Coach Samson Dubina US National Team Coach 4x USATT Coach of the Year

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The importance of tactics

(Note: to protect the people discussed in this e-mail, I have deleted names)
Hey Samson, I thought I would write you to reinforce something you no doubt already know --- the importance of Tactics.
It wasn’t until a few months ago when you came down to the club to get some practice in that I realized the importance of Tactics. Up until that point, all I thought of was foundational strokes…"I don’t care what my opponent is doing, I just need to get better on that loop, chop, serve etc… then I might have a chance".
Presently, I definitely have many issues but I know when to take advantage of observing you play and that is what I did that evening.  I saw that you were getting ready to play ------  , and I decided to take a “break” and just watch instead of playing.  Let’s be real, it was no secret that you would win, but (this is where I saw the “light”) I soon realized that you weren’t just beating 1700ish ----- but you were “destroying him”.  I said to myself at that moment, “----- is better than that, what is going on?”  I then realized you were doing the same thing, very successfully, over and over again.  You would serve, ----- would pop it up, you would WHACK it…on to the next point.  “AHHH, that is what tactics looks like; find the weakness of that player/style and take advantage of it”.  Now here is my assumption of the specifics (regardless if I’m right or wrong) it definitely made me start planning my matches… You knew that ----- was using long pips, long pips reverses spin coming back at you, therefore you would serve backspin, ------ would push it back higher than normal with topspin, obvious WHACK point over.  NOTE: This appears to be the identical tactic you used this Friday against a similar opponent 11-0, 11-0, 11-0 lol…this “beating” is the reason I’m writing to tell you the drastic difference tactics can make…
At the point you played ------- , I had played a similar opponent many times.  No exaggeration, my record against ------ was close to 0-15 (never won, many loses).  After every time I played him, I said to myself, “ehh, I just need to get better with this and that stroke, and I’ll get him next time” WRONG…
Tactics into Action (After watching you play that style): From then to now I have a record against ------ of 8-1.  No I didn’t magically get better with my loops, chops, etc over night and ------  didn’t all of a sudden become terrible; it is 100% attributable to me playing against him differently because of his style.  I realized two important things: since he uses long pips I could use the: opposite spin to my advantage & since he doesn’t have any “scary” offense I could play more patient until it was right for me to “WHACK” it.
Two observations:
1)      I can’t believe -------  doesn’t realize what I’m doing, it’s is so obvious to me. After every loss to me, he says something to the effect of “you can’t be 1200, I beat people a lot higher than that every week”.  Actually he is right, I see him every week beating someone that is legitimately better than me (I just shake my head) but that leads me to my second observation.
2)      I can’t believe that those 1400-1700s lose to him, I say to myself, “you guys are better than me, can’t you see IT” (it= how to play/beat him)? In general they all fall for the same “trap”: 1) not being patient & when they do hit an offensive loop (------ is a decent defensive player; he returns a lot of 1200-1700 topspin loops back) they don’t realize now the ball has backspin and then instead of pushing (being patient) they try to topspin loop it again and it goes into the net (I see this time & time again).