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Friday, December 30, 2011

EPISODE 83 (Podcast): Discussion with Gary Bala of TimelessTennis.net

At the end of 2011, blogger Gary Bala (www.timelesstennis.net) and I discuss Tennis for the Health of it authored by Dr. Jack L. Groppel–pioneer in the science of human performance and expert in fitness and nutrition. Groppel provides 34 reasons to play tennis, and we discuss our favorites. We also reflect back on the 2011 season and make our predictions for 2012.


Subscribe in iTunes:





Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Holidays from GPT

Let me take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous holiday season. There is not a year that goes by that I do not feel grateful for all the blessings that have been bestowed upon me. Tennis is obviously very high on my list, but it is certainly not to be overshadowed by the love of my family during this festive time of year. 
Thank you for all of your support in 2011. I hope to reach out to more people all over the world this coming year with new and exciting offerings at Gotta Play Tennis. And in my own little way, I hope that something I have written, recorded or shared has helped you "become a better play, gain more tennis knowledge, or gain pointers on how to have more fun on the court." That has always been my promise to you, and the new year will be no different in that regard.
However, I'm look for bigger and better things in 2012 as I continue to grow as a player, teacher, blogger and podcaster. Your feedback is not only welcome, but it is a necessity that provides an integral component in the transformation of GPT as I move forward.


Happy New Year, and again I thank you for your support.
Ron Miller 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

EPISODE 82 (Podcast): Keys to managing the hit zone


On a groundstroke, there is that place where optimal ball striking occurs. It is referred to as the "hit zone", and we can adjust our swing path to better manage the impending emergency of getting the ball back in play.


Subscribe in iTunes:
http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/gotta-play-tennis/id310096949





Thursday, December 15, 2011

FAVORITE SITES: Timeless Tennis by Gary Bala

Posted: Sunday, December 11, 2011
THE TOP TEN GREATEST MEN'S TENNIS SEASONS
And the candidates are:
Bjorn Borg Jimmy Connors
Novak Djokovic Roger Federer
Rod Laver John McEnroe
Rafael Nadal Mats Wilander 
Based on win/loss record and number of Grand Slam titles won in a single tennis season (year)
read more...

NEWS: Tennis rules are changing for kids 10 and under

MORE KIDS PLAYING TENNIS: A very good thing

Kids 10 and under will have new rules for playing tennis. This initiative is focused on getting more kids involved in the sport at a younger age and possibly creating a broader base of future champions. 



Follow this link to the USTA website:

At Gotta Play Tennis, I have been promoting this initiative all throughout 2011. My local tennis youth programs utilize the QuickStart format of play with the use of lower nets, softer foam balls, and shorter rackets and courts. Kids are having fun and learning to play at a faster rate than ever before. 

Follow this link to more information about 10andUnderTennis:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

REFLECTIONS: Etiquette still an important part of the sport called tennis


Sign that obviously
needs to be posted at the
tennis courts
Wow! Mid 50's weather at 7PM in the evening on the east coast. Wow! Lighted tennis courts available with no waiting. Wow! Some guy bringing a hockey net, sticks, a ball, and two kids onto the court next to me (and my partner) in order to play under those same lights. I looked at him in disbelief, especially since there is a hockey rink next to the courts. While it is true that the rink is not lighted, and the lights from the court provide poor illumination for the rink, that is where hockey is played! I couldn't help but wonder if this man understood the difference or even cared. 
     After a few unpleasant words, and discussion of all the scuffs on the court from hockey sticks, we tried to ignore their play and focus on ours. Then came the red hockey ball that rolled across our court. One of the youth ran around behind me and then proceeded to slap-shot his ball right across our court. After asking politely for him to NOT hit a ball across where we were playing, hockey-man went ballistic with profanity spewing from his sewer-inspired mouth. F-bomb after F-bomb exploded from this guy. My partner and I were called every name his limited vocabulary could produce, and we were accused of being somehow less-than-men for playing what he called a sissy game. We came very close to fisticuffs after he continually referred to me as a pedophile simply because I am a school teacher, and after he stood at the service line of my court baiting me to hit him with a ball. Oh how I was tempted. But he just wanted an excuse to fight so I held my ground and temper.
     Why do I bring up this incident? Etiquette is the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group. This aspect of tennis is interwoven into the very fabric of the sport of tennis. Those who know little to nothing of tennis may not be aware of the standard courtesies we have come to accept. But I don't think this is what we were dealing with. This man associated hockey with machismo and brutality, and he displayed bullying with pride. He was unknowingly teaching this lesson to these impressionable 11 or 12 year old kids on the tennis court–the very same kids teachers then get in school. His lesson plan was one of disrespect, discourtesy, rudeness and uncontrollable rage. Is this the kind of behavior tolerated in sports we thrust our kids into under the guise of learning "teamwork?" How different is this from referring to "killing the other team" or ripping them apart in effigy at a pep rally?
     If you are someone who works with or watches our youth in any sporting event, please be on guard for this kind of display so that it is not what gets associated with your activity or team. There are lots of great youth coaches and parent volunteers out there and I applaud their efforts to teach our kids self-discipline, pride, humility, and honor. The sports skills are almost secondary. I feel sorry that the very positive thing hockey-man was trying to accomplish, that of teaching these kids some basic hockey skills, got blurred by the antics of a small mind and big mouth. 


