Tenniszine - UK tennis blog.

Monday, August 29, 2005

I'm on vacation, hooray!

No blogging or email for a few days as I'm taking a personal 'tennis holiday' at Windmill Hill where I hope to enjoy myself and pick up some hints on things I can work on to improve my tennis.

Will blog again at the weekend on my experience at Windmill Hill and progress at the US Open.


US Open predictions

The US Open starts today, so as per my attempts to predict the winners for the French and Wimbledon I will try and pick the winners again. I got the mens winner right at Wimbledon .

For the men I can't see who is going to stop Federer especially now that Safin has withdrawn. It would be interesting to see one of the young guns break through like Nadal did in Paris. One of Gasquet, Mathieu or Monfils. I don't think Monfils has adapted to the pro tour yet despite winning his first title and I don't think Nadal can sustain 2 weeks on hardcourt. So my second choice after Federer is Hewitt. He might not have the power, but he's hungry, has done it before, likes the atmosphere, settled personal life, and so it could be his turn again.

For the women I would really like to see Kim Clijsters get her first grand slam title. What a story that would be. Otherwise it has to be one of the usual bunch, a Russian or an American, but which one? I wonder if the Williams' are hungry enough.

So being adventurous and sticking my neck out, if I had the money and gambled I would put it on Richard Gasquet and Patty Schynder.

I suppose I should mention the Brits (with apologies to the Scot). I would guess that Rusedski has the best chance of getting to the second week based on his recent form, and the injuries that Henman and Murray have had.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Match post-mortem

Played today at the club mix-in, back on normal fastish hardcourt surface and talked to my doubles partner from yesterday about our disappointing loss. We both agreed that we enjoyed the match and noted some things to work on our individual games and doubles play. For example, I lost focus in the second set and started pushing at the ball instead of swinging through. No recriminations though, as the match could have gone either way. For example in the deciding tie-break that we lost 9-11, we were hurt by a cruel net cord that deprived me from putting away a volley.

Received an email from Nawin who blogs the regentville tenis blog. It really bought back memories for me of (too much) Tiger beer when I was a lot younger. Although I rarely drink these days, I will have a bottle of Tiger beer when dining out at a local Chinese restaurant.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The doubles match

Played in the mens doubles at The Avenue on grass. Very nice club and although the prices seem a bit steep on first glance, a full tennis subscription works out at only £20 a month which is pretty good with 4 club mix-in days and no further court fees.

So how did we get on? After two and half hours we lost 6-4,2-6,6-7(9-11). At the moment I'm a bit gutted.


Friday, August 26, 2005

BBC and tennis shoes

I have been able to play several times in recent days, both indoors and out. Playing outdoors in the UK is always a challenge and especially so at the moment with our typical British summer. I was sheltering under a tree at one stage from rain and hailstones and five minutes later struggling to serve with the sun in my eyes on the ball toss.

The BBC tennis site is a real disappointment at the moment with nothing at all on the New Haven or other tournaments. Interestingly there is an alternative default tennis page at the BBC. Spot the difference.

I am breaking in a new pair of tennis shoes. They are Wilson Pro Staff 710 which felt just right in the shop. I always buy 1 size larger than a normal shoe so that I can add a full strike sorbothane insole and some carnation heel pads. I find I need the extra heel lift to avoid achilles problems. I also take a sharp knife and make a vertical cut through the heel padding at the rear and top of the shoe as shown in this photo.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Grass court practise

Plenty of practise over the last 3 days. Some hardcourt and some on grass. I'm trying to change my forehand and use less wrist so that I can cure my golfers elbow. I think I'm getting there since after playing 3 days in a row my arm feels pretty good with little pain, and that I hope is a left over from the original injury.

Despite some rain last week some of the practise was on grass. This was not grass at the club, where we only have hardcourt or the artificial grass surface (why they call it that beats me),but on public municipal grass courts. So the courts were soft and mushy because of the rain, and slightly unpredictable bounce since they're not really well maintained. Oh, and the lines were pretty difficult to see as they had either been worn out or washed out.

Slice works a treat. The ball hardly bounces anyway, and flat or slice shots skid through. Some balls didn't bounce at all, but just skidded through an inch above the surface. This was a combination of the effects of both the slice and a poor bounce. My practise partner and I both struggled with adjusting to the timing and bounce, and had a tendency to be late in getting to shots, and then overhitting. Can't say I enjoyed it really. Who was it said something like "grass is for cows"? I think I agree

Interesting discussion here but of course the court I played on was nothing like Wimbledon.


