove your bh dtl to the open court (opponent's fh), he punished you for it... personally would have stayed in the bh2bh exchange and (a) use your quickness to run around and hit a fh (either dtl or cc - either way it will be more forcing than your bh) (b) if you must go dtl.. make sure it's a higher loop ball that has a very good chance to (i) stay in (ii) prevent him from attack easily (when you drive the ball waist height and it lands short - it becomes much easier to attack with my fh)

that said, if this is your first match after 10y, i think your decision making and shots will improve (you'll learn/remember) after a handful of matches...
 

fundrazer

G.O.A.T.
top 3 things that came to mind:
1. hit to his bh when serving... his fh was hurting you, but i think on the bh side it seemed like a 50/50 battle
2. you seem fit(ter), and quicker... than your opponent... many points where you're out of balance or out of position where i'd have thrown up more high lobs vs. forcing him to hit more balls
3. you often drove your bh dtl to the open court (opponent's fh), he punished you for it... personally would have stayed in the bh2bh exchange and (a) use your quickness to run around and hit a fh (either dtl or cc - either way it will be more forcing than your bh) (b) if you must go dtl.. make sure it's a higher loop ball that has a very good chance to (i) stay in (ii) prevent him from attack easily (when you drive the ball waist height and it lands short - it becomes much easier to attack with my fh)

that said, if this is your first match after 10y, i think your decision making and shots will improve (you'll learn/remember) after a handful of matches...
Listen to this for sure. Especially point #1.
 

ngoster

Rookie
Agreed with everyone's comments so far. Overall a good looking 4.0 match.

My notes in case you play against him again...
--Try to minimize shots to his FH. It is definitely his weapon. If you do go there (e.g. on serves), he seems susceptible to getting jammed on body shots.
--BH is clearly the weaker side but he hides it well. Pound this side early and often.
--His side to side movement is good. Looks like he prefers to battle it out from the BL. He doesn't appear comfortable coming to or being at the net. Going north and south on him may may result in easy points and pay out as the match progresses.

For you...
--Try to create more spacing on your FH side. Your shots are much better (including the slices) when you aren't jammed.
--BH slices look really good with depth and spin.
--Your serves look good also and will get better with time and experience.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
I hadn't played a competitive match for 10 years. Joined a 4.0 team for the first time. Here's how it went. I've spared you (most) of the terrible points. long story short, I'm the guy in the green shirt, and it doesn't go all that well for me. I have trouble with my backhand during anything resembling a pressure situation, and for long stretches of the match, I just felt like I couldn't come over the top of the ball and keep it in the court, when I have no trouble doing so when just rallying. Also, Steven (black shirt) can really wallop the forehand when he wants to.

Yes I know I'm doing absolutely nothing with my serve, my shoulder is kinda bad, and my form is too, so yeah weak serve.

Just watch a min or two if you want, you can tell me what I'm doing wrong, I won't be offended. Thought I'd at least be more competitive at a 4.0 level, but maybe not...
Final score was 1-6, 2-6
Age 29
Racket: Adidas Barricade

Nothing to be ashamed of. Solid 4.0 play.

I am OCD about the net strap being perfectly vertical, though. But that is just me.
 

mucat

Hall of Fame
OMG, that FH is murderous and the serve as well. Your opponent is probably at the higher end of 4.0.
You are a pretty strong 4.0 yourself.
 

J D

Semi-Pro
I agree, you look like a very solid 4.0. I couldn’t tell your shoulder was bothering you at all.

Your opponent is definitely a 4.5 with some nice weapons. This really doesn’t look like 4.0 tennis. You did well to hang with him as well as you did.

When you’re match hardened, you’ll give most 4.0’s a really tough time.
 

kevin qmto

Hall of Fame
I agree, you look like a very solid 4.0. I couldn’t tell your shoulder was bothering you at all.

Your opponent is definitely a 4.5 with some nice weapons. This really doesn’t look like 4.0 tennis. You did well to hang with him as well as you did.

When you’re match hardened, you’ll give most 4.0’s a really tough time.
It wasn’t bothering me, but only because I never swing with more than 60% effort. Not only would that mainly just tire me out faster, but my shoulder starts complaining. I can “bring it” for about 15 serves then I’m cooked lol. So I mainly just hit 2 second serves in matches.
 

