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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

REFLECTIONS: Your tennis game as part of a plan and not the result of happenstance

While teaching a tennis lessons the other night to a 16-year-old junior preparing for her upcoming tennis season, I explained how the concept of gaining an understanding of how both technique and tactics are built can help her game in ways she could not even imagine.
    Let me begin with the notion of a "blueprint of strokes". Imagine for a moment that you are constructing a house, and even though you can envision it in your mind's eye, you have no blueprints or building plans to reference. With enough experience, you might do some things correctly and be successful. But I don't expect that the overall construction job will be well done. Then consider, that if something goes wrong with the electricity in the home, how difficult it would be to trace the wiring, junction boxes, circuit breakers, etc. without a visual roadmap of what was installed. Can the problem be fixed without the reference? Absolutely! Things can always be reverse engineered and figured out. But what is the cost in money, time and convenience? Knowing how something is constructed is the key to efficient troubleshooting and eventual repair. 
    Now let's apply this to a tennis court. Many players hit the ball by "feel" without any formal training or understanding of how racquets, balls and the court surface work together. When having a good day, players may have no idea "why". It doesn't seem all that important until they have a bad day. Then the "why" becomes very important. If one gains an understanding of how things are constructed, and they develop a visual blueprint in their brain of the components and how they fit together, tracking down a problem becomes much less of an inefficient and frustrating venture. Groundstrokes and volleys are fashioned, serves and overheads are built, strategies and tactics used in point play are constructed. The more we leave things to chance, feel, or plain old luck, the less chance we have of controlling our own destiny on the court.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

FAVORITE SITES: Timeless Tennis by Gary Bala

Posted: Saturday, July 21, 2012
Coming Soon! The London Summer Olympics 2012 - and Tennis Gold!

Since the days of ancient Greece, every four years, the finest athletes in the world gather to compete at the fabled Olympic Games.

In 2012, London boasts the honor of hosting this summer's Olympic Games - and showcasing the glory of sport and the heart of human competition.

And the globe's top tennis players prepare and wait for their chance at Olympic gold.

Let the Games begin on July 27...see more

Sunday, July 8, 2012

NEWS: The master of grass courts takes a record 7th Wimbledon title

Two competitors–one victor: Federer

Records were to be made at the 2012 Wimbledon Championships. Roger Federer was to win his 7th Wimbledon final–unprecedented in the history of this sport–or Andy Murray was to be the first British male to even make the men’s title at the All England Club since Bunny Austin took the court and lost against American Don Budge seventy-four years ago. Murray has been playing his best tennis in a Grand Slam since turning pro in 2004, and on his way to the men’s final he had to overcome both number 5 David Ferrer and number 1 Novak Djokovic–the defending Wimbledon champion.

For Roger Federer, a man on a mission to not only take the title but regain the number one ranking in the world, played his unique brand of brilliant tennis we have come to expect over the years from this court maestro. His opponent was up to the task in the first set however and took the match opening by 6 games to 4. Never one to be counted out, and even though he will be turning 31 next month, Federer fought back with a vengeance and took the sea-saw second set 7-5.  Early in the third set, the typical English rains made their appearance, and the match was delayed while the roof was closed. This break in action, and the resumption of play–now indoors–seemed to rejuvenate Federer as he started to find his champion’s gear while taking the set 6-3. The momentum had definitely shifted, and Roger showed the shot-making talent that had already earned him six former titles at this venue. 

The fourth set was another hard-fought battle, but Roger was again up to the task. In the end, Roger Federer disappointed the pro-British crowd by defeating one of their own, Andy Murray the Scot, by 6-4 in the final set. Be even though they still wait for a countrymen to take back the title, the spectators roared with applause for the efforts of someone they have come to admire and respect from his previous ventures onto Centre Court. Andy Murray fought back the tears as he addressed the crowd and his camp–thanking them all for their unending support. And although Murray walked out of the All England Club the second of two, he can carry his head up high as he showed just how close he could come to victory for himself, his fans, and an entire country with the name “Andy” on their lips during a summer tournament at Wimbledon, England 2012.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

EPISODE 92 (Podcast): Let's talk SCORING

Whether or not you want to count the points in tennis as a way to gauge either enjoyment or accomplishment, scoring is always an optional part of the experience. But there are more ways to keep score than you might think. Here we'll take a look at some of the various ways players put points on the board.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

REFLECTIONS: BELIEVE...and anything can happen!

Most might agree that what's ahead for all of us is virtually unknown. We can speculate and predict by viewing past history or statistics, but it is impossible to forsee what simple BELIEF can accomplish. 
    This past week at the Wimbledon Championships, the number two seed, current French Open champion, former Wimbledon Champion and world number two, Rafael Nadal, was ousted in five sets by the number 100 player in the world, Lukas Rosol. This giant killer lost in the very next round, but perhaps his effort has rippled through the halls of the All-England club and ignited the spirt of those willing to find a little bit extra in their games. 
    No challenger can ever be underestimated in this golden age of tennis. We have been witness to some of the best athletes, shot-makers, and overall natural talents to ever hold a racquet in the last decade of play. All you need do is look at Roger Federer's 16 Grand Slam titles breaking the all-time record set by Pete Sampras in 2002, Rafael Nadal's 11 Slams including a record 7 French Open titles, and the incredible 2011 year of Novak Djokovic winning the Australian, Wimbledon, and U.S. Open titles during one of the longest winning streaks in tennis history at 43 match wins.
    Given the magnitude of these statistics, if one were ranked #100 or even in the 20s to 30s, they would realistically consider their chances of making the quarterfinal round at Wimbledon pretty slim. And yet, that is just what BELIEF can do. From the list of eight men remaining in the quarterfinal round, we have Mikhail Youzhny at number 25, Philip Kohlschreiber at 27, and Florian Mayer at 31 in the world respectively. This is quite the contrast from some other Grand Slam tournaments that found much higher ranked players in the last eight.
    We may sometimes justify a set of circumstances in our head that can limit our success–thinking that results are solely dictated by the actions of our opponent. Even worse, we can approach a match with a defeatist attitude based on what the challenger has done yesterday instead of what they have yet to prove today.
    What does this mean for our games? BELIEVE. It costs you nothing, and it is right around the corner if you follow the signs. When you arrive, anything can happen.