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A weird opponent

Published: 04 May 2006 - 06:13 by vitty

Updated: 24 Sep 2008 - 15:17

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I played a very strange guy on tournament last week. I observed him how he played his shots while we were warming up before the match. I thought that it would be an easy one - he seemed to be about one level below me (his backhand wasn´t confident enough etc.). But I was totally wrong ! The secret of that guy was his stamina. It was unbelieveable ! I pushed, pushed and pushed again. He returned, returned and returned. With bad and sometimes funny technique, but he did. Eventually I lost my patience and tried to hit risky winner and hit tin. Over and over again. 3-9, 5-9, 4-9. I didn´t know what to play at all. I tried dropshots - he reached them all. I tried hard shots, even lobs into back corners - he somehow managed to returned it all...
Let my tell you, it´s really frustrating when you are thinking that you have played a clear winner, then you hear thud coming form behind and your opponent is here. So you hit second "winner" to the back, another thud and the ball is coming back to you again

Have you ever played someone like him ? How to play this type of opponent ?

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From rippa rit - 13 Dec 2006 - 07:47

Well done - that is the fun of playing squash so the table is reversed and he will  now  be out to get his own back at the next encounter and the pressure will be back on you!!  Did I hear you say "thanks for reminding me"!

Anyway just focus on your performance factors, and do not worry about your opponent and you will stay on top.

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From vitty - 13 Dec 2006 - 07:06

Update - I played him again today, after 7 months...7-9, 9-6, 9-5, 7-9, 9-7 !!! Why I won ? I guess because I am much better than before 7 months :) I am fitter and more accurate, more patient. Easy. Hmm, maybe I´ve reached  next level in my squash :)

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From nickhitter - 12 Dec 2006 - 22:48

Peter Nicol forged a whole career being a 'retirever' built  on the fact that he was one of the fittest men on the PSA tour, or on the planet for that matter! The bad thing about playing 'rabbit retrievers' at club level is that their whole gameplan is to make you frustrated and force the error from you. Which is why they often do well, even though compared to a club stroke player, they often hit many 'weak' shots that sit up nicely in the middle.

The way to play them is to not go for any winners at all! remember that they are a human and although they might be fitter than you, the exertion is cumulative and he/she will get worse as the match goes on. Although it may seem like it, no one can run forever! Just plays loads of deep safe straight length and bring them forward only when it's an easy shot for you, then just play back down to the back again, and keep the cycle going. before you know it he will be breathing out of his a** and he won't even be able to return serve.

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From SamBWFC - 12 Dec 2006 - 10:50

I know how you feel. I recently flipped on court, swearing and everything haha.


There's a guy in my team who I've recently posted about, who is very average and I'm technically far better than him, but I just can't beat him. I hate playing him too, he doesn't play straight drives and the rallys don't last long. He plays drop shots and boasts ALL the time and he ALWAYS returns everything. I'll sort him out soon, haha.

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From rippa rit - 09 May 2006 - 08:13

vitty - yeah I see your frustration.  As your skill improves you will hit a greater percentage of your shots closer to the walls, and into the corners and that is about what you have to do.

Sounds like your opponent is deadly serious, head down and tail up, and thrashes around like he is drowning. 

Try being more serious, do not look at your opponent, just focus on the court and the ball, and be determined to return every ball in spite of your opponent's position on court - limit the number of lets.
Bring out the tough in you.
If you hit a shot that is coming into the middle of the court, irrespective of where you aimed it to go, and whether it is a rebound off the side or back walls, just get out of the way, watch the ball closely, and then run like a rabbit and get it back into play.

You may not need boxing gloves, but definitely wear a helmet and eyeguard.

You must try something different for sure...and let us know how the next match goes.

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From vitty - 09 May 2006 - 05:50

Hi aprice1985 - thank you for advice but it isn´t so easy...That guy I was speaking about probably don´t know the rules exactly, he probably even didn´t read them. I´ll give you some funny examples:

1) I played boast from the back corner. He stood near the T and got hit with the ball. He said it was a stroke for him.

2) I lobbed him with service, he twisted and turned and then BANG big shot into my butt (I was on the T and I didn´t dare to look behind me). He murmured "sorry, it´s a let".

3) He played a lousy high ball to the middle. I wanted to smash it but he was still standing in the middle ! I couldn´t swing - I didn´t want to decapitate him. Guess what - a let...