ServeBot

Rookie
I’d recommend changing your backhand grip to a continental instead of the current extreme one you use if you want to improve consistency.
 

asamo

New User
A couple posters nailed it above. Both strong players but the guy you were facing had a very strong FH and relatively weaker BH. Plus you look to be in better cardio shape. I would have been pounding that BH of his with some longer points and especially kick serves to the BH. Then again it's much easier to win a match with a keyboard as opposed to when you actually get out there and hit. Looking good for 4.0!
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
That guy in black was blasting some FHs. Even most teaching pros I’ve hit with don’t nail it like that. Impressed you got a few games as a 4.0 facing that barrage.
 

FuzzyYellowBalls

Hall of Fame
That guy in black was blasting some FHs. Even most teaching pros I’ve hit with don’t nail it like that. Impressed you got a few games as a 4.0 facing that barrage.
The secret is to take your off dominant knee and gently lift it off the ground as you hit. Not a lot of teaching pros know this secret, nor teach it.
 

FuzzyYellowBalls

Hall of Fame
Great metaphor of why rec players are stuck at 3.5 for life.
They focus on all the pointless nonsense except actually getting better at tennis.
I really want to grab breakfast or lunch sometime, I'm sure it won't happen just because of logistics, but I have to know if you make declarations in regular face to face conversation.
 

Lorenn

Professional
It showed great potential. Your main issue seemed to be control and depth. Overall you played well. Your need to work on depth. You liked slicing a little too much. Many of those you had plenty of time for better options. Just work on fundamentals and retrain your body. How long have you been practicing since coming back?
 

FiddlerDog

Hall of Fame
I really want to grab breakfast or lunch sometime, I'm sure it won't happen just because of logistics, but I have to know if you make declarations in regular face to face conversation.
I have to know if you ever plan on actually learning how to hit a tennis ball, and not just playing bunting & blocking grandma tennis? o_O
 

FuzzyYellowBalls

Hall of Fame
I have to know if you ever plan on actually learning how to hit a tennis ball, and not just playing bunting & blocking grandma tennis? o_O
That's kind of close to a sweeping declaration too, but do you use them in face to face conversations or not as much, I guess it remains a mystery?
 

J_R_B

Hall of Fame
So it looks like that dude was a 4.5 with a slightly under 0.500 record at that level since he started in USTA 5 years ago and just got bumped down after a poor fall season (2-6). His game certainly looks like he'd be comfortable at 4.5, so this is probably just a temporary stop at 4.0 for him since he's still playing up with his old 4.5 team, too. I definitely wouldn't be too concerned about this match. This is more of a test of how you'd fare at 4.5 than 4.0, and the answer is stick to 4.0 for now, but you should do pretty well at that level (against players who are actually that level...).
 

ohplease

Professional
The terrible is where the value lies. Anyone can look like a D1 player in their highlight reel. Focus on your mistakes, that is where feedback and improvement lie
FiddlerDog has it right.

I was mostly struck by your tactics. Guy in black is no slouch, but he very rarely hurt you with his backhand. He absolutely murked you every time you gave him a slower or shorter ball to his forehand though. Developing a reliable deep 3/4 pace roller to the backhand corner - in point situations - will help a lot (note that's exactly what you did to get points off him early in the video and then there wasn't much of that the rest of the time). Even deep rollers to the forehand gave you more room to breathe, but I get that it's tough to make those just happen against a decent opponent.
 

ServeBot

Rookie
The terrible is where the value lies. Anyone can look like a D1 player in their highlight reel. Focus on your mistakes, that is where feedback and improvement lie
agreed. I would make horrific errors on low short balls/slices to my backhand. Finally focused on where the bad unforced errors were coming from and it was from those shots. Started slicing them instead of trying to hit them and my unforced errors on them vanished overnight.
 
I hadn't played a competitive match for 10 years. Joined a 4.0 team for the first time. Here's how it went. I've spared you (most) of the terrible points. long story short, I'm the guy in the green shirt, and it doesn't go all that well for me. I have trouble with my backhand during anything resembling a pressure situation, and for long stretches of the match, I just felt like I couldn't come over the top of the ball and keep it in the court, when I have no trouble doing so when just rallying. Also, Steven (black shirt) can really wallop the forehand when he wants to.

Yes I know I'm doing absolutely nothing with my serve, my shoulder is kinda bad, and my form is too, so yeah weak serve.