Etiquette and courtesy is still important regardless of the sport. Let's work diligently to keep it that way. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

REFLECTIONS: Shopping for a tennis player this holiday season

Here are some gift ideas you might consider for the Serious, Casual, or Youth (ages 5-8) tennis player on your shopping list:

Serious Player
Forget racquets or strings. This player needs to choose their own weapons. But here are some other considerations:

Casual Player
These players use tennis as a stress reliever or way to have fun in the local park. Consider some basics:

Youth Player (ages 5-8 beginner)
Give kids a good start in tennis with the right tools:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

EPISODE 81 (Podcast): Special Holiday Edition 2011



My unique version of another holiday classic that suggests tennis as a mental and physical fitness alternative.
Subscribe in iTunes:
http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/gotta-play-tennis/id310096949

Thursday, December 1, 2011

LAST CHANCE for Free USTA Junior Membership for kids 10 and under



FREE 1-YEAR USTA 10 AND UNDER 
JUNIOR MEMBERSHIP
Until December 31, 2011, kids 10 and under, new to the USTA, 
can receive a FREE Junior Membership – a $19 value



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

REFLECTIONS: Clash of the Rivals (in 2011-2012)




We've always enjoyed famous rivalries of competitors at the top of their games. In the tennis world, there have been many:

Rod Laver vs. Ken Rosewall (1963-1976)
Bjorn Borg vs. John McEnroe (1978-1981)
Martina Navratilova vs. Chris Evert (1973-1988)
Steffi Graf vs. Monica Seles (1988-1989)
Pete Sampras vs. Andre Agassi (1989-2002)
Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal (2005-present)


   But to understand a rivalry, we must first understand it's key component. The dictionary defines a rival as "a person who is competing for the same object or goal as another, or who tries to equal or outdo another." We can certainly look into the tennis archives and agree with this statement when acknowledging the above pairings. But what about in 2012?
   One could argue that the new rival of Rafael Nadal is Novak Djokovic. But rivalries are usually reflected in a see-saw battle where one squeaks out a win over the other on any given day.Djokovic battled Nadal in 2011 a half-dozen times. And when the dust settled, Novak took home the trophy. Repeated and consistent beat-downs, at least in my book, are not rivalries. 
   So what has my mind buzzing with anticipation for 2012? Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga. Just in the past few weeks during round-robin play at the Barclays ATP World Tour Final, Tsonga and Federer met twice with their second meeting in the final itself. In their earlier match in the tournament, their tightly contested slug-fest ended in a 2-6, 6-2, 4-6 win for the fourth seed and defending champion Federer. But it was not to end there. The two made their way through the other best six players in the world and met in the final. Although Federer once again came away with the victory, 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-3, it was clear that the Frenchman Tsonga is never one to be counted out when playing the Swiss maestro. 
   One tournament does not make a rivalry you say? No it does not. But lets take a look at the highlights of 2011: Tsonga met Federer in the second round of the BNS Internationali d'Italia during the clay court swing and lost 4-6, 2-6. Then came the grass. At the 2011 Wimbledon Championships, Tsonga stunned the centre court crowd by coming from two sets down to defeat Federer 3-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. This was Roger's first loss in a Grand Slam event after leading two sets to love.
   The Rogers Cup in Montreal followed, and Tsonga once again overcame the Swiss in the third round by a score of 7–6 (3), 4–6, 6–1. On Tsonga's own turf in Paris, Federer followed up with a win of 6-1, 7-6 leaving one to ponder what would have happened if Tsonga were able to take the second set tiebreaker. 
   Roger is now 30 years young, and we will see how well he can maintain the beautifully-crafted racquet work he displayed in the latter part of 2011 where he won 17 matches consecutively and took the year-ending championship. Tsonga is a younger man, age 26, and has all the reasons on the world to be hungrier than a man who has already won it all. But it seems that these two have developed a chemistry that not only delights the fans, but one that creates the spirit of rivalry as we all have come to love. Even if it's short-lived as Federer moves ever closer to his career end, this match-up may prove to be the one-to-watch in 2012.

