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Creation date: March '06, Last Update: 10/14/06

Below you will find the sequel to my successful Top Spin Superguide.   

If you were a regular visitor during the evolution of my Original Top Spin FAQ & Strategy Guide, you can expect much of the same with this one in terms of updates and organization.  For those of you who are relatively new to The Original Top Spin Superguide format, what you see now for Top Spin 1 was written from experience after creating 14+ custom characters (14+ times through offline career mode) and nearly 800 online matches – which equates to almost a year’s worth of research and experience.  My FAQ and Strategy Guide for Top Spin 2 has seen similar updates, revisions to updates, and content added as more experience was gained both offline and via Xbox Live. 

Below is my final draft which was made on 10/14/06.  Seven months of work went into this guide, and I believe it to be the most comprehensive online and offline guide available for Top Spin 2.  The overall purpose of this guide is to pass on my info/experiences in hopes of improving peoples' overall gameplay, and to assist "honest/sim-gamers" during online competition.

If you have any questions about Top Spin 2, please feel free to
  The inquiries for Top Spin 1 helped make my original guide a better, more complete center for Top Spin information as I was able to identify what was on people’s minds (i.e. the noted FAQs). Your new questions would undoubtedly improve this guide as well.

Section Q was updated on 10/14/06 - final posting to this FAQ/Strategy Guide

All content found in the "Original Top Spin FAQ & Strategy Guides" (aka The Original Top Spin Superguides) is completely original work by the noted author(s).  
Content is owned by and protected by copyright law.  It is not to be reproduced or redistributed without the expressed written consent of the XBFL.


Top Spin 2 is the sequel to one of the most popular tennis videogames to date (the other being Virtua Tennis).  The original Top Spin was a unique game in that it appealed to both the tennis enthusiast and the casual fan with its easy-to-learn controls, and excellent replay value when experienced over Xbox Live.  TS2 was released in March 2006 after four significant delays, and surprising to some, by a new publisher (2K Sports). Aside from the better models being available to create more realistic custom players and the obviously improved roster of new pros to choose from, TS2 had other revisions which made it different from its predecessor:  the risk shot had been modified considerably, and more tactical shot making was available to gamers who choose to use it.  A casual look-over upon TS2's release revealed that quite a bit had been borrowed from Outlaw Tennis in terms of the non-traditional tennis competitions and use of the momentum meter.  But is TS2 better than Top Spin 1?  In some respects, yes.  But the general consensus is that TS2 does not have the "X-factor" that the original Top Spin did, and in terms of overall fun, is a slight step backwards.   Below you find my in-depth guide to playing through Top Spin 2 both offline and online, as well as many extra bits of information that should enhance your overall experience with this game.

Table of Contents:

A - Creating a Player
B - What the Pros Use (equipment and clothing found in TS2)
- Getting to #1, Seasonal Breakdown
- Offline Strategies
E -
Getting your player 60 gold stars as quickly as possible (alternate route through career mode)
- Career Mode Summary
- Xbox Live Gamer Achievements
H -
Xbox Live! Play
- Online Strategy
J - Cheesy Gameplay: Beware!
- Sim-Tennis For Dummies
L - Xbox Live/Top Spin Server Update
M - FAQs
N - Game Review (Author's Opinion)
O - Improvement Suggestions for PamDev/Indie Built & 2K Sports
P- Reality Flaws In TS2
Q - Wrap Up (conclusion) - final posting 10/14/06
R - Miscellaneous Links
S - The Author (and acknowledgements)
T - Gamer Log

* Special Notice Key:

- Pro Tactic: a technique I developed to improve a scenario found in the game, or, an alternative (and original) way of winning points.
- Pro Strategy: strategy I developed to increase the chances of winning a point.
- Pro Insight: an issue or thought that I felt was important enough to make mention of; could pertain to offline career planning, or online gaming
- Glitch! an in-game glitch or anomaly that I discovered during my experience with Top Spin 2
- Fun Fact:  an identified part of the game that really holds no perceived value, but is entertaining/amusing nonetheless
- FAQ: questions posed to me that share a similar theme


** Court Basics:

Throughout this FAQ, I will use terms like deuce court, ad-court, baseline, etc.  These terms may or may not be familiar to everyone. Below are simple illustrations depicting these areas of the court.

Court Basics: Details various parts of a tennis court: baseline, singles and doubles lines, service boxes, and doubles alley.
Court Basics 2: Illustrates the ad and deuce courts as well as "no man's land."  The term "deuce court" refers to the left service box (and right baseline area when serving).  The term "ad court" refers to the right service box (and left baseline area when serving).

A - First Things First, Creating a Player:

One of the biggest changes in Top Spin 2 is the create-a-player mode.  The level of detail you can add to your character is astounding, though many of the sliders are either ambiguous or redundant at best. 

I won’t spend too much time here other than highlighting a few key points with regard to creating your character:

Unlike Top Spin 1 where you had pre-defined character types (defensive, power, tactician), each with their own strengths and weaknesses, you can select three items from the following that will ultimately shape who your custom character will be as a player:

- Speed: affects your quickness and ability to get around the court
- Power: adds more velocity to your shots
- Focus: reduces the likelihood of errors when using the risk meter for serves or risk shots
- Reflexes: improves your ability to react quickly and effectively to incoming shots, especially on service returns and while at the net.
- Precision: reduces the margin for error when you play a shot close to the lines
- Stamina: adds to your character's physical endurance, where abilities and skills will not degrade during long points, lengthy matches, or repeated "effort shots."
- Spin: enhances ball rotation on your spin-oriented shots (including serve).
- Service: improves your service speed and effectiveness
- Forehand: improves your forehand ground stroke
- Backhand: improves your backhand ground stroke
- Volley: improves your ability to hit effective volleys when near the net

If you are creating a character in your likeness, make note of two things:

1)      If you have a pronounced feature like a chin or nose, what you see in the create-a-player mode will look even MORE pronounced in the game during replays.  You may want to scale back a bit with what you have during your creation process, even if it doesn’t necessarily look right at that moment.  

2)      You cannot modify the shape of your player’s eyes – and for all the other nonsense you can tweak, this is a rather surprising omission.  Eye shape can really alter your character’s appearance, especially if you are particular about making your character look like yourself or someone else.  I’d suggest refreshing whichever DNA you plan to choose until you can get a model with eye shape that’s close enough to what you are looking for.  The only challenge here is that you can’t zoom in to see a DNA model’s face close-up before choosing. 

Height and weight:  Another omission that makes me scratch my head in wonder is the lack of a weight/height measurement.  We have sliders for each of these items, but no indication to the exact height or weight is given.  I assumed that the mid-point of the height slider is 6’0”, but I don’t know for sure.  It looks about right though.

If you have questions with regards to a good height/weight for a custom player, please refer to The Original Top Spin Superguide under the same category heading.  I would assume much would still apply here.

Service Motions:

Service Motion 1: Classic toe drag, a very popular service motion used by many pros
Service Motion 2: Deep knee bend with knees together, a less common motion, somewhat similar to what Boris Becker used, but not exact.
Service Motion 3: Twist motion, somewhat similar to what Patrick Rafter performed during his career on the ATP Tour.
Service Motion 4: Near identical to Pete Sampras' motion - and obviously modeled from it.

Right hand or left hand:

Whichever suits you best.  Right handers are more common in pro tennis, but lefties have their own advantage with contrasting spins.

Single or two-handed backhand:

Unlike Top Spin 1, TS2 does not have any obvious drawbacks due to glitches when using a two-handed backhand.  It's simply a matter of preference.  In real life, there are advantages and disadvantages to both.

Voice Frequency:

Quite simply (in my opinion):
Always On = very annoying
Serves and efforts = okay
Effort Only = good
Never = silence is golden

Remember, you may be investing between five and 20 hours in offline career mode (depending on your objectives).  You will undoubtedly grow tired of your character's grunts after a short period of time if you choose "always on."

Fun Fact: Press the A, B, X, or Y button while you are awaiting your opponent's serve.  Your player will split step, wipe his brow, fix his shirt, lower his head, or spit.


B - What the Pros Use: Clothing and Racquets



Babolat Pure Control Team
Babolat Pure Drive Team: Ivan Ljubicic  (Andy Roddick uses the Babolat Pure Drive Roddick Plus Signature racquet)
Babolat VS NCT Drive
Babolat VS NCT Tour
Babolat Drive Z

Dunlop Maxply MacEnroe
Dunlop M-Fil 700
Dunlop M-Fil 500
Dunlop M-Fil 300: Tommy Haas, Tommy Robredo, Amelie Mauresmo
Dunlop M-Fil 200

Head i.X3
Head Liquid Metal 5
Head Liquid Metal Heat
Head Liquid Metal Prestige: Marat Safin, Gustavo Kuerten

Prince Diablo XP: Jennifer Capriati (I believe Jennifer actually uses the Diablo XP Tour frame, not the regular Diablo XP)
Prince Turbo Beast
Prince Thunder Rip
Prince Turbo Shark: David Ferrer uses the Prince Shark DB which is part of Prince's Turbo Series.  

Wilson nTour 96: Lindsay Davenport and Justine Henin-Hardenne use the Wilson nTour 95  (the '95' indicates the head size, which is 95 sq. in.)
Wilson nSix-One 96:  Roger Federer uses the Wilson nSix-One 90.  Taylor Dent, Nicolas Kiefer and Gaston Gaudio use the Wilson nSix-One 95.  
Wilson nOne Tour
Wilson n6 96
Wilson n4: Venus Williams uses the Wilson n4 nCode racquet.

Volkl Catapult 8 V-Engine
Volkl Catapult V1 4
Volkl Tour 10 MPV
Volkl Tour 8
Volkl Tour 9


C -Getting to #1, Seasonal Breakdown

Career Mode Overview:

Unlike the original Top Spin, Top Spin 2 requires you to pretty much follow a pre-determined path in order to obtain a balance of training time and match play to get to #1.  In Top Spin 1, you could train until your wallet ran dry, select a tournament at will to earn additional money, and then train some more until you were essentially maxed out with skills and attributes allowing you to pummel the competition right through ‘till the end of the game.  Additionally, in Top Spin 1, I was able to create a new character from start to finish (character DNA to having all stars/skills) in under two hours.  With Top Spin 2, a considerably larger time investment is required to complete the same process.

In Top Spin 2, career mode is much deeper, and in order to get your player to the top of the leader board, you will need to plan a schedule to accommodate both training and tournament play as your ranking will determine whether or not you are qualified for more prestigious tournaments outside of the minor circuit. 

Please note that the following guide is subject to revisions as I go through career mode with multiple characters.  New/better ways may be found, but what I have written so far is a decent way of making it through with your first character.  I have included a few original strategy tips as well as a way to score cheap points on your service game.  As expected, they were posted here FIRST!  Furthermore, let me emphasize that the following is the best route to take if reaching #1 is your priority.  If you are looking to max out your character as quickly as possible for online play, then the following steps will likely not be of much value to you.

The first thing I recommend you do is put together an idea of what you want your character to be: A baseliner? Serve and volley player?  A tactician?  Power hitter?   You should have a tentative plan of what you want your character to be because you will be accumulating bronze stars quickly during your training, and silver stars with your Season 1 tournament wins.  Obtaining 60 stars is your goal, and they will start adding up quickly. Gold stars will be readily available with wins at more prestigious tournaments, most commonly found in Season 2 (and 3 if necessary).  Remember, your ultimate goal is to put gold stars in your primary areas of interest (see FAQ below for more information on star allocation). 

Early in your career, I’d recommend that you begin putting your bronze stars in these core areas:

While you should probably focus on those areas first, you may want to add some bronze stars to other areas such as power or spin once you get your base down.  By September of Season 1, try not to have any category without at least a star or two (this includes attributes like Focus, Stamina, etc.).

While it was easy for me to make recommendations in the original Top Spin regarding star placement, Top Spin 2 is much deeper, and allows for much more fine-tuning of your custom creation.  It would be virtually impossible for me to suggest anything in particular (aside from the above), for what is preferential to me, may not be to you.  If you focus on the above items, you should do well enough in Season 1. 

For reference though, here are my thoughts on player types:

Power Hitters (baseliners): Andre Agassi, Jim Courier.   Groundstrokes (backhand/forehand) should have plenty of stars as should their power rating. They should also have moderate stamina (which is actually contrary to Andre and Jim - both of whom were in excellent physical condition for their type of gameplay).  Depending on your power hitter, sometimes precision is a tradeoff.  Some guys have very heavy swings but allow for some margin for error with the placement of their shots, while a very rare few (e.g. Agassi) possess the ability to paste lines with tremendous pace behind their shots.  Serves are adequate, but not typically exceptional.  Volleys are below average to average at best.

All-Court Players: Pete Sampras, Roger Federer: reasonable balance in their weapons of forehand, backhand, serve and volley, with one standing out slightly more than the others (e.g. Sampras' serve).  They have decent quickness around the court, good use of spins and angles, and are above average in their focus and stamina.

Defensive Players: Brad Gilbert is the best example in this category.  Strong stamina and consistency with groundstrokes is key to being a defensive player.  A defensive player has no real weaknesses other than lack of firepower on offense.  He'd be one of strong mental focus and excellent consistency with shot making.  He gets into the head of his opponent and causes them to make unforced errors.  Quickness would be a good attribute to have here as well.

Serve and Volley Players (net aggressors): Patrick Rafter, Stefan Edberg, Taylor Dent, Tim Henman.  Serve and volleyers are a dying breed in tennis as it takes an exceptional amount of skill and talent these days to succeed with this gameplan.  In Top Spin 1, in nearly 800 online matches, I experienced less than a half dozen net aggressors - and none of them were ranked very high.  If you choose this route, make sure you have an effective serve (120mph+), a strong ability to volley, and good court speed. The trade off is that you won't have firepower from the forehand or backhand side, but your shot making should be precise.  The best volleys are made after setting up a solid approach shot.


The Schedule:

As you have undoubtedly found, there are up to three options on any given date in your career.  You will always have the option to train.  In some instances, you will qualify for a specific tournament, or, you will have the option to participate in “Davis Cup” like events, exhibition doubles action, charity fund-raisers, or personal challenges from other players.  For Season 1, I’d recommend staying away from all the special events and focus just on training and tournament play.

Additionally, do not train until you run out of money and expect to hop into a tournament to earn additional funds.  Unlike Top Spin 1, you now have a set schedule you must follow.  If you run out of funds from excessive training, you may end up on a date where you can’t train, you don’t qualify for a tournament due to your low ranking, and there are no special events.  Additionally, your inability to do anything may last for a few months depending on when your wallet runs dry.  This situation leads to an unproductive period of time, thus putting your player behind schedule.  Consequently, his ranking will drop too from lack of tournament play.  This could put you out of position to make an appearance at a major event in your first season.

