Tenniszine - UK tennis blog.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Rackets (2) and Golfers not Tennis elbow

I have a smidgen of golfers elbow . I have had this before a couple of years ago when I started using a very light and stiff Head racket. The lack of weight and the rigidity of the racket meant my arm was taking most of the shock which became a problem on forehand volleys and ground strokes, especially if my timing was off and late. At the time I went to a heavier racket from Babolat and others before ending up with my present Prince racket and my arm has been fine. Until now.

This time I don't think it's the racket because I have been using it for more than a year without problems. Instead I think it's my technique on the forehand since I started using a western grip . As a late starter to tennis I learnt using an eastern grip but over the last year have been moving my hand round into the semi-western and eventually western positions, in order to hit with more power and topspin. I think with the western I have gone too far without getting some advice from a pro on the stroke technique and the result is some golfers elbow pain. I am getting some pretty good topspin which was one of my goals, but I think for now I will stick with the semi-western and eastern since at my standard of play mostly on hard courts that should be enough.

In the meantime I'm using lots of Voltarol and Movelat which are my own favourite rub on gels. I also used to use Salonpas but as the link shows they are no longer available in the UK. I wonder why?

Monday, May 30, 2005

French open prediction, update

With Coria and Safin both losing today I got one half of the draw wrong in my prediction the other day. I suppose with Ferrero and Coria both coming back off injuries it was hoping a bit much, but I think it's disappointing for Safin.

Good job I'm not a betting man, although I am casual with some of my money here but these days almost never here.


My worries yesterday over my singles match were realised as I lost in 2 sets. Although dispappointed I am also annoyed since I recognise the defeat was caused by own poor performance rather than my opponents better play. First I wasn't as focused during the match as I should have been, and second I failed to handle my opponents tactics even though I was telling myself that I knew how to respond. I don't think there's anything I can do on the practise court to improve how, but I do need to learn from the match. Possibly stay focused, adjust tactics as needed, stay focused, stay focused.

Worse for me is getting over the loss!

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Diversions and Knoppix

Returned from sunny Nice to discover I had missed even hotter weather in the UK.

I have not played any tennis now for several days, what with travelling and other diversions, including watching the French Open on TV.Interesting to see Safin overcame Ferrero, so I did not really need to hedge my prediction the other day. Not sure that Safin can prevail now with the injury. My chance to play again comes later today, both singles and doubles. The singles is going to be tough on several levels, fitness after travelling, timing with strokes, and as ever mental.

The other diversion is trying to recover data from an old IBM NetVista PC. I suspect a virus as it just reboots during boot up of WindowsME. Even in safe mode after building the desktop it reboots before I can get in to actually stop further programs or services starting. Tried booting Knoppix but that also reboots during the Linux boot, but I suspect this time with a hardware incompatibility. Tried various cheatcodes still no joy. Trouble is my Knoppix CD is v3.4 and I see the latest available is v3.8 so I downloaded that and then discovered my CD/RW drive has packed up! Won't read any CD's, never mind try to write one. Decided to reflash the drive's firmware, only to discover I need to create diskettes for this. Is IBM the only company left still using diskettes? Since I don't have a diskette drive I tried to do this using a USB key, no joy, so now I'm going to see about borrowing a USB diskette drive to reflash the CD/RW drive firmware to see if I can build a v3.8 Knoppix CD and maybe if that still fails with the NetVista I will try an Auditor CD.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Travelling, Nice Cote D'Azur

I am travelling so blogging not easy. Saw patches of the French Open on TV in the hotel in the evenings. Also saw the score at half time of the Liverpool v AC Milan UEFA Champions League football match on Wednesday and went to bed assuming that Liverpool had lost. So imagine my surprise next morning on learning the final result.

Visiting in the area of Nice, Cote D'Azur for a couple of days which is always a pleasant area to visit. Hoped to check out the prices of rackets and went to Cap3000 but the only sports shop in there is selling apparel, and the Galeries Lafayette no longer has a sports section except for selling clothes from the major brands. Was tempted by the Lacoste polo's and tennis tops but they are so expensive.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

DRM rant update

I had a rant the other day about CD copy control from EMI and BMG. Well as promised I asked a colleague to copy the CD's using his CD/DVD copier from Philips. There are a number of options for doing the copy with the Philips, and he basically chose 'copy audio' and sure enough was able to create two new CD's with the audio tracks playable and accessible on my PC that I can now rip to my MP3 player.

So all EMI and BMG have done is to make it difficult for these CD's to be copied on a PC, but probably not impossible since as I said in my earlier blog I think the difficulty I had was with the CD/RW drive. In so doing they piss off the ordinary user like myself who wants to copy the CD's to their MP3 player for personal use, whereas anyone who wants to illegally copy and distribute the CD's or music for download can still do so using one of the many copy machines available from the likes of Philips, Panasonic, JVC, etc for less than £500.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Recovery day

Quiet day recovering from yesterday's singles match, and doubles. No ill effects. Worked on my powerball and reached a new high but still not past 11,000.