Monday, November 28, 2011

FAVORITE SITES: Timeless Tennis by Gary Bala



Posted: Sunday, November 27, 2011
Gods Never Die - Roger Federer Wins Season-Ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals and Makes History

November 27, 2011: London O2 Arena
Roger Federer (No. 3, Switzerland) defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (No. 6, France) in 3 sets at the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Final today in a brilliant display of determined and skillful tennis, 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-3. Read more...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

REFLECTIONS: Eat now, burn calories later?


If you are in the U.S., today, November 24th, we celebrate the holiday called Thanksgiving. It is a time to reflect on all that we have and be thankful for the bounty. Time is spent with loved ones, much food is consumed, and I think there might be some sports on television as well.
     What may not be clear is that watching sports on a backlit screen does not help to burn-off any of the calories you've loaded on from the Thanksgiving-feast- gluttony of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and various vegetables and sides. But what does it matter? After all, it is a day of family, and enjoyment, and peaceful bliss. Right? Unfortunately, it is not very peaceful to see the rounded mid-section resulting from this mega-consumption in the bathroom mirror.
     Here is one suggestion: consider how grateful you could be in having the public tennis courts almost to yourselves. That's right! Holidays are a great day to play tennis. No waiting. While others are sitting bloated in front of a tube and feeling the weight gain, you could be running around FREE tennis courts in your local park reducing that Thanksgiving meal calories-fest into the power of a Weight Watchers® microwavable dinner.
     OK. You say that you are fueling up for the big Black Friday sales day that begins the next morning at about 2AM. Well, as they say, it may not be a good reason, but it is a reason.


Happy Thanksgiving from GPT.


Here's a link to an episode of Gotta Play Tennis related to Black Friday shopping. Enjoy.
http://www.gottaplaytennis.net/2009/11/episode-30-black-friday-tennis.html

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

NEW CONTENT OF NOTE: Just in time for the holidays


Looking for a special gift? 
Need something different and unique?
Want your gift to stand-out from the rest? 

Pre-paid Tennis Lessons for 2012

(THE PERFECT WAY TO LOCK-IN 2011 RATES)

Why not give The Gift of TENNIS to a friend, family member or another loved-one.

Purchase tennis lesson GIFT CERTIFICATES in denominations
 of 1 or more lessons (price discount applies when purchased in 3-lesson bundle).

Here is another idea..
Why not bundle some lesson certificates with a new tennis racket and some tennis balls?
Check out my Amazon.com links for tennis equipment at: www.gottaplaytennis.net

& A

Q. How do I purchase them?
A. Send me an email and make your request. Special discounts apply in 3-lesson bundles.

Q. How do I pay for them?
A. Check or money order made out to: Ron Miller, and mailed to address provided in my email reply to you.
Q. Can anyone purchase them? 
A. You must be in the local area of South Jersey since lessons are held at Gloucester Twp. tennis court facilities (unless you are willing to travel).
Q. How are lessons scheduled? 
A. I make use of Google calendar to schedule lessons. A read-only calendar link will be sent to your email showing tentative dates scheduled (all dates are subject to change; weather permitting)
Lessons will be scheduled for evenings and/or weekends
Q. Is there a limit to how many lessons can be purchased? 
A. There is a limit of 6 lessons (or two 3-lesson bundles)

Q. How can I find out more information about you or the lessons?
A. Visit my website at: www.gottaplaytennis.net and/or send me an email and I will be happy to discuss lessons with you.