To eliminate this problem, the best plan is to participate in all of the minor tournaments, at least until October (see below).


Career Mode, Season 1:

Season 1 Goals:

Basic Goals:

Target Goals:

Stretch Goals:


Here is the tournament schedule I ran for Season 1 (assume training to have taken place on all the dates NOT mentioned below):

Glitch Notice!  I chose to train instead of competing in the New Delhi event.  After my training session, I got an email from my fan club and coach saying that they were sorry for my loss.   ?!?!?  My loss?  I didn’t compete in the event!  How could I lose something I didn’t participate in?

Game Glitch! When developing my fourth character, a female, I encountered two glitches in my first tournament during Season 1 (Mediterranean):  In the second match of the event, my character's service motion had changed from motion #2 to motion #1.  She also grunted on every swing of the racquet (I had her designed to grunt only on effort shots).  In the final match of the tournament, I experienced a freaky yet amusing glitch where my character was completely invisible except for her cap.  A few months ago (April '06), a fellow gamer had written into this FAQ describing a similar story: his character was a male who's hair was the only thing visible for a particular match.  It was on my fourth character did I witness this personally for the first time.

The good news is that everything returned to normal on the next calendar event (which was training).  Below are a few screen shots I took of the "invisibility glitch" I encountered:




Career Mode, Season 2:

Season 2 Goals:

Basic Goals: 

Target Goals:

Stretch Goals:

Several new challenges will present themselves if you qualify for the Australian Open.  First of all, you will be squaring off against professional players that are in a league of their own in terms of their physical talents.  To make the situation even more difficult, you should only have around 30-38 stars at this point if you followed my prescribed steps. However, if you can pull off an “upset” at the 1st Grand Slam of the year, the rewards are outstanding if you followed my outline above:

Depending upon your existing disbursement of bronze stars, you may not be able to apply your newly acquired stars to certain aspects of your character.  In my case, I could not add these to my forehand or backhand!

At the Australian Open, you will find tough competition beginning in the quarterfinals (due to your character's limited strengths).  In my case, I met up with Tim Henman, Roger Federer, and Sebastian Grosjean in the final three rounds respectively.  Federer was by far the most challenging to beat, almost effectively causing me to lose a layer of skin on my thumb.  Fortunately enough, my service “trick” (see Pro-Tactic in Section D) kept it close enough for me to find a weakness in his game: he doesn’t respond well to incoming shots with top spin.  Grosjean was a walkover, much like I expected him to be.  

Now, if you did not qualify for the Australian Open, you should focus your efforts on training while the big event is taking place.  At this stage in your career, you will really need to strengthen your ground strokes (if you haven’t already), and begin putting an emphasis on your power game.  I am assuming that your serve is reaching the 118-122mph ranges by now.  If not, make it so.  

February 1st: 

1) Train
2) Nippon tournament (minor)
3) Tryouts for the “World Tournament Team.”  If you, like me, won the Australian Open on your first try through – by all means, try out for the World Tournament team.

You should be ranked in the top 10 at this point, and depending on your country, you could expose a glitch in the game.

Game Glitch! Should you be ranked second in your country, you will play YOURSELF.  In other words, you will have complete control over both players on the same screen (zoom mode will not be an option to choose from).  So, you’ll serve the ball, and whatever movements you make on your controller, the returner will also be responding accordingly.  At first I thought it was a joke, but came to the conclusion that PamDev did not anticipate a player being ranked so high, so early in the game – that being the second ranked person in their respective country (my character is from the U.S.).  So what I did was purposely allow one guy score unanswered points and I was able to wrap up the “contest” in less than 5 minutes.  The payout was $75,000, six silver stars, and 4 gold stars.  Not too bad for 5 minutes (or less) of minimal effort.

February 15: Even though you have three options, the only two you should consider are training or the World Tourney preliminary event.  I opted to train because I needed to enhance my forehand and backhand prowess.  Despite disappointing my "Davis Cup Team,” I knew I was coming close to reaching my maximum star allotment and the competition at the Aussie Open was an eye opener as to how deficient my character really was.  It came to the point where I needed to axe my existing coach in favor of one who could strengthen my baseline game.  As stated earlier, silver and gold stars can only be applied to where bronze stars have been placed, and I was lacking extra bronze stars in both my forehand and backhand categories. 

Pro Insight: Assess where your character is now and where you want him to be.  By the end of Season 2, your character’s structure will have been built, and most, if not all, of your bronze stars assigned.  You may still have access to silver and gold stars, but they can only be placed where you have designated bronze stars.  It is also important to revisit your coaching options.

March 1:  1) Train, 2) Pacific Life Open, 3) Challenge Your Rival for $1M

For me, this was a no-brainer.  The Pacific Life Open is one of the premier Masters Series events and should be made a priority on your schedule as it will help improve your ranking. If for some reason you do not qualify for this event, then you may want to challenge your Rival so he'll shut up for a while.  Aside from the cash, you may earn a decent reward in terms of stars as well.  You should have approximately 35-40 stars at this point.  Depending on your star count, the number of silver and gold stars I received was 5 and 3 respectively (no other placement for those colored stars).

March 15: 1) Train, 2) NASDAQ-100, 3) Fundraiser for a private school

While it's a great thought to help out a school and have it named after you, the NASDAQ-100 simply cannot be overlooked.  It is part of the Masters Series and another priority on your schedule if your desire is to be ranked #1 in the world in offline career mode.  You may not see a ranking change by participating in the NASDAQ, but it will solidify your current ranking so that you can bypass the Dallas tournament (a major) prior to the French Open.  At this point in time, my star count was 38 and my ranking was #4 (winning everything that I entered thus far).  The star reward for winning the NASDAQ (for me) was 5 silver and 12 gold.  This may vary depending on your star total and the number of convertible bronze stars you have available.

April 1: Assuming you are on schedule and still undefeated, you should take a break from tournament play until the French Open, and train your character. Consider April 1st and the following two dates to be exclusively for training.  Your ranking should not change any during this time.  

May 15 - French Open: The French Open will offer a good payoff in terms of silver and gold stars, and it's best to earn some bronze stars in training prior to this event so that upgrades can be applied after winning it.  Your star count going into the French Open should be between 40-45 now.  Also, should you win the French Open title, your ranking will improve to #3.

July 1 - Wimbledon:  Provided you experienced the same success I have thus far (no losses), Wimbledon will be your pay dirt.  You should be #3 in the world, have about 45-53 stars (depending on your success in the challenges) and in prime position to overtake the #1 spot.  If you win Wimbledon, you will attain the #1 ranking.  You will also become a Brand Icon with your sponsor, a Legend in terms of your career status, and you will be handsomely rewarded in both monetary terms as well as silver and gold stars.

So what now?  You are number one in the world - and I am confident this is the quickest (but not necessarily the easiest) way of doing so.  If you want to wrap up your season as #1, follow the schedule I've outlined below:

August 1st: Vienna - participate in this Masters Series event.
August 15th: Train - you should only have a few stars left to earn.  Be careful with how you assign them to your skills and attributes (see
Pro-Tip below)
September 1st: U.S. Open - it goes without saying that you must participate in this Grand Slam to secure your #1 position.  If you win here, you'll be a lock for #1 'till the end of the season.
September 15th: Train (see
Pro-Tip below)
October 1st: You have the choice to either train or participate in the World Tournament finals on this date.  I opted to get my final star on this date.
October 15th:  
Your choice -- Paris Indoor event or participate in the private match challenge where you receive a million dollars if you win plus stars if applicable (single set match against your rival)
November 1st: Tokyo event or train (if necessary)
November 15th: Masters Cup.  You will play a total of 5 matches should you make it to the finals.  There is no way to save this game at any point between rounds at this event.  All five matches must be played in one sitting.

After the conclusion of the Masters Cup at the end of the season, you will be prompted to begin Season 3.  This is where you will have access to four training sessions that will grant you the ability to pull off advance shots using the "L" trigger along with the "X", "Y", "B" and "A" buttons.  They are as follows:

Is there more to Top Spin 2 offline career mode after acquiring these additional shots?  Well, if you consider meeting all of the payout challenges the various sponsors put up, then yes. Additionally, there are also "Achievement Points" that can be unlocked by ending your career successfully, and doing so with 1,000 points.  If you've followed my outline for becoming #1 above, you should be on the verge of 1,000 points at the end of Season 2.  Other than these unlockable items, and the two end-of-career Achievement Points, I see no reason why you should continue beyond the point where you acquire the four advance shots.  The outline I've provided above should take you approximately 10-12 hours (give or take an hour) from start to finish (i.e. being #1) should you go undefeated as I  had through career mode; making the most of your training sessions, and not "replaying" matches due to difficulty in winning.  I should have kept better track of time, but 10-12 hours is pretty much a guestimate.  Creating the look of my character took me 45 minutes alone!

Pro Insight: Last few stars, how to distribute stars exactly where you want and/or need them

Assigning the last few remaining stars can be a tricky process, especially if you are looking to improve a specific area that is grouped with two others that you are not interested in improving.  For instance, if you want to add a single star to spin, but don't want to apply the other two (or three) stars from at training session to stamina and speed (i.e. "Fortress") - you may be scratching your head as what to do.  The answer is quite simple:  fail the test.  By failing a test, you will get a single star.  This will allow you to itemize where your few remaining stars can go, instead of having to put the extra stars to areas you don't want.  It may take a little longer to finish up your 60 star total this way (by failing tests intentionally), but at least you will get them exactly where you want them.

Game Glitch!: Upon entering my third season, on January 1st, I chose to train to acquire the ability for my first advanced shot.  I was to play Guillermo Coria in a gymnasium for a single game match (I was the server).  To my horror, my character had a completely different service motion than what I assigned to him, and, he was using a single-handed backhand (he was created to use two!).  Somehow, my character's serve and backhand had changed without my doing between the change from Season 2 to Season 3 - and it was consistent for the entire training session. As soon as I completed the challenge, I powered off before the game went to "auto save" in fear that those new settings would be kept.  I rebooted my Xbox 360, loaded up career mode again, and tried the training session one more time.  Thankfully, everything had returned to normal.

Game Glitch!: If you save your progress at the conclusion of your January 1st advanced shot training session, and power down your Xbox 360- the next time you log on to Xbox Live for online competition, your character may not be wearing the clothing you applied to him (or her) in career mode - instead, the default 2K Sports clothing will be worn.  To correct this, you must go back into career mode, and despite your character dressed correctly there - re-assign the clothing anyway from the Sports Bag, return to the Tennis Central menu, and quit/save.  This should take care of the problem.

This concludes the "Getting to #1: Seasonal Breakdown" portion of my FAQ and Strategy Guide.


D - Offline Strategies

If you have followed my general outline for adding experience to your serve, groundstrokes, etc., the following strategies should really help make your life easier in Season 1 and in the beginning of Season 2.  These will especially help you when you play guys who possess substantially higher skill levels.

Pro Insight:  Use The Zoom View

For recreational gamers (and all gamers alike), I highly recommend using the zoom view.  To switch views: pause your game, change your view to "zoom," and resume your progress.  This way, you will never have difficulty again when "serving on top" as you will now always be facing forward.  This was something I figured to be general knowledge, but a fellow gamer wrote me stating that he wasn't aware of this option until halfway through his season, and since switching, has found TS2 much easier to play.  So, give it a try if you haven't already.  It may make your gaming both online and offline much more enjoyable!

Pro Tactic:  Easy Points On Serve

If you have a risk serve that can reach at least 115mph, you are in good shape for this tactic.  This trick will GUARANTEE you a cheap point each and every time for Season 1 if done correctly:

From your starting position in the deuce court, take three steps to your right (or, move all the way to the doubles alley and take a step-and-a-half or two steps to the left from there).  Use the “X” button to slice a serve.  You will need at least 75% power for it to be effective.  As the meter is rising, tap your analog stick to the left and press "X."  Your serve should hit the outside line of the service box and spin out wide forcing your opponent off the court.  As your opponent is preparing to return the ball, start moving towards the center of the baseline with your safe shot button “A” depressed.  Your opponent will likely hit the ball right towards the center of the baseline, or he’ll try down the line.  Either way, you will be moving in that direction and powered up for a rifle shot.  As soon as the ball reaches you, drive the ball cross-court (direction furthest from him) for a clean winner.  You should ALWAYS win your service point doing this.  I’ve done this over 100 times, and never once missed a single point against the computer.  If by freaky chance your opponent returns the ball cross-court back to where you served from, do not worry!  Just correct your positioning with the “A” button still depressed and simply drive the ball down the line for a put away.

In Season 2 (1st part), this technique is not as effective, though, would still probably give you a 90%+ success rate.  The determining factor regarding how well this works for the first few months of Season 2 is how powerful your groundstrokes are.  If you are a right handed server, you will need a beefed-up backhand to make this tactic more effective during the first quarter of your second season.

Pro Strategy:  If you get caught in a rally during Season 1. 

In Top Spin 2, computer controlled opponents (Season 1) don’t necessarily try to dominate from the center of the court, and you can use this to your advantage.

There will no doubt come a situation in any extended rally where your opponent is near a sideline and he’ll rip a cross-court shot.  In most cases, you can actually use this to your advantage to set up a winning shot off of YOUR racquet, or, put yourself it better situation to take control of the point.

When your opponent hits a cross-court shot from a sideline position (usually from ad-side if you play with the zoom camera), chase down the ball and use top spin to hit it cross court right back to him.  This will keep him positioned at the sideline.  He will likely in turn hit his next shot down the line.  By your anticipating this, you should already be in motion to be there when it arrives.  As soon as you get to it, hit a top spin cross-court shot to the open court (deuce court).  Your opponent will be too late in getting to the ball resulting in a point for you.  This situation is all too common in Season 1, and setting up your opponent is a relatively easy thing to do.  You should have a very high success rate with this strategy.  I’d estimate a 95+% success rate in doing this against all Season 1 opponents.

Pro Strategy:  Save that game! 

Unlike Top Spin 1, TS2 requires much more of a time commitment to complete the offline career mode.  Furthermore, the Grand Slams start you in the round of 16 in TS2 with a best of three game, five set format.  Thankfully, the developers of TS2 allow a game-save option in between rounds.  This will allow you to take a break if you can't play through the event all at once, but even better, if you lose a round, you could always revert back to your last save versus having to start the tournament from scratch.  So, if you aren't confident that you can beat the offline competition in a given event, make sure you save your progress every chance you get in between rounds!

Pro Strategy: Beating Roger Federer

If you've followed my steps above to being #1, you will undoubtedly realize how difficult it is to compete at the pro level (i.e. Grand Slams) with a sizeable deficiency in your star count.  You will have between 30 and 40 stars going into the Australian Open (Season 2) while players like Hewitt and Federer have in excess of 60 (Federer leads the group with 75).  I found Roger to be the most difficult to beat at the first Slam of Season 2, but I did find success against him.

