Started from the bottom now we're here.

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
To all adults who started playing later in life and begun playing USTA as a 3.0 and worked your way up I'd like you to share your experience.

Please include the following information.

1. Men's or women's league.
2. What year did you start playing and how old were you.
3. What is your rating now, and when did you get each bump.
4. Did you have any previous athletic background or play other sports.
5. What did you do to get better.

J
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Started at age 24, never touched a racket before.
Never league, weren't any in 1974, I don't think.
Now, lowest 4.0. But have played Open level tourney's, even going 3 rounds a few times.....in 1978-9. Probably B, or 4.5 then. Made finals of 64 draw C, then won 132+ draw C tourney.
Varsity football and basketball in high school, varsity track and basketball in junior high, TWO major tib/fib breaks with multiple pins, plate, wire, and screws before '71.
I claim the injuries held me back from ever getting beyond 4.5, and in '79, another collarbone break, my second, ended my tennis totally.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
Still pretty close to the bottom, and in the long, slow decline of age.

Having fun, staying fit, and trying to help others have fun.

Isn't that the point?

My dad used to say that "possessions are often viewed as a way to keep score in a game you shouldn't be playing."

I look at amateur sporting victories in a similar way. It's nice to win, but the bigger contest is with myself:

How well am I playing compared with past performances?
Am I a blessing to those around me?
Am I as fit as I should be for my age?
Am I content and having fun even when I lose?
 

penpal

Semi-Pro
To all adults who started playing later in life and begun playing USTA as a 3.0 and worked your way up I'd like you to share your experience.

Please include the following information.

1. Men's or women's league.
2. What year did you start playing and how old were you.
3. What is your rating now, and when did you get each bump.
4. Did you have any previous athletic background or play other sports.
5. What did you do to get better.

J
1. I started off playing MxD with my wife. We picked up tennis precisely because it was a sport we could play together. We still play MxD, but I've also played in several men's leagues over the years.
2. Started playing in 1998-99 at the ripe age of 31 or 32.
3. I'm rated 4.0 now. My wife and I were both rated 3.0 by the club pro when we joined the club (back before you were allowed to self rate) and we were immediately invited to join a MxD USTA team. We were both thankful to be invited. We had no idea back then that the captain saw us as ringers due to our age/athleticism. Our team made it to MxD Nationals (Regionals?) and we both thought, 'This is fun and all, but we don't want to be paying $$ to fly to Tucson just to play a couple of matches of tennis' :). I played on a Men's team that summer as well and was bumped to 3.5 the next season. And 3.5 is where I stayed for I don't know how many years (probably 6-7). Got bumped to 4.0 finally, then after a couple of years - and one really good tournament season - I got bumped to 4.5. That only lasted one year though, then the USTA rightfully bumped me back down to 4.0.
4. I've always been relatively athletic, but nothing special. Played soccer in high school.
5. For most of my life I have much preferred playing to practicing, and so I primarily improved through playing matches. I've tended to focus more on strategies, percentages, opponent strengths and weaknesses, and playing patterns to improve my winning percentage - as opposed to form. In my last season at 3.5 I came to the conclusion that playing in the heat at Districts was what was preventing me from advancing to 4.0 (I tended to win almost all of my matches during the season, then would win about 50% at Districts), and so I focused heavily on getting into tip-top shape. That seemed to make a difference in my performance, as I was bumped the next season. Now that I'm getting older, I'm beginning to enjoy practice more and paying more attention to improving my form. We'll see how that goes :)
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
1. Mens
2. 2012 (40 years old) - Had played for fun back in college and a couple times a year after college. Hadn't picked up a racquet in the 15 years since.
3. 3.5 (2012 2.5S, 2013 3.0C, 2015 3.5C) Might be a 3.0 again next year as I'm just coming off of a ruptured Achilles.
4. JV HS soccer
5. Play a lot. 2-3 times/week in spring/summer/fall. Once every 10 or so days in the winter.
 

