Tenniszine - UK tennis blog.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Club night (32) still cold

Played for 2 hours Sunday evening a mixture of singles and doubles. The UK is still quite cold at 4 degreesC, but with a bitter East wind that brings the temperature down further and plays havoc with the ball in the flood-lighting on outdoor courts.

I am starting to serve better with my new racket. My golfers elbow is no longer a problem, though there are remnants lingering, but just to ensure I remain with at least one injury my shoulder is now playing up. Some part of the Deltoid muscle I think caused by serving. I just hope its not the weight of the new racket. Fix one thing and break another! We'll see.

At least the evenings are lengthening, and I participated in the annual Big Garden Birdwatch. Last summer I had the pleasure of seeing a woodpecker in my garden eating the bird nuts put out for the finches and blue-tits.

Aussie Open, what a start to 2006

I wish I had been there for some of it, but what a success story for tennis the Australian Open was this year. It had everything, surprise, pathos, tragedy, controversy, and best of all the 'good guys win' ending.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Baghdatis - wow!

What a story! Can he go all the way? Roger is still an obstacle.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Club night (31) in the cold, again

The weather in the UK is a bit different from that in Melbourne. At club night yesterday it was hovering just above freezing when I started and there was ice on the car when I left. Only five of us turned up, 4 men and 1 lady and she left when she saw she was the only female. So we played doubles for just over an hour and decided after that it was too cold. One of the other players wore glasses. I meant to ask how he copes with them misting up in the cold which was a problem I used to have, and one of the reasons I wear contacts when playing.
I played with my new O3 Tour racket. The stringing seems different, looser maybe than the demo I had tried. It is certainly livelier which I don't like. I could get it re-strung straight away, but...we'll see.
Excitement at the Australian Open is building with Roger having some tough matches and by all accounts scraping through and Nalbandian getting better. So will Nalbandian put out Baghdatis's fire? If so that's got to be a rerun of the Master's final since I fancy Federer to beat Kiefer.
Not sure about the women's singles since I have not had a chance to watch any on TV. Will Amelie freeze again and can Justine blunt Maria's erratic firepower leaving possibly a rematch of the previous Grand Slam meetings between Kim and Justine?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

What I've missed!

Back from some family business and what a lot I've missed. Time for me to start playing again with my new racket. My arm is still slightly sore though despite no tennis!

The Australian Open enters its second week and all I've managed to see on TV was Tim Henman's first round loss to Dmity Tursunov. That was quite a strange loss too, as in the fourth and final set Henman seemed to be clearly in charge and playing almost exhibition stuff. But then Tursunov gathered his focus, shots, and form, and all of a sudden it was over.

Then there was the media fuss about Andy Murray. Well I think it was just media fuss. For goodness sake he's just an 18 year old. ...and a tennis player. The UK media don't give Henman his due anyway and expecting too much from Murray too soon doesn't help the British angst.

So Venus and Serena went out in the first week. Who is surprised? Top class tennis needs top class preparation and maybe a bit of luck.

Martina Hingis, what a story. She could even get past an injured Kim Clijsters.

I saw the Doha match on TV when Federer defeated Haas, and rather easy it was too. So I don't know what happened in Kooyong but Haas seems to be playing confidently and their meeting in the Australian Open will be an indicator of Federer's form and talent. It will need to be good as the former Federer nemesis in the form of Nalbandian is looming.

I also saw the Doha match on TV when Federer defeated Baghdatis, and that too seemed rather easy. It's good though that Baghdatis is flying the flag for the teenagers after the tame defeats of Monfils, Gasquet and Murray. At least Berdych went a few rounds but I guess he's no longer a teen.

Disappointments for James Blake (blog), Guillermo Coria, and maybe Andy Roddick; but first week kudos go to Fabrice Santoro, Marcos Baghdatis, Sebastian Grosjean, Nicolas Kiefer, Tommy Haas, Justine Henin-Hardenne, Samantha Stosur, Patty Schynder and Peter Luczak.

So the doubles lawsuit against the ATP has been dropped. I've already blogged about this before. The outcome is mostly OK, except I personally don't like the no-ad scoring rule.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Club night (30) with the O3 Tour

Turn out at club mix-in on Tuesday night was low, even so I was able to play some men's doubles using the Prince O3 Tour racket. Reading the patent on the racket is fascinating - it's made from two moulded parts!
I resolved in my mind the contradiction reported in my last blog concerning the rackets power. The racket is very damped and a short or half swing does not produce much power. A full swing however brings the rackets weight into play, and that with the larger sweet spot produces more power than my existing Prince racket, even though the O3 has a lower power rating.
Serving was still a problem for me, but strangely only when I played in a match. During the warm-up I was serving fine. Hmmm...during the warm-up I was looser and not forcing the action, so I think this is something I will adjust to.
I'm going to buy one! Or two. I already have four rackets so I will use ebay to sell my existing two Air Launch rackets.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Club night (29) with the O3 Tour

I spent Sunday club night playing mixed doubles and a singles with the Prince O3 Tour as I mentioned in my last blog. The weather was quite cold and also very damp making it quite treacherous underfoot and in the evening floodlights. Even so I worked hard and certainly worked up a sweat in both the doubles and singles. Maybe it was the racket but I won two sets at doubles and one set singles and lost none.

