Caution: Long and boring post ahead. Just read until the dotted line if you want to keep it short
So.. I haven't actually posted anything on these forums for almost 4 days now. That's a record I believe, or very close to one.
Been running a little bit, not quite enough and very sporadically. Played racquetball twice (despite your advice.. believe me I need some kinda physical activity and I am willing to risk what disruptions it may cause with my tennis stroke. I do play very much like tennis though, I don't think I play the way racquetball is supposed to be played).
Played tennis both days of the weekend. Both average days I must say, pretty satisfactory. Got a better workout on sunday when we hit around for more time.
It's always really inspiring and if taken the wrong way, disappointing when someone's playing very well on a court near you - very well to the point where you feel you can play but know you just might not be able to do that. Beyond that I mean you just gotta watch and admire it. This was the case on sunday. This girl was hitting with this lady (who apparently was/is a coach for college teams) and they were good. I mean consistency and solidity of strokes, of course they were just hitting around and I'd probably favour myself in a real match situation, but it was just inspiring to watch.
I also realized that its been a while since I have played serious tennis. Hard to explain, I always play for real, not just to get on court and waste time but just in general not the same thing as a competitive schedule. Its always been, espeically with the huge breaks in between, its always been more about getting my touch back, or playing light to avoid injuries and soreness, or working on minor things here and there (and realizing i am not fit enough to really do anything properly anymore) etc. I expect to turn the seriousness back to normal levels this summmer.
So just to recap I was going through my journals first few pages (that's the point of recording stuff right?) And I'll comment on a few things.
My first post was
Age : 18
Weight: 145 lbs
Playing style: Yet to be determined. Like to think of myself as an all court player with a strong baseline game and the ability to mix it up.
Forehand: went from two handed to one hand, right hand.
Backhand: went from two handed in the beginning to one.
Skill on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being horrible and 10 being where I want to be by the end of this summer, i.e the best that I think I can achieve in a decent time frame. So its pretty relative. Just shows how I would analyze my game.
Half Volleys: Yes this deserves a special place because I love this kinda stuff best. uhh.. 7
Serve: Ranges from 4-8
Fitness: Don't ask. probably -10 now.
Mental game: how can one rank one's own mental game? like the ability to hold serve on breaks.. or play good points when you are down and convert breaks when received - tie breaks.. like that right? I would say 6.5
I want to rate myself now. Again this is the same scale, and its relative to where I want to be this summer end, and so of course its a a higher level than my expectations a year ago but I thing its a pretty comparable distribution.
Age : 19
Playing style: I haven't really played the way I would like (see above about seriousness) but I have become more of a counterpuncher and a little agressive baseliner. But I am not a defensive player though, I am still very much susceptible to UFEs and just plain crappiness when extended in rallies or pushed back, and a winner is still the only way I feel comfortable winning points, no way can I actually counterpunch myself to win points. I have basically been watching more and more of Murray. I expect to return to my all-court ways soon enough.
some changes from the above quotation are entirely due to this being a new year and higher expectatins. The smiley face indicates if I have gone up or down despite the number.
Half Volleys: 5
Fitness: Don't ask. probably -10 now (
note I wrote this about the same time of the year last year too)
Mental game: 7
So overall, not too shabby. I really need to work on volleys since I have lost touch with them quite a bit and still go up a lot and miss easy volleys.
depth control: 6
pace control: 7.5
return of serve: 7 and getting better
When most pros play "baseline" rallies, they stand well behind the baseline. At least 2 feet or so. And then they move in on short balls. For some reason I don't know exactly but I don't think I ever (literally) move behind the baseline... Clearly this is bad when opponents hit deep and make you run. From behind the baseline you have extra time to prep your stroke and get to the ball too. I can see how this can drastically improve my consistency. That said I still don't want to always be behind the baseline and especially I don't want to get into this habit and keep moving further back.
I have overcome this pretty well. I still stand pretty close but its good enough a time for me to react to deep balls as well
Finally I have class in a few minutes so I'll redo one more post. For now. Expect me to continue this tonight cuz its actually pretty good and tells me a lot about myself.
what I can do: a decent slice serve, a good topspin serve. put pace on it when I am in the groove. steady serving motion. controlling the direction.
what I need to work on: bolder second serves. placement of second serves. get into the serving groove more often. use my legs to add power and control the ball with the power.
what I should do: work big time on second serve.
Serve follow through -
what I can do: follow to net and finish a point on the ad court. finish short balls. half volleys.
what I need to work on: getting right back into position after an all-out serve. volleying from a duece court serve.
Return of serve -
what I need to work on: backhand return deep. against s&v people. high serves. consistent and aggressive returns. proper technique and routine.
what I should do: focus on solid block back of serves deep. attack second serves. anticipate the serve better so i can prepare better for my two handed backahnd return. Split step.
what I need to work on: taking a split step more often at the right time. making a constant effort to bend my knees and stay low to ground on groundstrokes. stability at net (firm split steps and step through on volleys). open and closed stances.
what I should do: focus on taking many more steps setting up for shots. focus on split steps.
Strategy (singles only) -
what I can do: rely on my forehand and backhand to keep me in a point. change of pace and sping styles to throw opponent off.
what I need to work on: fighting off strong attacks to my backhand and keep me in the point. being too predictable most of the times.
what I should do:poaching an opponents one or the other side and wrong-step them more often. pull opponents off wide to set up winners. hitting balls a little higher and deeper (like a mini-lob) to disturb pace and give time.
what I can do: topspins, slices. dropshots. directional control. pace control.
what I need to work on: taking the ball at its peak or on the rise. flat shots.
what I should do: focus on height and depth when i need time to recuperate.
Net Game -
what I can do: volley back into play. dropshots.
what I need to work on: be bold and go for the angles to finish points. overheads.
what I can do: slice deep. drop shots.
what I need to work on: topspin/flat drives
what I should do: use both hands to prepare ahead of time. bend knees. focus on good solid contact and follow through.
pros: good approach to most errors and winners. no temper.
what I need to work on: I usally play better when I'm not in the lead and I am trying to catch up, when I am in the lead I'm always more tentative and overall not myself.
what I should do: think more about the opponent and exploit his weaknesses mentally and game wise and use his game to my advantage. basically concentrate on strategic plays more often.
Surprisingly, with improvements of course, a lot of this still holds. Signficant betterments have been in Return of Serve.. Strategym, Forehands and most importantly, the backhand. In fact I have completely satisfied the backhand section of the above quote.
I'll make a new list nonetheless this night.