Busy :-) watching the French Open on Eurosport.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Day of the match

Played the singles match I signed up to earlier this week. Prior to today my record against my opponent had been good. However he had been getting closer and changed his tactics recently to counter my own tactics, and I was beginning to have doubts and play conservatively. The book I referred to yesterday suggests a) elect to receive b) try to win the first point of every game. Well I lost the toss and was asked to serve, which I'm usually happy with.Two games later and I was 0-2 down. The third game was key with several deuces before I prevailed and took the first set 6-2! I took strength from some other tips c) stay focused d) be positive and it was quite a comfortable win at the end.

French open final prediction: Coria or Safin versus Nadal or Federer, not much of a prediction really, maybe Ferrero instead of Safin.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Tennis is Mental

In a moment of weakness, as I mentioned on May 18th, I bought Tennis is Mental I say a moment of weakness because I normally like to know or see what I'm getting before I hand over money. In this case I didn't hand over any money in the literal sense or even use a credit card, but used some 'spare' money sitting around in my PayPal account.
My initial reaction is one of disappointment. The book is small and maybe 70% of the pages have just have half a dozen lines on them where one two or three tips are expounded. However I guess in this case I shouldn't be measuring value on quantity, but rather on quality or results. I practise many of the tips already, things like: be prepared (body and kit), warm up before a match, have an A and B plan, and so on. But there are some tips or ideas in the book on mental preparation and execution that I I havn't really consciously acknowleged or heard before and will try out. So for now the juries out.

Played again last night with a club mix-in. Standard all round was better than the day session I attended earler this week, and I had a good work out and enjoyed myself.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Club mix in, another book and a rant

Club mix in today. That usually means doubles and people with widely varying levels of ability but usually not so good, including me. I guess the better club players wouldn't break sweat in the mix-in or get frustrated with all the slow no-pace no-spin balls. Today, I would say I was probably the strongest player there, and didn't break sweat until the end when I played singles against another guy who was at a similar level to me. I just edged it :-).

That leads me to ponder: why is it so difficult to play these weaker players who don't hit the ball hard or predictably? There's no question of losing, but after playing them I need to get to a practise wall to re-groove my strokes and timing.

I discovered another possibly useful book that I am considering buying in my quest to becoming a better player, or at least get to the next standard in the club. Insider Tennis Strategies an ebook (means a pdf I guess). Is this a rip-off or a real offer? If I do get it to add to my collection, I will have to start thinking of employing a librarian, and with all the potential reading I'm gonna have to miss some tennis practise!

DRM rant
OK it's nothing to do with tennis. Bought some CD's from CD Wow and was dismayed to find they had copy control. One is from EMI and one is from BMG. Tried to copy some of the tracks onto my mp3 player and found I couldn't. The CD's don't play on my PC using either WMP or WinAMP. I did not yet try Linux (Fedora) which I also have because of logistical problems with swapping disks around, but I will give it a go soon. Anyway, Googled the problem and ended up trying 4 different audio grab/rip programs. Most can 'see' the audio (pun) but can't read it. My initial conclusion is that the difficulty is actually my CD/RW drive. However, here's the rub, had I known the CD's were copy protected I would not have bought them! So much for protecting sales of CD's. My plan is, try Linux to rip to mp3, and try a colleagues CD/DVD copier to see if I can copy it, just for the sake of it. The latter may not get me an unprotected CD but if it works would show the stupidity in copy protecting the CD's in the first place.

Related but not the same, amongst the CD's I bought was Eminem's Encore. Copies fine onto my mp3 player. However the Toy Soldiers track sounds strange.I'm pretty sure it has some crackles and pops as if there were glitches on the CD. Sounds as if it was done on vinyl. Really puzzled by this as an mp3 download of Toy Soldiers I already had sounds fine.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Rackets (1)

No play or hard exercise since Tuesday evening. On the day following playing, if I am not playing again, I will try to take it easy and just do some stretches, sit-ups, knee bends, that sort of thing. I do need to get out for a run, but my work diary this week is cramping that idea.

I had the chance of trying out the new Head Flexpoint Radical racket. It's the model used by Agassi and Ferrero these days and some other pro's. Or so they say. The one I was lent was the Oversize which I would not normally go for, and by all accounts is head light. Compared to my racket a Prince Air Launch Midsize (the link is to a Midplus) it felt head heavy. Now the Head racket IS heavier than my Prince, even though I have added lead tape at the base and head, but I could feel the weight in the head of the Head which I really don't like. Sure it was good for forehand ground strokes if I was in position and could give it a good pop, but I struggled on most other strokes.

