Tenniszine - UK tennis blog.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Club night (6) and Wimbledon wannabees.

Played solid 2 hours of mens doubles last night at a pretty good standard. My serve was a bit erratic though, one ace, one game with three double faults, not sure why, but even so my partner and I won by 2 sets to 1. Today my arm feels pretty good, doesn't really hurt just some slight soreness so I think the golfers elbow is nearly, but not completely, gone. I'm gonna keep up with the recovery program however.

I mentioned in a previous post that the TV coverage of Wimbledon usually brings out all the people who've seen tennis on TV and think that it looks like fun and is easy, so they get out onto the public courts and give it a go. Last night was such a case, as the courts were quite busy near me with a mix of youngsters dressed in a range of eclectic outfits, wielding rackets and knocking the ball backwards and forwards. Of course they were discovering that it's not quite so easy after all, to serve, keep the ball in play, hit it with a reasonable stroke with some pace, etc..Anyway let's hope a few of them are keen enough to think about taking up the game.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Wimbledon predictions

Another of my predictions failed when Richard Gasquet lost today to David Nalbandian.

Sadly, another prediction came true - bad luck to Kim Clijsters, but she has still had a sensational come back since the wrist injury.

Club night (5), the "Rules of mixed doubles"

Mixed doubles mix-in at club night yesterday. Sometimes it's OK and sometimes it's not. Last night it was not, but I was playing conservatively anyway because of the groin strain. This meant I did not chase down some shots I normally would, and was less adventurous at the net. One of my lady partners did comment on this.

This lead me to think about some of the unwritten rules of mixed doubles at our level of play. These rules probably don't apply at the more advanced levels, especially when the lady player can more than hold their own against the men.

Rules of mixed
(from a male perspective).
1. Serving: don't show off your first serve and always use second serve kick or slice when serving to the lady.
2. Serving: you can blast your first serve at the man, irrespective of age.
3. Receiving: when receiving second serve from the man, don't blast the return at the opposing lady or hit a down the line winner.
4. Receiving: when receiving from the lady don't take advantage of a weak serve by hitting an outright winnner, but use some spin, lob, positioning, angle, to create a winning position.
5. Be prepared to run down all lobs over your partners head.
6. Be prepared to take all shots close to the the middle, even the ones on your partners side.
7. Don't poach aggresively to volley directly at the opposing lady when intercepting service returns from the opposing man.
8. Ask your partner which side of the court she prefers and let her play from there.
9. Don't scowl or mutter when your partner messes up a shot, say something like "bad luck" (through gritted teeth).
10.If the ladies are engaged in a cross-court baseline rally (this is club level tennis remember) resist the urge to intercept and blast a volley winner.
11.Give an encouraging smile if your partner double faults.
12.Never play with or against your wife, life-partner.

Will happily accept rules from the lady's perspective.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Golfers elbow anatomy

Whilst sitting around and watching Wimbledon on TV, I did a bit more research on the Golfers elbow problem I have been suffering from. One of the best descriptions is here and it refers to two muscles: Pronator Teres and Flexor Carpi Radialis which I show in the image of the inside elbow of a left arm (hand at top of picture).

Muscles involved in Golfers Elbow, © Primal Pictures.

The next image shows the same view of the elbow joint and the Medial Epicondyle which is where these muscles attach to bone and gives rise to the medical term for golfers elbow of medial epicondylitis.

Medial epicondyle, © Primal Pictures.

The Pronator Teres muscle is, as its name suggests, responsible for wrist pronation, which is commonly used when executing a topspin forehand and coming over the top of the ball with the wrist.

The Flexor Carpi Radialis muscle is used to flex the wrist, also a common action with a topspin forehand when taking the wrist from a cocked back position, with the brush over the ball and follow through.

In my case I think my injury was caused by attempts to use a western grip, and starting the forehand stroke with the wrist cocked and forearm laid back (not pronated), then hitting the ball incorrectly in this position resulting in excessive force and stretching of the Pronatror Teres muscle.

Anyway, I have stopped using the western grip and am sticking with the semi-western, trying to use less wrist on my forehand, am doing some strengthening and stretching exercises, started using an armband and have added some weight to my racket to lessen the shock of the ball hitting. Time will tell now if all this helps.


Friday, June 24, 2005

Wimbledon update

Tim and Greg are both out in the first week which is a pity as they're both serve and volley players, and in theory they should prevail on a grass surface. However since the debate over the grass mixture and length, court hardness and balls following Hewitt's success a few years ago it does seem clear that a serve volley player is not necessarily going to prevail anymore.