Monday, November 21, 2011

NEWS: The Barclays ATP World Tour Finals

The Barclays ATP World Tour Finals are held annually at the end of the year at different venues around the world. It involves the top eight players in the ATP rankings, as well as the top eight doubles teams. 
     For 2011, the event is being held at the O2 Arena in London, England beginning on November 20th to the 27th. The defending champion of 2010 is Roger Federer.
     The following players have made it to the final eight: Roger Federer of Switzerland, Novak Djokovic of Serbia, Rafael Nadal of Spain, Joe Wilfred Tsonga of France, David Ferrer of Spain, Tomas Berdych of the Czek Republic, Andy Murray of Great Britain, and Mardy Fish of the United States.
     Check out the action as it unfolds daily. As of this writing, there has already been some incredible matchplay as each pairing provides the quality of a tournament final. The eight players are split into two groups of four. During this stage, players compete in a round-robin format (meaning players play against all the other players in their group). The two players with the best results in each group progress to the semifinals, where the winners of a group faces the runner-ups of the other group.
     In case you need something to excite you more than the above roster of players I just mentioned, check out this link from Gary Bala of Timeless Tennis:
http://timelesstennis.blogspot.com/2011/11/preview-2011-barclays-world-tour-finals.html

Sunday, November 20, 2011

REFLECTIONS: an inch is a cinch to make a change in your game



It's amazing how differently you can hit the ball when you look at it. While hitting the court this weekend, things were going pretty well at the onset of a hitting session. When I'm moving my feet and keeping the ball in play, while moving my partner around, all is well and I'm happy. 
     But things don't always stay status quo. His game picks up, he hits a few good shots that gives him more confidence, and things begin to change. He starts hitting deeper, with more angle and even more pace. This of course make my shots more defensive and thus gives him space to step in and hit a winner. 
     So the evaluation and calculation process begins. What was I doing earlier in our hitting that I am not doing now? Is he simply playing better, or did my shotmaking drop off and open the door for him to take over? This process of discovery is not all that easy for recreational players in general. There can be so many things wrong, or right, at any given moment. 
     We sometimes talk about over-thinking the shot, and we tell ourselves to just let it happen. "Trust your swing, positioning, distance, and racquet face." These are the words we force into our minds. But there is a caveat to letting it "happen." In some cases, we do what I did–I stopped watching the ball. After running through a variety of possible reasons for my letdown, I decided that my focus on the ball had been compromised. So what did I do? I committed to looking intently at the ball on every shot and fine tune my focus to achieve a better "minds-eye" measurement.
     Guess what happened? I did better. I started hitting deeper, with more pace and better direction, and created a more defensive response from my partner. Can you now predict what happened as a result? His defense fed me a better chance for even stronger offense. And all this came from simply realizing I was not watching the ball well enough.
     How simple are your difficulties on the court to fix? Are they a result of something very small? Most times they are. Do don't berate yourself when things are going wrong as if your tennis ability is miles away. You are usually only within inches of better success.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

EPISODE 80 (Podcast): Seeing the ERROR of your ways–Part 2


In episode 67 of the GPT podcast, we discussed ERRORS and how important they are to the win/loss column. Here we identify some additional types of mistakes and take a look at how costly these can be in our own game and to the pros as well.
Subscribe in iTunes:

