Played a match against the #10 player in the country

#1
... the country of Paraguay.

In Asuncion for business this week, and today had a chance to play a match against the best opponent I could find down here.

Conditions were unusually cool for here, in the 50s in the evening. Love the South American red clay, even though it is nothing like the hardcourts I am used to playing on. The club I played at used these weird pressureless foam-filled practice balls. They didn't bounce very high or retain spin well as they pass through the air, which made the clay-court play less like I expect a clay court to play like.

I didn't fare too well in the match. But after I got bageled the first set, I realized my weak forehand was losing me points, so I started sliding over to my right to favor my stronger backhand and hit fewer forehands. I started to make a comeback. I had just won 2 out of 3 games to get to 0-6, 2-5, when my paid hour ended and my 21-year-old opponent was saved by the bell from the humiliation of me coming back all the way on him.
 
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#4
Impressive! A different court surface. A different type of ball. And an excellent, young opponent. Good comeback from a bagel set.
I blew a few game points in the early going when I caught my opponent by surprise by keeping a lot of balls in play, but then my opponent adjusted to my style and got in a groove, and it took me until I was down 0-3 in the second before I finally got to another game point at 40-30. This time, instead of calling the score, I called out "game point!" I wanted to make sure he knew I was coming. I went for my first flat serve of the match, and nailed it on the sideline - service winner. Game! I raised my hands and yelled "soy campeon!" Sometimes you have to savor the little victories in life.

Hoping to play him again tomorrow and make the score closer.
 
#8
What do you feel was the biggest difference between you and him?
His forehand is heavy and he tends to get lucky often by hitting 8 inches from both the baseline and sideline. My forehand tends to sit up and occasionally land out. Other than that we are dead even.

I am posting from taxi on my way to play him again today. I expect revenge. Will report back.
 
#9
Today I played much better. I was more used to the court and the conditions.

Once again, I blew game points early. I even choked an easy overhead that would have given me a break.

But at 0-3, a turning point in psychological momentum. He ripped a heavy inside out forehand approach deep to my backhand corner. My backhand pass attempt down the line was not good enough, and he easily covered it for the crosscourt short angle put away. Except that I did not concede the point. I raced across and ripped a down the line pass for a clean winner. My opponent realized at that moment that he wasn’t the only one on the court with a good set of wheels. Unfortunately, I still got broken, then blew more break point chances to go down 0-5.

But then something interesting happened. I started to feel natural on the dirt. My forehand slice became more solid and secure, so I could reset the point when he attacked. My backhand drives started to penetrate more - I was winning the court position battle on more rallies, and sneaking to the net when I sensed he would reply to my deep balls with a slice.
I held to get to 1-5. But blew 5 more break points in the next game to drop the set 1-6. But now I was a totally new player, and both of us knew it.

I held for my first lead. 1-0. I told him that now he would finally feel some score pressure. He held the next game. Then I held again, but easily, to go up 2-1. And then he called time - my hour was up. I asked him if he had another class to teach? No. Date with his novia? No. So with no good excuse to leave, I’m going to have to record it as a win by retirement.

Hopefully I’ll have time after my meetings for a rubber match tomorrow night. I’m thinking my tennis game was born in the wrong continent. This red stuff suits my crafty placement and footspeed reliant game nicely.
 
#10
Have you considered he is just the much better player and is being nice to you? Only winning the points needed. He doesn't want to continue after the hour because it is not fun for him to try to manage the score and you thinking you have a chance. He is paid to play with you. So he has to be nice and not really play.
 
#11
Have you considered he is just the much better player and is being nice to you? Only winning the points needed. He doesn't want to continue after the hour because it is not fun for him to try to manage the score and you thinking you have a chance. He is paid to play with you. So he has to be nice and not really play.
You have not met him. It is not his nature to give away any points. This guy really, really does not like to lose even a single point. He calls lines tight and sprints all out for every ball with no fear of pulling a hammy or an Achilles because he is only 21 years old.

I watched him playing points against a 4.0 member during the hour before. In the 10 minutes I watched, he did not lose a single point. As the best playing pro in the club, members are paying him to crush them with no mercy.