When serving: No doubt about it, follow my service trick mentioned above.  Depending on your star allottment for groundstrokes and power, you should be able to win points serving from the deuce court almost every time.  On the ad-side, Roger is much more difficult.  He favors a cross court return at very sharp angles.  If you aren't prepared, your only option will be to hit it down the left sideline where he'll easily get into position to flick it back over the net for a clean winner.  Paying close attention to Roger's animations as he's winding up should tip you off as to which way he'll hit the ball.  If he's going cross court with his return, get into position and press the "X" button firmly and carefully place it down the line (quick left tap of the analog stick).  If you don't think you'll get into position for his cross court return, then I'd suggest just tapping the "X" button and putting it into the middle of the court and immediately begin moving your guy to the center of the baseline.  The slow slice shot will hopefully buy you enough time to get back into a defensive position.  In the rare case he returns one of your ad-court serves down the line, simply use the "B" button (tap) and analog stick up/left to hit a lofty top spin shot deep into his court and begin the rally from there, where no player will have a real advantage from the start.  Your goal is to neutralize his offensive capabilities when he's able to set up for a shot.

During a rally: Top spin is the most effective shot against Roger Federer in Top Spin 2.  Keep moving the ball around from corner to corner preventing Roger from being on the offensive.  If you can get him on the run, switch to the "X" button and slice it to a corner and follow in behind it for an easy volley ("B" or "X") to the open court when he replies with a weak return.

Pro Tactic: Reduce your unforced errors by not hitting shots into the net

It is human nature for us to press the X, Y, B, and A buttons harder when we need a big shot in a desperate situation.  However, this is not necessarily effective when you are behind the baseline.  Due to the nature of the "X" and "B" shots (slice and top spin respectively), it is best to tap the buttons when you are far behind the baseline.  This will make your character float the ball high up above the net versus hitting a low, line drive shot right into it.  The drawback is that the ball's pace is relatively slow, and your opponent might be able to put it away with ease.  However, the way I see it - it's better that he or she win the point with effort than it is for you to give the point away by dumping it into the net.

The same applies to volleys as well.  Only hold the "X" and "B" buttons down if you are right on beside the net, or, there is enough clearance so that when you do hit a strong volley, there will be no chance of it going into the net (trajectory/velocity of the incoming ball is usually the determining factor).  Pressing "A" firmly will always result in a more powerful volley without fear of hitting the net.  The only downside of using "A" is that the angle you produce will not be as sharp as when using "B" or "X."

Pro Strategy: Beating Andy Roddick

In Top Spin 2, Andy's only weapon is his serve.  His groundstrokes are average at best and he's not a threat to come in behind a ball and attack the net.  Be prepared for Andy's serve to clock in between 135 and 143mph at any given time.  Your placement to receive the ball should pretty much be the default location on the court, maybe a half step to the outside line.  When Andy serves, simply slice the ball back with very little analog stick use, maybe just a light tap so that the ball goes cross-court.  This should center the ball to reduce any extreme angles he can try hit.

  When Andy serves from the ad-court, you can pretty much mirror the following actions at least 75-80% of the time for easy "gimme points":

- Andy serves
- You slice ("X") his serve cross-court to the right (provided you are in zoom mode)
- He'll in turn hit the ball down the line (right side)
- Get to that part of the court and use the "B" button and hold the analog stick 'left' to hit a top spin cross-court shot.  (Note: your top spin controls may be sensitive depending on your precision and spin rating)
- He'll chase the ball down and hit down the left sideline.  You should be reacting to his motion and already be in position to cover this shot.
- As you are approaching the left sideline, begin holding down the "A" button and then blister the ball back to the right side for a clean winner.

There is a rare chance that Andy won't hit down the sideline after your service return, but 98% of the time his return won't cross the center point of the court - most of his replies will be to the right-most portion of the court, where the above steps can be modified just a bit to get him to run to the left side before tee'ing off to the right.

 Pro Strategies: Playing Doubles

If you have played doubles with a computer controlled partner in Top Spin 2, you have undoubtedly experienced some of the most frustrating videogame tennins known to man.  Computer A.I. in Top Spin 2 is erratic and completely unhelpful.  Fortunately, I've found a few tactics that may help increase the probability of you winning points by about 15-20%.

When you are serving: line up as far as you can to the doubles alley to make your serve.  If you use the risk serve, hit it out wide.  Many times, your serve will result in an ace, especially if you are playing against a computer team ranked 100+ (such as the Season 1 mixed doubles event).  If you need to use a second serve, use the slice serve("X") from the deuce court to spin it out wide, or the top spin serve ("B") to kick it out wide.  If you don't score an ace, your teammate may cut off the return for an easy put away volley.

When your teammate is receiving a serve:  Once your teammate is winding up to return a serve, immediately begin to cheat towards the center service line to bait the server into hitting down the line.  Be prepared to jump back into position to take the volley, and use "A" to hit it behind the opposing net player at an angle.  (Click HERE for example).

Volleys: For some reason, making a volley with "X" or "B" at a good angle cross-court is always picked up by the opposing netman (or netwoman).  Because of this, "A" is the best option to make cross-court volleys as it puts the ball further behind them.  Holding "A" makes your shot more powerful and therefore, more effective.  "B" and "X" are good for hitting sharp angles to the doubles alley of the side you are on.

Lobs: Lobs are a good choice if the deep person back (person on the baseline) is cross-court from you, and the person directly in front is at the net.  Press and hold "Y," and push the analog stick towards the opposing baseline.  If done correctly, the lob will travel far and deep enough to clear the outstretched racquet of the netperson, and the baseline player will be too late to get to the ball.  It may take a bit of you playing up at the net and then backpeddling to get your opponents to line up the way you want them, but this is a fairly effective tactic when executed properly.


E - Getting Your Player to 60 Gold Stars as Quickly as Possible

I would think that most everyone's initial goal with Top Spin 2 is to complete Career Mode with their first player, and for any subsequent creations, to get them online-ready as soon as possible.  With that in mind, below is my recommended course of action to get your custom player ready for online competition in the least amount of time. Please note however, that there are a few minor deviations you can take during your run through career mode here.  I have made mention of any such cases.  

Season 1




January 1st


I chose baseline training to develop forehand

January 15


I chose baseline training to develop backhand

February 1st


Added stars to precision

February 15



March 1


Be careful not to choose training that costs $30K or more at this point.  Begin to budget your money by purchasing training for level 1 or 2 skills (priced at or around $11.5K)

March 15



April 1


Participate in the Essex tournament.  You should receive $150K and a Silver Star if you win (which you should).

April 15



May 1



May 15


Take a moment to check your account balance as well as the training options you are planning to select.  Make sure you will have enough money through to July 15th.  Remember, skills can be found in two different groupings (e.g. baseline and fortress), and one type of training may be significantly cheaper than the other if they are at different levels.

June 1



June 15



July 1



July 15


Participate in the Mexican Regional

August 1



August 15


You may receive a Silver Star bonus after your training session here.

September 1

Train or Mixed Doubles

Since money was getting tight at this point for me (due to my choice of training sessions), I chose to enter the Mixed Doubles event. The payout was three Silver Stars for winning it.  If playing doubles frustrates you (due to the stupidity of the computer A.I.), check out my doubles tips in Section C of this FAQ/Strategy Guide.  Game Glitch!: During my doubles match, I inadvertently hit a shot out of bounds, but a member of the computer-controlled team hit the ball before it bounced, thus keeping it in play.  Unfortunately, the computer must have realized its mistake and it literally froze my character so that he couldn't move, and the ball bounced past me.  It was an easy shot to get to, but my controls didn't respond at all.  The A.I. team was awarded the point.  

September 15



October 1


Participate in the minor event in Illinois.

October 15



November 1


Tokyo Open: You should qualify for this event and it's a good time to start bringing in some prize winnings as training sessions will start getting pretty expensive in Season 2.  Winning this tournament will net you a top 70 ranking, star status, $150K, and 3 silver stars.

November 15


New Delhi: This will be your second major in a row.  Winning this will put you in the top 50 and in position to attend the Australian Open qualifiers in Season 2.  Aside from winning your second major title, you will also get a silver star and another $150K.


Total Time: Approximately 2.5 to 2.75 hours.

You should have about 41 bronze stars, 10 silver, and $450K in prize money.  Your totals may be slightly higher or lower depending on whether you made clothing/equipment purchases, and which training sessions you participated in.

Season 2




January 1st


Australian Open Qualifiers: Pro Insight: Win your service game and break your opponent's serve.  Then press LB during the intermission to simulate the service games one by one.  You should win the match since your momentum will be high, and you would already be up a  break of serve.  Doing this will save you a few minutes of time in speeding through the event.

January 15


Australian Open: Win this event and the payoff will be well worth it: approximately 14 silver and 5 gold stars.  You will also earn enough to complete your training ($1,200,000) and move to the top 10 in the world rankings.  Other achievements from winning the Australian Open are: #1 spot in the Masters Race, Image Leader status by your sponsor, and career Superstar status.

February 1



February 15


For what it's worth, this is the date I made my first coaching chaing so that I could attain higher levels in specific skill categories.

March 1

Challenge From A Rival

Here, you will play a fellow countryman in a single set match.  The money you'll win is irrelevant at this point, as you are only seeking silver and gold stars here.  Winning this match will net you approximately 15 silver and 6 gold stars.

March 15

Tennis School Invitational

Aside from the good deed of helping a school out, winning this easy tournament (again, a single set match against your rival) will get you about 10 silver stars and 7 gold.  A $75,000 payout is also yours to keep.

April 1

Challenge from a Pro Player

This is the third special event in a row that will significantly help improve your player's abilities by upgrading your bronze stars to silver and gold.  Winning this single set match is worth 3 silver and five gold.  $25,000 also goes to the winner.

April 15

Sponsors Cup

There are two rounds to this tournament.  Use the Pro Insight I posted to the Australian Open Qualifiers above to speed through this event. Winning this mini-tournament will reward you with roughly 4 gold stars.

May 1


You will get a few silver stars to overlay the bronze ones you just earned.

May 15

Train or Tournament

At this point, you should be VERY close to having acquired all 60 stars (not necessarily all of them being silver or gold).  At the conclusion of the French Open, you will have two weeks to which you can train before Wimbledon starts.  If those two weeks will wrap up your training needs, then I would recommend playing in the French Open where you will be rewarded silver and gold stars for winning the title.  If you think you'll need three weeks of training to wrap up your quest for all 60 stars, then skipping the French might be in your best interest.  Wimbledon (July 1) and the "Difficult Choice" special event (August 1) will both reward you with an abundance of silver and gold stars to where skipping the French Open wouldn't hurt you.  Instead, by skipping the French, it would actually speed along your progress by about 30 to 40 minutes.

 June 1



 June 15



July 1


Wimbledon:  Participate in this event and win.  You will be rewarded approximately 3 silver and 10 gold stars.  Use my Pro Insights described above for this tournament  in the second set when you are up 2-0 and have your opponent's momentum meter at zero (and yours being full).  You'll be able to simulate each game using "Y", and you should pretty much walkover them doing so.  I was able to complete Wimbledon in under 20 minutes doing this trick (including the final over Federer!).

July 15

Train if necessary

This was my final training date to which I had one more star to earn.  This too may be your final date for acquiring all 60 stars.  Now, we must convert them to gold....

August 1

Special Event

Private Match, Difficult Choice: A billionaire wants you to play against your rival and the reward for winning the single-set match is too good to pass up.  Should you win this contest, you will get the number of gold stars needed to wrap up your character (or at least, you should).  I received 23 gold stars which was all I needed to complete my character.

Mission Complete!

Total Time: Approximately 1.75 to 2.5 hours depending on whether you participated in the French Open.

Unlike my process for "Getting to #1" (Section C) where Advanced Shots training was made available during the third season, it will now be available on August 15th during the U.S. Open qualifying rounds.    If you are in a hurry to acquire all of the Advanced Shots, then simply press start at "Tennis Central" when a tournament is highlighted to completely skip it and move on to the next date.


F - Career Mode Summary

While I feel that TS2’s Career Mode is vastly improved over TS1, PamDev went overboard by requiring a career to last five seasons, which is utterly ridiculous.  When going into the game for the first time without much knowledge of Career Mode, I had made assumptions as to what would be required to complete it.  They were as follows:

On my first attempt through the game, I was ranked #1 after Wimbledon in Season 2, and finished up the year by achieving the Grand Slam (winning all four majors).  I put my stamp on the season by winning the Masters event in November, capping off my undefeated career.  I had also accumulated about 950 career points.  I figured I’d wrap up my career at the end of Season 3 after defending my #1 ranking, winning all of my events, and acquiring the advanced shots.  When that didn’t happen, I was a bit put-off.  What else was there to play for?  The answer is basically nothing.  But, in order to unlock two achievements (1,000 points at the end of career mode and completion of career), I had to finish.  So, I did what I now hear most everyone else is doing: simulating Seasons 4 and 5 just to be done with it.  I had to sacrifice my perfect record from Seasons 1-3 just to get closure on my existing career.  What’s the accomplishment in earning 1,000 points in five seasons when I was almost able to do it in two, and most everybody in three?  Top Spin 2 is practically giving that accomplishment away, and it’s hardly an achievement if that much time is allowed to attain it.  For people needing five seasons to reach milestones in career mode (#1 ranking, 60 stars, etc.), I can understand that.  But for the rest of us who can wrap it up much sooner, there is no need for the extra time investment.  The existing outline for Career Mode was pretty poorly planned out, and of the many Top Spin enthusiasts that I’ve spoken to (and from what they’ve heard as well), the general consensus appears to be pretty displeased with it when considering the grand scheme of things.  Almost everyone praised it early on, but when it was realized just how long it was, the sweetness turned to bitterness.  At the very least, there should have been the option to "retire" once my bulleted items above were accomplished, or, continue on through additional seasons. If you were wondering if there is any special season ending events, there are a few I suppose:

On November 15th in Season 5, you have the choice to participate in your final Masters Cup or in a special event called the Jubilee Open which is described as an event "to celebrate your career."  It is a tournament that matches you up with opponents (if any) who had beaten you the most over the course of your career.  

The final "scheduled" event of your career will be in New Delhi, which is a minor tournament.  If you skip that, your career will effectively conclude - HOWEVER, your rival will want one last shot at you in a single set match.  Once you beat him (which you should with ease), you will receive a career summary of how many tournaments you've entered, how many you've won, a summary of your training, etc.  You will also have the option to visit your sports bag one final time as well as shop around for other items.  When you are through with the sports bag/sports shop and retire, you may unlock the two final achievements which award you 200 and 250 points towards your gamerscore respectively (see Section G below for details).


