Playing a way better opponent in juniors - how to win?

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
If you are seriously outgunned, you might do best to not focus on winning. Put your efforts into playing your best and in enjoying the learning process. You should be more relaxed if you do this rather than focus on winning this match. You might perform better if you play with a relaxed intensity.

I played an Open (international) tennis player in one tournament. He was probably a 5.5/6.0 ntrp while I was not much better than 4.0 at the time. Knew I was outgunned but did not let that bother me. Fortunately I had a pretty effective Lefty serve so I was able to take a few games off him. I extended a number of rallies but he usually won those. Learned a few things from the experience and came away with it feeling pretty good.

Had another experience in a badminton tournament that used a dual-drop system. 1st round players drop down to a B level, B round losers dropped to a C level. I was a C+/B- player at the time.

The guy I played in the 1st round was a very high A / Open player. He was ranked #3 or #4 in the US at the time. He eventually became US #1 and played in one or two Olympics in the early 90s. I treated this match as a warm-up since it was not single elimination. I was pretty relaxed and was content just to move the shuttle around and work on my shots. He bageled me, 15-0, in the 1st game. Was still relaxed, yet energized, and was not discouraged. I was probably playing at 70% in that first game. After that first game warm up I decided to step it up a bit and play closer to 100% effort -- with a relaxed intensity. I managed to take four points off of him, which I found very satisfying. It was a little bit unusual in that we were both lefty players. I learned something about Lefty tactics from him. Also learned how to execute a fast overhead spin drop (even more effective than the Righty version cuz of the natural spiral spin of the shuttle).

Intense yet relaxed is the key. Enjoy the process rather than dwelling on winning the match as a goal.
 

ZanderGoga

Semi-Pro
Brad Gilbert the hell out of him. Take pace off, see if it works. Moonball, see if it works. Slice more, see if it works. S&V. Chip-n-charge. Bring him in with droppers and try to drill him in the chest, see if he loses his cool. Slow down, see if it helps. Speed up, see if it helps. Pump your fist like a maniac when he makes an error. Rant, rave, throw a tantrum. Ask him too frequently, "Are you sure?" Declare loudly, "I can't believe I'm losing to this PUSHER!" Hit behind him every chance you get and see if he twists an ankle.

Frankly, if those rankings are accurate, you're not going to beat him at actual tennis. Hope to find a hole in his game, to drive him nuts, or that he does something stupid to take himself out of it mentally or physically.

Alternatively, take your thrashing like a man and try to learn something from it.
 

tennis2579

New User
Brad Gilbert the hell out of him. Take pace off, see if it works. Moonball, see if it works. Slice more, see if it works. S&V. Chip-n-charge. Bring him in with droppers and try to drill him in the chest, see if he loses his cool. Slow down, see if it helps. Speed up, see if it helps. Pump your fist like a maniac when he makes an error. Rant, rave, throw a tantrum. Ask him too frequently, "Are you sure?" Declare loudly, "I can't believe I'm losing to this PUSHER!" Hit behind him every chance you get and see if he twists an ankle.

Frankly, if those rankings are accurate, you're not going to beat him at actual tennis. Hope to find a hole in his game, to drive him nuts, or that he does something stupid to take himself out of it mentally or physically.

Alternatively, take your thrashing like a man and try to learn something from it.
I guess this is my only option if I actually want to win
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
Play your best and he'll likely make it fun for you too. If you start junking him, expect no mercy. I've played against higher level players and find most of them are good sprotsman about this difference in level until you start pulling antics. Then they unleash hell and it's over before you know it.

So if you want to get some experience facing stronger pace than you are used to, just try to hang in there with your best shots and play a smart solid game of tennis. The opponent in that case will likely play their 80% game and make it interesting.
 

tennis2579

New User
Play your best and he'll likely make it fun for you too. If you start junking him, expect no mercy. I've played against higher level players and find most of them are good sprotsman about this difference in level until you start pulling antics. Then they unleash hell and it's over before you know it.

So if you want to get some experience facing stronger pace than you are used to, just try to hang in there with your best shots and play a smart solid game of tennis. The opponent in that case will likely play their 80% game and make it interesting.
@Dartagnan64
Does the bolded part below count as antics? The unbolded part?

Brad Gilbert the hell out of him. Take pace off, see if it works. Moonball, see if it works. Slice more, see if it works. S&V. Chip-n-charge. Bring him in with droppers and try to drill him in the chest, see if he loses his cool. Slow down, see if it helps. Speed up, see if it helps. Pump your fist like a maniac when he makes an error. Rant, rave, throw a tantrum. Ask him too frequently, "Are you sure?" Declare loudly, "I can't believe I'm losing to this PUSHER!" Hit behind him every chance you get and see if he twists an ankle.
 
You will get destroyed but that doesn't matter, try to have fun and play a few good points.

I had one of my best matches getting double bagled. I played in a tournament against a former good junior player who was really good. I had no chance at all but I played open rallies with him and hit a few winners, even made it to deuce once or twice and I was really happy after the match and he even told me that I played well.

That was really one of my best days of tennis, I played offensive but didn't overhit and Usually had a good 3-4 stroke rally before he outplayed me or I made an error to lose the point and that was the best I could do.

I could have junked him and maybe won a few points more but I would have lost badly anyway so why not play open rallies and have some fun?

