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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

NEW CONTENT OF NOTE: Stitcher SmartRadio™ contest


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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

REFLECTIONS: Waiting for intentionality

While sitting on the sidelines at the local public tennis courts, I waited patiently for a court to open up. As it turns out, this ran about an hour, and it gave me time to reflect upon what players I had in front of me. Two young guys, perhaps between 18 and 20, were slugging it out on the court closest to my sight. They were playing a match, and even though I was within earshot of their announced score, I cannot tell you what it was at any given time. My attention was focused on their groundstrokes, volleys, serve, and overall game play. Two-handed backhands and one-handed topspin groundstrokes ruled the night. There was the occasional foray into the net, but it seemed either out of desperation or due to a ball landing unintentionally short in the court with no other play but to run forward.


What I was looking for was intentionality. They both played quite well, and the usual suspects of unforced errors took their toll on both players. But I didn't even worry about those since they are standard fare at this level of play. What I ran out of patience for though was their lack of purpose. Anyone can play this game by picking up a racquet, hitting balls over the net, learning how to keep score, and running around in reaction to any given shot. But in order to play real tennis, as in any game, their needs to be intentionality and not simple reaction. The brain needs to be firing as much if not more than the muscles and fibers in our legs and shoulders.


Interestingly enough, after I had been playing a while on our own court, these two gentlemen finished and three other young guys took their court. While they were obviously more at a beginner level, they hit most balls with purpose. They didn't know enough yet to be on automatic. They had to craft each movement since those motions were not yet ingrained and natural. In other words, the shots they attempted were hit with purpose. Certainly none of them would have been a match for the other two previous players, but they retained something in their tennis innocence that we should all keep in our hearts and minds on the court. Place each shot for a reason, attempt a variety of spins for a reason, hit hard or soft for a reason. Enjoy the great shot for all its glory. Respect the missed shot for what it can teach you. Always do things with a purpose in mind. And if that does not really make sense, learn how to play the game of chess and see how playing on automatic, without intentionality, works for you. Hopefully you'll be back to the court with an entirely new mindset.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Episode 77 (Podcast): Is the "modern game" fad-tabulous or rooted in tradition?

Has tennis really changed, or have we simply redefined some things and thrown the baby out with the bath water? We'll look at the responsibilities of those who teach the game as we consider the old with the new. (see book below referenced in the podcast)
Tennis Beyond Big Shots
by Greg Morgan
Tennis Beyond Big Shots presents a bold back-to-the-future approach. A new game that moves away from power and big shots yet is more lethal to opponents than any booming serve. Greg Moran shows players of all ages and abilities that, with simple and small changes, you can not only maximize your tennis wins and play longer, but also have much more fun doing it. A book for every tennis enthusiast!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Serena Williams crosses the line–AGAIN!

I really don't like to get into the negatives of tennis. To me, there are not many bad things in this sport perhaps beyond the wear and tear your body takes over several decades of hard play. The competition and exercise is healthy, the athletes tend to respect each other's talent, and the message sent to our kids and other tennis players of all ages is usually a very positive one. 

Then enter Serena Williams. For those not aware, for the second time in her career at the U.S.Open. one of tennis' biggest stages, she verbally abused an umpire because she did not like the ruling handed down. The reality is that the umpires in both years were doing their job within the rules of tennis, and there was nothing wrong or inappropriate in their rulings. Serena lost a point, and because it was game point for her opponent Samantha Stosur, inevitably she lost a game. This was because she yelled out after hitting a shot before her opponent had a chance to play it. That is a clear violation of the hindrance rule in tennis of which a tennis professional at Serena's level should be aware. She lost her cool, and in the process, said nasty things to the umpire, Eva Asderaki, such as “You’re a hater. You’re unattractive inside." All this from a well-known role model who was just finishing up a 2-year probationary period for her threatening words to a linesperson at the 2009 U.S. Open Semi-finals.

I don't blame Serena for being upset, caught up in the moment, and even for being vocal. Lots of tennis players are vocal on the court. But there is a line one must not cross, and for the second time at a Grand Slam event, Serena crossed it, spit on it, and crushed it into the ground. Where is her professionalism? Where is her integrity? Do these things not count when you are famous and have boatloads of money?

What is far worse than the Serena incident is the reaction of the USTA who is fining her $2000 for the infraction. Game, set, match! Hello people, but just in case you hadn't noticed, she is a millionaire. Serena probably spends more than this on breakfast and lunch for a week. Someone wrote that, at her hourly rate, it was worth about 1 minute of her earnings. She walked away from this tournament, by the way, with a cool 1.4 million as a runner-up losing by the score of 6-2, 6-3.

What would you do if you were the USTA? Should she not be held accountable for her mistake? Is the chump change of $2000 a realistic fine for someone with her financial resources? How do you feel about suspension at a major event such as the next Grand Slam tournament–The Australian Open?

Let's record your feelings on this and be heard as a tennis fan, patron, parent, or even tennis professional in any capacity such as instructor, coach, or player.

FAVORITE SITES: Timeless Tennis by Gary Bala

Posted: Monday, September 12, 2011
The Greatest Year: Novak Djokovic wins the Men's Singles Championship U.S. Open 2011
"It's probably the greatest year ever in the history of tennis."
–John McEnroe, holder of 82-3 Win-Loss Record...read more

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

REFLECTIONS: Why Recreational players are NOT the Pros

We have got to start being realistic about our tennis games. We, the recreational tennis player, are not anywhere near the pro ranks. That is not to say that, on occasion, we do not hit a shot worthy of a professional player. Yes, it does happen and it always feels great. But how do we back it up? And from what level of opponent did we hit this wonderful shot? And can we repeat this incredible placement over and over again? 

I can watch Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic's forehand on video analysis until I turn grey and still never come close to owning such a weapon. Now I'm a huge proponent of watching the pros in order to learn more about our own games, and I have learned volumes over three decades of observation. But let's get REAL! These are highly trained, incredibly fit, and financially motivated individuals who chose tennis as a career. They don't need to sandwich their forays to the court between their 9-5 jobs, dropping the kids at soccer practice, mowing the lawn, or balancing their checkbook. 

Last night I watched an incredible match in the round of 16 at the U.S. Open between Joe-Wilfried Tsonga of France and Mardy Fish of the U.S. It began in the day session, and went on into the night with a score of 6-4, 6-7 (5), 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. Tsonga took the 3 hour, 45 minute match amongst swirling winds and an understandably pro-Fish (U.S) crowd.

These players both showed incredible will, stamina, flexibility, and shot-making ability to the delight of the audience who kept the night-session crowd at bay while enjoying their view of this battle between two outstanding titans in today's tennis. But we are NOT them.  We can only dedicate limited time, effort, finances, and willpower to what most do on a recreational level. 

Swinging the racquet at a ball successfully, or hitting with a certain spin with confidence, requires a lot more than seeing how the pros hit tennis balls. The foundation required of today's professional players is well beyond the reach of most of us. That does not mean we cannot learn from watching. It simply means that all must be tasted and digested within the realm of our own reality as an individual. 

But I for one am so glad that the pros can show us the possibilities from the best-of-the-best. It is very entertaining and instructive indeed, and the lessons learned from all-court-players such as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mardy Fish can only assist in the goal of being the best players WE can be!