G - Xbox 360 Top Spin 2 Achievements:

Offline Achievements

Point Value

Reach #1 World Ranking in Career Mode


Win First Exhibition Match


Win 1st Career Match


Win 1st Tournament


Complete 1st Career


End Career with 1,000 points


Beat all female pro players


Beat all male pro players



Online Achievements

Point Value

Win first ranked match


Win first 25 ranked matches


Play 50 ranked matches



H- Xbox Live! Play:

Playing Top Spin on Xbox Live! can be both rewarding and frustrating depending on the person you are playing.  Some guys play tennis by the book, others haven’t a clue, and a certain percentage usually attempt to exploit every loophole and reality-flaw in the game.  Furthermore, there are a number of immature losers out there who will likely ding your Gamer Reputation by submitting erroneous claims about your gaming style (simply because they are poor sports after they lose).  With that said, there is an enormous amount of quality gamers out there who enhance the TS2 online experience - and those are the guys who make the game fun to play, and worth playing.

In terms of common tactics shared by many TS2 gamers, so far, the only identified tactic being used quite often is the slow slice serve out wide (typically in the 70mph range).  I am sure other commonalities will be reported in the near future as gamers will begin to figure out what they can and can't do with this game (harkening back to the "death drop shot" in TS1 that was discovered a few months after the game was released).

From my experience thus far, I've found the top 2,000 to be very competitive, and there have even been a handful in the 3,000 range that have not been pushovers either. The uniqueness of everyone's star placement for their custom characters has shown me that sometimes unfavorable matchups can turn-out where one player's strength dominates another's, or, exposes a weakness.  This new element to TS2 has made for some very interesting matches to say the least.

Game Glitch!:  One thing I should caution you on is something dubbed the "stutter glitch."  It is a glitch in the game where a point cannot begin due to a gamer's character acting screwy.  From the non-affected person's point of view, it looks like their opponent is sliding across the baseline with a flicker here and there, and then they'll reset to their original position, slide across the baseline, flicker and reset, slide across the baseline....   To my knowledge, this problem does not self-correct.  The only way to "fix it" is to power down and reboot.  Unfortunately, someone (preferably the affected gamer) will be charged with the disconnection and consequently lose points on the leaderboard.

Game Glitch!:  One I am not sure if this was an isolated incident, or something that is affecting others, but somewhat recently (April '06), I was playing a guy who disconnected after falling behind 2-0, 30-0 in the first set.  I received the notice that my opponent's signal was lost, but instead of seeing the abbreviated match summary appear, the loading icon in the lower right hand corner of the TV stayed on.  It took about 20 seconds before I finally got the scoring summary indicating that I won.  When I went back to the quick match screen, and chose to find a new opponent to play.  There was no one available so I went to the lobby to find someone.  At that point, *I* became disconnected from Xbox Live.  When I logged on again after getting bounced to the main menu, I discovered that I fell over 40 spots in the rankings!  I played one random match that wasn't worth very much, but somehow gained 40 spots with the win.  I was still a bit further behind than where I started (and should have been) - but it was fairly close.  This is one glitch where I still have no idea what happend!  (follow up 4/26/06: see section titled "Cheesy Gameplay: Beware!" for more information on this.)

Pro Insight:  Check the connection before you play!  If you select an opponent to play from the lobby, be aware of the time it takes to connect to them.  Once you select a gamer to challenge, the “loading swirl” in the lower right hand corner should flicker for a fraction of a second and then connect you to the challenge screen.  If that “loading swirl” hangs for longer than 1.5 seconds, you will likely face lag during your match.  If it hangs for several seconds before connecting, you will be dealing with a very poor quality connection, and I’d advise you to back out at the challenge screen.

If by chance both you and your opponent indicate that you are ready to play, and you get the court only to see that the lag is unbearable, you should be able to forfeit the match without penalty BEFORE any point is played out.  If a point is played and you choose to then forfeit, you will be credited with the loss and lose points accordingly.

I cannot promise that this will always work without penalty, though, I have seen on a few occasions where my overseas opponents recognized that lag would negatively affect our game, and he (or she) forfeited the match without either of us losing points.  They were also the host of the match, which may be a factor to consider.  Be careful though, there are many non-U.S. gamers who are used to playing with extreme lag, and they may start their service motion as soon as they can to keep you in the game, thus putting you at a huge disadvantage!


I- Online Strategies:

Some of what I had written for the Original Top Spin FAQ & Strategy Guide (TS1) still applies for TS2, and those items will be mentioned below along with a few new observations that I've made so far.  Keep checking this section as it will almost become a journal of new entries each time I have a new experience when online.

- Play Online Only When Your Character is Ready
Don’t hop online with an incomplete custom character (i.e. not having all 60 stars) as soon as you get the game.  As enticing as it is to play online – make sure you are ready by passing the offline skills challenges so that you get a feel for the game.  In Top Spin 1, my winning percentage took a hit when I first got the game because of this.  I’ve played tennis in real life at tournament level competition for many years (hence, knowledge of the game inside and out), have above-average skill in videogames, and I still got my arse handed to me by guys with jacked up custom players.  An inferior custom character in the hands of a good gamer versus an average opponent with a jacked up custom character will still have the good gamer at a disadvantage!  In Top Spin 2, I exercised patience by playing through career mode to accumulate all 60 stars and one advanced shot before I went online to compete in ranked matches.  

- When looking for a “Quick Match,” make sure you look at the game setup to the left of the screen when you initially connect to someone to see how many games/sets will be played by the hosting opponent.  Make sure that a match is set up to at least be a best of three game, three set match.  If you are just getting into the game for the first time, you may want to check your opponent's rank too before you choose to accept.

-It is sometimes better to start off serving than receiving in TS2:  Contrary to real life tennis (where, according to tennis coach Brad Gilbert - it's better to start off a match returning serve), TS2 offers an advantage to a person who begins serving at the start of a match.  Generally speaking, the server holds an advantage - and it's easier to build up the momentum meter (assuming you are winning points off of your serve).  If you successfully hold your serve, you will have some momentum built up to execute advanced shots (L+X, L+B, etc.) when your opponent is serving - thus giving you the edge in the second service game of the match.  Should you break his or her serve, you will be in good shape to serve out the set with even more momentum from earning the break.

- It’s best to size up your competition from the onset  If your opponent is serving first, note whether or not he went for the risk serve right off the bat or if he opted to use the “rainbow meter.” 

- Return risk shots and risk serves with slices unless you have the skills necessary to counter those offensive shots effectively. The slice is a very underrated and underused shot online, and it’s very effective.

- Don’t get discouraged if you encounter a player who wins easy points off of slice serves over and over. I personally try to avoid getting involved in matches that resort to this sort of gameplay, but if my opponent is doing it all the time, then the gloves come off.  Be patient, there is always a way to get yourself into the point.  Try slicing your returns down the line a bit to get the server moving to cover that side of the court (to the point where they are expecting you to do that all the time)  - - then begin mixing it up by hitting tight cross-court topspin returns to catch the server off guard.  If you have the advanced slice shot, then use that.  It should buy you more than enough time to regain decent court positioning.  

If your opponent is getting to your slices down the line, then try hitting slow slices cross-court to keep them from advancing to the net.  If they are resorting to cheesy gameplay by pulling you off the court and into the photographers' boxes with their serves, try using the L+X button even if you don't have momentum built up to use the advanced form of the shot.  The slow floating slice may provide you enough time to get back and into decent defensive positioning on the court.

- Interested in shaking things up online?
If so, develop a player who’s an ace at the net!  In Top Spin 1, I encountered about a half-dozen who charged the net during every point, out of nearly 800 matches!  It takes a whole different strategy to beat an opponent who charges the net and is effective in doing so.  You will find that the majority of gamers playing Top Spin 2 right now jack up their power, forehands, backhands and serves.   Everything else is a weakness to them.  

- I hate to say this, but if you are a U.S. resident about to join a game with a foreign looking Gamertag, you should probably decline the challenge offer. Look for two letter designations like "UK" or "NL" attached to a gamertag.  Overseas connections are less reliable for quality gaming (from a U.S. gamer's standpoint) and there’s no reason why your gameplay should suffer as a result of lag.  See the "Pro Insight" under Section I for more information.

- If you enter the challenge screen (your Gamertag and player icon and your opponents'), check to see if your opponent is using a headset or not.
You can tell this by the icon next to the header bar in the challenge menu that lists available matches.  

- Be courteous at the start of a match.  If you are hosting a match, use proper Top Spin 2 etiquette by not serving the moment you are able to.  Allow your opponent a few seconds time to change the camera view if he needs to.  It's pretty lousy when a person is trying to change their camera view as the other guy is rushing to serve.  The game does NOT pause for the challenger where it stops play for both people.

- For opponents who have the Top Spin skill or are talented in respect to manipulating the analog stick in addition to a top spin shot, you must minimize the opportunity for them to hit angles you will never reach. Only hit a shot down the line if you think your opponent won’t get it.  Do not give them angles that will expose the open court.

- When hitting a shot that will have your opponent on the run, anticipate their return by considering the following: If your opponent is running to the left, their analog stick is pressed towards the right (their right).  If they just get to the ball, they will most likely hit the ball to the right (your left). 

Note: If you play someone who is very good, they may try to flick the stick in the opposite direction at the very last moment, but the angle they’ll hit on the run should be minimal and nothing you shouldn’t be able to reach if you charge the net.  There are exceptions though, so beware!

Chase down that ball! Nothing is more frustrating than having your opponent run you side to side knowing it's inevitable that he'll eventually get the right put-away shot since you are barely getting the ball back over the net.  Your ground strokes are weaker because you are on the run, and a lob will almost certainly get put away for a winner.  So what do you do?  The best thing to do in this case (where you are on the run chasing down a ball hit to the corner) is to either use the advanced slice shot, or throw up a lob to an area on the court that they are not occupying.   The lob is typically used in two situations: 1) to get the ball over the head of a player at the net, 2) to buy yourself some more time to regain at least some defensive court positioning.  Throwing up a lob while on the run can be pretty effective in buying yourself an extra second, especially against an opponent who plays exclusively from the baseline.

- Use L+X to get yourself back into the game! Even if you don't have momentum built up, you can still use the L+X shot to hit a floating slice.  It's not going to earn you any winners, but what it will do is buy you some time for getting into better court position.  You can use L+X on service returns that force you out wide, too.

- Fetch drop shots with lobs.  Always have your thumb ready to press the "Y" button if you are running forward to get a drop shot.  This will do one of two things: 1) if your opponent hit a drop shot, he's likely at the net expecting you to hit a regular ground stroke to which he'll volley.  Hitting "Y" with a little forward pressure on the analog stick will put the ball over his head for a winner, or at the very least, put you in control of the point.  2) Returning a drop shot with a lob will force your opponent to either retreat from his current position, or, stay back at the baseline.  

- Mix up your serves. Hit them down the line, hit them wide, hit them right at your opponent.  Don’t be predictable! - In returning serves, mix up your returns.  While hitting down the line is probably most effective, it can become predictable which will hurt you in the long run.  Jamming an opponent (so that he half-volleys the ball over the net) can be nearly as effective as having your opponent on the run: it sets up your guy for a winning shot, or, makes your opponent guess which side he should defend.

- Don’t rely on the risk shot or risk drop shot by incorporating them frequently in your game. Only deadbeats do this who can’t win a game on their own merit.  Top Spin is hardly a sim as it is, there is no need to make it worse.  It ticks people off and could earn yourself a bad reputation. 

- Don’t be a tool and throw up lobs as your return of serve, ESPECIALLY if your opponent is serving legitimately (i.e. not slicing wide all the time).  Of course, if your opponent is exploiting the wide slice every chance he gets, then do what you have to in order to neutralize his cheesy advantage.

- When you are serving and a point concludes, be patient Don't repeatedly hit the 'A' button to fast forward through the replays.  Some people/opponents intentionally hit their 'A' button so that the replays end abruptly leaving you to accidentally start your service motion with the rainbow meter (i.e. you think you are the only one hitting the 'A' button to end the replays when you are not). 

I know that we all lack patience for the most part and we like to skip those animated scenes, but it's just a bit of courtesy to let the serving party take control of the game's pace.  Now, with that said - if someone is trying to screw you over by "helping" you advance through the replays quickly, do the same for them! 

- Patience is key in Top Spin 2.   As I mentioned earlier, the majority of TS2 gamers right now have very high ratings in the areas of forehand, backhand, power, and serve. As a result, the remaining skill areas are to be considered weaknesses, and one of them is likely to be "precision."  In the middle of a rally, force your opponent to win points by using the topspin or slice button.  Chances are, after a few times, they'll hit one out.  If you can't hit winners on your own, have your opponent make mistakes for you!.


J - Cheesy Gameplay: Beware!

I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to create this section for quite some time, but as of today (4/26), not even a month after TS2’s release, reports of cheesy gameplay are surfacing, and some of the events described by others are eye opening.

While it’s generally acknowledged that cheesy gameplay in TS2 involves frequent use of the underhanded serve, hitting lobs as service returns and repeatedly during points, frequent risk shots, repetitious use of the slow slice serve out wide, etc.,  they don’t screw around or tamper with the Xbox Live network.  What some people have told me (and what I’ve experienced personally) does – and I intend to contact PamDev, Indie Built, 2K Sports and Microsoft about these findings.  If you have experienced any of the following, feel free to share your experience.  I’ll add it to the list I am compiling to forward on to the developers/publisher of TS2.  Out of respect to your privacy, I will not include your names or gamertags unless you specifically request that I do so.

Scenario 1:  Intentional Lag (or what I refer to as “convenient lag”):  Have you ever been in a game that’s running pretty smoothly, but as soon as you go to serve, lag starts to occur, thus throwing off your timing with the risk meter (or standard power meter)?  But oddly enough, when your opponent serves, he doesn’t experience that problem?

Or, when your opponent serves and you are about to receive the ball, lag hits again and your only choice is to get the ball back in play, and not play it so close to the lines?  But as soon as you do hit the ball, the frame rate returns to normal and the point plays out?

When I first heard of this, I didn’t necessarily pass it off as being a fluke thing (not much surprises me when it comes to certain types of players finding new ways to cheat) – but I didn’t put much stock into it.  Now that I am receiving more and more stories about these types of events, this appears to be a bona-fide cheat that people are using.

If/When I get a reply from the aforementioned creators of TS2, I’ll post it here.  In the meantime, if this happens to you (and you are certain it's being done intentionally), be sure to report the offender by leaving feedback to Xbox Live Support. In TS1, there were issues of modem tampering that came about – and it seems that some new methods of tampering are already taking place at this time.

