Thursday, February 5, 2015

Australian Open 2015 Final Thoughts

I left the last blog before the end of play in Melbourne, and thought I'd add a couple of last notes: Djokovic/Wawrinka Semifinal: I think both men came out with an "Oh, no; not HIM again!" attitude, and who could blame them? Their last few matches have been brutal battles down to (and even past) the wire. I don't think either man wanted to do that again, and it showed in the noticeable sub-par performance in this match. Novak wanted just a little bit more (or Stan a little less), and the final set was anti-climactic. Murray/Berdych Semifinal: Berdych needs to grow up if he's going to win a Slam. The Big Four are not going to give up without a huge fight, and attitudes better suited to junior tennis aren't going to cut it against them (just to be fair, Murray's girlfriend needs to do the same). Women's Semis: Didn't watch. Don't want to listen to screamers. Knew what was going to happen. Men's Final: Djoker simply outlasted Murray, draining him to the point that there was nothing left to give. And, yes, Murray also needs to grow up some more if he's going to vie for a place in history with the Big Three. He needs to take the time and make the effort to shore up a dismal (by pro standards) second serve, especially against the best returner currently playing, quit his incessant whining and go about his business in the manner of Novak if he expects to win again. Women's Final: See notes on semis above.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Australian Open 2015

I've watched as much of the Aussie Open as my sleeping schedule will allow (on the US East Coast, that's tough!), and I've been impressed and disappointed a lot, as I'm sure you have been, as well. Following are some of my faves (and worsts) #1 Disappointment: Roger Federer failing to move past the 3rd round. I hope Roger's extended season last year (playing the Davis Cup finals and the Indian league) were the reasons he lost early in Melbourne. Granted, Seppi played a career match, but Roger should take him every time like he had before. If Roger had won the 4th set breaker, we might not be having this discussion right now, but... #1 Surprise: Madison Keys making the semis. Finally displaying what many hoped for her, Keys poster 3 impressive wins in a row: upsetting Wimbledon champion Ptera Kvitova, followed by a gut check back-up win over Madison Brengle, then taking out a resurgent Venus Williams in the quarters. Can she beat Serena and make the finals? Unlikely, but stranger things have happened. #2 Disappointment: Simona Halep. I had high hopes for Halep, even picking her as my dark horse to win it all, but then she put on a strange display against Ekaterina Makarova, barely appearing to make a professional effort in losing 4 & 0. I hope this is just a matchup problem and not something we'll see from Simona all year. # 2 Surprise: Stan Wawrinka still in the tournament. I thought the pressure of defending would get to Stan, but he's proven to be a resilient returning champion. I look forward to another classic match with Djokovic in the semis. Miscellany: Nadal appears to be out of form still, and I hope he has no lingering effects from last season. He looks lost to me right now. Venus Williams may be making a late-career resurgence. Best of luck to her. Tim Smycek made more friends in defeat than he ever could have in victory. As usual, can we PLEASE STOP WITH THE SCREAMING, LADIES?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