Justine is out, first one of my predictions.

That leaves Andy Murray, survivor of the Dunblane massacre and winner of the US Open boys last year. I have not seen much of him on the TV but his results so far, including beating Radek Stepanek yesterday would seem to indicate he has the talent and drive. I did see him at Superset in London Wembley Arena last year, when he was basically taught a lesson by McEnroe from the net.

I'm still rehabilitating my arm so doing more watching than playing at the moment. Alas, a new injury, or old one that has flared up, I have a slight groin strain again. Did it last night, merely I think by getting in and out of the car.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Club night(4)

Not much activity last night at club night. Played mens doubles, 'gentlemens doubles' according to the Wimbledon web-site. The usual crowd was there. I was in strange form, a mixture of bad to brilliant but mostly bad. My arm was aching afterwards so I was a bit worried, but again today it does not seem so bad so I will persevere using the armband and extra weight on the racket and avoid the full western grip. I think sometimes these injuries take a while to heal especially if you continue playing instead of resting.

Usually in the UK at Wimbledon time the public courts become inundated with people eager to try out what looks like a simple game on TV. But it seemed surprisingly quiet last night. Maybe they were all still watching Tim Henman's marathon.

I heard from that the Adidas Barricade shoe in my size was sold out :-(. Need to find another quality shoe being sold at a good price.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Club night (3)

Possibly due to the hot and humid weather , also father's day, the turnout at weekend club night was poor. I was worried about how my arm would hold up, and have bought a tennis armband, and also added some lead weight to my racket exactly at the balance point. My theory here is that since it's golfers elbow and not tennis elbow, the extra weight will help absorb some of the shock and stop my wrist bending so far back on mistimed heavy topspin shots using the seni-western grip. Eventually I'll take it off when my technique improves. Although the amount I added is tiny, too light to register on my electronic scales which measures in grammes, I could feel the difference in swing weight. At least I thought I could. Because of the hot weather I got a bit of a physical work-out, but not really a tennis work-out. Today my arm is OK, no new pain, so I am pretty sure it's healing.

Watching bits of Wimbledon on TV, also keeping up with the BBC website where I like the blog, and of course IBM's sponsored site.

Wimbledon predictions

Just like I tried to predict the French Open I'm gonna try the same for Wimbledon. I suppose it really has to be between Federer and Roddick the number 1 and 2 seeds. Being a bit more adventurous and assuming those two falter then maybe the Nottingham winner Richard Gasquet could be a hot prospect if he keeps his nerve and emulates what his peer Nadal did on clay.

For the ladies it has to be a Russian unless that gutsy Henin-Hardenne comes through. I would like to put Kim Clijsters in there but at Eastbourne, despite winning, she didn't seem totally comfortable on grass and was suffering from lower back problems.

Which Russian though, there's so many.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Eastbourne reflections

What did I learn at Eastbourne. If it's sunny take a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. From my own tennis point of view I was quite encouraged. Of course I don't have the power or consistency of these top female players, but I can hit a pretty good ball off both wings on a good day. Things to improve are footwork, fitness, and consistency, then court positioning and choice of shot. Well everything really :-) but I do think by game is close to reaching another level. Need to overcome my arm problem and put in some more work and court time.

I had the chance to try on the Adidas Barricade shoe at Eastbourne, but unfortunately not in my size. Anyway I was persuaded by the deal on offer at and have ordered a pair.

Eastbourne semi finals day

Magical day on Friday 17th although the tricky English weather caught me out. The 3-4 days before the Friday had been wet and cold with Friday forecast to be hot and sunny except along the coast where cloud and fog would linger.

I took a fleece jacket only for the cloud to clear just as I arrived. Great for the tennis as it then did warm up into the 80's. Unfortunately for me I got quite burnt on the face. Should have worn a hat. I think my glasses were focusing the suns rays onto my cheek as it ended up quite puffy, as well as the overall redness.

I was there from 10:30 to around 8 in the evening when all play was over for the day. Saw both the singles and doubles semi-finals and walked the grounds to see players practising and other events.

Results are here and I've just put up some of the photo's.

BBC and Sue Barker

Sue Barker

This is work! :-)

Kuznetsova works really hard

Kuznetsova practising

Immediately before her semi-final against Kim Clijsters, Kuznetsova put in a heavy practise session.