Scenario 2:  Disconnections: Here's the scenario: You are winning your match and all of a sudden, the swirling load icon appears in the bottom right hand corner of your TV.  A short while later, a message appears that your opponent’s signal has been lost.  A notification appears that you won the match by default and the ranking menu appears.  What’s wrong here is that it shows your point total increasing by a few points, but that your ranking remains the same (zero movement) despite the green arrow indicating upwards movement.   Exiting out of the match screen puts you back in the lobby where your connection will suddenly become sluggish.  Upon entering either a Quick Match or a Custom Match, you will observe that your ranking has in fact fallen considerably (contrary to what the post-match summary stated).  In some cases, you will then get the swirling load icon again and you will be notified that you lost your connection to Xbox Live.

This is apparently a network glitch that some guys are initiating, and exploiting.  This incident is somewhat similar to what a guy did in TS1 during the height of its popularity:  he had figured out a modem trick that made it look like there was a mutual disconnection, but where he’d be awarded the win regardless of the score.  He’d play his games out if he was winning, but if he were on the verge of losing, he’d do the “modem trick” so that he could exit the game and be credited for an undeserved win. Eventually, he worked his way up to #1 in the world doing this.

In addition to others, this disconnection problem with TS2 has happened to me a few times, so I can verify that it’s taking place – and on two occasions, they occurred in VERY similar situations.  Both times, I was up 2-0 in the first set, and serving at 30-0.  At the start of the third game in each match, my opponents started hitting lobs on every swing of their racquet (prior to this, they were playing a fairly decent sim-match).  In one game, in the middle of a point - as I was about to the put the ball away for a winner, I got the disconnection notice.  In the other game, in the middle of a service motion (I was about to win the set), a guy disconnected.  Each time, I was notified of my win due to my opponent’s signal being lost, but on the Statistics page (and top menu bar in the lobby), I was very displeased to see that I had fallen between 30 and 40 places on the leaderboard!  Furthemore, in the "Games Played" tab on the Statistics Pages, those particular matches didn't register. So, not only was I beating those two jokers when this took place, but I lost points and positioning on the leaderboard, my winning percentage took a hit, AND - those matches weren't even recorded on the server as being played!  Other times (more recently), I had broken my opponents' serve and was serving for the set when they pulled off this cheat.  

This is a pretty serious issue, and one that should be investigated closely by the developers of TS2.  If this happens to you, be sure to report the offending gamer(s) to Xbox Live Support, and leave appropriate feedback. It is not my place to list names on my FAQ/Strategy Guide here, but there are websites devoted to labeling cheesy gamers and flat out cheaters.  I am fairly certain the names of people doing stuff like this will surface soon enough, and eventually get blacklisted or canned from Xbox Live altogether.   The sooner the better.  

 To prove my point on how damaging this cheat is to honest gamers, I will keep a running total in the chart below on how it has affected me personally:

Times Screwed by Disconnection Cheat

Leaderboard Positions Lost




Dealing with players who hit nothing but the underhanded serve. Unfortunately, my very first loss in TS2 came as a result of someone who did this to me.  He realized he couldn't win by playing legitimately, so he went for the cheese-factor.  Over 15 underhanded serves were made, but sporadically so that any time I found a rhythm in beating them, he'd stop, but would then later start doing them again to even the odds at 50-50.  I will say this though, there are a few things you can try which are as follows:

Dealing with players who serve up nothing but the slow slice out wide.

Aside from the disconnection issues, the slow 72 mph serve out wide is a reality flaw that about 90% of the top 1,500 are exploiting.  If you haven't experienced this, then you haven't been playing online very much.  Gamers are opting to forgo the risk serve in favor of a slow slice serve that spins out wide forcing you off the court and out of position to recover once you make your return.  Due to their groundstrokes and power skills being very high, any sort of return you make is likely to be put away for a winner to the open court.  This is not sim-tennis, and it's worthy of leaving negative feedback if a player does this consistently throughout a match.  For more details on this tactic, check out Section H: Online Strategies and Section T: Gamer Log.

There are only a few ways in which you can deal with this type of serving, all depending on how extreme the serve is (i.e. how cheesy).

Dealing with players who hit risk shot after risk shot after risk shot:

Unlike TS1 where risk shots were easy to pull off for skilled gamers who practiced endless hours to nail their timing with the risk meter, TS2 poses new challenges when attempting a risk shot.  As of  now (6/06 and nearly 200 online matches), I've played only one guy who was able to successfully execute a multitude of risk shots, almost at will.  In our match, which I won in two very close sets, he executed over 50 risk shots against me.  As was the case in the first TS game, the slice is THE best option to effectively return a risk shot.  Furthermore, I'd suggest returning risk shots towards the lines for two reasons:

1) It forces your opponent to move and hit the risk shot at the same time which may result in an unforced error with the ball going wide (or long).
2) It limits the options of your opponent in terms of risk shot placement.  If he tries down the line, he may hit it wide.  He'll likely only return it straight back to you or slightly cross-court.  Either way, you should be able to get to it.  Even if you don't, you'll make it a bit more difficult for him - and it will keep him thinking about shot selection if the same situation presents itself later in the match (especially if he's missing his risk shots).

Be wary though if you start putting your return-of-risk shots down the line.  Your opponent may  'shift gears' and fall back to other shot types like top spin which may catch you by surprise.  Be sure of your opponent's tendencies; if he's a risk shot user, and he's consistent with using it, then try my suggestion.  If he mixes up his shots, then use caution when placing your shots near the lines.

Dealing with players who use lobs and drop shots as service returns:

The best advice I can offer against these player types is for you to exercise good anticipation.  If you anticipate a player lobbing your service returns, all it takes is for you to step up to the service line once your service motion is complete and hit an overhead smash to the open court. If you do this a few times, your opponent will cut out the bogus gameplay.

If you anticipate your opponent's drop shot, run up to the net as soon as you serve and put that ball away down the line or cross-court; where ever you feel your opponent won't get it.  Or, you could aways run up to the net, hit the drop shot with "Y," and then backpeddle to the baseline to really begin the point.  Sure, this is a bit of nonsense, but it takes away any advantage your opponent may be trying to get from cheesy gameplay.

 Dealing with players who use lobs as regular groundstrokes:

At some point in your online experiences, you will encounter guys who regularly replace their traditional forehands and backhands with mindless lobs.  You may even encounter a select few who take advantage of a "glitch" with their lobbing that causes your player to stumble out of position in an effort to retrieve it.  In dealing with the former, my best advise to you is to identify a pattern with your opponent's lobbing habits.  Move the ball around the court and see where he lobs it up back to you.  Try to move in a bit inside the baseline and take those balls out of the air using either the "B" or "X" button  to achieve sharp angles - but be careful in doing so as it is pretty easy to hit them wide.

When dealing with those losers who exploit the glitch that causes your guy to stumble in an effort to retrieve a down the line lob, there are a few things you can do to better your chances at winning the point.  First, let me explain why online jerks do this:  1) they plan on you using the "A" button to hit an overhead smash, where it is VERY EASY for them to deflect back to the open court by simply placing themselves right about the service line and slightly to the side you are on from the center hash mark.  If you hit your overhead smash down the line, they can easily get to it and hit a wide angled winner.  If you hit it cross court, they are already in position to block it to the open court too.  2) As a point takes shape, they try to get you to a corner with a shot, leaving you to anticipate them attacking the open court.  You begin to move to the open court when instead, they send a lob down the line (the area you just vacated).  As you attempt to cut back to get the lob, your player will stumble and hit the ball back, but will never be able to recover in time to get to the next shot.  This is pretty much a guaranteed way to win a point, and it's one of the cheesiest methods of gameplay found in TS2.

Here are a few things to think about that may increase your chances at winning points against losers who do this:  

First, make sure your opponent is doing this intentionally and not out of random stupidity.   It may take a set (or even two) for you to identify how he counters your shots with this cheesy tactic.  If this is a regular pattern, simply do not over commit to covering the open court.  Stay put and wait for him to send the lob up down the line right to you.  If you even slightly move the analog stick towards the open court, your player will stumble when trying to move back to the incoming lob.  

Second, since he will likely be placed in an ideal location to return any overhead using "A," I suggest you try using "X" or "B" to put it at a wider angle than he can get to.  Granted, this is more difficult to do, but it's one of your better options.

Third, try using the Risk shot overhead to hit the ball hard enough down the line where he can't get to it in time.  You may even put enough bounce on the ball to make it go over his head, thus making it unreturnable.

Fourth, lob his lob back.  I'd suggest lobbing his shot back deep and cross court.

And finally, try drop shotting his lob to allow yourself more time to get back into position.  

These are all ridiculous techniques, but they are the best options when you face someone who's a dirtbag trying to exploit an in-game reality flaw/glitch.


K - Sim-Tennis For Dummies:

Please don’t take offense to this chapter title, as this section is not intended for the recreational gamer or true tennis enthusiast.  This section is meant for those who don't have a clue as to how the game of tennis is played, stoop to low standards of gameplay with TS2, and yet are critical of others for how they play.  Thanks to TennisLegendonDVD for supplying the video examples below.

The Lob, When to use:

Video Example 1 (Connors vs. Haarhuis, 1991)   

When NOT to use:


The Drop Shot, When to use:

Video Example 1 (Agassi vs Kafelnikov, 95 Australian Open)

When NOT to use:


Risk Shot, When to use:

When NOT to use:


Slice Serve, When to use:

When Not to use:


 Drop Serve (Underhand Serve), When To Use:


Shots w/no momentum, When to use:

When NOT to use:

The items mentioned above are part of the code that I, and other sim-gamers play by.  There may be exceptions to a few of the listed items when dealing with cheesy gameplay, but in a straight-sim match, the above statements should hold true.


L - Xbox Live!/Top Spin 2 Server Updates and Patches:

10/14/06: a new game update is pending.  No further reports under Chapter L will be posted due to this Strategy Guide's conclusion being posted.


M - FAQs

FAQ: What do the three star types represent?

There are three star types: bronze, silver, and gold.  The bronze stars can be acquired through training sessions and wins at minor tournaments.  They serve as slight performance boosters to your list of skills and attributes.  More importantly, they act as “placeholders” for star upgrades such as the silver and gold.  For example, if you only have three stars in the area of stamina, you cannot add any more than three silver or gold stars to that category.  So, be sure to apply bronze stars to areas that you wish to substantially improve so that silver and gold stars can be added later on.  Silver stars provide a definite improvement to the areas they are applied to, and even moreso with gold, which represent the final achievement in terms of performance boosting additions you can obtain.  All stars should be applied with careful consideration.  Custom characters max out at 60 stars.

FAQ: Which is the best coach to start with?  Which is the best to finish with?

Ideally, you should begin with your starter coach, and train with him until he (or she) is no longer useful.  I wouldn’t recommend switching coaches very early on, because you may need to go back to that coach at a later date – and he may or may not be available (one full season must take place before re-signing a fired coach).  When you do decide to switch, look for a coach who’s strength is in an area of gameplay that you wish to attain.  In other words, if “power” is your thing, then look for a coach that has a level four or five rating in that area – however, be careful here: A coach with a particularly high teaching level in one area is bound to have at least a few other important areas that are lacking, and that tradeoff may hurt you in the long run. 

What I would recommend doing is finding a coach who is moderately strong in the area(s) you are looking for, but ALSO in other areas you wish your character to eventually excel in.  Don’t be too focused on one particular area, but look at the larger picture.  Review your options up front and put a plan together as to what coaches you are interested in and when you think you’ll need them.  You should make a progression through coaches where at some point, you may need to circle back to one of your originals to finalize your training.

Unlike Top Spin 1, TS2’s career mode requires a considerable time commitment and any judgment errors have the potential to be costly to your character’s development.

FAQ: Is adding stars to stamina and focus really important?

It all depends on how you play the game.  I personally don't like to leave any categories left blank (no stars) because I'm sure I'll find myself in a situation where I'll need them.  You will find the effects of stamina most noticeable during long rallies or long games - as the effectiveness and efficiency of your shots begin to deteriorate.  Most people play a best of three game, three set match, so the effects of stamina should be minimized there.  However, if you have a lengthy point take place, your shots may become weaker and weaker (and possibly miss their mark).   The focus skill improves your ability to hit risk serves and risk shots.  If you are very good at the using the risk meter with little to no focus for your custom player, then as far as I can tell, you should be okay without it.  I may be proven wrong in the future though.

FAQ: How important are reflexes?

Reflexes are very important if you intend to be a net aggressor.  Additionally, reflexes enable your player to return fast serves and overhead smashes much more effectively.  A lot of people have told me that they have little to no stars allocated to their characters because they are baseliners, and therefore wouldn't need them.  I disagree with that logic.  Regardless of whether you are a baseliner or net aggressor, you will undoubtedly encounter individuals hitting 130+mph serves, and/or the occasional overhead smash.  Reflexes will give you that extra "boost" to the ball to get it back.

FAQ: Are there any consequences to simulating rounds aside from potentially losing?

Be very careful if you choose to sim a round in a tournament to save yourself some time.  While working on a "disposable" custom character to test some things out, I tried simming a few rounds of various tournaments, and not all of my attempts proved to be successful.   First of all, the likelihood of you beating a person who's ranked better than you is very slim, often due to the number of stars they have.  However, there is always the potential to lose to someone ranked a lot worse as well (which I have proven true with an alternate character of mine; he was ranked #1 with all 60 stars and my opponent was ranked around 80+).

Also, if your goal is to accomplish the sponsor quests found throughout the game, a sponsor will not acknowledge a match that is simulated and you will not receive credit by them if you win.  I'd recommend not simming any matches until Season 3, 4, or 5.  To be safe when simming, I'd recommend simming one game at a time once the match has actually begun.  You can do this in between service games by pressing the LB button, then "Y" to sim games one by one (a good example of this is written in Section E: Getting to 60 Gold Stars.., Season 2 summary).

FAQ: Why does everyone return my overhead smashes?  Is there a way to hit them where they won't be returned?

This is one of the more interesting changes for Top Spin 2 (and one I don't necessarily agree with) - where overhead smashes are easily returned by simply being near the line of fire.   However, there are a few things you can do to make your overheads unreturnable, though they may be a bit tricky if you are in the heat of battle.  One option you have is to use the risk trigger to hit a "risk overhead."   If hit right, it will thump the ball hard enough that when it lands around the service line, it will bounce over your opponent's head rendering it unreturnable.  The other option you have is to use the topspin "B" button to hit your overhead.  You can hit some nasty angles with the "B" button, but be warned:  it is VERY easy to hit an overhead wide of the singles lines if you aren't careful with the analog stick.

 FAQ: Why are my volleys dumping into the net?  Do I need to improve my volley skill?

Not necessarily.  Your player’s propensity to dump volleys into the net can be related to a number of issues, including:

          Additionally, if you are making a volley from around shoulder level, try not to use an extreme angle with the “B” or “X” buttons.  They may sometimes drop right into the net due to the angle being too tight.