String Tension Loss

Strings start losing tension as soon as the machine stops its pull. "Creep", or tension loss resulting from the string's continuing elongation, can be measured in all cases: all you need is the proper equipment. Once you know what youu're losing, you can get a good handle on when to restring your racquet.
Why to Care
As strings lose tension, the launch angle of your shots changes: the ball stays on the strings longer, and comes off at a different spot in your swing. This affects how high and how far the ball flies. In other words, it affects your ability to control the location of your shots.
Everyone can absorb a certain amount of tension loss without a dramatic effect on ball control. Top players (top high school, college and pro players, along with high-level club players) will probably start noticing the diffreence at about a 10-15% loss in original string bed stiffness. Good recreational players and high schoolers will probably be OK in the 15-20% range. Lower-level recreational players, while they may not know it, will be affected at 20-25% lossses in tension.
Once you notice that your shots are flying a little long, it would be wise to have your string tension checked. A good stringer will have some way to determine string tension loss over time ("pinging" the racquet by their ear is NOT one), so he/she can better advise you on your options.
Whether they use a Stringmeter, Beers ert300, Stringway Stringlab, or Babolat RDC (the best, in my opinion), a quality racquet technician will be able to look in his records, tell you the original string bed stiffness, and see how much you have lost since the racquet was first strung. Many times, however, knowing how our strings react to tension will help us know before it's too late.
Different Strings, Different Losses
Below is a list of data I've taken on about 90 string jobs I've done recently, using different racquet and string combinations. From these jobs, the average tension loss in the first 24 hours was 8.95% (this is why many pros string their racquets every day). The best and worst strings at holding tension are in ALL CAPS. While there are a few surprises, a general consensus was found: natural gut strings generally provide the best tension maintenance (this makes them a better value than their price might suggest), while polyester-based strings (with a couple of exceptions) tended to lose their tension faster (a couple of polys showed low tension loss after 24 hours, but this is probably due to a loss of resilience). Solid-core and multifilament synthetics were mostly in the middle.
Brand Model String Tension RDC SBS 24 hrs Diff % Loss
Babolat P/D Cortex Gosen Micro 16 56 66 62 4 6.1
Babolat P/D Roddick Tecnifibre Biphase 16 60 70 63 7 10
Babolat P/S Tour Babolat Addiction 16 58 74 68 6 8.1
Dunlop 300G Tecnifibre NRG2 16 52 60 56 4 6.7
Dunlop 300G Tecnifibre Biphase 16 53 62 58 4 6.5
Dunlop C-Max 108 Prince Syngut DF 17 64 80 75 5 6.3
Dunlop Max OS 115 Gamma TNT2 16 57 71 65 6 8.5
Fischer M Motion Tecnifibre NRG2 16 55 65 59 6 9.2
Fischer Pro No. 1 Tecnifibre NRG2 17 56 63 57 6 9.5
Fischer XLite 98 Prince Lightning XX 16 58 69 64 5 7.3
Gamma Tour 330X Gamma Zo Verve 17 41 46 41 5 10.9
Gamma Tour 330X Head Sonic Pro 17 38 35 32 3 8.6
Head Airflow 1 Alpha Prodigy 16 48 48 41 7 14.6
Head Airflow 1 Wilson NXT 16 48 49 46 3 6.1
Head Airflow 3 Prince Lightning XX 17 48 50 44 6 12
Head F/P Rad MP VS TEAM 15L/MICRO 16 55 76 72 4 5.3
Head M/G Extreme Head C3 Rocket 16 53 61 55 6 9.8
Head M/G Extreme T/S Cyclone Tri/NRG2 16 55/58 65 59 6 9.2
Head M/G Ext Pro TECNIFIBRE BIPHASE 17 55 61 58 3 4.9
Head M/G Mojo Head C3 Rocket 17 55 63 56 7 11.1
Head M/G Monster Head FXP Power 16 55 63 56 7 11.1
Head M/G PresPro Wilson NXT Max 16 57 70 65 5 7.1
Head M/G Radical Prince Lightning XX 16 55 62 56 6 9.7
Head Ti.Rad OS Tecnifibre Biphase 18 59 69 63 6 8.7
Head Ti.S6 Gosen Micro 16 56/53 64 58 6 9.4
Prince S/P Black Alpha Firecable 16 55 60 55 5 8.3
Prince S/P Black Tecnifibre TGV 16 57 60 56 4 6.7