I actually like those matches more than evenly matched because there is no pressure to win
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
@Dartagnan64
Does the bolded part below count as antics? The unbolded part?
The unbolded part and trying to play the drop shot/lob game are antics. Super high moonballs also count as antics. Slices and chip and charge will not be viewed unkindly.

I had one of my best matches getting double bagled. I played in a tournament against a former good junior player who was really good. I had no chance at all but I played open rallies with him and hit a few winners, even made it to deuce once or twice and I was really happy after the match and he even told me that I played well.

That was really one of my best days of tennis, I played offensive but didn't overhit and Usually had a good 3-4 stroke rally before he outplayed me or I made an error to lose the point and that was the best I could do.
This has been my experience too. It's fun tennis this way.
 

RyanRF

Professional
I am a UTR 7 on average and can compete with a friend who is UTR 8 on good days. I am playing a UTR 11 soon (in 1 week) and I really need to do well in the match.
But why? The score won't effect your UTR since the gap is too big.

The fact that your loss is inevitable means you can take the pressure off yourself. Relax. Have fun. Try to learn something.
 

FuzzyYellowBalls

Hall of Fame
Doesn't seem like this is your strength.....but one strategy against pure aero players who are baseliners, not all, but the general type, slice, offspeed, don't get into a baseline war, come to the net, don't give him a ball at the usual height he is used to hitting, and......unfortunately.....it really helps to be left handed to assist in the making them uncomfortable. Serve and volley can also work, but I understand you may not be comfortable with that, it could sneak you 1-3 games though.
 

cha cha

Professional
You have a good starting point being of the defensive persuasion. Most weaker players I meet believe they have a magical attacking potential bubbling under the surface. I too tend to destroy myself when facing stronger players, mostly out of fear of the power on the other side.
Your defence is a good start. Don't believe for a second that, being a natural defender, you're going to trouble someone 4 UTR points stronger by serve and volleying.
 
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tennis2579

New User
You have a good starting point being of the defensive persuasion. Most weaker players I meet believe they have a magical attacking potential bubbling under the surface. I too tend to destroy myself when facing stronger players, mostly out of fear of the power on the other side.
Your defence is a good start. Don't believe for a second that, being a natural defender, you're going to trouble someone 4 UTR points stronger by serve and volleying.
@cha cha
So I should just play my defensive game? Wouldn't my opponent be able to EASILY outhit me? I usually don't hit slices and stuff, just consistency from the baseline and I attack short balls and come to the net to finish those short ball points. But this guy probably won't give me any short balls so I won't win by waiting for a short ball and attacking. What would you suggest?
 
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Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
@cha cha
So I should just play my defensive game? Wouldn't my opponent be able to EASILY outhit me? I usually don't hit slices and stuff, just consistency from the baseline and I attack short balls and come to the net to finish those short ball points. But this guy probably won't give me any short balls so I won't win by waiting for a short ball and attacking. What would you suggest?
Just keep him deep and hope he makes an error. If you only have one game, then use it. Playing a good player is the absolute worst time to try to play someone else's game.

In the meantime, you get to learn how your game stacks up against him and what might work better. Then go work on those things with players weaker than you.
 

Fintft

Legend
Ask him too frequently, "Are you sure?" Declare loudly, "I can't believe I'm losing to this PUSHER!"
Instead praise his technique (say on the FH, serve or both) during a change. It will mess him up, b/c he would start thinking about it.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
I am a UTR 7 on average and can compete with a friend who is UTR 8 on good days. I am playing a UTR 11 soon (in 1 week) and I really need to do well in the match. I need to get the most games possible against him and make the match as close as possible - that's my goal. He is an aggressive baseliner but he can finish points at the net and he uses the Babolat Pure Aero if that helps. Big Serve, lots of topspin, and very solid on every shot - probably an all-court player but likes to be at the baseline. I play a defensive game counterpunching and hitting well above the net with lots of topspin and margin for error. I don't have a big serve and groundstrokes are what I am best at. A really good score for me would be 6-3 6-3 or something similar to that.

Any advice/tips/strategies?
I'll go a different route and ask why you really need to do well? You already know he's way better than you. Logic says he's going to crush you. Why are you trying so hard to avoid that? Do you have something riding on the match outcome?

I'm not saying to give up before the match starts: fight for every point and give it your best. Try different things to see if you can find any weaknesses. But it will hardly be a surprise if the result is lopsided.
 

socallefty

Legend
Take more risks on your service games and be more conservative on return games. Serve bigger and closer to the lines than usual - go for winners or deep shots to the corners quickly if you get any short returns. Don’t let him dictate the point pattern of your service games with his returns.

When he serves, try to hit deep returns and play your usual consistent game with long rallies - hopefully he gets bored and donates a break or two. Experiment with standing close, standing far, leaving a big gap on your FH etc. when you return serve - maybe you will get him to try different serves than what he usually serves and his % might drop.

The problem with playing players who are several UTR levels above you is that they take control of points very quickly with their serves and returns. So, the more you can get into neutral point patterns by serving big or returning deep, the better your chance to win a few games. If you get bageled in the first set, focus extra hard at the start of the second set as he might donate some points and games if his intensity drops.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
Video your match if possible. 60 fps & fast shutter allows some stroke analysis.

How come you're playing this stronger player?
 
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