Coping with Various Playing Styles
We had two very tough nights last week and this week. We lost the first one by 5-6, but managed to win the next one 7-4. So, we are still the second on the ladder. On the first Monday, we met the team led by a Cambodian/Vietnamase SP attacker.His second player was a double inverted looper. Their third player was the left handed Chinese looper who filled in for us in the first week.
I knew that most SP players had some common weaknesses. My tactics against this guy were based on this understanding. My first tactic was to serve very short to his SP side with heavy spin and get weak returns and attack. My second tactic was to play slow loops to the same side when he served long in order to force him to make errors.The third tactic was to create difficult angles and placements in order to break his rhythm, especially the rhythm in his SP driving shots. This plan worked quite well and I won the match 3-1. Team mate K also beat the guy using his own tactics
I had beaten the Vietnamese looper before many times in friendly games. I thought I could beat him quite easily. As a matter of fact, I won the first two sets quite convincingly. He had no answers to my tactics. However, he appeared to have changed his game plan after the second set. He began to serve long to the middle of the table with a little back spin aiming at my playing elbow. His aim was to attack when I returned them high. I knew what he was trying to do and I tried to avoid weak returns. So, this set was a hard battle and the score was 10-10 at one stage. However, my opponent was lucky enough to avoid his mistakes at this stage and I failed to do so. Therefore, the set went to him 14-12
. I thought I must have won this set and the match accordingly. I was quite frustrated and mentally somewhat down. As usual I became cuatious and my opponent attacked relentlessly. So, he won the next two sets and the match
K understood what really happened and used his tactics accordingly against this guy. It was a tough match which went to five sets.Fortunately, K won the fifth set and the match. K and I used our understanding of the game of the SP player and the double inverted looper in our first double against them. We beat them quite convincingly 3-1 by increasing our chances winning the night
I failed in dealing with the left handed Chinese looper who looped almost every serve and shot. All of his loopy shots came to my backhand. I tried to hit them back in a looping motion and made many errors in doing so
. When I analysed the match later, I found out that I must have done two things to beat him. Firstly, I must have run around and attack him with my forehand instead of my backhand. Secondly, I must have attack his loopy shots quite flat when I used my backhand instead of trying to counter loop.
The LP defender who played for us failed to win any match and failed to help K to win the second double. So, we lost the night 5-6. The LP player was quite frustrated and he did not want to continue playing for us. To make the situation worse, the young guy who managed the centre had given the Chinese guy(he suddenly turned up)whom they had included in my team originally to another team. This forces me to find another regular player for us
Last Monday we met another tough team led by a Russian-born Polish attacker. His second player was an Indonesian-born SP attacker. Their third player was the Chinese guy who was in my team originally. He was a Japanese pen holder.
I asked our left-handed Chinese looper( who played against us last week) to play against the tough Polish flat hitter. This guy had a particular style of playing. He always played close to the table while staying in the middle. Surprisingly, he attacked every loopy shot played by our player very flat without any problem. He also created very difficult angles and placements. His rubbers seemed pretty old, but he played very well with them. The trajectory of his shots were very low and long and most of his returns appeared to be floating shots. So, he won the match quite convincingly
I had to play against the SP attacker who was in my team when we won the final in B1 long ago. So, I knew his game to some extent. Using this knowledge and my usual tactics against SP players, I beat the guy 3-1. I had to adjust my tactics to some extent since this player used SP on his forehand side. Therefore, when I served to his forehand, I served short with heavy spin in order to get high and weak returns which I could attack. His backhand attacks were more powerful than the forehand ones. This forced me to exploid his relatively weaker forhand for my attacks
K and the Chinese looper also beat the SP guy quite convincingly. K and I beat the Polish flat hitter and SP atacker in our first double. Chinese lopper and I also beat the Polish attacker and the Chinese player, who had a Japanese pen grip, in our second double
I had beaten the Polish guy before. My chances had been 50-50 in these games. However, I found out that this guy had improved his game in few areas. Firstly, he had learned to push when his opposition served short with heavy spin. He had also learned to serve short instead of serving long all the time. His angles and placements were more difficult now to handle. His blade and rubber combination was different now too. Now he could play some floating shots which were hard to attack. He was the leading player of the team which won the final last season in A5. He could not go to the next grade because his team mates did not want to play in his team. All in all, he was a tougher opponent now. I did not have new tactics against these new developments in his game. As a result, I lost to him 3-0
. This would force me to find new tactics against him in the next round.
We had discussed new tactics which we could use against him before K started his match against him. Our major tactic was to push/cut/chop his serves and shots back to him with heavy back spin in order to prevent him playing his normal shots. We believed that this approach would stop him creating difficult angles and placements. Furthermore, we decided to serve very short mainly to his body/playing elbow with heavy spin in order to force him to make errors. These tactics worked to some extent, but the opponent was also adjusting his tactics all the time. So, at one stage the score was 2-2. In the final set, the Polish guy appeared to be winning, the score was 10-6 in his favour. However, he could not get the last point for some reasons, and K got the last 5 points and the match accordingly
The Chinese opponent with the Japanese pen grip had lost all of his matches last week. He was talking about giving up because of the pressure put on him by the Polish guy. He wanted to win this time. So, he played quite differently on this occasion. I had beaten this guy before in many friendly matches when he played with his attacking style. He resorted to a very defensive mode against us this time. He beat K and me by doing so. We were not ready for this type of defensive game from him. What a cunning player? Any way, we had time to discuss the matter with our Chinese looper and asked him to follow some tactics to beat him. He had no answers to the tactics used by our guy and, as a result, he lost quite badly
This was a tough night, but we managed to win it 7-4. This win would enable us to keep at least our second place. I am not quite sure whether the top team won or lost. If they have lost, we would take the first place.