I played a match last night in a USTA tournament at the club I belong to, Roosevelt Island Racquet Club. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have tournament playing issues, but still continue to compete in them. I've been going back and forth with this for the past few months whether or not to enter 3.5 or 4.0 tournaments: 3.5 because I haven't won a tournament in what is approaching half my lifetime and I figure I should be able to pick up a title there, or 4.0, which I should be playing because that's my skill level.
Anyway, I went for the 3.5 division this time around because I have more ranking points there, and I figured if I made it to be the number-one 3.5 player in the tri-state area, that's pretty legit, right? Well, those plans hit a snag last night after my first-round match. I played this guy last night that some (myself included at times) would call a "pusher." But in all honesty, that's an unfair term to put on him: I guess some of the best words to describe him would be "heady" and "determined." After warming up, I figured there'd be no way this guy could beat me: I just had too much firepower for him. (I like to think I have pretty big groundies.) But this guy returned everything. EVERYTHING! Granted, we were playing on clay, which slows my balls down, but I still can usually get around that as I think I've become a decent clay-courter over the years.
During the match, I was constantly changing my game plan, trying to remember what you do to beat a grinder like that: Do you keep trying to hit through them? Do you try to outrally them? Do you hit drop shots to draw them forward? Do you hit their moonballs on the rise or even take them out of the air? Do you serve and volley and chip and charge? I tried them all, except for the serving and volleying because I'm fighting a pretty tender Achilles tendon and would hate for it to blow up on me trying to push off that leg. The outrallying idea kind of works against me because I'm a pretty aggressive player: I figure if you got big shots, why not use them?
So this is all part of my dilemma: If I keep playing 3.5's, I'm likely to run into that, which can be extra frustrating. And that hurts my chance of winning that elusive second singles title. Or do I play 4.0's where at least I'm playing to the best of my ability, even though it might be even longer before I win again, if ever.
Any suggestions on which way to go? Or at the least, how to beat someone super-consistent?
5 months ago