LeftyJunk

Rookie
Now men's 18+, mixed, and combo but started hitting with the girlfriend now wife at age 28.
She got me into 6.0 mixed in 09 & 10
I played 3.0 in 2011 & 2012 then bumped
I played 3.5 in 2013, 2014, 2015 then bumped
I have played 4.0 the past two years in 2016 & 2017.
In between bumps I definitely played up a level for experience.
High School football and Rugby in college.
What did I do to get better? Well I'm a lefty! Hahaha
 
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MRfStop

Professional
1. Men's 18 & over 3.5 and 4.0, 7.0 and 8.0 mixed doubles and 7.5 combo
2. I started playing in 2009 at age 23. I started out as a 2.5 but played 3.0 league since there no 2.5 leagues around.
3. I am currently rated 3.5 but I play more 4.0 level tennis than 3.5. I got bumped up in the middle of 2015 during the ESL ratings.
4. Yes, I played baseball all of life from T-Ball up to the NAIA College level. I was a pitcher in middle school and high school and I pitched for a small four year college. I also played football in the 8th and 9th grade but never had played before the 8th grade and didn't play after the 9th. I stopped playing baseball at the age 22 and went back home to finish my degree at a local college. I picked up tennis because my dad and sisters were playing and it struck my interest.
5. I didn't get better at tennis until probably 3-4 years into playing. I didn't know of any drills and didn't know how to get better. Like I said I started out as 2.5 and played 3.0 for a couple of years. I was on a state team that got waxed and did not win a match at state. I eventually got bumped to 3.0 and I started playing 3.5 league and was getting killed. I met a guy on the 3.5 team I was on that told me about drills and introduced me to a local pro that offered lessons. I invested time and money into some lessons and vastly improved instantly and have steadily improved since then. After those lessons I dominated at 3.5 and was able to compete at 4.0 even though I was rated a 3.0. I finally got bumped to 3.5 because I was benchmarked as a 3.0 for several years. The losses at state caused me to be stuck at 3.0 for a while.
 

Nick B.

New User
1. Men's league - USTA, over 40's, mostly doubles, but some singles
2. I hacked around as a kid - sadly, my grandfather was a tennis pro, but I never got the chance to take lessons from him because he died when I was young - but never really played in any serious way until I was about 35, in 2010. Before then, I'd probably logged about 15 hours total on a tennis court.
3. 4.0. in 2015, I joined a club and started playing a lot. I self-rated as a 3.5, and played on the 3.5 and 4.0 team here and there - got bumped to 4.0 at the end of that year, mostly because of playing up with the 4.0 team I think. Played 4.0 last year also, and am playing it again this year. I am definitely getting better, but won't be surprised if I remain in 4.0 land for a while (perhaps forever ;). I mostly like having fun, and playing good points. Winning is nice too, but I'm not obsessed with my ranking. I'm good enough to not embarrass myself with better players which is allowing me to play up a bit, and I enjoy that.
4. I was a hockey goalie through my freshmen year in college (d1), and then quit as I had kind of burned out. I transferred schools and then played d3 college soccer, as a walk on for 2 years. I'm fairly athletic and pretty quick around the court, though have pretty lazy foot work sometimes (most times?).
5. The best way to get better, in my opinion, is to play a lot. Seems obvious, but that's the truth, for me. I've spent a lot of time hitting against the wall, and I still do it once a week, at least. I also hit with the ball machine quite a bit, and that helps refine strokes, etc., but the best thing has been finding a good hitting partner. I've been lucky to be able to play and drill with players at my level and above my level on a regular basis. Also, playing doubles has been good for my serve, return and net game. I try to play doubles once per week. Right now I play in a group where almost everyone is better than me, which I love - I learn a lot that way. I've also improved my serve a lot by practicing. And, I watch a lot of videos on youtube. I've taken a few lessons, but haven't found them to be overly helpful - I think they would be if I took them more regularly, but I feel like you can go a long way by carefully analyzing your own game and paying attention to what works and what doesn't. I'm not really looking to learn the "modern game" per se - I am more interested in learning to play the right shot at the right time. I have some good pros at my club now though, and would take more lessons if I could afford it. One of these months, I think I'll splurge and book a month of lessons and see what happens to my game. I'm sure it would help a ton.
 

anubis

Hall of Fame
To all adults who started playing later in life and begun playing USTA as a 3.0 and worked your way up I'd like you to share your experience.

Please include the following information.

1. Men's or women's league.
2. What year did you start playing and how old were you.
3. What is your rating now, and when did you get each bump.
4. Did you have any previous athletic background or play other sports.
5. What did you do to get better.

