Originally Posted by Andy T
What do your (tennis) partners say to you with respect to your game/attitude and how do you approach tennis partnerships in terms of communication (amount and nature)?
As you know, Andy, I tend to center myself on court and while the odd expletive is allowed to be bourne in the heat of competition, I'm usually berating myself in a positive manner, encouraging myself to push harder and stay with the ball above all else. Many of the men I play with on a regular basis aren't nearly as single-minded in their aggressive attack of the ball at the net (i.e. when you hit a lob from a difficult position and get it over your opponents' to the point where they have to run back to the baseline to retrieve it- it is natural for me to close into the net- whereas many people I play with are standing there watching the lob), and in many situations they see me going for difficult volleys and making them, and I think they often times feel pressured into attempting the same thing, and end up reaching for balls they shouldn't and many times actually losing the point because they get a racquet on the ball and produce a weak shot in front of me instead of letting me volley. It was tough for me to watch two great volleyers like Martina and Lisa let so many balls go past them without either player trying for the ball. It felt
so unnatural to see two risk-takers not even taking the risks- or in other words, not in flight, or even close to flying.
Robert1- I'm never verbally hard on my partner, however, many people have told me that I'm difficult to play with because I am so intense, and as you know, it is very possible to say alot without ever saying a word- all with facial expression and silence. The three people I play doubles best with (interestingly, one is a woman who is an NTRP 5.0 rated player who plays men's doubles just as well as women's) have widely disparate styles of play-
*Rob is a guy who is a card-carrying dyed-in-the-wool baseliner with a killer forehand and great footwork. He sets me up with that Courier-esque forehand that he can hit from pretty much anywhere in the back court. It doesn't matter if the opponents are two of the three people at the net in any given point- I know he'll rip a screamer that will be a challenge for even the best hands on the other side to handle, and we almost never "clack" racquets when we're both at the net- we feed off each other's strengths.
*Karen is a girl who plays the classic style of aggressive serve-and-volley tennis- hard flat serves, hard flat groundstrokes, and gets down to shoelace volleys like they were candy- enjoys being pushed to play that way. She attacks the ball as hard as I do- and I have no idea why we play so well together, but we have taken apart many better teams, and I can say the best doubles match I ever played to this date, was a losing effort with Karen: a 5-7, 6-7(4) loss to a team which had one guy serving 120mph bombs that counted for aces against both of us at key moments- otherwise we would have beaten another better team through aggressive teamwork.
*Steve is an all-court player, and I sometimes have trouble with him, because he is a good volleyer- close to as good as me at the net- only with different strengths- doesn't put the ball away on the first volley enough (IMO) however, he has a great serve, is fitter than me, and has a much more mechanically sound forehand from the back court. We just made our way to another doubles final a few weeks ago, and lost to 2 college kids in a third set tie-breaker. It's hard for me to communicate with him- we're either brilliant, or really bad because (IMO) we don't think or move the same way- one of us usually ends up either winning or losing the point- we don't beat opponents through consistent teamwork- it's a series of flashes.
What can I do to play better with Steve is the real question I'm asking here? I want to play better with him, because out of the three- Rob and Karen are pretty well-defined when I'm on court, and there are no surprises or problems- Steve has the potential to be my best partner, but I'm at a loss as to how to communicate with him or work better as a team.
Andy- you're right, this is therapy!