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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I need some advice regarding what I can do to start beating the guy I play tennis against every week. My problem is that I'm 6' tall with a high centre of gravity and am terrible at changing directions. I'm quick enough to get to the first ball, but I find it very difficult to halt my momentum and recover rapidly enough to begin a charge in the opposite direction. My opponent, on the other hand, is around 5'6" and very agile. We're like Pam Shriver and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario except that I don't have the volleys Pammy did. I've tried rushing the net, but the little twerp (see, I've got some of Pammy's act down pat) always lobs me, and the thing is he's got a great lob which usually has me scampering down to the baseline. If I stay at the baseline, he either slices the ball very low thereby keeping the ball out of my strike zone or brings me to the net against my will by using drop shots or angled slice backhands

Any suggestions on what I can do to counter his strategy? (Other than "work on your footspeed" or "learn the Pete Sampras slam dunk overhead", that is.) I've been working on my volleys by trying to punch them instead of guiding them, but until I perfect those shots, I'm going to need a Plan B (oh, who am I kidding? I need a Plan A first) to beat my little tormentor.
 

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Just some suggestions that you may or may not have tried: A lot of times with fast, agile players, I find it helps to hit both a ton at their feet (take his speed away from him- don't let him utilize his superior movement so much), and hit behind them as much as possible- as it's harder for a fast person to change directions. You've got to find ways to get him off balance.

Look, the guy is 5 foot six, YOU drop shot him some and lob over his head- just shoot the ball above your own knee cap, that should be able to get the ball over the shrimp's head.

You MUST have come up with some Achilles heal that the boy has- either a problem that always is there, or a problem shot for a given match. (Ex., my partner has problems generally returning serves on his backhand on one side of the court, and for some reason I usually hate short-court, low, skimming shots to my forehand- I tend to Connors them.) Use that overactive brain of yours and figure out what he hates, in general and/or on any given day, and go there whenever in doubt.

You can always try junk balling him to death- Conchita him with slices, spins and no-pace shots. Many players at all levels can at least for parts of the match have problems generating their own pace with no-pace hitting, as long as you keep the ball deep. In general, you're gonna have to toss Plan A, B, C, D through Z at times against tricky players, as what may work for a game or two can stop working if your opponent adjusts.

Most importantly, Mr. Pam Twinkle-Toes, yes, you're also gonna have to work on some drills and improve the footwork. Odds are you'll not end up as agile as he is- but, different kinds of movement in tennis can be improved. If your goal is to beat this pest, you obviously know what he picks on. So, to the best of your ability, you're gonna have to bite-the-bullet and as much as possible fix areas that he can exploit.

If all else fails, just distract him by subtly showing some leg (see "It Happened One Night") to get him all hot and bothered and out of his game (or have a girlfriend handy to do the same, if that is his deal. And, sorry, bub, if you really wish to win, it doesn't matter what YOUR orientation is. Flaunt whatever will distract.)

I need some advice regarding what I can do to start beating the guy I play tennis against every week. My problem is that I'm 6' tall with a high centre of gravity and am terrible at changing directions. I'm quick enough to get to the first ball, but I find it very difficult to halt my momentum and recover rapidly enough to begin a charge in the opposite direction. My opponent, on the other hand, is around 5'6" and very agile. We're like Pam Shriver and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario except that I don't have the volleys Pammy did. I've tried rushing the net, but the little twerp (see, I've got some of Pammy's act down pat) always lobs me, and the thing is he's got a great lob which usually has me scampering down to the baseline. If I stay at the baseline, he either slices the ball very low thereby keeping the ball out of my strike zone or brings me to the net against my will by using drop shots or angled slice backhands

Any suggestions on what I can do to counter his strategy? (Other than "work on your footspeed" or "learn the Pete Sampras slam dunk overhead", that is.) I've been working on my volleys by trying to punch them instead of guiding them, but until I perfect those shots, I'm going to need a Plan B (oh, who am I kidding? I need a Plan A first) to beat my little tormentor.
 