Prince S/P Blue Alpha Firecable 16 57 62 58 4 6.5
Prince S/P Blue BOW BRAND PRO/NRG 16 53 49 47 2 4.1
Prince S/P Red Tecnifibre Multifeel 16 60 64 59 5 7.8
Prince NXGrap MP LUXILON ALU POWER 47 52 44 8 15.4
Prince TT Hornet OS Gamma Syngut 15L 68 80 75 5 6.3
Prince Warrior MP Prince Syngut 16 DF 50 55 50 5 9.1
PKennex Ionic Ki-30 Gamma TNT2 17 58 67 62 5 7.5
Topspin Xtreme 100 AG 17 55 65 58 7 10.8
Topspin Xtreme 100 Prince Lightning XX 16 55 66 60 6 9.1
Volkl DNX V1 MP Tecnifibre Biphase 16 53 70 65 5 7.1
Volkl Tour 8 MP RAB Sensorfibre 16 53 66 60 6 9.1
Wilson BLX Pro Tour ASHAWAY COMPOSITE XT PRO 58 74 70 4 5.4
Wilson BLX 6.1/95 18x20 Alpha Firecable 16 54 61 56 5 8.2
Wilson BLX 6.1/95 18x20 Prince Nat Gut 16 42 51 45 6 11.8
Wilson BLX 6.1/95 18x20 Wilson Gut 17/Micro 16 42 52 46 6 11.5
Wilson HTour 95 Alpha Comfort Plus 16 55 66 60 6 9.1
Wilson HTour 95 ALPHA ELEMENT 16 55 65 57 8 12.3
Wilson HTour 95 Alpha Firecable 16 55 63 56 7 11.1
Wilson HTour 95 Alpha Gut 2000 17 55 67 61 6 9
Wilson HTour 95 ALPHA PRODIGY 16 55 65 57 8 12.3
Wilson HTour 95 Alpha Sphere 16 55 71 64 7 9.9
Wilson HTour 95 ASHAWAY COMPOSITE XL PRO 55 60 57 3 5
Wilson HTour 95 Ashaway Dynamite Soft 17 55 61 56 5 8.2
Wilson HTour 95 BABOLAT N.VY 16 55 68 59 9 13.2
Wilson HTour 95 Babolat RPM Blast 130 55 62 57 5 8.1
Wilson HTour 95 Babolat VF Int.Tour 18 55 71 63 8 11.3
Wilson HTour 95 Gamma Asterisk 17 55 67 61 6 9
Wilson HTour 95 Gamma Challenger SG 16 55 69 61 8 11.6
Wilson HTour 95 Gamma Live Wire Pro 16 55 65 59 6 9.2
Wilson HTour 95 Gamma TNT2 17 55 69 61 8 11.6
Wilson HTour 95 Gamma TNT2 Tour 16 55 66 59 7 10.6
Wilson HTour 95 GAMMA ZO VERVE 17 55 65 62 3 4.6
Wilson HTour 95 Genesis Heptonic 17 55 61 57 4 6.6
Wilson HTour 95 Gosen Powermaster II Spin 55 65 58 7 10.8
Wilson HTour 95 Head FXP 16 55 69 63 6 8.7
Wilson HTour 95 HEAD SONIC PRO 17 55 59 56 3 5.1
Wilson HTour 95 Iso-Speed Energetic 16 55 59 52 7 11.7
Wilson HTour 95 Kirschbaum P2 16L 55 62 57 52 5 9.1
Wilson HTour 95 Kirschbaum Pro Line I 18 55 64 58 6 9.4
Wilson HTour 95 Kirschbaum Spiky Shark 16L 55 58 54 4 6.9
Wilson HTour 95 Luxilon AluPower 55 61 56 5 8.2
Wilson HTour 95 Luxilon AluPower Fluoro 55 61 56 5 8.2
Wilson HTour 95 Luxilon Supersense 55 60 55 5 8.3
Wilson HTour 95 Luxilon Savage Lime 55 61 56 5 8.2
Wilson HTour 95 Prince Lightning XX 16 55 72 64 8 11.1
Wilson HTour 95 Prince Lightning XX Spin 55 66 61 5 7.6
Wilson HTour 95 Prince Premier LT 16 55 66 59 7 10.6
Wilson HTour 95 Prince Twisted 16L 55 61 56 5 8.2
Wilson HTour 95 RAB Sensorfibre 16 55 69 62 7 10.1
Wilson HTour 95 VOLKL V-ICON NAT GUT 16 55 57 55 2 3.5
Wilson HTour 95 Weiss Cannon Explosiv! 16 55 65 61 4 6.2
Wilson HTour 95 Yonex Poly Tour 16L 55 56 50 6 10.7
Wilson HTour 95 Yonex Tour Super 850 55 70 62 8 11.4
Wilson [K]sixtwo Alpha Element 16 57 62 56 6 9.7
Wilson [K]sixtwo Ashaway Comp XL Pro 60 63 59 4 6.3
Wilson [K]Zen Team RAB Sensorfibre 16 55 62 56 6 9.7
Wilson n6 MP WILSON SENSATION 16 51 55 47 8 14.6
Wilson n6.1 95 16x18 Tecnifibre Multi-Feel 16 57 63 59 4 6.3
Wilson nTour 95 Ashaway Kevlar/Gosen Micro 55 79 73 6 7.6
What this data tells me is that it's best to invest in quality stirngs for longer-lasting performance. Paying $60-plus for a set of gut may be worth it if you're not a string-breaker, as it will maintain tension and playability longer. Also, if you're wanting to switch to poly strings for more durability, remember the loss of tension and control that comes with it. You may be better off using a standard synthetic or Kevlar hybrid.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Get a Grip: Making Your Tennis Better Through Proper Grip Maintenance
With all the attention given to high-tech frame designs and the latest tour string
trends, tennis players have, for years, shortchanged one of the most important parts of their racquets: the grip. By understanding what it can do for you and how to choose them correctly, you can make a major impact on your game and help prevent injury.