Anyway, I think yesterday he never felt threatened by me, even though I won a couple of games. But today I was playing at higher level and improving each game, and think I earned his respect by consistently finding patterns that could tilt the point in my favor against him over the last 5 games.

The best part is that paying for an hour of competition against a solid 5.5 player on exotic clay is cheaper than paying for my share of an indoor court reservation in Seattle.
 
#12
You have not met him. It is not his nature to give away any points. This guy really, really does not like to lose even a single point. He calls lines tight and sprints all out for every ball with no fear of pulling a hammy or an Achilles because he is only 21 years old.

I watched him playing points against a 4.0 member during the hour before. In the 10 minutes I watched, he did not lose a single point. As the best playing pro in the club, members are paying him to crush them with no mercy.

Anyway, I think yesterday he never felt threatened by me, even though I won a couple of games. But today I was playing at higher level and improving each game, and think I earned his respect by consistently finding patterns that could tilt the point in my favor against him over the last 5 games.

The best part is that paying for an hour of competition against a solid 5.5 player on exotic clay is cheaper than paying for my share of an indoor court reservation in Seattle.
Ok. It just seems #10 in a entire country would be basically a pro. Certainly way better than any 5.0 player from USA.
 
#13
#14
According to the ATP website, there are no male players from Paraguay currently in the top 1000 and there is only ONE male player from Paraguay with any ATP pts and he is ranked 1707. Has only won ONE main draw match in his career so far.

https://www.itftennis.com/procircuit/players/player/profile.aspx?PlayerID=100253302
According to the latest official rankings currently posted on the APT website (Asociacion Paraguaya de Tenis), my friend is ranked #11 as of June 25, 2018. A club member told me he just won the latest tournament there because the top 9 guys were traveling in other countries, so he may have moved up a slot since then.
 
#17
According to the latest official rankings currently posted on the APT website (Asociacion Paraguaya de Tenis), my friend is ranked #11 as of June 25, 2018. A club member told me he just won the latest tournament there because the top 9 guys were traveling in other countries, so he may have moved up a slot since then.
What patterns of play, strategies, etc have you tried that seem to work the best?

The court surface seems a bit unusual and would be hard for me to adapt to.
 
#18
What patterns of play, strategies, etc have you tried that seem to work the best?

The court surface seems a bit unusual and would be hard for me to adapt to.
I think the two most important things that helped when I was finding success were:
1. Mental discipline. Knowing my limitations and shot tolerance at all times and refusing try lower percentage shots too early in the point. Staying with the slice forehand because it gave me the best chance to avoid a error, and staying with the cross court backhand rather than taking it up the line too early. Patience.
2. Intense focus on keeping every ball within the safe zone. Against this player, the safe zone was the narrow 6-ft wide L-shape band along the backhand sideline and the baseline. Anything landing anywhere else allowed him to take control of the point.

Alas, I hit with him a third day in a row on Thursday, and my level regressed. I was slipping and sliding on the court this time.
I played on a nicer court on day 2 that was less slippery and more even with truer bounces that made it easier for my hardcourt style footwork and on-the-rise play. And when my ability to execute dropped, my mental discipline also suffered. I lost 6-0,6,1.
 

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Hall of Fame
#20
... the country of Paraguay.

In Asuncion for business this week, and today had a chance to play a match against the best opponent I could find down here.

Conditions were unusually cool for here, in the 50s in the evening. Love the South American red clay, even though it is nothing like the hardcourts I am used to playing on. The club I played at used these weird pressureless foam-filled practice balls. They didn't bounce very high or retain spin well as they pass through the air, which made the clay-court play less like I expect a clay court to play like.

I didn't fare too well in the match. But after I got bageled the first set, I realized my weak forehand was losing me points, so I started sliding over to my right to favor my stronger backhand and hit fewer forehands. I started to make a comeback. I had just won 2 out of 3 games to get to 0-6, 2-5, when my paid hour ended and my 21-year-old opponent was saved by the bell from the humiliation of me coming back all the way on him.
You really blew it. This was your chance to bump him down to 11 and claim your rightful place as the 10th Best Player in Paraguay.
 
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