Tennis for the Future 2.0: Handicaps

At some point I need to write the beginning of Tennis for the Future 2.0.

In the handicaps section, I will explain how I insisted that one of my hitting partners for the last 20 years, Bob Migliorini, allow me to invent a handicap so that he doesn’t beat me all the time. 20 years ago I occassionally won a set off of Bob, before he fixed his forehand and serve. I haven’t won a set in over ten years now. I insisted that if there could be a viable handicap in golf, and even yatch racing, there must be a viable handicap to discover for tennis, and I needed it now.

Every idea I put forward intially, Bob vetoed. He didn’t want me to get a head start towards game, which is 15,30, 40 game, or 1, 2, 3, with game on the 4th point. He insisted, no one gets free points. So I came up with the following, which he accepted, and which actually works. I play regular tennis, by he, as the superior player, can only make a point for himself in the deuce court. In the add court, he can’t score, but he can stop me from scoring.  This turned out to be a very successful handicap system, because it meant I usually won with it, but not always. When Migliorini was on, and I was off, he could beat me even with the help of his only being able to score on roughly half the points. This handicap is so useful, I expect it will make us famous, so I have asked him to patent the entire idea as the Lindsay Migliorini handicap system for tennis. On this one part of his game, he is dragging his feet.

At one point, I was feeling poorly, and my knees hurt, and I inisted on Handicap #2, the Uncle Bob’s handicap.  This one was useful, especially because it too, didn’t guarantee that I would win. Uncle Bob refers to my uncle from Chicago, Robert Foote, who played tennis with me in Wisconsin through most of my life, and Uncle Bob died on the tennis court at the age of about 93. We played together on summers visits to Wisconsin, and in his seventies, it became clear it was a better game if you hit the ball to him. In his eighties, if you gave him that courtesy, he remained a veritable ball machine, and it made for good tennis. I codified the Uncle Bob handicap as Weak and Strong. In either version, you have to hit the ball to your weaker opponent so that he or she can touch the ball while still in play. If for any reason they do not, in the weak version, the point is a let, and it is played over. I’n the strong version, which is what I use against Migliorini, if he fails to get the ball to my reach, he loses the point. There is a special value to the underdog, or a defect, depending on your point of view. You can game the handicap if you need to by hitting an approach shot and rushing to the net. Your superior opponent is not aloud to pass or lob you, but must hit the ball within your reach. As you approach the net, the geometry of the game changes dramatically in your favor, which is why serve and volleyer’s are so successful, especially in doubles.

Bob is a 4.5 rated player, with a 5.0 two-handed back hand. I have beaten all the other 4.0’s at the High Lane Club in Hamden on good days, usually by just hitting to their backhands. When you hit to Bob’s backhand, if it isn’t deep, he usually hits a winner.

This June, 2020, during the covid pandemic, I lost the first set 6-1, which is common, but I won the set with the Lindsay Migliorini handicap. This morning, I lost 6-1 or 6-0, and suggested my favorite turning of the tables, the double handicap, which I get the Lindsay Migliorini handicap, and the Uncle Bob’s Strong handicap.  Bob laughs, and flatly refused. He doesn’t want to lose 6-1. But he offers a new handicap, which I immediately disliked, but graciously tried, and it worked. We quit after 20 minutes, and the score was 2 to 2. This new handicap is the Migliorini Adjustment, and it states that the superior player has to win to sux points for game, 60, plus one more point, whild the weaker player has to win a regular 4 points. The stronger player must win, 15,30, 40, 50, 60, plus one more. The weaker player has to win 15,30,40 plus one more. 60 to 40 is the new deuce. If deuce is reached, either player then has to win by 2 more points, add, then Game, just like in regular tennis. Bob and I are excited about this new handicap, because it means the score is always odd in the add court, and even in the deuse court, just like in traditional tennis. This rule is abandoned in the Lindsay Migliorini handicap. If he wins the first point, the score is 15 to Love. If he wins the second point in the add court, we go back the deuce court, but he score is still 15 Love, which challenges the mind to concentrate more on keeping score without the traditional check of always always odd in the add court.