Why Care?

Why should you care about your grip or its size? It’s the main line of
communication between you and your racquet, for one, and it has a great deal to say about the health of you arm, for another. Picking properly, and maintaining your choices, should be of vital importance.

Not Created Equal

Almost every replacement grip made today has a polyurethane outer layer,
providing color and tackiness (and possibly a raised rib or other texture), and a foam inner layer with padding and moisture absorption properties. Where they part company is how, and in what amounts, these details are executed.
Chart #1 shows the bare handle sizes of many different racquets, along with the
size stated on the frame. As you can see, not every 4 3/8 grip measures the same
underneath: the remaining size is taken up by the grip. Chart #2 shows the “build-up effect” of several popular replacement grips. Choose your replacement grips carefully, and you’ll keep the performance characteristics you desire.

Chart 1: Bare handle sizes of several popular racquets, in inches
Brand Model Grip Size Bare Handle Size
Babolat Pure Drive MP 4 1/2 4 1/4
Dunlop Revelation Tour MP 4 1/2 4 1/4
Head Flexpoint 4 4 3/8 4
FXP Rad Team 4 3/8 4 1/16
FP Rad Tour 4 1/2 4 1/4
i.X6 OS 4 3/8 4 1/16
MicroGEL Extreme4 3/8 4 1/16
Ti.Laser 4 1/4 4
Ti.S5 4 1/2 4 3/16
Ti.S6 4 3/8 4 1/8
Prince More Control DB 4 3/8 4
O3 Hybrid Hornet4 3/8 4 1/16
O3 Hybrid Shark 4 3/8 4
Shark DB OS 4 3/8 4 1/16
Tour Diablo XP 4 5/8 4 5/16
Tour NXGraphite 4 1/2 4 5/16
TT Scream OS 4 1/4 3 15/16
Pro-Kennex Ionic Ki-15 4 5/8 4 5/16
Ionic Ki-30 OS 4 1/2 4 1/4
Kinetic Pro 5g 4 5/8 4 5/16
Laver Heritage 4 1/2 4 1/8
Volkl C9 Pro 4 3/8 4 1/8
Wilson HyperHammer 6.3 4 5/8 4 3/8
Hyper PS 6.1 4 5/8 4 5/16
Hyper PS 6.5 4 5/8 4 3/8
[K]Four 105 4 1/2 4 3/16
[K]Five 108 4 1/2 4 1/4
n1 4 1/4 3 15/16
4 3/8 4
nsixone 95 4 1/4 4
4 3/8 4 1/16
nTour 95 4 1/4 4
4 1/2 4 1/4
Yonex SRQ600 Ti Long 4 3/8 4 1/8
Ultimum RQTi250 4 3/8 4 1/8

Chart 2: Handle build-up effect of several popular replacement grips, in inches
Brand Model Build-up Effect
Babolat Air Touch 1/2"
Perfcushion 3/8"
Syntec 3/8"
Gamma Hi-Tech 5/16"
Hi-Tech Gel 3/8"
Gamma Pro Lite 5/16"
Gosen MG-20 3/16"
Head Hydrosorb 3/8"
Prince Air Cushion Fit 7/16"
DuraPerf Contour3/8"
DuraPro+ 3/8"
DuraSoft + 1/2"
Duratac 5/16"
Wilson [K]Grip 3/8"
[K]ontrol 1/4"
Micro Dry Comf 7/16"
Micro Dry Feel 3/8"
Micro Dry Max 5/16"
Micro Dry Touch 3/8"
Sponge 5/16"