Just watch a min or two if you want, you can tell me what I'm doing wrong, I won't be offended. Thought I'd at least be more competitive at a 4.0 level, but maybe not...
Final score was 1-6, 2-6
Age 29
Racket: Adidas Barricade

You have good form on your serve regarding the racquet take back and follow through but looks like your left foot hardly leaves the ground on most serves. Watch your serve on video and see if you have the ability to propel into the court with some instruction but maybe that's your limitation. I only leave about an inch off the ground and people I play think I'm foot faulting which I'm not. I got called by an ump twice last year who was no near the service line position.
 

ShaunS

Semi-Pro
I'll play devil's advocate here. I don't think the player in black is 4.5. There are weaknesses in his game that I'd say make sense for a 4.0.

Let's break down a specific point. ***Caveat, I'm no pro, and I'm taking a quick look at some clips. This is by definition a hot take, so it is what it is.***

Timestamp 2:52 - You roll a serve to his forehand. You forehand chip a ball high that goes a little past the service line. You BH a shot of similar depth to the center. You FH a shot to his backhand (although I think he caught you with the deep ball, and it wasn't intentional ;). You hit short FH to his forehand, which he's able to return more aggressively pulling you across the court.

I call out this point because there's a lot of opportunity you're leaving on the table.
1. Your serve is all arm, so that's probably making the shoulder thing worse. I'd find a good pro to help you work on the service motion because you'll not only improve the pace, but it'll become easier to place the ball.
2. Stop hitting it to his dang forehand on the serve. If you move those serves over 3 feet, I guarantee you're winning a lot more points against this opponent.
3. You're playing FHs too close to your body. It impacts your ability to generate power, and I think it's hurting your consistency on some shots. Get more room between yourself and the ball when making contact.

Other general thoughts, forgive the repetition of some other posters, but these stood out to me:
- You seem to play well approaching the net. Just don't come saddling in after you feed your opponent's strength.
- Make sure to 'recover' after shots. You lost some points because you stayed damn near off camera after getting pulled wide.
- There's something funky going on with your backhand when you blast it out. I'm not good enough to say what.
- The defensive forehand "chip" you're hitting that goes short and bounces high is a problem. It's going to get eaten up by a lot of people.
- Get your racket back way earlier. You move to the ball then bring it back. You should be arriving to the point of contact with the racket already back, and that might be why the previous item is such a thing. >Yeah I went and watched a couple more points, this is a big deal for you. You don't bring it back until the ball is so, so close, and that has to be effecting your ability.
- You seemed to do well bringing him in with low, short balls to his backhand then lobbing. Don't be afraid to move people "vertically" in singles. Many people cannot handle that.

Lastly:
- You have to play more balls away from the center of the court. It gives you more distance to hit it in, and it'll be drastically more challenging for your opponent.

Don't get discouraged, there's plenty in your game to build on. I'm just focusing on what to improve, and as I look back over the advice there's a fair amount of connection to the issues. If you improve your recovery and get the racket ready earlier, you'll reduce unforced errors. I'm beginning to suspect you go up the middle constantly because you're worried about control with hurried swings. You're hurried because of the lack of prep.
 

kevin qmto

Hall of Fame
I'll play devil's advocate here. I don't think the player in black is 4.5. There are weaknesses in his game that I'd say make sense for a 4.0.

Let's break down a specific point. ***Caveat, I'm no pro, and I'm taking a quick look at some clips. This is by definition a hot take, so it is what it is.***

Timestamp 2:52 - You roll a serve to his forehand. You forehand chip a ball high that goes a little past the service line. You BH a shot of similar depth to the center. You FH a shot to his backhand (although I think he caught you with the deep ball, and it wasn't intentional ;). You hit short FH to his forehand, which he's able to return more aggressively pulling you across the court.

I call out this point because there's a lot of opportunity you're leaving on the table.
1. Your serve is all arm, so that's probably making the shoulder thing worse. I'd find a good pro to help you work on the service motion because you'll not only improve the pace, but it'll become easier to place the ball.
2. Stop hitting it to his dang forehand on the serve. If you move those serves over 3 feet, I guarantee you're winning a lot more points against this opponent.
3. You're playing FHs too close to your body. It impacts your ability to generate power, and I think it's hurting your consistency on some shots. Get more room between yourself and the ball when making contact.