I wonder if all this new racket technology is just a marketing ploy. The Head Flexpoint has introduced holes in the beam of the racket at 3 o'clock and 9 0'clock, and made the beam narrower than usual so that the racket head can flex around and cup the ball as it is hit. Oh yeah? First of all the holes are aligned in such a direction to stiffen or compensate for the reduced beam width, so I am dubious about that. Then there's the question of whether the strings don't have more influence on this along with the overall flexibility of the racket. But tennis is a game of skill and confidence, and when you suffer in the skill area maybe a new racket is what is needed. I'm not falling for that marketing stuff though, but maybe, just maybe I should play test the new Prince O3 Red . Just look at THOSE holes!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Anatomy and Psyche

Played for two hours last night, mostly doubles, even with the sore groin which did not get better during the day. It felt OK once I had warmed up, but was aching towards the end. In fact I think it's an adductor strain rather than the groin, probably the pectineus. I'm hoping ice and Voltarol will ease it as I agreed to play a singles match at the weekend. I also use Novasonic which I invested in after decding to stop paying physios 40 quid for half an hour. That and the excellent Primal Pictures at Anatomy TV aiding with self diagnosis get me through most injuries.

I played quite well. I usually do in doubles. In singles I tend to hold back, don't follow through, worry too much about losing, and don't really play my tennis. I need to overcome this mentally. Why is it so hard? It's only a game, that I enjoy, but I don't like losing. I don't like losing at doubles either but I guess I can always blame my partner. Not to his/her face! Where does this fear of losing come from? I certainly don't feel any disrespect for the opponents I beat, and often admire their strengths and congratulate them with genuine feeling if they have extended me. Maybe I should read some of the books on 'mental tennis'. I have read Winning Ugly by Brad Gilbert and recommend it to any aspiring player. I'm thinking
of buying this book.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Every tennis player should have one of these

I have had one for a couple of weeks and so far can't get above 10,000+ rpm. My problem seems to be the grip, as my hand just isn't big enough to maintain a good grip, once it's spinning quite fast to take it, to the next level. I can spin to 10,000 every time so I hope it's just a question of practise and building up strength in the forearm muscles and wrist.

I got the powerball because I have a history of tennis elbow, golfers elbow, and wrist trouble. The elbow problems are under control if not gone, but the wrist is a pain, literally. I started using a mouse with my left hand instead of the right and that helped for a while. However I now have a strange lump on one of the wrist tendons, which I hope will go away or go down. I've had ganglions before on my tennis hand and they have gone after a few months. They usually occurred when the racket was twisted violently from late contact with a hard volley, groundstroke or return of serve. I used to use a spring hand grip, and although that helps with the forearm strength the constant opening and closing of the hand seems to induce some sort of wrist RSI, so I have cut that down. Anyway I figured the powerball would help with the wrist, and in the few weeks I've had it my wrist has been much better.

I want to make my powerball do the jet engine scream like the video shown in the link when Akis gets it to 15000+. Wow!

Monday, May 16, 2005

First post, my introduction

My first blog, diary even. It's about me and my tennis. You see I'm really not very good. Well I am a really good, keen, mad, fan of the game, but my efforts to play it well are stalled. Maybe it's because I'm a Brit! :-) Actually I think Tim Henman is world class. It's just a pity that the British media does not seem to realize it, and now it's probably too late. I've seen Tim play in person, but he lost that day. Also we have some good players trying to make their mark.

Oh I think I'm pretty good myself, so that's a contradiction from the opening. I can topspin both sides, slice both sides (yes even the forehand), good drop shot, good topsin lob, reasonable power, pretty fast around court, good volleys when I play doubles. I was once told by a US coach that I had a good instinct for, and a good doubles game. So what's wrong? Well I have an average serve that hardly ever get an ace, have poor handling of short balls, poor volleys in singles, hate playing 'retrievers', and most especially don't play the same game and shots in a match that I am capable of and do play in practice. So more on my efforts to become a good club player in this blog.

As a fan I go to tournaments whenever I can, and can afford to. Have been to Wimbledon, I like watching the ladies at Eastbourne every year and their tennis :-) , see the vets at the RAH every year, have Eurosport on TV but sadly not Sky, can name most top 100 and more players, men and women, and something interesting about them - this used to amaze and bore my wife silly. More on these events as I write this blog.

I've been playing more than 10 years now, after coming back to a second time in my life as I'm now well into 'middle age' having been a reasonable player as a youngster. I've experienced some tournaments, injuries, plenty of injuries, made mistakes with the wrong rackets, played on grass, synthetic grass, green clay in the US, and different hard courts available in the UK. More on these topics too later. Have had quite a bit of conventional coaching, been on a tennis holiday and had some unconventional coaching with Brad Langevad.

I played doubles yesterday, not too strenuous, and no ill effects for the day after. I do seem to have a groin niggle though, but don't know how that occurred. Maybe getting out of bed, or the car. It's an old injury that flares up occasionally. As long as it's better by tomorrow when I'm playing again at the local club.