I saw this type of work dedication from her last year, when still a virtual unknown, after winning the semi (she eventually won in the final 2004) she was unhappy with some aspect of her game and went back onto the court to practise. Then later the same day in the evening, after she and Likhotseva had won their ladies doubles semi, again Kuznetsova stayed behind to practise, much to the annoyance of some ground staff who were held up in packing things up and heading off home.

It's easy for me to say it now, but at the time I was impressed with the work effort of the eventual US Open Champion.

Anastasia Myskina

Anastasia Myskina

Not much to say really, some of the talent was visible but she really was not focused enough to play at the highest level. In this case the grass court game of Roberta Vinci using serve volley, slice, and drop shots was enough to prevail quite easily.

Kim Clijsters eventual winnner

Kim Clijsters

This was Kim at the semi-final against Kuznetsova. It was a close three sets and at one stage I though Kuznetsova would prevail as Kim was making worried and irritated looks towards her coach and physio.

The quality of groundstrokes back and forth was excellent with Kuznetsova having the slighly harder shot. She also focused on Kim's backhand which did seem to be slightly weak.

In the end Kim prevailed with her serve and consistency.

Eastbourne ladies doubles

Cara Black and Lisa Huber

Cara Black and Lisa Huber went out in the semis to Zvonereva and Likhotseva in three sets. It was a close match and in the end Black and Huber were unlucky. I thought they played the better doubles, from the net, but the Russians used topspin lobs over Black with great success which seemed to rattle the eventual losers. The Russians were beaten in the final by Raymond and Stubbs.

I also saw the semi with Raymond and Stubbs against Serra Zanetti and Spears, where Stubbs really played quite badly and was having an off day. It was the class and quality of Lisa Raymond that took them through. Raymond is undoubtedly an exceptional doubles player.


Virginia Wade and Jana Novotna.

They held a legends entertainment event with Martina Hingis, Jana Novotna, Peter Fleming and Andrew Castle, and Virginia Wade commentating.

They also held a guest event with Gus O'Donnell and (I think) Mike King whoever he is. The photo shows Wade and Novotna practising in the morning. Quite distinctive in these days of heavy topspin on both sides was the sheer effortless efficiency and beauty of Novotna's backhand slice.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Club night (2) and thinking of Eastbourne

Despite misgivings over my elbow I went to club night yesterday. I have been doing some fairly intensive treatment on my arm, with stretches, massage, ice treatment and strengthening; and although the pain has eased I am still aware that it's tight.

I initially played with the whack it hard man which really is a good test since the ball comes back so hard and fast. Then we all played four sets of mens doubles which was fairly energetic and a pretty good level.

Today my arm seems OK. I can still feel some soreness but not any new injury so I am hoping that it's mending. I'm gonna try some Cura-Heat although they could prove rather expensive since they are one-off use and discard.

I'm watching the results in Eastbourne since I will be there this Friday and of course want to see my favourite players. More important though is the weather forecast since where I live it is raining at the moment. One year when I visited Eastbourne tennis, I saw 20 minutes of play, then it rained for the remainder of the day. I was the sole hardy spectator who stayed until early evening hoping some play would resume. Went home wet and cold. Of course there's no refund if they play for at least 15 minutes! Next day was glorious sunshine.

Friday, June 10, 2005


Interesting news about the apparent increased risk of heart attacks for people taking quite high doses of NSAID's. I suspect most athletes in most sports take NSAID's fairly regularly although probably not as much as the study group in the report which used people with chronic rheumatoid arthritis and similar conditions.

I don't take NSAID's internally as I'm allergic to aspirin, however as previously mentioned on other posts one of my favourite muscle rubs is Voltarol gel, which is an NSAID and contains diclofenac which was one of the NSAID's in the study.

Since I don't seem to be allergic to Voltarol I imagine the doses I absorb through the skin are quite low, so I will contine to use it for now and not go back to that old established remedy of tiger balm. Just as well because as I remember the smell was quite powerful!

Practise wall

Have been nursing my arm all week, ice, stretching and Voltarol, but it's still a wee bit sore. Went to club night anyway, but with a poor turnout I decided to use the practise wall.

Things I practise using the wall are early racket preparation, contact point in front with weight forward and rising ball or top of rise, footwork with split on the wall bounce, swing low to high with follow through. It usually works for me pretty well with a good workout.