Other general thoughts, forgive the repetition of some other posters, but these stood out to me:
- You seem to play well approaching the net. Just don't come saddling in after you feed your opponent's strength.
- Make sure to 'recover' after shots. You lost some points because you stayed damn near off camera after getting pulled wide.
- There's something funky going on with your backhand when you blast it out. I'm not good enough to say what.
- The defensive forehand "chip" you're hitting that goes short and bounces high is a problem. It's going to get eaten up by a lot of people.
- Get your racket back way earlier. You move to the ball then bring it back. You should be arriving to the point of contact with the racket already back, and that might be why the previous item is such a thing. >Yeah I went and watched a couple more points, this is a big deal for you. You don't bring it back until the ball is so, so close, and that has to be effecting your ability.
- You seemed to do well bringing him in with low, short balls to his backhand then lobbing. Don't be afraid to move people "vertically" in singles. Many people cannot handle that.

Lastly:
- You have to play more balls away from the center of the court. It gives you more distance to hit it in, and it'll be drastically more challenging for your opponent.

Don't get discouraged, there's plenty in your game to build on. I'm just focusing on what to improve, and as I look back over the advice there's a fair amount of connection to the issues. If you improve your recovery and get the racket ready earlier, you'll reduce unforced errors. I'm beginning to suspect you go up the middle constantly because you're worried about control with hurried swings. You're hurried because of the lack of prep.
Thanks for the thoughtful criticism. The next match went a lot better, maybe give this one a watch? This match went in my favor, 6/2, 7/6 (though my camera died at 5/4 in the 2nd).
 
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ShaunS

Semi-Pro
I guess we'll never know if you really won since the camera died :laughing:


Some tactical points:

@1:01 You win the point going cross-court, and it's fine here. I would note to be a little cautious though. When you approach moving right and hit back to the deuce court it leaves you open for a relatively easy down-the-line return winner if they can get their racket on the ball. Most of the time I'd go once more to their backhand then finish across.

@1:37 It's so, so tempting to go across court there, but the better shot is almost always down the line. It's to his backhand, and it should be easier for you. When you go across if he gets any moderately good volley he can put it away for a winner.

@4:15 Similar story, you've hit a good serve out wide, and he returns far across the court. Your shot should go down the line and make him hit a backhand. You will be following it, covering the right side of court aggressively because he'll have little angle to go across court.

@9:22 You win this point, but I'd change what you did. When he moves you across court you hit that chip/slice short to his forehand. It's a defensive shot, so I get that it's not a preference, but put that down the line. I knew as soon as you hit it that he was going to approach off it.

@10:37 I love running around backhands, but this is a risky play. If you're going to be that far off the court, you really want to get that return either down the line, or you need to get it all the way across to his backhand. If he'd stepped in to play that ball he could've finished it across court, or more likely made you hit a difficult running forehand that he could put away with a volley.

@11:20 Every time I hit a ball out up the center of the court, I ask myself why would I have gone there. It's the shortest amount of court, and the easiest for my opponent to return. There's always a better option.


More strategic thoughts:
- You serve to his forehand almost every time. No joke, I only actually remember one backhand return, and he could've easily played it as a forehand. I'd make this a focus, you're usually serving the ball nice and deep in the box. If those shots are going to backhands you'll be feasting on short returns.
- When you have time to setup on forehands, you're often still playing the ball too close to your body. I'd say many, if not most, of those frustrating "easy" shots you miss are somewhat caused by it. It's difficult to recognize in play because the technique doesn't always bite you, but it's certainly complicating things.
>>Upon reflection, I suspect this is also why you're going to forehands in some disadvantageous situations. It's harder to hit that inside-out forehand across court when the ball is close to your body.
- I liked your attempts to make him play "vertically". He did surprisingly well for a tall-looking guy, but I'd argue the mix of shots kept him a little more off balance.
- You missed some forehand putaways because you're not gathering before the shot, basically just swinging while running forward. It'll go in occasionally, but look to get set a little at the point of contact.
- When he hit balls shallow in the court you did very well putting them away when you stepped into the court. I wouldn't go crazy with it, but I think you could even be a little more aggressive. My personal guidance is if I get the opponent to fully turn their body to hit a shot, I'm automatically taking 2-3 steps into the court. With your forehand, you can reliably put shots away in there, and it's a world of difference from the same attempt at the baseline.
- Overall I'd say you did a significantly better job of hitting shots deeper in the court, and going to his backhand during points. You could probably stand to work his backhand as he approaches more. Not sure I even saw enough times where he got backhand volleys to tell.

