Two losers in a tennis match beaten by time in league play.

#1
So I played this match today in my group league at my club. Last game of the season. At stake for both players, promotion to group 6 (out of 9). The rules are simple. Six players in each group, two are promoted and two are relegated. Won set equals 3 points, having the lead in unfinished set by a margin of at least two games equals 2 points and tied set or a margin of one game only equals 1 point and if the first set is not finished both players recieve 1 point for the second set. If two players end up on the same total score in the group game difference is decisive. One hour of play including 10 minutes warm-up, no ad scoring.

The scenario coming in to this match was exciting. The player in the 2nd promotion spot had 14 points and had finished all his matches. Me in 3rd place had 12 points and my opponent 11 points. So the winner of the first set is promoted, pretty simple. Match starts and the information I have on my opponent is that he plays soft and high balls and occasionally likes to follow up on the net. My gameplan is this. I will be patient and just junk ball him back even softer and higher and hopefully he will get impatient and come to the net. Perfect I have good lobs and passing shots.

As the match progressed I noticed that I did get some oppurtunites myself to close in on the net and put away some volleys so I used that too but mainly I had patience and just put safe balls back in play. The strategy worked out just fine. He did come to the net a few times, I ended up winning most of those so the score was 4-0- I thought to myself, yeah this is going well I got this guy. Then I relaxed a bit and lost two games in a row but won the next so score is now 5-2, about 10 minutes left on the clock and I am on serve. Got the lead 40-0 so with no ad virtually four set points. I was so close to that sweet promotion so for the first time in the match I got just that little bit nervous. I hit the ball a little bit softer, with more margin, tentative at coming in to the net. But I mean four set points, no way I will screw this up. Yep, my opponent was content to just keep the ball in play so the points dragged on for very long, somehow I had lost all four set points and now time was almost up. I had to get this done somehow.

On to the next game. Two net attacks from my opponent, two lob winners from me and 0-30. One more point for me so 0-40 and I had another four set points. Same story as last game, he stopped taking any risks at all, me too just trying to move him left and right and maybe get some oppurtunity to close it out. The points are long, two very patient players and at 30-40 I got the oppurtunity with a smash. Hit a decent smash but he got it back but I had a good oppurtunity to put the next smash away from a position to the right just behind the service line. It was a good lob but I made good contact with the ball aiming for his forehand corner. This was it surely. No it was out wide by a feet or so. I had a hard time believing what was unfolding here. Well 40-40 one last oppurtunity.

The time is up so this point is all or nothing. The point dragged on and on and on. I tried to move him a bit but no success, just high floating balls back at me mid court. And then after what felt like 100 times over the net I put too much on a forehand, an inch too long and it was over. In the lead 5-4, still up a break but time was up. My game plan worked great until the very end but unfortunately because of my gameplan the points had dragged on for too long so I did not get any more oppurtunites to close out the set. The irony though is that if the previous games had been even longer and the score ended 5-3 I would have been awarded with 2 points for the set, just enough to clinch that 2nd spot for promotion. Now with the score 5-4 I ended up on 14 points in the group but already knew I would lose out on game differential.

Two losers left the court. Mixed emotions, a feeling of anticlimax but I could not be too dissapointed, my game plan worked, I had the lead and was so close but time and nervousness got me this time around. Lesson learned is to go for more with that many set points no matter what but it is easier said than done. That was the beauty and cruel nature of league play.
 
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#3
Yeah I know, last point is always the hardest. I got the advice in the locker room afterwards to just go for broke, especially with that many set points in a row. It's a good chance that at least one of them will be a winner or force an error. I should definitely had gone for more on my 1st serves at set point. Live and learn!

I also like to focus on what I did well and got me in that 5-2, 40-0 position. I used the information I had on my opponent, decided on a game plan and executed it well. A year ago against a similar opponent I would probably have lost. I used to go for too much and lose patience in matches but not anymore so I learned a lot from this first year of league play.
 
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#4
Yeah, that is always a dilemma when you are playing a timed match and the clock is running out.

When I am behind in that situation, I know that having long points means I will likely lose. So I come to net and shorten the points. Then I'm not trying crazy shots I don't own to make something happen -- I'm instead just applying pressure with the volley, a shot I (should) own.

It works well enough. I mean, you've got an opponent who has every motivation to play conservatively and who may even be tight. As you said, he was looping the ball to the center to have long points. What better time is there to pressure the opponent with aggressive court position?
 
#5
Good advice! Remember my opponent also would have got promoted if he won that set so at 0-4 considering we had played some long points he should have gone for more to have a shot at promotion but he just kept on with the same style. Coming to think about it I think he said after the game he did try it but soon realized I had no problems when he upped the pace. Then he reverted to his original game plan. He probably realised I like pace and would have beaten him on that game. My strength is that I can also junk ball with the junk ballers if I put my mind to it and this match I was prepared to do that. The one mistake I made in the last two games is that I stopped following up good shots to the net. That worked good previously in the set with some easy put away volleys.
 
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#7
Yeah it's kinda dull but it is what we got here if you want regular match play. I am not a fan of the no ad scoring either but I understand it is to speed up the matches. Usually there is time for a set and a half in this format with the occasional match going the distance but also like in this case not even a full set. The reason I joined was that I want more match experience for real tournaments.
 
#9
So I played this match today in my group league at my club. Last game of the season. At stake for both players, promotion to group 6 (out of 9). The rules are simple. Six players in each group, two are promoted and two are relegated. Won set equals 3 points, having the lead in unfinished set by a margin of at least two games equals 2 points and tied set or a margin of one game only equals 1 point and if the first set is not finished both players recieve 1 point for the second set. If two players end up on the same total score in the group game difference is decisive. One hour of play including 10 minutes warm-up, no ad scoring.