I will usually mark the wall using chalk with a vertical centre line, a line about 4 foot above the net mark and some vertical sidelines. That gives me two rectangular targets to aim for, down the lines forehand and backhand, cross court from one side to the other. I try to hit a minimun of 10 hard flowing strokes on each side into the down the line rectangle and then do a cross court down line and back pattern. Not as easy as it sounds so it leads to good consistency with a grooved stroke. Variations on this are to add slice, flat and topspin, take the ball early, soft shots and volleys.

Although I usually get into a good groove when using the practise wall despite the quick return of the ball, when playing on court I don't always manage to do what I've practised. Not sure why. If I can overcome that then I think my game will improve. There are signs that it is but it's all too easy to go backwards.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

No tennis for me.

No tennis for me at the moment. I could have played tonight at the club mix-in but decided to give it a miss. Several reasons, work, new car, golfers elbow still playing up .

The BBC are experimenting with multicast including tennis streams. You can watch Queens at the same time as 'working'. It's a pity you have to use Real Player which is not everyone's favourite, especially on Linux.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Justine withdraws from Eastbourne.

I go to the Eastbourne grass tournament every year, since it's close to where my mother lives and a part of the world I grew up in. I have center court tickets for the semi-finals. There is usually quite a variation from year to year with the players who attend. Venus and Serena were there, once I think, and I'm pretty sure that was it. Possibly too English provincial for their jet-setting Californian life-style?

I was looking forward to seeing Justin Henin-Hardenne, but she has withdrawn following her win at the French Open. That's a pity for me, and the tournament, but I sympathise totally with her decision.

Nadal's muscles, Puerta surprise

Well done to Rafael Nadal on his French Open win. Equally well done to Mariano Puerta who I am sure nobody would have predicted would reach the final. Except perhaps him.

Nadal's physique is quite amazing.Rippling muscles on his arms and legs and an equally powerful torso. It seems pretty awesome in any tennis player, never mind a 19 year old. I was always led to believe that muscle bulk was not something to be desired in a tennis player. Although anaerobic strength is needed to endure the physical aspects of professionals on the tour, aerobic fitness and flexibility to cope with the constant variation in movements were deemed to be more important. From my own experience when I tried to bulk up a bit on the arms, shoulder and upper body, I found myself getting more muscle related injuries and eventually put it down to loss of flexibility. Can this be true? So although I still swing and lift weights, I do just enough to maintain good muscle tone for handling the racket on serves, and returning pewerful groundstrokes and volleys. Of course Nadal has the body of a teenager whereas I'm in my fifties! Overall there needs to be the right balance and the answer is probably in this book.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Way to go Fabrice

I take back what I said yesterday about Fabrice Santoro. Grand Slam mixed doubles champion at the French Open, with Daniela Hantuchova. Fabulous on all counts!

Federer v Nadal

I didn't see all of the match just the highlights on Eurosport and am personally disappointed that Federer lost. Not that I dislike Nadal or his style of play in any way. That leaves Roger without a Grand Slam so far this year. It will be interesting to see how well Nadal fares on grass or fast hardcourts, but there's no doubt he has talent, fire and passion. Federer also has the talent but seems to lack the fire and passion, at least in yesterdays match.

I played club mix in again last night, and this time the turnout was poor with only a couple of lady players. So I didn't get a work out and left early.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Club night

Played again last night at the club mix-in. It was better this week because few people turned up, probably due to half-term. This probably says something about the British attitude to tennis; shouldn't half term provide more opportunity for youngsters to turn out? Maybe they were watching the football. Anyway the few of us who did turn up were reasonable players, so it was a good work out with a mix of doubles and singles. With no pressure to play well I played well!

From the men who turned out, there was:
  • Me: The most talented :-) but lacking in firepower and doesn't win much, similar to Fabrice Santoro but using one hand on both sides.
  • The whack it hard man: built like a brick *%$£house, reminds me of Mark Philippoussis but without the ability to hit the ball in court.
  • The retriever: excels at getting the ball back, reminds me of Rainer Schuettler.
  • Tall guy: boy I love it when I lob him successfully, reminds me of Mario Ancic.
  • Unfulfilled talent: younger guy who is quite promising but doesn't seem to make the most of his ability, reminds me of Xavier Malisse.
  • Mr forehand: hits it hard and flat and pretty good too, but nothing on the backhand, reminds me of Jim Courier.
  • The serve and volleyer, so of course that's Mr. Tim Henman.

There are others. I wonder if other people characterize their fellow club members in this way. It does help to know their strengths when competition time comes around.