Friday, April 18, 2008

Australian Doubles Tennis Instruction

Australian Doubles anyone? Most players think Australian Doubles is just a weird lineup that is supposed to somehow bother your opponents so that the receiver misses the return of serve. Though the chances of a missed or off-target return are a bit greater, the real purpose of Australian Doubles is to set up the opposition switched so that you can easily poach service return.

It is also an excellent serve-and-volley formation for teams that want to play serve-and-volley but are having little success from the normal Up-and-Back Formation.

Check out the four new lessons on Australian Doubles:

Australian Doubles Avenues to Victory
The Australian Doubles Play
Australian Doubles Net Play Tactics
Australian Doubles Serving Tactics

And then, for a review, see this animated tutorial on how to play, and how to defend against, Australian Doubles.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Operation Doubles Tennis Connection

The April 2008 issue of the Operation Doubles Connection is now online. Sign up here for your free email copy of this newsletter every month.


What's New at Operation Doubles Tennis
Featured Tennis Website of the Month
This Month's Tennis Quiz
This Month's Tennis Q & A
This Month's Shot-Making Tip

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Davis Cup Quarterfinals

Congratulations to Russia, Argentina, Spain, and the United States for their World Group Quarterfinal victories this past weekened.

All four teams advice to the semifinals in September, where Argentina will take on Russia and the United States will take on Spain.

USA v France:


Andy Roddick (USA - 6th ranked) def Michael Llodra (FRA - ranked 41): 6-4 7-6(3) 7-6(5)

James Blake (USA - 8th ranked) v Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA - 12th ranked): 7-6(5) 6-7(3) 6-3 3-6 7-5


Arnaud Clement (ranked 70) /Michael Llodra (FRA) def Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan (USA): 6-7(7) 7-5 6-3 6-4


Andy Roddick (USA) def Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA): 6-2 6-3 6-2

James Blake (USA) def Richard Gasquet (FRA - ranked 10th): 6-7(4) 6-4 6-4

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Davis Cup Quarterfinal: The United States v France

What a shame. In true Mohammed-Ali style, 13th-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France fired up the Davis Cup tie between the United States and France with some good, old fashioned jive about us Americans "fearing" the French.

Now he has gone home with a knee injury the French Tennis Federation announced yesterday.

That wasn't really such a blow, as Tsonga's runner-up finish at the Australian Open is his only great achievement to date. But he was arguably France's best chance in singles on a fast court.

Tsonga was replaced with Arnaud Clement, and at that point, the best guess was that France would have Richard Gasquet and Paul-Henri Mathieu play singles with Clement and Michael Llodra teaming up to play doubles.

But now 8th-ranked Richard Gasquet has blisters, so he's out too.

The quarterfinal tie begins Friday and runs to Sunday in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Here's the lineup as it now stands:

Andy Roddick (USA - 6th ranked) v Michael Llodra (FRA - ranked 41)
James Blake (USA - 8th ranked) v Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA - 12th ranked)

Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan (USA) v Arnaud Clement (ranked 70) /Michael Llodra (FRA)

Andy Roddick (USA) v Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA)
James Blake (USA) v Michael Llodra (FRA)

See also:
"The Americans will fear us."
Davis Cup Dialog

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Fake Rackets from China Flood the Asian Market

Thinking to get a Wilson K Blade at a very nice price from China? Think again.

Via Nawin of the Regentville Tennis Blog in Singapore:

About a year ago I wrote an article about a fake Babolat Pure Drive and how fake tennis racquets being passed off as genuine item. A year has passed and the counterfeit tennis racquet industry has grown even more in prominence and stature. ...The fake tennis racquets are looking every bit as genuine as their authentic cousins. ...Most of the major tennis manufacturers such as Head, Wilson, Babolat, Dunlop, Prince and a few others are produced under license from racquet manufacturing plants in China. The question in one’s mind now is whether this is a genuine or counterfeit tennis racquet? Truth be told, it’s now very difficult to judge unless you really know your tennis racquet.