Friday, August 19, 2005

Video analysis

In search of the cause of my golfers elbow I borrowed a camcorder and made a video/DVD of myself hitting groundstrokes against a practise wall. Boy what an eye opener!

Played at normal speed it's easy to spot problems with footwork, racket preparation, follow through, contact point, weight transfer and so on. Really valuable, and lots to work on I think.

The golfers elbow problem is as I surmised in a previous post most probably caused by poor technique on the forehand since moving my grip round to the semi-western. On many shots my forehand swing leads with the forearm and the wrist cocked back, and contact is often made with the wrist still back as I try to generate topspin by brushing over the ball with the wrist rather than using the stroke low to high with a closed racket face. So the inside of my forearm, already stretched with the wrist back, takes the full force of the ball impact stretching it even further.

That's my theory. So I need to try and fix that by keeping the wrist straighter whilst ensuring the racket face is closed on contact and improving the swing action low to high.It's probably going to take time now that I have this bad habit engrained.

That still leaves all the other problems to analyse and work on.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Club night (15) no coaches

No coaches at club night to organise things, since they're all on a 1 week RPT course. So we organised a mix of singles and doubles amongst ourselves. Played for 2 hours, won some lost some. At the end of it my arm felt quite surprisingly good. Still some soreness but not too bad. Said this several times before but I think it's on the mend.

Been keeping an eye on Cincinnati where the Brits are suffering.

Another player and I have entered the mens doubles in the open summer tournament at The Avenue. Need to get some practise in. On grass.


Monday, August 15, 2005

Club night (14) - quiet

Pretty quiet at club night with only three of us turning up. I have described what we do with just three players on another blog entry.

My arm is quite sore today so all is not well. Thinking of trying acupuncture. Bit impatient really since I know from experience these things take ages to heal. My worry is I'm re-injuring it each time I play, either from too much wrist on the forehand or my home grown racket mods.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Coaching session

Had a coaching session today with one of the younger male coaches at the club. I wasn't after lessons on technique but instead we did drills on handling a change of ball direction (e.g. cross court to down the line), tackling short balls and the subsequent possible net play. Since he has a tricky topspin forehand and (second) serve, which I find tricky to deal with, it was a good work out for me and I will do it again next week.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Club night (13) - new faces

Good workout at club night last night, with three new faces. All were good players, one visiting from France, a leftie with clay stained shoes and heavy topspin; another a former player returning to the game; and the last a Greek lady who I have played doubles against on previous occasions. My judgement was that they all have a more advanced game than mine but not by a lot.

I played singles and doubles against the two men and tried to analyse the difference. The lefties topspin serve was difficult to cope with because of the angle and curve it was coming over the net, and his heavy topspin groundstrokes were also a challenge. The other guy just had a good heavy serve, and once I got a return back and was in the point I was able to play against him OK.

My conclusion was that my game was almost up to theirs but I need to adjust and cope with the extra pace and spin. All part of the learning to advance to a new level and I came away quite heartened.

Attendance was down a bit, not sure if this is because of the holiday season or because the football season has started.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Club night (12) - the rematch

Played last night at the club for the first time in two weeks. Started pretty slow, but soon got back into it, although I struggled with my serve most of the evening.

We played the usual mixed doubles which is pretty slow anyway before my usual male doubles partner and I took on two ladies in the rematch I mentioned previously.

This time we won 7-5! Despite my erratic serve I did not lose my service game once, and even served a couple of aces. It was almost a re-run of the game two weeks ago, we went down at the beginning, came back to 4-4, then went ahead but this time served it out. I think it was pretty good quality doubles, played in good spirit and enjoyed my everyone.

My forearm, wrist and elbow felt pretty sore when I got home, so I applied some icepacks and did the usual Movelat massage. Today it's pretty good, no new injuries I think, just some muscle soreness where I have not played for a while.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Back home

Well South Africa was interesting. The country has changed a lot since my last visit with the dismantling of apartheid. All is not well with Johannesburg and it was summed up by a conversation I overheard between two Afrikaner's "These days we all have to go abroad to visit our grandchildren". Let's hope the South African government learns some lessons from Zimbabwe.

Strangely my golfers elbow is still playing up even though I havn't played tennis for two weeks. It's not bad but there's a constant reminder when I use my hands and bend my wrist in a certain way.

Flew back on the Virgin red-eye and went for a short run yesterday afternoon. Legs are a bit stiff today so I hit for 20 minutes against a practise wall. Tomorrow I will play again in the rematch.