Let me add that if you plan to incorporate net-play during your online games, and intend to win points at the net, then you should assign no less than five stars to your volley skill, though a minimum of six would be highly recommended.

 FAQ: Now that risk shots have been toned down, and the [ultra] kicker serve no longer in the game, what is considered cheesy gaming for TS2?

Not a lot has been written on cheesy gaming for TS2 yet, but I'd assume that many would concur with the following tactics:

There may be more, but for now, those are what I am familiar with due to witnessing these examples first-hand, or through shared experiences by others who have written to me.  

 FAQ: Why is [insert pro player's name here] not wearing [insert brand of clothing or equipment here]?

Top Spin 2 appears to have been developed quite some time ago.  Remember, this title was to be available at launch last November (2005), but had seen numerous delays. I suspect that the pro players, clothing lines, and equipment lists were created in early 2005 and never updated since that time.  The Nike line of clothing harkens back to January of 2005.  The Adidas line of clothing in Top Spin 2 is also pre-summer of 2005 as well.  So, if your favorite player is wearing the wrong clothing (whether it be style or manufacturer), it's likely because they were never updated to be somewhat current with the game's actual release (March 30, 2006).  I am sure that in certain cases, such as cover-boy Andy Roddick and Reebok, the former sponsor's logos had to be removed before the game could hit store shelves.

 FAQ: Why does my guy sometimes hit [groundstrokes] into the net swhen I am on the run?  Is there anything I can do to prevent that from happening?

Truthfully, there are a number of variables that I've yet to confirm that may contribute to this issue.  However, there are three things you can do to make sure that your guy doesn't hit into the net.  

1) Use "A" to hit the ball when you are on the full run and barely making it to the ball.  Remember, "A" is your safe shot.
2) Lob the ball.  Not only will you make certain it goes over the net, but it will allow your player some time to recover and get back into the point.
3) Hit down the line and not cross court if you are on the full run.  Remember, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  When you are on the run and trying to hit cross court, the distance between you and the point you wish to hit are further apart when compared to if you were just trying to put the ball down the line. Hitting cross court while on the full run increases the difficulty of your shot making.  

Furthermore, the likelihood of you dumping a groundstroke into the net increases substantially if you have a reasonably low stamina rating (and you attempt to use the "X" or "B" buttons).

FAQ: Why does the momentum meter increase [at different intervals] after winning points?

Increasing your momentum is dependent on the type of point you win.  If you earn a point off of a service winner (or a quick "one-two" rally), it will only move up in small increments.  However, if you win a point after an extended rally, or take advantage of a service break opportunity, your momentum meter will increase substantially.


N -Top Spin 2 Game Review (Author's Opinions):

It’s come to the point where I feel like I’ve logged in enough time both offline and online to where I can form a pretty concrete opinion on Top Spin 2, and put together a formal review.

Let me preface by saying that Top Spin 2 was one of the primary reasons I pre-ordered my Xbox 360 in August of 2005 so that I could have one at launch.  Top Spin 2 was initially scheduled to be a launch title, but got pushed back a few times to where it was finally released on March 30, 2006.  I assumed that the delays were to make some last minute tweaks, especially to the online portion of the game.  Unfortunately, my assumptions were incorrect. 

To keep a format similar to what gaming sites/magazines do, I’ll break down the game by graphics, sound and playability – but I’ll also include commentary regarding online functionality and recommended improvements.

Graphics:  Top Spin 2 is a graphical upgrade from TS1, but not overwhelming so.  I suppose I expected a bit more from a next generation title that wasn’t available at launch.  The courts and backgrounds are very well done and player animations have noticeably improved, however, they come off in appearing as two distinct layers.  If you choose the zoom level, take note of your character’s feet.  Depending on the contrasting colors of both the tennis shoes and the court surface, it almost resembles early “blue screen” movies where either of the layers doesn’t quite blend with one another for a realistic image.  It looks like the player has been pasted (or overlaps) the environment with which he or she plays.

Another issue I’ve taken notice with is the number of spectators in the crowd, or lack thereof.  Look around at the seats at a tournament final.  You will observe that about 15-20% of the seats are empty.  You cannot tell me that the Xbox 360 is not powerful enough to render animations of additional crowd fillers.  The spectators seem robotic and generally uninterested.  Their typical reaction is the same for an uneventful point as it is for a truly exciting point (this applies to crowd noise too).  What separates a great game from a good game are the little things.  At typical tennis tournaments, the later rounds draw the biggest crowds to where in most cases; the semifinals and finals are sold out.   This is not represented in Top Spin 2.   It would have been a nice added touch if some extra thought had been put into a more interactive crowd.

Conclusion:  The graphics are improved, but not exceptional. 

Score: 7.5

  Some game reviews for TS2 have criticized the sound of the game, and I both agree and disagree with some of what I read.  I think the sound is okay.  Could it have been better?  Absolutely.  It would have been that “extra step” by the game’s developers to incorporate the echoed screech of tennis shoes more frequently, different sounds for contact with the ball to differentiate a slice or flat ground stroke, etc.  The crowd could also have had varying degrees of enthusiasm for what transpires out on the court.  Maybe an “oooh” or “ahhh” on a trick shot or tough winner, or some whistles when the crowd disagrees with a call from a linesman.   The musical selection is average at best, but that can be turned down.  Seriously, what music goes well with tennis?  None – unless you consider the Red Hot Chili Peppers from the early 90’s “Rock 'n Roll Tennis Camp” commercials.

Conclusion: Adequate for a tennis game, but a few more distinctive sounds could have really pushed the level of realism that this game offers.

Score: 7.0


Playability Offline: The biggest improvement over TS1 is that TS2 offers an incredibly deep offline career mode (beginning with character creation).  Additionally, PamDev improved the computer A.I. in single player mode (see my Original Top Spin FAQ for details on the stupidity and predictability of computer controlled opponents).   Some gaming critics have stated that career mode is too difficult for the beginning player (<cough> EGM) – but seriously, there are a number of ways to navigate through career mode to where you can make it difficult for yourself, but achieve the #1 ranking quickly (detailed in my TS2 Guide here), take the easier route by attaining 60 stars and then seriously hitting the tour (to be detailed in my TS2 Guide soon), or some blended combination of both.  Essentially, gamers are given two distinct ways of getting to the same end, or, a multitude of ways of combining star acquisition and chasing down the #1 rank.  For this design, I think Top Spin 2 scores well.  However, the sheer length of career mode seems completely unnecessary.  I was able to wrap up all the major objectives in Season 3 - and I should have been given the option to retire my career at that point if I chose to do so.  Unfortunately, I had to play through until the end of Season 5 which was a complete waste - and much of my time was spent either simulating rounds at tournaments or skipping events altogether (using the Start button on a given event date).

With regard to controls, the developers vastly improved shot making by retaining the functions of the A, B, X, and Y buttons, increasing the “risk” of the risk shot, eliminating the “ultra-kicker serve” reality flaw, and adding in advance shots which can be acquired in Season 3 of Career Mode.  To prevent these advance shots from being abused by repeated use, they drain your momentum meter when attempted.  Additionally, the slice and top spin shots have been made more effective, though skill and precision are required when using them in order to keep them between the lines.

While playability has improved in some respects over TS1, TS2 falls considerably short in other key areas:

First, let me acknowledge that the effort in obtaining name-usage licenses for Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, Indian Wells, and NADAQ-100 were very much appreciated. Though, it was very disappointing to see that the number of venues to play at were very limited.  There are 15 courts in total to compete, but only a handful is based on real life locations.  I am not sure what the reasoning is behind this, but I found it extremely disappointing that several events, but at the very least the locations, from TS1 have been removed.  Stadiums in Dubai, Moscow, Adelaide, Cincinnati, etc. are  no-shows this time around.  Furthermore, I happen to be employed by a company who is the title sponsor of one of the Masters Series Events, and I work in the capacity that if a request from the developer came through to allow them to use the company name and logos, I’d know about it.  To my knowledge, a request was never made.  Therefore, it leads me to speculate this: Wimbledon and the U.S. Open charged quite a bit of money to use their names, and in order to keep this a budget title ($39.99 U.S.), they only sought after two more real-life venues (Indian Wells & Miami).  There may have also been charges to use Nike, Adidas and other name brand labels too, which added to the cost of production.  I don’t know for sure, but I’d think that in some cases, it would be the other way around.  Advertisers often PAY to have their company logos/products displayed in a game.  I can only speculate as to why so many ATP Tour events are absent from TS2.  Another possible reason could be that the publisher/developer wanted to keep this game as simple as possible so that it could be sold at a lower-than-average retail price.  However, I don’t see why they couldn’t port over some TS1 courts and add some visual improvements to them.

The second issue that concerns me is the most serious, and it has to do with the controls, namely the “A” button, pre-defined “zones” on the court, and character responsiveness. 

As you are well aware, the functionality of using “A” (safe/flat ground stroke) has changed.  No longer can you hit a ball out using “A”, but you also have limited range and angles when using it.  This is not realistic by any stretch.  If you hit a ball using “A” at the center of the baseline and move the analog stick left or right, your shots can only land in pre-defined zones on the court.  While I agree that greater angles can be achieved by using topspin, I can say with 100% accuracy in my statement that what TS2 limits you to with court coverage from using the “A” button is not realistic; whether it be volleys or regular forehands and backhands.  It is almost as if PamDev is forcing you to use topspin or slice to win the majority or your points.

The Risk Serve also suffers from this modification.  You are confined to hitting your risk serve in specific zones in the service box should you choose to stand at the practical location for singles matches.  Again, this is a problem – and it compounds the problem with online gaming, which I will mention in the online portion of my review.  In Top Spin 1, the risk serve was excellent.  You had very good control of where the ball was going, and it could keep your opponent on his or her toes.  In TS2, if your opponent is at least of average skill, he or she will never get aced provided they stand in the proper receiving location on the other end. They should be in good position to get to any risk serve, no matter how fast it is.

Because of these two issues, I’ve found that many offline matches tend to play out the same way over and over and over with little variation due to the limitation of some shots. 

My third problem with the playability of this game is player responsiveness, particularly when chasing down a lob.  When I anticipate my opponent hitting a lob, I immediately pull back on the analog stick.  My player will sometimes hesitate before back peddling, and only on rare occasion does he actually turn around to try and chase it down.  If you hold down the stick hard, your player should either back-peddle quickly, or turn around and run back to the baseline; not lightly skip backwards after a brief moment of hesitation.

While doubles takes a backseat to the majority of what goes on in Top Spin 2, I should at least mention it.  And I should state that I’ve heard numerous complaints from gamers about the moronic A.I. their computer-controlled partners exhibit.  From my limited experience playing doubles with a computer-controlled teammate, I can’t say I disagree.  They really are stupid!

Conclusion:  Very deep career mode with improved variety of shots are welcome additions, but lack of venues and limited functionality of “A” button and Risk Serve hurt the game.  Also, the career mode is too long for most people.  Those who completed the major objectives in season's 3 and 4 should be able to retire sooner. Furthermore, the 1,000 Points @ End of Career Achievement should have been more of a milestone than what it really is.  In otherwords, that is too easy to obtain in five seasons.  I almost had it at the end of two.

Score: 7.5


Online Playability:  With so many delays, I was anticipating great things with Top Spin 2 with regard to online gameplay, especially since 2K Sports was publishing this title.  Being a big fan of the 2K Sports NFL series, I was left very impressed with their league-friendly online structure (despite the leader board scoring model versus an accurate conference/divisional setup).  I had fully expected Top Spin 2 to be somewhat similar in nature by allowing online tournaments, league formation, and statistical tracking.  To my dismay, NOTHING other than simple matchmaking is available!  When you challenge an opponent, all you see is their name, ranking, points-to-gain/lose from playing them, and court location.  You can’t even identify their win/loss record or win percentage. 

Now going back to the aforementioned problem with risk serves in online gaming:  Gamers have quickly realized that the risk serve is not as effective as slice or topspin serves.  As a matter of fact, the effectiveness and ease of execution for these two alternative service types is going to be the downfall of online enjoyment for the majority of gamers.  PamDev has reduced the skill level required to be successful in TS2, where now all it takes is a well placed spin serve to kick an opponent out wide, and a powerful ground stroke to hit the return into the open court for a winner.  One-two-three, point over.  This is a pretty lame way to win points and play matches, and there should have been some sort of alternate serving meter for top spin and slice serves to make it more difficult to pull off the extreme angles.  Granted, the developers removed the ultra-kicker serve, but now we have another problem to deal with.  I feel that if gamers were allowed more control of the Risk Serve (as it was in TS1), it would be used more.  Instead, people are using 104 MPH slice serves out wide as their primary serve.

Another problem is the “stutter” glitch.  This is where either a player, typically the server, cannot set himself.  From the receiving player’s point of view, it looks like the server is sliding on ice across the baseline only to flicker and reset at his or her original starting position – and they’d slide across the baseline again, reset, slide, reset, slide, etc.  While this has not happened to me yet (knock on wood), I have witnessed it, and have heard others talk about it.  Unfortunately, I don’t know what the cause of this problem, or whether something is being done to correct it.  But should it happen to you (or me) in a ranked match, it could be very damaging in terms of leader board positioning since the only way to fix the issue is to power down.

One of the suggested improvements to Top Spin in my Original FAQ & Strategy Guide was to allow gamers to connect remotely to form a doubles team, and then challenge two other users who have done the same (or who may be in the same household).  Despite rumors early last year that this was in the works, it is not a part of TS2.  This would have added tremendous replay value to the game had it been incorporated.  I am very disappointed that this option is not available. 

Conclusion: No league functionality, limited opponent info in preview screen, stutter glitch affecting online play, exploitations of lob flaw could be serious, serving issues could ruin experience for some online gamers.

Score: 5.0


Overall Conclusion: Top Spin 2 has improved over it’s predecessor in general terms, but has key weaknesses that hamper its playability; namely the effectiveness levels of the flat, slice, and topspin shots, and risk serve shots.  Offline, points can be played out exactly the same where matches feel repetitive.  Online, points can be won without much skill at all.  Furthermore, the inability to create online leagues to allow for tournament setups, statistical tracking, and scheduling hurts this game considerably.  If this had been from any publisher other than 2K Sports, I would probably grant some leeway here, but because it bears their name – I have to be critical.  It amazes me that over 20 names are listed in the quality assurance credits found at the back of the manual, but somehow, all of them overlooked some of the criticisms I’ve posted here, and I am not alone with my beliefs.  I had contact with over a dozen people within the first few days of TS2’s release where they echoed their complaints about the game as well, and I continue to hear about them.  How can we see these glaring issues, but not someone who’s on the developer’s payroll – and who’s job it is to find these problems? 

Unlike Top Spin 1 where I played through career mode 14 times and competed in over 800 online matches, I don’t see myself competing online nearly as much.  There is something about TS2 that doesn’t feel right, and with about 25%+ matches I’ve played so far (ranked and unranked), they all came down to who could execute the wide serve better, and who could make the most of returning one effectively.   That’s not how tennis is played.