I am a quite calm, easy-going person, I hate quarelling, etc. So I gave up playing seriously. It would have been an endless discussion without any result...

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From aprice1985 - 09 May 2006 - 05:13

I disagree with vitty, i play harder and want to beat these sort of people more, if they wont give a stroke don't ask for one, hit anyway, they soon learn what a stroke is for, to protect them.  Most leagues allow for latecomers and you can claim a win if they are too late.  It is very annoying to play these people as i also prefer a nice social game but there are still some aggressive, over competative little sods out there, just try to avoid them or work out how to handle them.

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From vitty - 09 May 2006 - 05:07

I don´t like these guys at all. I suppose that they are almost in every local league. I played someone like him recently. When it should have been a let, he said that it was OK. When it should have been a stroke, he hesitated and then said "OK, so I´ll give you a let if you want it so much..." and he looked at me like if I was a cheater ! Yes - I must say that we are playing WITHOUT Refs so it ´s even worse...I was totally frustrated and almost gave up playing seriously. Eventually I lost in three in 20 minutes...I am sure that Ritta will disagree with this attitude, but I refuse playing guys like these. I am looking forward to play fair, to have chat with opponent, to compliment his shots etc.

This reminded me another guy in our league. He was always late, he came about 15min after the match should started, said nothing about his late coming (sometimes he said he would beat you in 20m...).He also argued a lot etc. Conclusion: every player who should play against him abandoned the match. He left the league in one month...

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From BizarreCo - 08 May 2006 - 17:35

Here's a good one for you.........

Tonight I'll be taking on a guy who is the squash player equivalent of a terrier!! He's quite short (about 5'6"), very speedy around the court, has one hell of an agressive streak and is a VERY awkward player to come across.

Literally he shouts and swears at referees when they give a decision against him (many referees are actually scared of this I think!). Last season he was involved in a punch-up with another player in a particularly physical game. His reputation certainly preceeds him, but I know what an idiot he is from experience of marking him earlier in the year! He literally came up to the balcony between games and told me that I didn't know the rules and was an idiot* (in far more colourful language than that!)

* the reason for this outburst was when I didn't give him a let after his opponent hit a rolling nick dropshot from the T and he was standing behind! He didn't even try to move until the ball actually hit the nick and then claimed he could have got it "easily".


He's quite an awkward player to play against because despite his temper he's actually a very skillful player. He changes pace at will and plays everything tight. He's particularly good at the front and his lobs are a pain to retrieve. My club-mates have rather caringly informed me that I have no chance of beating him (supportive aren't they!), but I know that if I keep him pinned in the back corners and slow the game down, I'll take away his front court advantage and his speed around the court. Anyone got any other tips for playing someone like this??


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From pug505man - 07 May 2006 - 00:34

a rabbit retriever will nearly always beat a strokemaker on the same line unless the strokemaker is totally on (n as rip says - ya biorhythms gotta line up with the planets n the court has to be on a ley line etc). Miss by a millimetre n the rabbit just runs it down n they eventually harrass you into mistake. Annoying cuz at the moment I can't run to save myself.
They tend to get away with the odd double bounce retrieve too cuz everyone just assumes they covered it.

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From rippa rit - 06 May 2006 - 07:49

Biz - now I get a slightly different view of the match.
The players who have occasional outstanding days, and in semis are usually hopeless, generally do not have a compact style.  Biomechanically unsound actions for the wont of a better description.
On a good day they can swing with a loose wrist, and loopy action and hit beautiful low hard shots, using this loop to advantage, and retrieve low shots (NOT tight shots so well!!!) because their biorhythms are in sync.
But, the critical factor is, they are either ON or OFF.
So always be prepared to that.....and if they are on, run everything down next time, and risk nothing and you probably will win most times.  The critical factor is, we want you to win EVERT time.

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From BizarreCo - 06 May 2006 - 00:31

Rippa, perhaps we have a different definition of "hacking" at the ball.

To me a hacking player is someone just just seems to swing wildly at the ball with no apparent skill or control. Against the guy I described, he just seemed to wildly swing at the ball and pull it off the side wall. OK, most of the shots weren't wall-hugging, but some of them were, and the rest were pretty close.