J
1. Mens
2. 2012, 35
3. Currently 4.0. 2012-2014: 3.0 2014-2015: 3.5, 2015-present: 4.0
4. No prior experience in sports or athletics
5. Lots of hard work, lots of lessons
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
1. Men's
2. 2012 - 40
3. 2.5 S 3.0 -12/31/2012 3.5 - 12/31/2014
4. Rec sports as a kid. HS JV Soccer
5. Play as much as possible, clinic often, a smattering of private lessons (1-2/yr)
 

MisterP

Hall of Fame
1. Men's
2. 2012 - 35
3. 2.5S May 2012 > 3.0C Dec 2013 > 3.5C Dec 2015 > 4.0C Dec 2016 > Currently 3.7ish according to @schmke
4. MS, HS - varsity soccer, baseball. College, Air Force - club soccer.
5. Started with weekly clinics. Did a series of private lessons in 2013 (maybe 4 or 5) and played 4-5 times per week. Now I do a private lesson maybe twice a year and still try to play at least 3-4 days a week (singles primarily, but dubs as well).
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
To all adults who started playing later in life and begun playing USTA as a 3.0 and worked your way up I'd like you to share your experience.

Please include the following information.

1. Men's or women's league.
2. What year did you start playing and how old were you.
3. What is your rating now, and when did you get each bump.
4. Did you have any previous athletic background or play other sports.
5. What did you do to get better.

J
1. Women's.
2. Started USTA league in 2005; so started at age 43.
3. 2.5 = 1 year; 3.0 = 2 years; 3.5 = 5 years; 4.0 = 5 years; 3.5 = 2 years
4. No previous sports background, but had been exercising and was fit when I started.
5. Started with a pathetic, one-hour county clinic, with 8 students on one court. Loved it, so started doing a 2-hour clinic with four students on each court. Could see I wasn't going to develop any technique that way, so found a pro and took private lessons and private clinics ever since. Nowadays, I don't take much instruction due to time and budget constraints. Had I known how much more quickly I could have progressed by getting a practice partner, I would have tried to practice way more.
 
1. Men's league.
2. Started playing in 2014 as 3.0 in 3.5 league with my neighbors, at age 44. Had played some recreationally as a kid with my dad and a little in college for fun. Had not picked up a racket for 20+ years.
3. Now a 4.5. Got bumped to 3.5 before the last match of men's spring league in 2014. Got bumped to 4.0 at end of 2014. Bumped to 4.5 in 2018.
4. Played college basketball, and continued to actively play until around age 35.
5. In addition to league play, started with clinics and some private lessons, but would hit/practice on occasion. Most of the time, the hitting sessions would turn into play, whether singles or doubles- Didn't really work on the game. Usually played recreationally or hit 2-3x week if league was not running. Starting in Spring 2017, a couple of us wanted to improve our games and actively began practice sessions. Hitting sessions every Friday night and a couple times per week when not in league. We work on drills and some point play, but the goal is to hit a lot of balls and work through specific drills. Sometimes we will invite a pro out to help on a particular aspect or in general, provide feedback. Not sure how many balls we have hit in that time, but I can tell you it is a ton and it has helped us improve more than any amount of league or rec play could ever provide.
 

SouthernCourts

Semi-Pro
Started at age 33, playing 3.0 men's. Almost immediately became obsessed along with two friends, and we were very good at that level before long. Went to states, etc. Got bumped up in 2017, and have spent the last three seasons going from average 3.5 to very good 3.5, to the point that we no longer lose many matches (none so far this season) at that level, and are competitive in our 4.0 leagues. Will almost certainly be bumped next year, and if not, assuming good health, I will probably only play 4.0. We're going for broke trying to win a state title at 3.5 this year, but by next year it won't be the same.

That said, I just sprained my knee this past weekend for the first time (I think that's what it is, hopefully not too severe), I'm too heavy, and at 36 time is about to start to press down on me. I can see myself becoming a very good 4.0 doubles player (I have good hands at the net and have developed a strong serve), and I've never been better at singles, but the knee sprain has rattled me, and I'm worried I'll lose confidence in starting and stopping hard. Went through this in basketball with my ankles, where a few sprains eventually cured me of wanting to play, so we'll see. I can't imagine ever making 4.5. My ceiling approaches.
 

Doan

New User
1. Men's and Mixed
2. First picked up a racket in 2015 with a group lesson of ~ 8 people. 41 years young.
3. Start of year Jan. 2016 - 3.0S, 2017 - 3.0C, 2018 - 3.0C, 2019 - 3.5C
4. No athletic background.
5. Took weekly group lessons for about 6 months, but then stopped. Mainly practice, drills and USTA matches. Improved by losing to better players and analyzing why I lost. So I'm going to do what a lot of people hate and play up in a 4.0 league in 2019. The sandbaggers will love playing me - lol
 

Ft.S

Semi-Pro
1. Men's and MxD
2. Played from 9 yo. to 16, restarted at 49
3. 2015: 3.0S --> 2016: 3.5C --> 2019: 4.0C
4. Played basketball, soccer, swimming and cycling
5. I met great group of friends within the USTA leagues that give me honest feedback and get me into high-quality teams. I keep playing league matches, and try to do a clinic or two a month on average; thankfully we play all year with minimal downtime. I don't worry at all about technique, but all about match strategy. I practice my shots mostly during matches as I have not been focused on winning. This year first time I am focused on winning, we'll see how it goes :)
 

R1FF

Semi-Pro
To all adults who started playing later in life and begun playing USTA as a 3.0 and worked your way up I'd like you to share your experience.