Overall Score: 7.0


O - Improvement Suggestions for PamDev/Indie Built & 2K Sports

Recommended areas of improvement:

  1. Your opponent serves a rocket, you return cross court with "A," and he blasts the ball for a winner because your shot was pathetic.
  2. Your opponent serves a rocket, you hit down the line with "A," and he easily gets to the ball and blasts it for a winner.
  3. Your opponent serves a slow slice serve, you hit cross court with "A," and he stands at the center of the court to receive it and easily wins the point.
  4. Your opponent serves a slow slice serve, you hit down the line with "A," and he easily tracks it down and hits a very offensive groundstroke.

The only way for a returner to win points is to hope the server gets out of position - which in many cases, just standing at the center of the baseline puts them in a good position to get most any return from using "A."

If you watch real tennis, it's not an entirely common occurrence that a server wins a point off of a return of serve (provided it's placed deep and with some pace on it).  Cross court returns force the server to simply get the ball back in play.  Down the line returns force the server to react quickly to which they typically hit a defensive shot.  A return up the middle may jam the server and force a weak reply thus putting the returner on offense.  To simplify this all:  when a server serves, they are on the offense.  As soon as that ball leaves their racquet, they should be on some level of defense.  In both Top Spin 1 and 2, the server is on the offense for at least the first two to three times the ball passes over the net (i.e. the serve, and reply to the return of serve).

Now, in Top Spin (1 or 2), if an effective serve is made where the returner just gets a racquet on it - that's different.  The server should then be on the offensive once again.  However, online gamers typically tend to serve the same way over and over and over.  In Top Spin 2, it's the slice serve out wide that appears to be quite popular. If your character is waiting for that serve and is prepared for it, the return should be a LOT stronger than what it actually ends up being in the game.  This is due to a bad physics engine/programming on behalf of the developers.  A 72 mph serve should be blistered back for a winner, or at the very least, result in a very weak response from the server.  So many gamers are serving slow slice serves out wide to the same location in the service box, yet there is not a truly effective tactic in Top Spin 2 to disuade this sort of cheesy gameplay.

In summary, the return of serve in TS2 is very weak, and should be boosted quite a bit to make the game more realistic.  I am not talking about boosting it to risk shot proportions, but enough to make guys who serve the same way over and over again think twice about being predictable (or taking advantage of a particular service tactic). It will make them use the risk serve more, and the slow slice/top spin serves much less as they will be more vulnerable to a solid return.  So, as you may have surmised, the risk serve will need to be corrected (as mentioned in bullet #2 above) first to allow more control over it, and then the return of serve will need to be enhanced some. (See Section U: Gamer Log for more discussion on this).


Recommended areas of improvement mentioned in my Original FAQ & Strategy Guide that have been changed:


P - Reality Flaws In TS2:

A) I find it unnerving that while one huge reality flaw in TS1 was corrected, another was created for TS2.  I am speaking primarily about serving, specifically about the 72mph slice serve out wide that’s being exploited by nearly every top 1,500 gamer right now.

In real tennis, players hit hard first serves for a purpose: they are more difficult to return effectively, and they require a great degree of skill, precision, timing, and some guess work on behalf of their opponents.  NEVER will you see a pro player repeatedly hit 72mph serves (especially first serves!) regardless of their placement in the service box.  Why?  Because they’d end up eating the ball.   In Top Spin 2, thousands of gamers are attempting to use this reality flaw to their advantage by serving slow 72mph serves out wide that cause their opponents to run off the court chasing them down.  It’s easy for the server to then get into position to put any sort of return away.   I’ve seen a few trends in recent weeks where guys (and gals) are maxing out their forehands, backhands, power and/or spin attributes.  There is essentially no need for much serve ability since they will only be hitting in the low 70s.  Had TS2 been made correctly, a 72mph serve should be susceptible to severe punishment by the returner’s racquet.

In pro tennis, second serves are generally range between 85mph-105mph (give or take a few mph).  Players are able to get more control of their second serves due to the spins often used, though, second serves are rarely winning serves as they are generally more conservative in nature.

In TS2, gamers are utilizing the slow slice serve and repeatedly place them on the outside corner of the service box where they spin out towards the photographer boxes on each side of the court.  Nowhere in real tennis does this occur, and with such regularity.  Again, a 72mph serve would be blistered back – ESPECIALLY if a player is set up, ready to return it, and with knowledge of where the serve is going.  This is a huge reality flaw in TS2 which is already creating headaches for both sim-gamers and recreational gamers alike. (See GamerLog dated 5/29, Section T for a "field test" on this reality flaw).

B) Traction on clay.  Unfortunately, player traction on clay surfaces in TS2 is unrealistic too.  Often times, a player can stop on a dime and change directions quickly in TS2, even when on the full run.  This is not realistic, and slides used to slow down momentum need to be more exaggerated in order to achieve a more realistic flow of how tennis is played on clay.

C) The fact that a player (on occasion depending on the animation) can return a serve while running away from the ball.  

D) The regularity in which a player can return overhead smashes.  In TS2, many times, overhead smashes follow the same trajectory to which an opponent can get a racquet on the ball.  The game should be set up to where if a player has time to "power up" - an overhead smash should bounce well over an opponent's head and into the stands, or, have so much velocity to where it lands deep in the backcourt, rendering it unreturnable.

 E) That a net player cannot retreat to chase down a floating shot or a weak lob that passes by.  In most cases, a player gets "stuck" in his animated position and will not turn around to pursue a ball.


Q - Wrap Up:
(final posting made 10/15/06)

Writing the sequel to my Original Top Spin FAQ & Strategy Guide was once again a learning experience, and a pretty fun one at that.  While I feel that TS2 is a decent sequel overall, I believe that it is truly lacking that “X-Factor” to make it really something special.  Unlike Top Spin 1 where I played over 800 online matches during my "virtual-career," I simply cannot see myself investing that sort of time with TS2.  My career with TS2 effectively ended at 250 career online matches (excluding league play where I went 22-0).  During mid-summer 2006, I completely lost interest in TS2 and it's unlikely that I will pick up the game again, especially with Virtua Tennis on the horizon for a first-quarter release in 2007.    Sure, TS2 is fun, but matches seem too repetitious as to how they play out against online gamers.  Once again, I think if the ability to play doubles with users via remote systems was incorporated into this game, it would enhance the replay value substantially.  For what we have with TS2, it’s a good game, but not a great game.  As I had said with my first TS FAQ and Strategy Guide, a multiplayer game can only be as good as the gamers you play against online, and unfortunately, I've encountered countless cheesers and outright cheaters playing TS2, and I am pretty sure that trend will continue to get worse over time.  That's not to say that I haven't played some great gamers - I have. I have had some very exciting matches against quality (and sportsmanlike) opponents, but unfortunately, it's the cheats (those who exploit reality flaws in the game, or take advantage of design/hardware glitches) and poor losers (those who leave bogus negative feedback simply because they lost) that stick with me.  Unlike TS1 where I played it exclusively for months on end, time spent with TS2 has been only a fraction of what I had anticipated.  I have simply lost interest in the game due to it's deficiencies, and the frequency of bogus online gameplay that I've experienced.

Despite my effectively concluding this FAQ today (10/15/06), I will continue to try and do my best to answer any inquiries relating to TS2.  If I get a handful of questions sharing the same theme that has not already been covered in this Strategy Guide, I’ll post them as an "FAQ" along with a summarization of my replies.  So, if you have any questions (or observations about the game), feel free to send them along at any time. 

Last but not least, once again – I offer thanks to the many gamers who have visited my Top Spin Guides, written emails detailing experiences with the game, and offered support for my continued work.  I find it pretty cool to hear stories about how some of the ideas found in my Guides paid off for others during online (or offline) gaming.  Full appreciation is expressed to visitors of my Top Spin 2 FAQ & Strategy Guide, and special acknowledgement of a key contributor to this Guide in Section S.


R - Miscellaneous Links:

**Tennis-Related Links**

ATP Tennis: The official site for men's tennis.  Features profiles, schedules, results, etc.

Tennis Warehouse: One of the best places to buy the latest and greatest in tennis attire and equipment.  I buy my tennis clothing from here.  Consumer reviews can be helpful if you are ever indecisive on purchasing anything from racquets, to strings, to tennis shoes, etc.  Reasonable shipping rates are a plus too!

Mid-West Sports Supply:  It's ironic that I purchased my first Donnay Pro-One back in 1990 through Mid-West when I lived on the East Coast, and now I live within reasonable driving distance from them.  Excellent service for mail orders, though I choose to buy my equipment and supplies directly from their store to save on shipping.

Fran Johnson's Nevada Bobs: Back when I lived in the East Coast, this was the place I visited several times a month in hopes of scoring the latest and greatest Agassi/Nike Challenge Court items.  A professional and helpful staff made this place a great place to shop and/or ask questions.  They also have a great selection for golf equipment as well.  I miss shopping here.

Tennis Legend On DVD: Are you a fan of Andre Agassi?  Do you wish you could see (or see again) some of his classic matches dating back to early in his career?  If so, this is the Website to visit.  Probably featuring one of the largest 1st generation Agassi libraries in the world, Tennis Legend offers classic Agassi matches at very reasonable prices, and typically of better quality than most of what you'd find elsewhere with VHS to DVD transfers.  Agassi-related clothing and equipment can be found here from time to time as well.

Sports Tutor:  The Tennis Tutor is my ball machine of choice due to its portability, ease of use, and performance.  I received exceptional customer service when debating whether or not to purchase a Tennis Tutor, and ultimately which model to choose.  After owning one since 2003, I have no regrets.


**Gaming-Related Links**

2KSports:  The publisher of Top Spin 2

Xbox Live!: Check out game-specific forums and learn what other people are saying about your favorite (or not-so-favorite) games.  You will need to log-in with a .Net username and password to gain access to the forum area.

IGN: A very good source for gaming news, previews, and reviews.  Their coverage of gaming news tends to be more comprehensive than most others.

Gamespot: Another one of the better gaming websites, and features HD video content.

1Up: Run by Ziff Davis, publisher of a multitude of gaming and PC magazines.  EGM (the best console gaming magazine in my opinion) is a part of

EB Games/Gamestop: One of the better gaming retail outlets.  Often publishes updated release schedules and announcements for pre-orders.


S - The Author (and acknowledgements):

Unlike my FAQ/Strategy Guide to which I created from scratch based solely on my own experiences, with this Guide, due to its much lengthier career mode, I received some assistance.  Many thanks go out to Rammer of XMG who, like me, is a Top Spin enthusiast.   I truly appreciate his help in writing the "Getting your player 60 gold stars as quickly as possible" section, the noted Fun Fact found in Section A, the sponsor quest  penalty when simming rounds, and some of the skill descriptions.    His continuous scan of Top Spin news, gamer buzz, and issues relating to online competition has been an invaluable source of information to me, and ultimately, also to those who visit this FAQ & Strategy Guide looking for specific details on a given topic.    His contributions are very much appreciated.  I would also like to thank all those who visited my TS1 FAQ/Guide, and who returned to see the same effort made on my TS2 FAQ/Guide.  For those of you who posed questions to me through email, thanks again (and keep them coming!). Not only do gamer questions keep me informed as to what's on people's minds, but in some cases, a little research is needed to find the answer - and I am always up to the challenge! Your questions also helped others who were experiencing the very same issues.  Hopefully, this FAQ & Strategy Guide will receive the same level of success as my first piece for TS1, and be equally helpful to those who read it.  If you have any questions about the game, feel free to email me.  I'll do my best to respond within a reasonable amount of time (usually between one to three days).


The Author:

Mr Fett

Tennis resume:

- Tennis Schooling: Nick Bolletieiri Tennis Academy & private instruction
- High school varsity tennis team captain
- Tennis teacher (adults & children)
- Worked for Volvo International Tennis Tournament in New Haven, CT
- NCAA tennis career shortened by ACL tear
- Last USTA rating: 5.0 (mid-90s)
- Team stringer
- USTA member
- Brushes with tennis fame:  Andre Agassi, Patrick Rafter, Luke and Murphy Jensen, Martina Hingis
- Tennis Apparel of choice: Nike
- Tennis Racquet of Choice:  Prince "Classic" Graphite (O/S)
- Favorite Pros: Andre Agassi, Patrick Rafter

Top Spin 1 Online Record (cumulative):

Custom Characters:
"Banditt"  110-8
"Mr Fett v7" 600-57
Miscellaneous: 40-6
Total W/L:  750-71
Win Percentage: .914

Top Spin 1 Online Achievements:

- Top 50 Ranking (when leaderboard exceeded 80,000 players)
- Top 100 Ranking (when leaderboard exceeded 80,000 players)
- Career win percentage greater than 90%
- Defeated two former #1 players (at a time when they were not ranked #1)
- Won 3 out of 4 matches against top 10 players (when membership exceeded 80,000)
- Highest ranked player played and defeated was #6
- Achieved over 50 "perfect matches" without yielding a single point in best of three set matches with three games per set.
- Longest win streak: 77 matches (including numerous wins over top 250 ranked players when membership exceeded 80,000)
- Losses to Cheesy Gamers: 63.  Losses to Sim-Gamers: 8  (losses to sim-gamers on clay: 5)

Top Spin 2 Online Achievements*:

Custom Characters:

"Mr Fett v1"  5-0  (retired)
"Mr Fett v2"  60-1
**   (retired)
"Mr Fett v3" 135-15
** (retired)
"Mr Fett v4" 20-5 (retired)
Total W/L: 220-21
Win Percentage: .912

Top Spin 2 Online Achievements:

- Top 100 Ranking (when leaderboard exceeded 24,000 players)
- Top 75 Ranking
# (when leaderboard exceeded 24,000 players)
- Longest win streak: 54 matches
- Record against sim gamers (or simply non-cheesy gamers): 150-4
- Record against cheesy gamers
^: 70-17

 * Does not reflect results from league activity, only random online "pick-up" matches both ranked and un-ranked played through "Quick Match" or "Opti-Match" lobbies.  League play results: 22-0 and five titles.
** Includes wins where opponent cut power prior to losing match, but avoided recorded leaderboard loss by exploiting disconnection flaw.
TS2 statistics above reflect "correct" record and winning percentage.  The Xbox Live leaderboard is inaccurate due to "disconnection cheat" that multiple opponents had used.
^ Cheesy gamers defined as frequent abusers of the drop shot, risk shot, lob service return, exclusive use of the +/-72 mph slow serve out wide, or abuse of the drop shot return of serve.
#  Denied top 50 placement due to four gamers who successfully exploited the "disconnection cheat" prior to their official losses being recorded.  I lost a total of 79 points on the leaderboard as a result.  Disconnection cheats resulted in losing placement in the top 50 with membership in the area of 24,000 gamers at the time.