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Great advice nelsus. Unfortunately samn, the footwork drills are paramount to doing anything else with regularity. If you're that tall, work on variety of spin and placement with your serve. If he's that short, he probably won't like returning an effectively placed wide kick serve or even into the body, especially if you can mix it up with a flat bomb here and there. Also, when you are comfortable with all that variety on your serve and can identify a particular serve or serves he doesn't like and hits a short return on, let it come back mid-court and then attack that first ball with a ground stroke to put your net game in an offensive position instead of rushing the net on the short return. And if all else fails, learn to serve left-handed. It's worked for quite a few great players over the years (NO, I DIDN'T GO THERE!:lol: ). Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Run him over with your car, or if you can afford it, pay someone else to.......
Don't give me any ideas that I might be tempted to try out. :lol:

I followed some of Nelslus' suggestions when I played him yesterday, and I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I actually moonballed him (a la Conchita) to keep him pinned to the baseline and then won quite a few points by charging the net. His backhand is his weaker stroke and I had a fair amount of success by doing unto him as Gaby did unto Steffi - i.e. drive him crazy by hitting high bouncing topspin shots to his backhand that eventually induced a lot of errors.

But the bit I'm most thrilled about is that I've finally learned to play the backhand overhead. I managed to hit at least six of those yesterday. God, I love oversized graphite racquets. ;)
 

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Good advice from those above. In addition to finding your opponents weaknesses, I'd ask you what your strengths are. Find a game plan that exposes his weaknesses and allows you to use your strengths. You mentioned his backhand was the weaker side. I'm 6'4" and only an adequate volleyer, but when I know I can't outrally someone, I hit to the weaker side and come in. If I can force a weak reply, then I can usually put the ball away. Also, how is your serve? As I've gotten older, I've learned to rely a lot more on my serve. I can't outlast most players, but with my height I can get a lot of pace on a serve. If you can get a few serves in and force weak replies, again move in and volley into the open court. I have no idea how old you are, but I've found that I have to play smarter percentage tennis to win. A quicker more powerful opponent will blast a few balls by, but I go back to the baseline with the same plan. Pam Shriver was a master at this. She knew what she could do and couldn't do and she played the percentage game. Good luck
 

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Lots of good strategy here. If all else fails and you have the wherewithal, go for a first strike shot. You'll make heaps of errors but if you can balance them out with winner and forced errors from the opponent, then maybe you'll have a chance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Good advice from those above. In addition to finding your opponents weaknesses, I'd ask you what your strengths are. Find a game plan that exposes his weaknesses and allows you to use your strengths.
Strengths: I mostly don't get much pop on my serve (bad technique basically - I don't use my legs to add power to my serve. Think Sjeng Schalken without the crazy spins on his serve) , but my height allows me to get fairly good placement. My volleys, though not good, are often adequate - one of my other opponents once told me that he felt intimidated by seeing me at the net causing him to flub his passing shots. My backhand, though a bit error-prone, can occasionally get me a free point or two if get a good angle on my topspin shot.

Weaknesses: I can't hit sliced groundstrokes. At all. No matter how much I try. My slice backhands look like strokes that can't make up their mind about whether they want to be flat strokes or topspin kickers. Also, poor court coverage and almost zero anticipation (I always react to my opponent's stroke and don't "read" the game at all.) Oh, and did I mention an absolute inability to hit touch shots? I just can't seem to time the ball properly enough to hit drop shots and, as a result, they either fail to cross the net or land too deep!
 

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...My volleys, though not good, are often adequate - one of my other opponents once told me that he felt intimidated by seeing me at the net causing him to flub his passing shots. My backhand, though a bit error-prone, can occasionally get me a free point or two if get a good angle on my topspin shot.

Weaknesses: I can't hit sliced groundstrokes. At all. No matter how much I try. My slice backhands look like strokes that can't make up their mind about whether they want to be flat strokes or topspin kickers. Also, poor court coverage and almost zero anticipation (I always react to my opponent's stroke and don't "read" the game at all.) Oh, and did I mention an absolute inability to hit touch shots? I just can't seem to time the ball properly enough to hit drop shots and, as a result, they either fail to cross the net or land too deep!
Quite the opposite to me! I could suggest you a couple of things that might work, though. I definitely would try to hit behind your rival as much as possibly, that uses to work when I play against an Arantxa clon. I mean, I have pretty powerful shots to hit winners even against a quick rival, but as it's not my game to keep going for winners all the time and maybe end up doing too many errors that way, I try to hit cross-court, angled shots if possible, to one side of the court, then hit to the other side trying to give him a good run to reach the ball, and the next shot I go behind him. I usually either win the point or force a very weak ball from him that it's just a piece of cake to volley away to the open court. As his backhand is his weak side, I'd hit crosscourt to his forehand, then crosscourt to his backhand making him run to reach this second ball (no matter if he's quick, he'd have to run as any man with two legs) and then hit a hard shot behind him as it would probably be an easier ball to take a risk at as it would be coming off his weaker side, can you get me? I hope it does work for you!
 