Measure Twice; Cut Once

To determine your proper grip size, place a ruler on the palm of your racquet
hand (right, if you’re right-handed), on the lower crease across the middle of the palm, and measure the distance from that crease to the end of your ring finger. Then, see if your racquet’s grip size matches. If you determine your grip size is incorrect, before running off to thepro shop, see if your current replacement grip is still in good working order, or if some simple changes could save you from buying a new stick.
Months or years of use will compress the padded layer of any grip. The grip isn’t good just because the outer layer isn’t worn off (using an overgrip doesn’t help; see below). After using a measuring tape to determine your racquet’s grip size, see if it matches the size noted on the shaft (or under the grip). You may only need to install a new grip. Even if it’s still off, there are ways to fix it without starting over.

Quick Fixes

Before discussing how to change a grip’s size, perhaps it would be good to explain why it may need to be done. If your racquet’s grip is the wrong size, either from wear or improper fitting, it forces the smaller muscles of the forearm to work harder to grip the handle. These smaller muscles won’t react kindly to the stress, and an injury can result.
If your grip is improperly sized, there are 3 simple ways to change it.
Overgrips are the cheapest and easiest way to add size. Thin overgrips will add
very little to grip size, but may be enough if you’re close. Thicker, cloth-style overgrips like Tourna-Grip can add almost one full handle size. A problem with thicker overgrips is their “rounding” effect: you will lose some feel for the bevels on the handle, which could hinder grip changes. Thicker overgrips can also add up to ½ oz. to racquet weight.
It may be quite easy to change your grip size by selecting a grip that is thicker or thinner than your current one. As Chart #1 shows, grip build-up effects can vary from ¼” to 9/16”, meaning you could change handle size by as much as 5/16” (two and one half sizes) by simply changing grips. This would have a minimal change in handle shape and racquet weight. However, make sure you like the resulting feel and shock absorption qualities.
Heat shrink sleeves let you control the amount of size increase and maintain handle shape. Most sleeves add one full size; some only ½ size. Their complete adherence to the handle maintains the bevels for sure grip changes although they, like thick overgips, can add up to ½ oz. to overall racquet weight. These sleeves should be installed by a professional racquet technician.

Myth Busted

Let’s take some time now to dispel the biggest “tennis myth” to come along in
years: “I don’t need to change my grip; I use an overgrip”.
Every time you swing your racquet, your hand or hands squeeze down on the grip,
compressing its padding. Initially, this is imperceptible. However, over a period of time, this compression reduces handle size and lessens shock absorption. Overgips do nothing to prevent this. Replacing an old grip with a new one of the same model can regain as much as one full grip size.
To ensure yourself of proper grip size, replace your grip at least twice a year, and preferably with every stringing, even if you use an overgrip.


Most tennis players never think about the grips on their racquets. Making sure your grip size is correct, making changes as needed, and exercising proper maintenance of the grip, can make stroke production easier, ease or eliminate arm problems, and give you the upper hand in your matches. So, “get a grip” on your racquet today!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

New Videos!

I'm a little behind the times, I must admit, with all this technology stuff (at least, where it doesn't pertain to tennis!), so it's taken me awhile to get a video camera and go to work. But I have, at last, and will routinely (I hope) be posting videos to my blog from now on.
My first post is to show off my new shop. Here's the link to my YouTube account for it:
Check back, 'cause I'm liking this video stuff!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Palm Coast Futures 2011