Please include the following information.

1. Men's or women's league.
2. What year did you start playing and how old were you.
3. What is your rating now, and when did you get each bump.
4. Did you have any previous athletic background or play other sports.
5. What did you do to get better.

J
1. No league
2. 2017 @ 36
3. USTA 3.5 (bumped at end of 2017)
4. Professional athlete (as well as serious competition or participation in most sports: football, basketball, baseball, soccer, motocross, karting, snowboarding, surfing)
5. Drills, I love drills. Nothing fancy, just repetition hitting until eye hand coordination is dialed. 2+ hrs per day plus multiple matches per week. I’ll hire a coach fir a lesson at points where I get stumped on something but for the most part I work thru most issues
 

IA-SteveB

Hall of Fame
To all adults who started playing later in life and begun playing USTA as a 3.0 and worked your way up I'd like you to share your experience.

Please include the following information.

1. Men's or women's league.
2. What year did you start playing and how old were you.
3. What is your rating now, and when did you get each bump.
4. Did you have any previous athletic background or play other sports.
5. What did you do to get better.

J
I hit casually as a kid in a racquetball court because I couldn't find anyone to play. I met my good friend in freshman year of high school and he was the #1 player on the tennis team. We hit from time to time and I finally went out for tennis senior year and was just a JV player who never won a match. I took a 21 year hiatus and was looking for a new sport to get into now that my baseball/softball and volleyball teams had dried up due to players aging. My friend from high school moved back to the area in 2012 and convinced me to join the tennis club (he was a member when he lived here before) and play in a league. He had also joined again but he was in a different league on a different night since he was a high 4.5 player. I play on Sunday nights in a club league and occasionally I will throw in a weeknight of singles or doubles (if I have to).

That said:
1. Men's club league. I have played in a few USTA tournaments.
2. My restart was in 2012 at 39. Hadn't picked up a racquet since high school.
3. I haven't played USTA in three years now but I would rate my performance at 4.0 based on my casual match history against rated players. Doesn't mean much, I know. Only playing one tournament a year doesn't do much to get bumped up or knocked down. USTA rated me at 3.5 (I wanted 3.0 and had appealed) telling me that being a collegiate swimmer indicates athletic ability. :)
4. My sports background was baseball and swimming. I swam in high school and college. After college, I mainly played baseball, transitioned to softball and then added hockey and volleyball along with body building. Nowadays it is just tennis and weights.
5. In retrospect I would have done well to have taken lessons in 2012 and not just think I'd take to it immediately like I had with other sports. At this point in the game I have bad habits that I know are there but would be difficult to break. I could move quite well but my weak points were my OHBH and second serve and I recognized early on that these had to get better. I worked a lot on a good second serve and concentrated on learning proper setup and form for the OHBH so I could make it into an actual usable stroke rather than just a way to get the ball over the net. Those two things lessened my set of weaknesses and allowed me to ascend the ranks within the club set of players. I'm happy with where I am at. I am usually on the top court in a league that ranges from 3.0 to high 4.0.
 