I've played players who I would consider to be far better than me and won just by having a "good" day on court versus their "bad" day. When I played this guy he had a good day and me a bad one. The difficulty was that I couldn't understand why he beat me. I didn't make many mistakes. He didn't out play me with any positioning or skill. I know I got caught out a few times by some very lucky retrieving on his part (the ball coming off the frame etc), but I just can't explain how I managed to lose to only 8 points!

I guess on a day when things don't go in your favour, it can be hard to change the course of play. It takes skill to hit a nick everytime you play for it, but it only takes luck to mis-hit into the nick on any given day.

It won't be allowed to happen again!


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From rippa rit - 05 May 2006 - 07:22   -   Updated: 05 May 2006 - 07:24

Biz - I do not understand that if the ball is tight the player can belt you off the court.
Tight means "tighter than a racket head width" from the side wall at least, so they cannot get a good swipe at the shot. 
I have beaten fellas young enough to be my son by taking their legs away from them - so power is of no use without control.  If  the opponent can stick his bat out from the T and cut off the ball, making a good shot, it is not tight enough.

Vitty - here are the 10 fundamentals.  Unless you have built your game plan around these principles you are flying by the seat of your pants!
Evaluate and r e-evaluate what you are trying to achieve.  It's good fun.

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From medved - 05 May 2006 - 06:23

Great advice from vitty, but sth to add:

vary the pace of the game,
hit ball early or put a hold,
play some drives, and hit some boasts, (need good skill for that ;) )
that will tire him more

and concentrate a lot

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From BizarreCo - 04 May 2006 - 23:31

I had something similar about a month ago. I went on court feeling great and hitting the ball well. The player I was up against seemed pretty average, but he was very fit. For some reason I just couldn't get him into the back corners. I tried hard drives, high lobs, wide cross-courts EVERYTHING!!!!!! He just seemed to cut everything out or scrape it off the wall. He hacked every shot and reached almost everything I could throw at him! I lost 9-2 9-3 9-3!!

I came away wondering where I went wrong, but I know on a different day that score would be reversed. Strange game!!!!


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From vitty - 04 May 2006 - 22:17

Wow, thank you ! I found the tips about particular opponents very useful !

Regarding my game plan, I obviously didn´t have any and that´s why I lost I guess. Next time I´ll play him I will try to obey these things:

1) Don´t expect any of your shots to be "winner". Keep playing !

2) Be patient ! Don´t hurry. Stay calm and focused. Focus mainly on keeping the ball in the play and wait for an unforced error by him.

3) Don´t play so many dropshots and counter-dropshots. More lobs. Fake drop and then play lob or low hard shot to the back corner.

4) Be confident. You are better than him.

5) If I don´t beat him then, I´ll eat my racket !
I had much better match last night - I beated one guy to whom I lost twice before. I was fully focused the whole match, stayed calm and waited for the opening. 10-8 (I went back from 4-8, I always play worse in the beginning ), 9-3, 9-2. It was so easy ! I made only about 7 unforced errors.

This month it´s one year I joined the league. I started in 10th division and now I´m playing in the 3rd division. I can feel I am playing more and more better. My shots are more accurate, I often hit the nick even from the volley, I feel comfortable in the back corners most of the time...(I have found out that my biggest mistake was not bending low enough, hence I wasn´t "under the ball". Now I find it quite easy when you know how !)
Now I want to "break into" the 2nd division and next year into the first division, where the players are oficially ranked about 100-150 place in my country. It won´t be easy - we will see...

Have a nice day (or night), Vitty

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From rippa rit - 04 May 2006 - 07:12   -   Updated: 04 May 2006 - 07:18

Vitty - here is an article about a match I once played, and I could feel you had the same sort of frustration as I did in your game. 
There is nothing more distracting to your mind, and confidence, when a player who is only a hack, looks cacky, and is giving you a hiding.
Put your mind into what you are doing and focus on the game plan.  Did you have a plan specially to suit this opponent?
Here are some ideas about developing a specific plan for a particular opponent which might be useful in future.
Often we try to belt the opponent off the court, and unless the ball is really tight, only succeed in giving them pace to work with, making the opponent expend less effort.  It never feels good when you put in all the pace and they stick their bat out and do a drop shot into the corner and leave you standing.
Whatever happens you need to play this guy again and try a new approach.

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