I was fortunate to be asked to provide stringing services at the Palm Coast Futures men's professional tournament from Jan. 28-Feb. 6, 2011. Following are some of my observations from this event.
Jan. 27: I arrived about 3pm, and quickly became engulfed in frames form the qualifying participants. Upopn leaving the park at 9pm, I still had 10 frames sitting in my pile; a tough Friday awaits!
Most players were using full poly setups, with Luxilon ALU Power being the most popular. Since this was a clay-court event, tensions were, for the most part, low, with the majority of the guys using 50-58#, and the most popular frmaes were in the 95-100 sq. in. range (Pure Drives, Aero Pro Drives, Head Prestige Mid, and Wilson BLK sixone 95). There was one notable
qualifier: Wayne Odesnik.
After being suspended from the tour for 14 months, Odesnik is starting all over again: no points, no ranking, no nothing. What an insult it must be for him to do this, but he has no choice, as the rules are the same for everyone. He got through his first match easily, and looks to be the choice to win, as far as I can see. The #1 seed is only ranked #309 (Greg Oulette), and I don't see him stopping Wayne.
Jan. 28: I arrived at the park about 7am, and started to work. The pile never seemed to get any smaller, and that was mostly thanks to the Koreans.
There's a team of Korean players, about 8 or 10, I think, on this tour, and do they ever string some racquets! I never could tell who was who, and that's not an ethnic slur: one guy would drop off racquets for about half the team each day, and another one would pick them up and pay (they always seemed to pay with $100 bills, as well). They mostly used Babolat Aero Storm frames with a hybrid of VS gut mains and RPM Blast crosses. They always practiced and played doubles together, so they seemed to need all their racquets done at the same time. They were the last frames promised in the afternoon (3:00).
I stayed behind the machine from 7am-3pm, not even taking a bathroom break (Robin sent along a "Care package" for me, consisting of Extend Bars, Oreos and Alleve; it got me through many a tough patch!). However, by 3pm, I'd finished all the frames on time. Feeling proud, exhausted, and with supremely sore fingers, I took a lunch break and continued stringing until about 9pm, doing about 2 dozen frames for the day. I don't know how I'm going to survive right now.
Jan. 30: The qualifying is going full blast now, and main draw players are starting to filter in, making my day quite tough: I have to get everyone set up, but match players first, something not everyone understands. However, after some good-natured lecturing on my part, I get some common ground and start to work.
Odesnik is cruising, and there's another new threat: Razvan Sabau, former top-100 player from Romania, is in the field, and is also coaching 2 Italian players, Nicola Gehdin and Marco Speronello, both of whom make it into the main draw with him.
I go through another 20 or so frames today, and my hands are starting to feel better (or numb; I'm not so sure which right now).
Jan. 31: The last day of qualifying, and a scare for Odesnik. Denes Lukacs takes the second set, but Wayne bulldozes him in the third. He's still my favorite to win.
One player, whose name I will not reveal, comes to me at 9:49am, asking for a racquet to be done for a 10:00 match. I looked at him, then at my pile of frames, then back at him, all the while being completely silent.
"Well, as soon as you can in, in your order," he finally says. I pushed him as far up in the line as I could, getting his racquet to him by 11am. Hope he learned a lesson. Another 2 dozen frames today, and done at 9:30pm.
Feb. 1: Main draw going today in singles and doubles, but I'm in a groove by now. The staff at the Palm Coast Tennis Center are all great, and we've gotten a good system worked out. Players are able to put their frames in and get them on time, as long as we get their money before they leave. Solves lots of problems with tracking losing players down to get paid, I'll tell you!
20 or so more today, and left at 9pm.
Feb. 2: Odesnik is cruising, and plays Oulette tomorrow. Sabau also looks good, but may be on a collision course with his pupil Gehdin in the semis. Rising young American Jack Sock beat Speronello quite easily, showing a great serve and huge forehand. His backhand, however, looks suspect to me, especially if someone can get the ball up on him.
About 20 or so today, but got to leave by 8. Exhausted, I got Publix fried chicken with mac and cheese and chowed down.
Feb. 3: I spent my birthday knee-deep in racquets, and Odesnik made me look quite smart, destroying Oulette, 6-3, 6-0. It wasn't even that close, I was told. Tough draw for Greg, who's a local kid.
Some of the players are complaining a little about the unfairness of having to play someone of Wayne's caliber, but them's the breaks. He probably won't be playing Futures for very long, if that's any solice.
Half the field is gone now, so down to about 18 frames, and out by 8 again.
Feb. 4: Odesnik cruises again, and is into the semis without incident. His opponent, Australian Matt Reid, isn't as fortunate, winning a 3-hour plus slugfest against Sock, 7-6 in the third. Sock then goes on to play a 2-hour plus doubles match, which he wins. Even young legs must be feeling this day. Gehdin and Sabau make it through on the other side: teacher vs student tomorrow. Another dozen, but out by 5. Yippee!
Feb 5: Reid does his best, but is no match for Odesnik. The other match is what piqued my interest, though.
Neither Sabau nor Gehdin sent any racquets to be strung, which is the first day they haven't. This had me curious, to say the least. I got to watch a little of the match, which was all I needed.
Sabau double-faulted at least 9 times in the short spell I saw, and never got any depth on his shots, allowing Gehdin to totally dictate play. It was over pretty quickly, 1 and 4, and no one I spoke to thought Sabau gave his best effort. I hope they're wrong.
Only about 6 racquets today, and got a good night's sleep.
Feb 6: Finals day is the least busy, as I only did 3 frames: one for Odesnik, one for Gehdin (now he does one!) and one for doubles finalist Blake Strode (he and Oulette lost to Sock and Dimitar Kutovsky, 10-8 in a match tie-break)I got to watch some tennis today, and it was like a man playing a boy.
Gehdin is a strong, thickly-muscled kid, but he really works hard for his points. Odesnik, on the other hand, plays a much more relaxed style, really releasing the racquet head. After being broken in the first game, he asserted his dominance, working Gehdin mercilessly around the court, taking his best shots and sending them back with interest, and never allowing Nicola to get any traction.
Odesnik's immaculate footwork kept him in control, as he won in straight sets, 2 and 1. His $1,300 check is probalby meaningless to him (I assume he lost money for the 10 days), but the path this week puts him on is double important. I don't expect him to be playing Futures after spring, Satellites after summer, and to be in Challengers and main tour events by the end of the year, barring injury. His game is big-time good, and he looks to be focused and in great shape. The clay-cout season should be a god one for him; be looking for him if he comes to a town near you. He seems to be a good guy, as well, and I hope the problems of the past are behind him.
Final tally was about 150 frames strung between players and the staff and members of the club, and I hope I get asked back next year. Ken Obermeier and Alena Dvornikova have put together a great staff, and the public is staunchly behind the event. The crowds were large and enthusiastic, sponsor support was excellent, and the players seemed happy with their opportunities. If you're near Palm Coast, FL, next year, try to make it to this tournament.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Amelia Island Musings