Read the rest and see photo comparisons.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Tennis Strategy & Tactics Guides

Time is running out to save on any edition the Operation Doubles Strategy Guide and/or the Match Play Guide - paperback, PDF, or on CD-ROM - during the March Madness Sale, which ends Monday.

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Davis Cup Roster

The Davis Cup quarterfinal tie between the United States and France will take place April 11-13 at the Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The French Davis Cup captain, Guy Forget, has announced his roster:
Richard Gasquet
Paul-Henri Mathieu (either singles or doubles)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Michael Llodra (doubles for sure)

Mathieu replaces Arnaud Clement, who was on the French squad that beat host Romania, 5-0, in the Davis Cup opening round in February.

The American Davis Cup captain, Patrick McEnroe, will use the same lineup that won the Davis Cup last year:

No. 1 singles starter Andy Roddick
No. 2 singles starter James Blake
Doubles players Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Learning How to Play Tennis: Strategy and Tactics

If you're a frequent visitor to Operation Doubles Tennis, you know that I advise against the current popular obsession with form, as if excellence in tennis is in discovering and copying the minute "secrets" of Roger Federer's technique.

This advice is nothing new, however. Tim Gallwey was the first to give it in his bestseller The Inner Game of Tennis back in the 1970s. In fact, the leading experts in how to teach the game are in agreement. All I offer is the unique perspective of someone with a background in biology who can explain why our brains are unsuited to learning the way most people try to learn to play tennis.

And tennis isn't the only thing I have taught. I am also a certified and licensed classroom teacher. I have taught swimming, biology, physics, general science, chemistry, English, track and field, and guitar. To all ages, from children to adults. So, I've noticed a thing or two about how people learn.

QUESTION: Why doesn't this knowledge of how best to teach tennis filter down to all the people teaching it? There are many answers. One is that conflicts with certain business models.

There's a similar problem in teaching strategy and tactics. Publishers of how-to and self-help books contribute to it. They, and many who teach subjects like this, mistakenly believe that the average person is intellectually lazy and wants everything boiled down to no-brainer rules of rote, as if to say, "Don't bore me with why: just tell me what to do."

That isn't true. By nature, human beings like to tax a brain cell or two. Only boring people are easily bored. What learners do want is the clarity, conciseness, and concrete visualization that make understanding solid and easy-to-grasp.

What's more, rote isn't easy. It isn't "simplifying things."

Yes, rote rules are no-brainers, but they must be memorized and recalled under fire, which is hard to do. For example, if you try to do physics problems by rote, you must memorize every form of every equation and remember them all under the pressure of a test. It's much easier to just understand, so that you need recall only one form of each equation. It's the same with tennis. To play by rote you must memorize dozens of rote rules and recall the right one under the pressure of each approaching shot. It's much easier to just understand the game so that you simply see what to do and do it intuitively.

Playing intuitively also allows you to get out of your head and into the zone, where your physical performance peaks.

This is why the best instruction on playing the game (strategy and tactics) opens your eyes to this dimension of the tennis game. A vision that not only helps you get the most out of your play so that you win more, but one that also enriches your playing experience and makes it much more interesting. One that enables you to enjoy tennis on a whole new level.

At this new, deeper level, you're no longer just going through the motions of hitting forehands and backhands. Now you're into the game itself.

What does that mean? It means that you're no longer just hitting shots. You are actually really playing the game. Half the fun is figuring out how to win it.

I'll never forget the day my eyes were opened to this hidden dimension of tennis, the dimension of the game itself. It had been there all along; I just never saw it before. The effect was like a revelation, like having a black-and-white movie suddenly take on Technicolor, or like having a two-dimensional painting suddenly become a three-dimensional statue in space. Before that, I had been like a sailor gazing overboard, unable to penetrate the surface of the sea to see the fascinating world beneath the surface.