Since receiving numerous inquiries regarding the star allocation of my custom characters, I've posted a chart below detailing their information ("retired" players only):  















Mr Fett V1














Mr Fett V2














Mr Fett V3















T - Gamer Log

TS2 Log Update, 5/22/06:  I am pretty much about to hang up my virtual racquet in TS2 (and a lot sooner than I did with TS1!).  I am growing weary of dealing with the same cheesy gaming tactics day in and day out against top 1,500 players.  It seems like 60% of gamers nowadays are foregoing the risk serve (or any service variety in general) in favor of using a 72mph slice serve out wide.  Some do it from the standard serving location; others prefer to be near the doubles line.  Regardless, this is cheesy as it exploits a reality flaw in the game.  In real tennis, a 72mph serve would be treated contemptuously – but in TS2, it provides a significant advantage to the server (see Sections J and P).

There is no skill in playing this way, and it’s no fun.  Furthermore, In my last 50+ online matches, about 35 have been against cheesy gamers (with approximately 20 being hard core cheesers who utilize that 72mph slice serve exclusively) who lob or drop shot my serves back to me, or hit 30+ risk shots in a match.  To add further insult, when I beat these cheesy gamers, many leave negative feedback to my profile.  Up until TS2 came out, I had 100% positive feedback.  Since TS2’s release, my rep has taken a significant hit from poor losers and cheesy gamers.  I truly find it interesting that when a gamer shows disrespect to me by playing cheesy, and I beat him (or her) in either straight up game or by finding alternative ways to nullify the unsporting advantages they seek – they report something completely false (and negative) about me.  Two guys said I trash talked.  I don't even use a headset!  Furthermore, if someone is trying to gain an unfair advantage by playing cheesy, then the gloves come off (and even then, I don’t lob serves back, hit risk shots, or abuse the drop shot).  Why should I sit there and allow cheap points to be won by someone who’s lobbing my serves back to me, or hitting slow serves that are putting me into the flower boxes at each side of the court?  That’s total crap, and aside from football games (NFL football) over Xbox Live, Top Spin seems to breed the absolute worse gamers both domestic and abroad.  I take great offense when a cheesy gamer starts resorting to low game play standards, and then attacks my profile when they lose.  All I can say is grow up losers! If you beat me with cheesy game play, feel proud for that’s the only reason you beat me.  If you lost to me despite your cheating tendencies, then you are a double-loser.  I've seen a few posts in Xbox Live! forums where others have expressed the same problems:  they play a clean, legit game, and the losers tamper with their feedback as a way of "getting back."  I've contacted Xbox Live support about this, and my complaint has been noted - though they didn't seem very intent on addressing this potential problem for all of us "honest gamers."

It’s a shame that despite the 100+ games I’ve played so far, only a handful of names come to mind who play a straight-up competitive game of tennis where they mixed up their serves well, used good strategy, and played the game it was meant to be played.  Like TS1, it’s the gamers that determine how fun a game is – and it seems like the quality players are scattered too few and far between in TS2.  I have a few personal goals left to accomplish with TS2, but I doubt I’ll play it much past this summer.

 TS2 Log Update, 5/26/06: 

In my original Top Spin FAQ & Strategy Guide, I made a comment regarding cheesy gamers, saying that the only reason so many were in the top group were because of the reality flaws they exploited.  I added that if PamDev were to remove the risk shot and ultra-kicker serve (in TS1), the leaderboard would change drastically where many of the top guys would fall considerably in the rankings.  Well, aside from seeing a few of the TS1 Top 100 scattered throughout the top 2,500 in TS2, the other night was the first opportunity I had to actually play a former Top 100 player from TS1.  The last time we met (playing Top Spin 1), I won 4-2, 4-2 in a crazy match where he hit risk shot after risk shot, ultra-kicker serves exclusively, and pulled off more than a dozen drop shots (I keep notes of this stuff).  It was a pretty lousy match back then, and he was resorting to all sorts of cheesy gameplay. In our first match against each other in TS2, he was a virtual walkover: 3-1, 3-0.  Like I had predicted, now that several of the cheesy elements of TS1 are gone, many veteran Top Spin gamers are having a hard time adjusting to TS2.  That's not to say that a new breed of cheesy gamers haven't spawned (because they have) - but the original group are no longer clustered together in the Top 100, Top 500 or whatever.  As of the last time I checked (mid-May 2006), only two notable Top 100 cheesy gamers from TS1 placed in the Top 100 of TS2.

Continuing on the topic of cheesy gamers, I recently played a top ranked player (Top 50) who hit over 53 risk shots against me (yes, I continue to take notes of this stuff). His ability to hit risk shots consistently with the new system was remarkable.  The only thing is, his movement of the risk shot was limited - - almost cautious as if he was wary of hitting unforced errors.  I won 4-2, 4-2 in that match.  The only thing that really kept him competitive was his usage of the risk shot, and I could see that being a problem for any gamer who didn't have decent groundstrokes and speed to counter that player's ability.

In another match versus a top ranked player (Top 100), I won 4-2, 3-1.  Afterwards, he sent me a text message thanking me for a good, "clean game."  I thought that was ironic because he had hit 5 drop shots before the end of the second game in the first set, and he continued to hit them at least once during every point for the remainder of first set. He finally gave up on them when he realized that they weren't going to work against me.  So, he's thanking me for the clean game, but yet his game was suspect at best due to his abuse of the drop shot. ?? Again - this blows my mind as to what some people interpret at "clean gaming."

 TS2 Log Update, 5/29/06: 

Curious in testing the serve/return of serve issues in TS2 in real-life situations, I recently played two tennis players of varying abilities.  One had a USTA rating of 3.5, the other is in transition between a 4.0 and 4.5.  


Findings against the 3.5 rated player:

Against the 3.5 rated player when serving from the deuce court (I am right handed), I was able to achieve a successful put-away shot off of his return 80% of the time. The variables involved were his return speed and angle.  Times where he shanked the ball or hit a very weak, but deep reply - he was able to recover quickly enough to get my attempted put away  - though, he was immediately on the defensive once again as I was in good position to hit a winner from there.  When he was able to get his strings on my serve and hit a decent reply, I was able to put it away each time.  The speed of his return plus the speed of my put-away shot (and my superior court positioning) made it impossible for him to reach the ball again.  He became visibly frustrated, and verbally noted that "[as if this just didn't happen a few moments ago."] The angle of my serve hit from the ad-court wasn't as extreme as it was from the deuce court, and for me to achieve that same angle, I'd either have to line up further towards the left singles line, or, change the service type to a kicker serve with possibly more pace.  So, for the sake of this test, I will only report the findings from the deuce court.

Findings against the 4.5 rated player:

Using the very same technique I used against the 3.5 rated player, my success was somewhat short lived with the 4.5 player.  I initially had several service winners as the 4.5 rated player was trying to over-compensate for his bad positioning to retrieve my serves (i.e. hitting the ball into the net, wide of the singles court, or long beyond the baseline).  His second plan (after realizing he was "giving me points" with his missed returns) was to place the ball deep into the center of the court (a safe shot) - but as offensively as possible.  When he realized that doing so would not provide guaranteed success, he began trying to place his returns down the line - where *I* wouldn't be able to effectively get them back into play.  As he adapted to my routine serves out wide, he was able to effectively return them down the line thus making it difficult for me to hit an offensive shot due to the pace he was putting on the ball.  He even cracked a few outright winners.  The more I served out wide in the same fashion, the better his service returns were, and the less effective my serves became.

Now consider this:

The top 300 tennis professionals have a USTA rating of 7.0 which is defined as a world class player.  If a 4.5 rated "country-club player" can adapt to a consistently placed 70+mph spin serve out wide where he can return it in an offensive manner, what do you think a professional player would do to it?  This is the point I would like to bring to the attention of Top Spin 2's developers.  Gamers who are exploiting the reality flaw of the slow slice serve out wide should not be getting away with it.  They should be eating those service returns - especially since the serves are so predictable with regard to speed and trajectory.  An effective return of serve is dependent on the returner's position, skill, reflex, precision, power, and to some degree, luck (in guessing where the serve is going) - and of course, the effectiveness of the actual serve.  If a server is putting his serve in the same location of the service box each and every time, AND the serve is a weak one, ANY returner of moderate skill should be able to crush the ball in a very offensive manner - thus putting the server at a HUGE disadvantage.  Hitting a slow serve allows extra time for the returner to gain better court positioning, better anticipation, and better precision on the return.  That's why first serves are almost always heavy, fast serves.  It limits the reaction time of the service returner, therefore making it more difficult to return.  Unfortunately, this is not the case in Top Spin 2.


 TS2 Log Update, 6/8/06: 

I've been away from Top Spin 2 for a few weeks now, and my ranking has plummeted like 25+ spots as a result.  I am losing interest in TS2 by leaps and bounds. Alot of it has to do with experiencing the same gameplay almost each and every time I get online (slow, cheesy slice serves out wide) - but also for another reason: Top Spin 2 does not have that "X" factor, or as some people say, the "It" factor.  I just can't get immersed in this game as I had the first one.  My initial goals for TS2 were to make the Top 50 worldwide, maintain a win percentage above 90%, and earn somewhere between 500 and 750 wins.  Well my hopes for a Top 50 ranking were dashed by four idiot gamers who used the disconnection cheat against me (I lost 79 leaderboard positions which would have put me well into the lower 40 group). Due to my lack of free time, I haven't had the chance to try and earn those points back (nor do I care to), or even maintain my current ranking.  I am lucky if I can get four games in per week.  I'm just slipping away.   As I look at it now, I'll try to get my V2 character up to 75 wins, my V3 character to 150 wins, and my fourth character 25 wins.  I think I'll retire from regular online play at that point.  That will give me 250 online wins, and whatever amount of losses that come with that..  It's a far cry from the 750 online wins I posted on TS1, but at least I'll feel that I got my money's worth with TS2.  Maybe I'll try Rockstar's Table Tennis this summer, and hope that it keeps my interest until Sega's new Virtua Tennis comes out next Spring.


TS2 Log Update, 6/20/06: 

I've spent another week away from the game and I should have probably taken more time off.  In my first four games in over eight days, I encountered four very cheesy gamers, two in the top 450, two in the top 1500.  One guy, ranked in the top 100, was a guy I thumped pretty good a month or so ago - but this time around,  he had some new cheesy tricks up his sleeve - notably the lob technique (See Section J) that caused my character to stumble each and every time he hit it.  He won in three sets as control over my guy was lost every time the cheeser hit lobs down the line.  The other three guys I played were also lobbers.  They'd lob or drop shot every ball as their service returns, or as total replacements for their normal groundstrokes.  What a waste of my time.  I think my shelving the game will now come at 200 online wins as opposed to my "revised goal" of 250. I am just sick and tired of the sheer amount of cheesy gamers out there.  I think it's time to move on to something else soon.   


TS2 Log Update, 7/03/06: 

I took another week off and saw that I've fallen a total of about 20 more spots.  Oh well.  I recently played 10 games, six of which were against smacktard cheesers.  One guy spun all his serves under 85 mph out wide on an indoor baskeball court and apparently expected to win the match doing that.  I played sim as long as I could but when he started stepping out wider and wider trying to get more angle, I started chipping back his serves so that my guy could recover some lost ground.  I won 4-2, 4-2 and the loser dinged my reputation as a result.  Like I mentioned a few times earlier: among cheesers, it's okay if they resort to bogus gameplay, but if you beat them outright, or stoop to their level and beat them - - - then it's YOU who are the unsportsmanlike gamer (whatever!).  I continue to hear (and read) stories of sim gamers' reps being damaged by poor losers and cheesers.   My advice is not to worry about it.  Play your game, and let them whine all they want.  My goal is to reach 250 wins. Once I do - I'll be retiring this game.  Sim-gamers are becoming a rare find these days.

Also today, I lost to a sim gamer for the third time in my TS2 career.  It was a good game, though frustrating because my characer netted the ball on four crucial points when I had an entire side of the court open to hit a winner.  Oddly enough, that continued to happen with my character in the three games I played afterwards, however, I was fortuante enough that they did not occur on important points.

As for those of you who emailed me about the Agassi character - - I am working on him.  The delay is due to the DNA models I've tried working with.  I still have yet to find the right one.  I hate to say, but even if/when I post my Agassi settings, it his very unlikely that any two will look the same.  I've created 4 versions of the same exact character; I even have my "look" settings written down, but due to the DNA variations, no two look alike despite the same exact settings.  

I recently lost 25 points due to my power being cut during a thunderstorm.  I had set up a match and waited for a few challengers (something I rarely do).  One guy had a miserable connection but I managed to get by with a win.  The second time, I was playing a guy ranked 2,000 or something.  I was up 3-0, 1-0 when my power was cut. I lost 25 points and many spots on the leaderboard.   Oh well.   I bet he was happy.


 TS2 Log Update, 7/10/06: 

Two more wins by "Mr Fett v3" and he'll be retired.  "Mr Fett v4" will be making his online debut in about a week.  He's almost identical to #3, but with a few tweaks to the areas of weakness that plagued version 3.   "Mrs Fett" won't be online for another month, and I don't expect her to see much action online.


 TS2 Log Update, 8/3/06: 

I've popped on for a few games last week to keep my ranking in the top 150.  I don't know why, considering that I don't play this game much - and my ranking doesn't mean much to me anymore since I've lost interest in the game.  I've played 12 games so far with my latest creation, and lost two.  One was against a legitimate gamer and another was against a fraud who exploited every loophole in the book.   My newest guy definitely has some weaknesses which shouldn't be evident due to his skill assignments.

Of the handful of people I played, one guy from France was particularly annoying as he began hitting underhand serves when he realized he couldn't beat me straight up. It was then that I put my posted strategies to work (Section J) - and they passed with flying colors.  He'd do an underhand serve and immediately rush to the net expecting a forehand or backhand that he could hit to the open court.  I bet he was quite surprised when I lobbed his underhand serve right over his head!  He tried it again two serves later and I did the same thing for another winner.  He obviously didn't get the hint that his B.S. wasn't going to work on me, as he attempted a third drop serve. Funny thing is, I drop shot his underhand serve as he stayed back and waited for a lob that never came.  Another winner for me.  On his fourth underhand serve, he rushed the net but from the sideline I was previously lobbing to - but I was one step ahead of his thinking, and hit a cross court lob to the open side.  He was done and he knew it.  I wasn't going to put up with that sort of crackerjack videogame tennis.  He was ranked in the top 500 - quite undeserving for that sort of bogus gameplay.

 TS2 Log Update, 8/10/06: 

 I haven't played Top Spin 2 in almost a week, and am officially hanging up my virtual racquet.  The game is no longer enjoyable to me.


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