The scenario coming in to this match was exciting. The player in the 2nd promotion spot had 14 points and had finished all his matches. Me in 3rd place had 12 points and my opponent 11 points. So the winner of the first set is promoted, pretty simple. Match starts and the information I have on my opponent is that he plays soft and high balls and occasionally likes to follow up on the net. My gameplan is this. I will be patient and just junk ball him back even softer and higher and hopefully he will get impatient and come to the net. Perfect I have good lobs and passing shots.

As the match progressed I noticed that I did get some oppurtunites myself to close in on the net and put away some volleys so I used that too but mainly I had patience and just put safe balls back in play. The strategy worked out just fine. He did come to the net a few times, I ended up winning most of those so the score was 4-0- I thought to myself, yeah this is going well I got this guy. Then I relaxed a bit and lost two games in a row but won the next so score is now 5-2, about 10 minutes left on the clock and I am on serve. Got the lead 40-0 so with no ad virtually four set points. I was so close to that sweet promotion so for the first time in the match I got just that little bit nervous. I hit the ball a little bit softer, with more margin, tentative at coming in to the net. But I mean four set points, no way I will screw this up. Yep, my opponent was content to just keep the ball in play so the points dragged on for very long, somehow I had lost all four set points and now time was almost up. I had to get this done somehow.

On to the next game. Two net attacks from my opponent, two lob winners from me and 0-30. One more point for me so 0-40 and I had another four set points. Same story as last game, he stopped taking any risks at all, me too just trying to move him left and right and maybe get some oppurtunity to close it out. The points are long, two very patient players and at 30-40 I got the oppurtunity with a smash. Hit a decent smash but he got it back but I had a good oppurtunity to put the next smash away from a position to the right just behind the service line. It was a good lob but I made good contact with the ball aiming for his forehand corner. This was it surely. No it was out wide by a feet or so. I had a hard time believing what was unfolding here. Well 40-40 one last oppurtunity.

The time is up so this point is all or nothing. The point dragged on and on and on. I tried to move him a bit but no success, just high floating balls back at me mid court. And then after what felt like 100 times over the net I put too much on a forehand, an inch too long and it was over. In the lead 5-4, still up a break but time was up. My game plan worked great until the very end but unfortunately because of my gameplan the points had dragged on for too long so I did not get any more oppurtunites to close out the set. The irony though is that if the previous games had been even longer and the score ended 5-3 I would have been awarded with 2 points for the set, just enough to clinch that 2nd spot for promotion. Now with the score 5-4 I ended up on 14 points in the group but already knew I would lose out on game differential.

Two losers left the court. Mixed emotions, a feeling of anticlimax but I could not be too dissapointed, my game plan worked, I had the lead and was so close but time and nervousness got me this time around. Lesson learned is to go for more with that many set points no matter what but it is easier said than done. That was the beauty and cruel nature of league play.
That was the most captivating match recap I have ever read on here. Well played sir, I thoroughly enjoyed it. You'll get em next time! And remember, at set point.......Carpe Diem!!!!!!
 
#10
Yeah I know, last point is always the hardest. I got the advice in the locker room afterwards to just go for broke, especially with that many set points in a row. It's a good chance that at least one of them will be a winner or force an error. I should definitely had gone for more on my 1st serves at set point. Live and learn!
Remember, not every point in a game is the same. The locker room is partially correct. At 40-0 no add, you're correct, you have 4 match points, so get very aggressive on the first and second point, especially if you are serving, but then if you lose those 2, dial it back and become a bit more conservative, play your game plan (as you said, going to the net when the opportunity presented itself). Don't change what worked by becoming overly conservative at match point. But I am preaching to the choir, you know this now. Remember, this has happens to the greatest players in the world, so you are in good company.
 
#13
Add a new tactic to your tool set.

If you are serving and up 40-0, bring a big one down the middle. Also, if you get a short reply at any point and are up 40-0, step in and hit a firm deep approach shot to the weaker side and get your butt to the net.

If you are returning and up 40-0 or 40-15, and get a 2nd serve; run around and pound a deep topspin forehand or step in and chip and charge and follow it to the net.

Simply put, take a chance and go for it when you have double hold or double break point or better. This is the perfect time to get away from bunt and hope they miss tennis. You should play very aggressively here. understand there is a difference between aggressive play and bombastic crazy play. You are trying to inject above average pace with good spin for control and possible take the net, you are not coming out of your shoes to hit an untouchable ball.

Hitting an approach shot with decent pace and depth and you'll be surprised at the number of points you'll win on break, hold or set points. The opponent is already under score pressure so if you hit a decent approach and attack, you've increased the pressure on the opponent.
 
#14
Add a new tactic to your tool set.

If you are serving and up 40-0, bring a big one down the middle. Also, if you get a short reply at any point and are up 40-0, step in and hit a firm deep approach shot to the weaker side and get your butt to the net.

If you are returning and up 40-0 or 40-15, and get a 2nd serve; run around and pound a deep topspin forehand or step in and chip and charge and follow it to the net.

Simply put, take a chance and go for it when you have double hold or double break point or better. This is the perfect time to get away from bunt and hope they miss tennis. You should play very aggressively here. understand there is a difference between aggressive play and bombastic crazy play. You are trying to inject above average pace with good spin for control and possible take the net, you are not coming out of your shoes to hit an untouchable ball.

Hitting an approach shot with decent pace and depth and you'll be surprised at the number of points you'll win on break, hold or set points. The opponent is already under score pressure so if you hit a decent approach and attack, you've increased the pressure on the opponent.
I have the tools to do all that maybe except from that big serve down the middle. It's all about mindset.
 
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