Monday, November 7, 2011

REFLECTIONS: Aerobic fitness burns brightly


A report by Jack Groppel, Ph.D., and the USPTA, entitled Tennis for the Health of It, states the following: The American College of Sports Medicine has cited that more calories may be burned in high-intensity intervals of exercise interspersed with low to moderate intensity levels. That’s exactly what tennis provides. It is interval training, due to the nature of how points are played. Because the heart rate gets into a fat-burning zone and then can easily go higher, tennis has been recognized as one of the leading activities that help to burn fat. Also, because the intensity of tennis can get fairly high, depending on how hard a player works while playing, and because tennis is purely an interval sport, more fat is burned after working out than during the time on court.
    Now I'm neither a scientist nor a doctor. But I can tell you that years ago I recall tennis being low on the list for activities that were considered a good aerobic workout. Doctors determined that the nature of the sport, stops and starts between points, did not provide an adequate sustained heart rate for aerobic benefit when compared to something like running. HORSEHOCKEY! After decades of playing tennis, I can tell you that when I move through a crowd, I'm always the one moving the quickest and without the associated shortness of breath I regularly see from adults even 10 to 30 years my junior. 
    After another solid hitting session this past Sunday morning, 1-½ hours of heartpounding forehands, backhands, volleys and overheads, I was dripping sweat in the midst of the east coast's low 50's temperature this time of year. But even better, according to the above study, I'm burning fat AFTER I leave the court due to the interval nature of the sport. In a society where we are constantly battling our weight-to-snacks ratio, I say HURRAH to that.
    I liken tennis to a candle. When you light it, the flame starts small but grows with intensity as the wick burns into the candle wax. The flame continues to consume all resources available, and even when the wick is extinguished with a puff of air, its embers continue to smolder for some time. I know that when I leave the court, my body is still working overtime as the body's cooling system of perspiration and evaporation do their job. I may burn brightest on a tennis court, but I would like to think that the health benefits of tennis will help me burn for a very long time ahead.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

EPISODE 79 (Podcast): How to make tennis MAGIC out on the court

Wouldn't it be nice to have some simple tricks to call upon with the wave of your magic tennis wand? Author Steve Mallory may have just the right set of spells for you.
Also available in Kindle edition


Referenced in the podcast: 
David Ferrer vs. Andy Murray displaying a difference in balance

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Gloucester Twp. Tennis Info

Gloucester Twp. Tennis Fall 2011 lessons are cancelled for Saturday, October 29th, due to inclement weather.
Week 5 lessons will move to November 5th.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

FAVORITE SITES: Timeless Tennis by Gary Bala


POSTED: Tuesday, October 25, 2011


From Ron Miller at Gotta Play Tennis: 
"THIS MAY BE THE MOST IMPORTANT POST I HAVE EVER SHARED FROM ANOTHER SITE"
Full booklet available
from link


There are 34 powerful and compelling reasons to play tennis, according to an initiative by the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA), Tennis - for the Health of It!...read more

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

REFLECTIONS: Don't oversell the idea of being "so competitive"

"I'm a very competitive person", the tennis player said, worn like a badge of accomplishment as if sewn to the shirt of a cub scout. The truth is that we are all competitive to a certain degree. Some are more so than others. But simply being the person who will race with another over the consumption of a peanut butter sandwich does not make them a better competitor than anyone else. No, someone who likes to compete should understand the value of preparedness and patience as well as understanding when, or not, scored competition is necessary to achieve their goals.
      In a recent interview heard on the Tennis Psychology Podcast with Dr. Patrick Cohn, he asked a question of his guest, Joe Doniffer, author of 16 books, founder of the company OnCourt/Offcourt, and both a PTR and USPTA master professional. The question focused on the kind of player who does not get motivated by practice but by competition alone. Mr. Doniffer shared that typically, but not always, this type of person has stroke and technique limitations, and their ability to improve is compromised by their mentality which is "let's just play."
      We all have our own reasons or motivations for playing tennis. For some, it may be winning points. For others, it might be getting a good workout. And yet for many it could be a stress release from a hard day at work. But for those who look down on others who choose, for whatever reason, to not play for a score, may I suggest that you be true to yourself and let others be themselves. I personally do not need a scoreboard to motivate my efforts on a court. Every hit of the ball might as well be match point at Wimbledon. No one is harder on me than me, and I believe there are lots of people out there who feel the same. And I would need to laugh at anyone who thinks that it is only being "so competitive" that makes one tough and motivated. You've obviously never seen me off the tennis court in the real world. USTA rankings or game and set score may mean the world to some, but to others, these are no more than numbers on a page just like the years on a calendar which make people pre-judge other far too frequently.
      Remember that you win some and you lose some. As Kenny Rogers said in song, you've got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them. When practicing and playing for enjoyment, hold your own as best you can using every ounce of what you know and have worked on. When competing, be aware of your limitations and learn from them as they become more obvious against a better player. And sometimes the effort may just not be worth it with the wrong opponent who only brings you down, regardless of the score. 
      Competitive, by definition, is "as good as or better than others of a comparable nature." I suppose that makes me competitive. How about you?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

NEW CONTENT OF NOTE: One of the best ways to improve your game

Experts agree that being able to SEE mistakes 
makes them much easier to FIX.