And, it'd be unrealistic to expect any real change in your service motion over a few days, but I'll mention again that most of the power is from your arm. You are probably getting some power from moving forward, such as @9:28, but what you really want is to be going up through the ball. There's a good writeup on the concept here: https://www.feeltennis.net/swing-up-serve/

Last thought - you're uploading very good quality videos. You may already be doing this, but if you're struggling to see where you went wrong on a shot, slow the video speed down to 1/2 or 3/4ths. I find it incredibly helpful to see what mistakes I'm making when it isn't full speed. I mean, I messed it up once already at full speed, why would this next time be different? ;)
 

Pass750

Semi-Pro
Usually when I see these videos, people look worse than the rating they claim. But your opponent was smacking the sh*t out of the ball, like others said that’s 4.5 tennis.
Also, hard to tell but a whole bunch of serves looked long but were played, anyone else notice this?
 

Jono123

Rookie
I hadn't played a competitive match for 10 years. Joined a 4.0 team for the first time. Here's how it went. I've spared you (most) of the terrible points. long story short, I'm the guy in the green shirt, and it doesn't go all that well for me. I have trouble with my backhand during anything resembling a pressure situation, and for long stretches of the match, I just felt like I couldn't come over the top of the ball and keep it in the court, when I have no trouble doing so when just rallying. Also, Steven (black shirt) can really wallop the forehand when he wants to.

Yes I know I'm doing absolutely nothing with my serve, my shoulder is kinda bad, and my form is too, so yeah weak serve.

Just watch a min or two if you want, you can tell me what I'm doing wrong, I won't be offended. Thought I'd at least be more competitive at a 4.0 level, but maybe not...
Final score was 1-6, 2-6
Age 29
Racket: Adidas Barricade

Nice match, you won many points in the games.


Your opponent had a strong FH and a weak BH slice. You should have targeted it much more. As you're tall, I noticed you had success at the net but rarely came in. So work on your approach and use your height.

Also you prepare quite late, get it back early and give yourself more time. Your lobs were great and your FH is sound but should be coming in a little harder which early prep will help with. Final comment, that opponent had no net game, work on your drop shots to bring him in and get him off the baseline, ( I didn't see you play any).
 
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FiddlerDog

Hall of Fame
- Get your racket back way earlier. You move to the ball then bring it back. You should be arriving to the point of contact with the racket already back, and that might be why the previous item is such a thing. >Yeah I went and watched a couple more points, this is a big deal for you. You don't bring it back until the ball is so, so close, and that has to be effecting your ability.
Can you post a timestamp where he has late racket prep?
 

FiddlerDog

Hall of Fame
Usually when I see these videos, people look worse than the rating they claim. But your opponent was smacking the sh*t out of the ball, like others said that’s 4.5 tennis.
A big portion of 4.0 players are graduated 3.5 players who won by playing bunty bunt pusher tennis.
Any 3.5 who hits as hard as black shirt will never make it to 4.0. They will drop to 3.0 due to a massive error rate.
To me, only a 4.5 hits as hard as black shirt. He can absolutely destroy the ball unlike the typical 3.5 or 4.0 hacker.
 

Creighton

Professional
Usually when I see these videos, people look worse than the rating they claim. But your opponent was smacking the sh*t out of the ball, like others said that’s 4.5 tennis.
Also, hard to tell but a whole bunch of serves looked long but were played, anyone else notice this?
Yeah I've learned to always add .5 a rating to my first thoughts when watching a video. If I think they look like 3.5s, I'm going to go ahead and call them 4.0s.
 

socallefty

Legend
Any 3.5 who hits as hard as black shirt will never make it to 4.0.
All the advanced players from 4.5 to 7.0 must have been 3.5 once on their development path, right? It is players who hit hard and have enough topspin to keep it in who typically make it to advanced levels. The lack of ability to generate appreciable topspin is what holds back lower level players. The problem is that it is very hard to generate topspin if you arm the ball with unorthodox stroke technique like most hard-hitting 3.5s do - you have to learn to hit in somewhat textbook fashion using your body coil in order to hit hard and be consistent.
 

FuzzyYellowBalls

Hall of Fame
All the advanced players from 4.5 to 7.0 must have been 3.5 once on their development path, right?
I'm not picking on you, enjoy your posts (my second reply to you today though), I guess you are correct if you mean someone such as myself was "3.5" at 7 years old, but otherwise there are hundreds of us who started at 4.5 once old enough to play USTA.
 
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