My initial concerns about the weight of the racket, compared to my current racket, were soon put to one side as the O3 Tour is a very comfortable racket to play with. It's very easy on the arm, my long term golfers elbow was not affected at all, and that was after two hours solid play. The extra head light characteristic makes it a joy to move around for volleys in doubles, and I was soon playing groundstrokes and volleys with confidence. The one difficulty I continued to struggle with was my serve. Some of my first serves, flat and hard were fine, my second serve slice soon came around too, but I did not master the second serve topspin kicker which was strange as the racket is excellent for spin on groundstrokes. Usually I was serving the kicker long and I hope this is something I can improve on as I get used to the racket.

Playing singles against a 'retriever' who slices a lot on both wings and provides no pace was a bit more of a problem. Normally I tackle these players at their on game (since that used to be game!), with lots of slice, spin, dropshots, angles, etc, but since the racket was so new to me I wasn't confident enough in its handling to do this consistently. This led to some contradictions when occasionally I would find the racket had too much power if I tried to drive past my opponent, yet sometimes it was quite dead and I could not generate power off his no pace floaters. This was completely different to the doubles I played earlier when the racket handled with ease normal or fast paced groundstrokes and also volleys in rapid fire doubles exchanges. Even so I was able to win the singles set quite comfortably and I think it's just a question of getting used to the different feel of the racket.

I am surprised it's classed as a Tour racket since it is quite light by pro standards, and despite the low Prince power rating 800, which is lower than my current racket rated at 850, I found it to provide more power than my current racket. I'm not sure why, either the extra weight or the (factory) strings and tension.

I think I'm sold on it. I will play with it one more time at the next club mix-in, but my mind is pretty much made up. The racket is good, for me. Of course YMMV.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Prince O3 Red and Tour rackets reviewed

I first blogged about the Prince O3 rackets back in May 2005 when they were quite new, and briefly hit with the O3 Tour last summer when I blogged a short comparison with the Wilson nsix-one tour used by Roger Federer.

At last I have had the chance to demo both the O3 Red and the O3 Tour and this is a quick review based on first impressions after about 1 hours play with them. Tennis Warehouse has longer reviews on the Red and Tour along with feedback from other players also for the Red, Tour and other O3 rackets.

I started by comparing them at home. With the rackets strung the Red weighs 298gms and the the Tour 324gms. Both are head light but the balance on the Tour is several points lighter in the head than the Red so that the swing weights feel quite similar and are stated on the rackets as 285 for the Red and 295 for the Tour. These numbers differ from those on the Tennis Warehouse site. So although the rackets feel much the same when you swing, it's clear from the weight difference which racket is which when you first pick them up. But most of the Tour weight feels as if it's in the handle. The Red is a midplus with a slightly larger head at 105 sq ins than the Tour at 100 sq ins. The Red is also longer than normal at 27.25 ins.

On the court I started out hitting with the Red and immediately felt comfortable with it. Despite the Prince power rating of 1100 it did not seem to exert too much power compared to my existing Prince racket which has a power rating of 850. Both forehands and backhands were giving me good control, which is the major part of my game, with power there when I needed it. There was no noticeable shock and I did indeed seem to be aware of a larger than normal sweet spot. Serving was fine and it was here that the rackets power rating seemed to compensate for the lighter weight. A few volleys and the racket was easy to manoeuver but slighlty overpowered for me.

Reluctantly switching to the Tour I was surprised to find even more control AND power. More power on tap with control than the Red. As I had already found at home the swing felt more or less the same as the Red but the difference in racket weight as it hits the ball is noticeable. The Tour is also comfortable with no noticeable shock and the feel of a large sweet spot. Forehands were better than the Red but I initially struggled ever so slightly on backhands due to the extra weight, which is more than my existing racket. Serving was not as easy as with the Red and would need more time and work. Volleying was fine with more control less power than the Red.

So on the face of it, although I had more difficulty with the Tour on backhands and serving, it is definitely the racket that I prefer of the two. The Red is fine but too light and I would be inclined to add some weights to it. The tour has that magical blend of control with power (the order here is important for my game). However I am worried about the extra weight for me of the Tour compared to my current racket.

I have the chance to play again tomorrow, mostly doubles, and will persevere with the Tour to see if it is a racket that I would seriously consider buying.

Friday, January 06, 2006

2006 - New season

Happy New Year but it's back to work, sigh, however the good news is there's been plenty of tennis. Thank goodness for Eurosport who have been showing live matches from the Qatar Open at Doha and recordings from matches at Chennai. No coverage however from the WTA matches at Adelaide, Auckland the Aussie Gold Coast or Hong Kong exhibition. Let's not forget the Hopman Cup either won by the USA.

The Eurosport tennis website has also been more up to date than the BBC tennis website which is quite disappointing lately.

I'm still hitting once a week and have had a chance to demo two Prince O3 rackets, which is something I've longed to do all during 2005. I will blog about them next.