This is the idea behind The VolleyCam.


Through a special arrangement with 
creator Robert Kreppel, 
GPT can now offer this sure-fire way to capture all of your moves on the court–both good and bad.


And through this special offer, 
customers who purchase this product through 
Gotta Play Tennis will receive 
FREE SHIPPING!

Combined with a 45-day Money-Back Guarantee, this may be the product that helps you achieve that next step in your tennis development.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The BRIT, the BRIT, the BRIT IS ON FIRE!

What is going on with Andy Murray lately? Does he finally believe he can go all the way and take titles? It seems that Murray has been the bridesmaid so many times and not the bride. I almost began to feel embarrassed hearing his opponents sing his praises and then mention how some day he would definitely be taking home the trophy. 
    Now don't think that you maintain number four in the world for three years in a row by losing all the time. It's just that he has been so close to taking the big prize over and over again to no avail. If we take a look at 2011, we find the following: he lost in the finals of the first Grand Slam of the season, the Australian Open, to Novak Djokovic. He then made it to the semifinals of the French Open where he lost to Rafael Nadal in straight sets. At Wimbledon, the third Grand Slam, he did very well but once again lost to Nadal, this time in four sets during their semifinal matchup. Last but not least, Murray made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Open where he once again faced Rafael Nadal. But in a repeat of the French, Andy lost in four sets. 
   Then began the Asian swing and suddenly something changed. In traditional Chinese culture, qì (also chi or ch'i) is an active principle forming part of any living thing. It is a life force or energy flow generated and it is tied to breath or air flow from the body. Is it possible that Andy has somehow found his inner force or vital energy that has turned on the  winner switch?
   In the last few weeks, he first won the Thailand Open over Donald Young in straight sets. He then went on to take the title at the Rakuten Japan Open where he finally beat Rafael Nadal in three sets. Murray capped off his run as the defending champion at the Shanghai Masters with a difficult but nonetheless straight sets win over David Ferrer. Not only did he play some inspired tennis to achieve these successive wins, but in the rankings, he overtook Roger Federer and now holds the position of number three in the world.
    I think the Asian people would say that Andy Murray used his chi very well indeed. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Episode 78 (Podcast): Champions Series shows the power of a solid foundation

Did you think that older tennis champions disappear to some farm where they can have fun and run free all day? Guess Again. These former Grand Slam winners are hardly out-to-pasture.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

REFLECTIONS: What is a GOOD hitting session?

Define GOOD! Something that is not bad. Perhaps tasteful. Maybe entertaining. Definitely satisfying. I was wondering if this was the correct adjective to describe my hitting session last night. We had been at it for one hour when first checking the clock, but it seemed so much longer. My partner mentioned something about us being in a time warp. I know my body felt as if more time had passed. But when balls are being struck with pace, intention, and successful placement, time does seem to change somewhat. One would think that, as the old expression goes, "time flies when you're having fun." We were having fun. Sweating profusely in high 60's weather on the east coast in the evening, being forced from corner, up and back, topspin to topspin and slice to slice, we were enjoying the moments. 
   But how was it that it seemed, at the one hour mark, to feel like about 30 minutes more? We know what that typically feels like since we always hit for about 1 hour, 30 minutes to about 2 hours. After some head scratching, I made my explanation of the phenomena. When we began, after about 10 minutes of getting the kinks out, I starting hitting my groove. Power, control, placement, and spin variety. All were present like a wedding party at your nuptials. As time went by however, I began to tire a bit. It becomes obvious in the footwork first, as always, since shots I was hitting before for winners were now just landing safely in the court. And other shots just beyond reach that earlier found their way back over were now finding the net or the back fence. 
   It was about then that my partner started coming on strong. Now no longer being held hostage by depth and power forcing him into a defensive posture, he got his offensive groove on. Winners were suddenly bunched like grapes. He attacked the net and forced me back. It was my turn to start considering how to counter this onslaught. And that I did. A bit winded and forced into my own defensive shell, I dug into my bag of tricks and began using what he has referred to in the past as my "wiley" game. Short slices, lob volleys, deep moon balls, and droppers were all on the list to break his stride. I started once again to see more balls laying on his side than mine. That is always an indication that something is going right.
   The tide was not totally turned however. He continued to pound, but with renewed confidence and a second wind, I began my own counter-attack. We gave it everything we had, and the end result were rallies of longer length and less unforced errors. This was no doubt why the session seemed longer than it was. We were two backgammon players, on either end of the game board called a court, strategizing each shot and making instantaneous decisions about how to handle each ball. It became a thing of beauty. 
We both walked off the court after about 1 hour, 45 minutes and it felt GOOD! 