Until then, like most tennis players, what I knew of tennis strategy and tactics could have been written on the back of a postcard. It was all just words; no mental pictures. My idea of strategy and tactics was to try a little of this and a little of that, with no idea what should work or why. I tried to play by rote — following dos and don'ts I had read in books. I stood where I stood just because everyone stood in that position.

In short, my understanding of the game was as shallow as a puddle. I couldn't see what was going on for myself. Therefore, I couldn't adapt to whatever a cagey opponent's game was doing to mine.

So, stretch a brain cell or two to visualize and understand this hidden dimension of tennis. I guarantee that opening your eyes to it will help you play better, help you win more, and increase your fun and enjoyment of the game.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Playing Tennis to Win

Harold Solomon, via ZooTennis:

I have a different perspective on winning than some other people in our profession. In my opinion it is ridiculous to ignore that the intention of tennis players when they compete in tournament play is to win. I don't see anything wrong with having that intention every time you walk on the court if you are thinking correctly about winning.
Most importantly, I have to love the competition, I have to thrive in that environment. I am not afraid of competing, it's what I live for. My job is to push myself, to test myself, to challenge myself.

That's what it's all about - the challenge, the risk of losing. That's what makes competition exciting. That's what makes it rewarding.

Take that objective "to win" out of it, and what do you have? An experience gutted of meaning.

Go read a novel instead. It's a much easier way to experience conflict without risk.

I wholeheartedly agree with Solomon. As he says, it's "ridiculous" to make something evil out of wanting to win and playing to win.

Just ask yourself: Was it winners or losers who spawned this idea? Losers, of course. People who can't take losing, so they make something evil out of beating them. To never risk losing, they never try to win.

THEY are the ones - yes, THEY are the ones - making too big a deal out of winning or losing!

The "reasoning" behind this nonsense fails even the most superficial nonsense check. It's all based on invalid assumptions, straw man arguments, and confusing the issue.

For example, I hate the false accusation that people who play to win are people "who will do anything to win," even cheat. Baloney.

It's quite the other way around.

The people "who will do anything to win" are not really playing to win. Their idea of winning is a perverted idea of winning. They are the ones who settle for hollow victories got through cheating. And they do this because all they care about are appearances, such as the final score. So, they are satisfied with a false win got through cheating.

They do this because they don't think they're capable of winning the legitimate way, and they are too weak to handle losing.

On the other hand, players who really want to win would get zero satisfaction out of such phony winning. They want real victories. In fact, they can tell you of moral victories they are proud and happy about even though they came out on the short end of the final score. In other words, they are real people pursuing the real thing, not mere vain appearances.

In fact, the main reason they don't resort to cheating or gamesmanship is because that would shame them: they would view it as an admission that they couldn't win the legitimate way. They think they are better than that.

This is why THEY - yes, THEY - are the sporting players who want to defeat you fair and square. They are the players who WON'T do just anything to win. Even on the Pro Tour where a great deal of money is at stake, we sometimes see these players give their opponent the next point to make up for a bad call. Why? Because they want nothing to tarnish the victory they seek.

Tennis is just a game. Nothing more, nothing less. The objective of any game is to win it. Winning is fun, and losing is a bummer. Nothing more, nothing less.

The joy of winning and the disappointment of losing are just emotions that pass in a matter of minutes or hours if we don't try to pretend them away (and thus lock them forever in the subconsciousness to motivate irrational behavior without our awareness of their influence on us).

Winning a tennis match never made one person morally superior to, or more noble than, another, and losing never killed anybody.

So, my advice to players and coaches is to use your own head and examine every idea that comes blowing to you in the wind. Don't just swallow whole all the chatter out there. An awful lot of it is stupid.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Boycott the Olympics?

I have a question for those people crying out that we should boycott the Olympics. That question is "What are YOU going to give up for what you want? