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Player to Player: Bombarding the Weaker Player

April 22, 2012 01:03 PM
Have a question? Receive advice from your fellow tennis players!
Real Tennis Players - Like You! - Asking For and Offering Advice on the Sport They Love
Player to Player is USTA.com’s regular feature in which everyday tennis players are given a forum to ask advice on the sport they love – and their fellow players will dish out advice. We’ll post a number of the best responses we receive to our question of the week.

Player to Player:
This week's question from Chris:
What’s the best thing to do when your opponent slices the ball during a rally? I usually try to lower my racquet and hit normally, but it usually goes into the net while scratching my racquet.
Please share your thoughts by e-mailing Player@USTA.com, and include your name and hometown.
Got a question of your own? Send that along, too!

Last week's question from Irene
(Please note: There is no need to send additional responses to this question.)
Whenever two players of unequal skill play, their opponents tend to figure that out and then bombard the weaker player in order to win. The "better" player then hardly gets any balls, no longer making it fun for the recreational group. Is there anything one can do to fix this problem?
Player Responses:
Enno H., Grand Junction, Colo.

Having been a USTA captain for multiple years, as captains we can match players together with more equal skills to help not only our team to win but also to make it more fun for everybody. That is what I would suggest to fix the problem. It is not the fault of the opponents to go after the weaker player, any more than it is to go after somebody's weakest shot (i.e., backhand) in singles. 

Tom C., Senoia, Ga.

I'm wondering how much swapping of partners there is in that player's group. We have a senior men's group that gets together three times a week. We are always encouraging new players to join us, some who are hesitant to join us on a regular basis because they aren't as consistent. It's almost like Zen tennis, the new player's level of play always rises once we get him to relax and quit focusing on the game count. Just enjoy being outside hitting a tennis ball.

Eric R., Northern California

So, you are hearing your opponents say,"You ARE the Weakest Link!!"???

A good coach or team captain should do their best to equalize teams, for example, keep 3.0 players from having to compete with 4.0 or higher players. Sometimes it is unavoidable. Smart strategy on every level is to go hard at the weaker of the two doubles players. Do not get mad. Instead, get even.

The better player can position his partner frequently at the baseline, where it is harder to be simply overpowered.

The fearful net player is a burden until he learns to be proactive about stepping forward for an offensive approach to volleying. If that is the case, steer him to a concentrated doubles net play lesson, or at least to Google basic web-based instructions. Use a key phrase, "How to hit the volley." The archive on this web site, for instance, has advice on volleys.

The better player can play the aggressive Aussie formation. By poaching and dominating the middle at the net, that will provide your best chance of throwing your opponents off their one-track minded strategy.

Whatever the case may be, do not assume that it is your opponent's fault.
If it is not a league match, however, just talk to the recreational bully and say "truce." It will be more fun for everybody in a social "hit-and-giggle" level game when you agree to keep the ball in play cross court, at least until the ball has been hit back and forth by both teams. If this is simply a friendly game, that simple agreement keeps it more interesting. In league play, however, look for a better partner until the weak link can get his game up to your speed.

Enjoy the journey.

Kenny and Coach Rick, Chicago

If you go after the weaker player too much, you might get burned, and the weaker player will pick up his game. It is good, though, to play this way. It makes sense. Now if you are talking about someone on a steroid rage that goes nuts and hits balls at the other player, then take it and know they are just killing themselves.
*Please note that any advice given out in this forum should in no way be confused with actual medical advice. Before starting any new exercise regimen or altering your existing one, we strongly urge you to consult with your regular physician.
Click here for USTA.com's Player to Player Archive.


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