Monday, October 10, 2011

FAVORITE SITES: Timeless Tennis by Gary Bala

Posted: Sunday, October 9, 2011
The Three Tests of Tennis Athleticism
Watch this video of the 3 tests of tennis athleticism, as explained by Coach Pat Dougherty of the Bollettieri Academy...see more

Thursday, October 6, 2011

SPECIAL EDITION: the loss of a true champion

Steve Jobs 
1955-2011
Chairman of the board at Apple, former CEO, and visionary of the Macintosh computer, iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad.


I know this is a blog, website, and podcast home for tennis. But as much as Jimmy Connors probably changed my life in a profound way in tennis, Steve Jobs affected my entire mindset of technology. Steve Jobs, age 52, passed away yesterday stemming from a physical battle originally from pancreatic cancer. 
There are many places to read about his incredible contribution to the world we live in, but let me share what he did for me.
In 1987, I used my first Macintosh computer. This was in the early stages of what was referred to as desktop publishing. It was the early beginnings of my career, and Apple was there. Now as I have moved on to other things, Apple and Steve Jobs are still here...well, at least until October 5th of 2011. I heard the sad news from a text message on my iPhone and then used the Safari browser on the device to read more. I write this today on a MacBook Pro, and both these devices were made possible thanks to Steve Jobs and his incredible teams at Apple. 
    I never met him or saw him in person, but my life and lives of my loved ones have been touched in a very profound way by this man. And for what he brought to us, including the courage to dream big dreams, I will be forever grateful. 
    Let me close with this early career message from Steve and Apple:
Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.

   You have changed the world Steve, and the world will miss you!


Sunday, October 2, 2011

REFLECTIONS: From humble beginnings, the sky is the limit

Recently, professional tennis instructor and podcaster Ian Westermann of the Essential Tennis podcast interviewed former U.S. tour player Todd Martin–a player who had been ranked as high as number four in the world when playing on the pro tour in the 90's. This ranking reflects his accomplishments of 8 career singles titles and five career doubles titles. In addition, he reached the finals at the Australian and U.S. Opens in 1994 and 1999 respectively and was a semifinalist at Wimbledon in both 1994 and 96. He continues to play on the Champions Tour with many of the other greats from the last few decades.
   We have seen many quality U.S. players that have achieved much in the world of tennis. Just take a look at a roster that includes such names as Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, and Jim Courier. Most of us would consider them to be special cases with silver-spoon beginnings at the best tennis clubs and in the best tennis programs money can buy. But in Todd Martin, we hear a different story. During his interview, when asked about how he got started in tennis, he mentions that his parents went to the local park tennis courts to play as recreational players. At age 5, his father cut a wooden racquet down to his size and let him hit what Martin referred to as "batting practice" on the courts. Martin continues in his story to mention "...before long, I was doing the once-a-week on the weekend park lessons..." 
   Now you might imagine that at this point in the interview a huge smile covered my face. Here was child who got his humble start on a tennis court with both his parents and public park lessons in his local Ohio community. This is exactly the kind of service I have been providing to recreation programs in Southern New Jersey for the last 30 years. I have introduced hundreds of kids, and their parents, to the joys of tennis. Low barrier to entry is key, and low-cost recreational programs are the doorway. There needs to be someone that will ignite a child's interest at a young age. I'm proud to have been one of those people, and I continue to do so every Spring, Summer, and Fall.
   So I ask you...what will your child do with the gift of tennis? As you can see from Todd  Martin, the sky is the limit.