I was fortunate enough to score tickets for the semifinals of the Bausch & Lomb Championships at Amelia Island last month, and had a fine time. The facility is top-notch, and some of the tennis was excellent.
Unfortunately, Lindsay Davenport took ill and had to default to Maria Sharapova in one semi, but the second match between Alize Cornet and Dominika Cibulkova was pretty exciting, as were the doubles semis. I have a few observations following.

1. Cornet has a nice all-round game, and should vault up the rankings in the next year.
2. Cibulkova will always be height challenged, and her serve is a pretty weak arm swing.
3. All eight doubles players I saw – Meghann Shaugnessy, Nathalie Dechy, Victoria Azarenka, Elena Vesnina, Bethanie Mattek, Vladimira Uhlirova, Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual – in addition to both singles players, head net skills ranging from good to outstanding, but their knowledge (or at least execution) of the transition game was sadly lacking. Can we start teaching that again?
4. Bethanie Mattek appears to have lost 10-12# since I last saw her play, appears to be in very good shape, and is finally wearing “normal” tennis clothes. What a relief!!
5. Ruano Pascual looks like she works out for a living, rather than playing tennis! She must spend every non-tennis minute in the gym. She sets a shining example of work ethic, in my opinion.
6. Women’s tennis on clay is not shown in its best environment. A faster court would better showcase these ladies skills.

I ‘m saddened that this is Bausch & Lomb’s final year sponsoring the event: they’ve been a great partner with the WTA for many years. I hope the tournament finds a new sponsor and stays at Amelia for many more years. If you get a chance to go, do it. The club is great, the atmosphere superb, and the people are friendly. Besides, you may see me!!!