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FedLIKEnot

Professional
1. Men's or women's league.
Men’s, though I have always played mixed and combo and am now mixing in singles tourneys.
2. What year did you start playing and how old were you.
Started in 2014, got into a combo league after only a few months of actual playing. I was 24. After injuries from playing basketball the club I was a personal trainer at had a good welcome to tennis sort of group lesson program. Mostly me with the trophy wives or those picking it up for fitness benefits. Which was perfect cause I was terrible early on. But the stroke mechanics came quick I struggled for years with shot selection and point play tactics however.
3. What is your rating now, and when did you get each bump.
I am 3.5 now in my second year. I was a 3.0 for about three years. My first year I thought I was better than I actually was. Second year had a great record but my captain played us a lot at line 2 and 3 and while that in and of itself doesn’t mean much we would end up playing the worse players so no big ratings gained. The third year of 3.0 went to nationals and was an amazing expierence. Played really good as I had suspected I was above my given computer rankings. But playing the Sacramento area seemed every 3.0 wasn’t a true 3.0 so really was an iron sharpens iron. Followed that year up with a two year record of 66 matches played and only 13 loses. A huge flip from my first full year when I only won 3 matches in 16. Last year cause of burn out and a newborn only did 3.5 spring league playing singles and doubles and did ok. This year playing on 2 3.5 teams maybe one mixed team and by combo I should be off to Air Force boot camp. That is if I lose this last little bit of weight and can shore up some lose ends.
4. Did you have any previous athletic background or play other sports.
Yes- played high school basketball, baseball, and soccer all at the Varsity level with 3 varsity letters in basketball and soccer and 2 in baseball. Played 2 years of NAIA basketball before having a bad ankle and back injury in back to back years. Scholarship wasn’t renewed and I left never playing another college game. Had played in what equates to 4.0 or 4.5 adult basketball leagues until I was 23 before I re injured my ankle and have only played pickup maybe twice since than. I do miss what was a huge part of life but tennis has filled that competitive void. And the feeling hitting a clean struck ground stroke is akin to swishing a jumper.
5. What did you do to get better.
The first few years took some intro clinics and played practice sets. As others have said I quickly realized that wasn’t getting me better so I took three 90 mins private’s working on forehand backhand and serve strokes. Reinforced that with on average 3 “open” clinics (talent level was anywhere from 3.5-4.5s just wanting to get a sweat in) a month. Where the instruction filled in the gaps on shot selection and court positioning as they had themes to them. So very helpful. In the last 2 years I have taken two private’s one right before departing for 3.0 nationals when my forehand had disappeared. And another last week as I progress through a new service motion. In the meantime I have weekly hits with another 3.5 singles player though he will be a 4.0 soon. He like me loves to just hit and work on stuff. We hit just last night and what is our average practice warmed up all our groundstroke and worked to find our tempo and footwork sometimes can take a while but banged that out in 10-15 min. Than 15-20 mins of aggressive rallying as he calls it where we are looking to hit match like quality balls baseline to baseline but to each other up the middle. Than backhand and forehand sides. Than did about 30-40 mins of drop feed point play. Played a tiebreak and were done. Usually wrapping up in under 90 mins in a super focused session which is what I need with a 7 and 2 year old I can’t be gone for 3 hour blocks to just practice. When matches take that themselves.
 

WhiteOut

Semi-Pro
1. Men's or women's league.
--Men's and Mixed

2. What year did you start playing and how old were you.
--2007 @ 37 yrs old

3. What is your rating now, and when did you get each bump.
--3.5 now, bumped up from 3.0 beginning 2008. I've been knocking on the door of 4.0 for about 3-4 years now..., but not yet cracked the ozone there...

4. Did you have any previous athletic background or play other sports.
--played pretty much every sport there was growing up except for horseback riding and hockey, but the main two were soccer and football. played soccer thru high school, and coached / reffed youth soccer up to age 35. played football into high school. also played a ton of racquetball as a young kid for 2-3 summers-- uncle owned a club.

5. What did you do to get better.
got onto multiple teams instead of only one, so that i could play at least 2-3 matches per week. also hit reps with wife (4.5) or other higher-skilled friends about 1x per week. I also stated capping a 4.0 team so I get a 4.0 match about every-other-week. I can't really commit to clinics due to work-travel, but this year i have been doing more individual sessions with a really good teaching pro here, and I can actually cross-court pass with a OHBH now...so as i eliminate UE's and get my mental issues under control, i should be able to make the jump to 4.0.
 

ptuanminh

Hall of Fame
1. Men
2. started playing when i was 26
3. Currently 4.0. Got bumped from 3.5 in 2018.
4. Never played sports growing up.
5. Drills and practice a lot. Watch a lot of youtube videos and matches. Ask better players a lot of questions.
 

Acegame

New User
1. Men
2. Started playing when i was 6/7. Didn´t play for 10 years after i went to college. 5 years ago i started playing again.
3. Now 4.5. Never played ranked matches until 5 years ago. That year i went from 1.0 to 3.5. The next 4 years i plateaued at 4.0. This year i reached 4.5.
4. Played soccer, hockey, golf.
5. Not much. When i was young i went to tennis training once a week during summertime and played with friends every now and then. Now i play in a league and mostly during the summer i practice with my teammates once a week. Just for fun. Due to my lack of practice my strokes are not very consistent (gets better towards the end of the season though). I think my rating is increasing mainly because i learned to play smarter and how to deal with matchplay mentally.
 
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