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If all else fails, just distract him by subtly showing some leg (see "It Happened One Night") to get him all hot and bothered and out of his game (or have a girlfriend handy to do the same, if that is his deal. And, sorry, bub, if you really wish to win, it doesn't matter what YOUR orientation is. Flaunt whatever will distract.)
Run him over with your car, or if you can afford it, pay someone else to.......
Those are my laughs for the day:lol: "It Happened One Night" is one of my favorite movies-the walls of Jericho!

Preacherfan-I never knew you were 6' 4"! People must pay attention when you stand up in the pulpit.
 

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Oh gosh-I just noticed the shiny yellow thing under my name-now I'm a mod with "bling". :rolleyes:

Samn-might I suggest an alternate strategy to try once? My eyes caught on two things I've read.

1. Munckin-twerp likes to lob-a lot
2.
one of my other opponents once told me that he felt intimidated by seeing me at the net causing him to flub his passing shots
Try the center theory. In other words, when you come to the net hit the ball down the center, using your topspin. As long as you get it deep MT is sure to lob it. OK-you hate his lobs, but remember two things.

A. You KNOW he's going to lob, so take an extra step or two back and wait for it. And by hitting down the middle you force him to create the angles.

B. With high defensive lobs you can let them bounce and smash them even from the baseline. And at 6 feet that can be very intimidating.
 

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I'm so glad Samn started this thread, because I think I could use the very same advice. Back in April, I played my first singles match in 4years. Since I haven't played a tournament or high school dual match since 1991, I was really rusty and movement has been a hard thing for me to overcome too.

Plus, I'm playing a guy that's also a soccer player and is in great shape. He's won a few local tournaments in the last 2 or 3 years and he's really drubbing me, even as my fitness and movement have started getting better.

It was almost humbling for me to be forced to hit a few Pam Shiver shovel forehands. And even worse to hear these Billie Jean old lady groans come out of my mouth as I served.........I swear I never did that before!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I have an etiquette question pertaining to tennis. If you're a man playing singles against a woman, are there any unspoken rules that are generally followed? Or, more specifically, let's say the woman is a very good volleyer and has excellent reach at the net. Is hitting directly at a woman (who's at the net) instead of trying to go for a risky passing shot considered bad form? I tried that a few times when I played a couple of sets this afternoon and got chewed out by an instructor on the adjacent court who told me to be "mindful of good manners when playing against a lady."

I'm not aware of any such protocol and his suggestion smacked of sexism to me. Any thoughts, anyone? What would you do if you were in my shoes?
 

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I have an etiquette question pertaining to tennis. If you're a man playing singles against a woman, are there any unspoken rules that are generally followed? Or, more specifically, let's say the woman is a very good volleyer and has excellent reach at the net. Is hitting directly at a woman (who's at the net) instead of trying to go for a risky passing shot considered bad form? I tried that a few times when I played a couple of sets this afternoon and got chewed out by an instructor on the adjacent court who told me to be "mindful of good manners when playing against a lady."

I'm not aware of any such protocol and his suggestion smacked of sexism to me. Any thoughts, anyone? What would you do if you were in my shoes?
I agree with your instincts, Samn. I think that his suggestion totally= sexism, and IMO it's a shame that she didn't speak up. I think it's insulting to a female opponent NOT to play your normal game. I mean, if you're smacking the ball directly at your opponent 175 mph, male or female, yes, that's bad manners. Otherwise, you did nothing wrong, and I'd have told the instructor to get over him/herself. (Albeit, I'm not sure that passing shots are THAT much more riskier BTW.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I agree with your instincts, Samn. I think that his suggestion totally= sexism, and IMO it's a shame that she didn't speak up. I think it's insulting to a female opponent NOT to play your normal game. I mean, if you're smacking the ball directly at your opponent 175 mph, male or female, yes, that's bad manners. Otherwise, you did nothing wrong, and I'd have told the instructor to get over him/herself. (Albeit, I'm not sure that passing shots are THAT much more riskier BTW.)
I was playing with a wood racquet and getting a 175 mph groundstroke off that would have been quite a feat for me. :lol: As for the passing shot not being riskier, well, there are a few things here: my down the line backhand is very flaky, my opponent was reading the patterns in my passing shots very well, and, most importantly, I discovered that her game is not effective if you force her to make quick adjustments with her feet. So hitting groundstrokes right down the middle when she's at the baseline and hitting your passing shots right at her worked like a charm. Even though she's a *much* better player than I am, I managed to squeak out a narrow win over her. :cool:
 
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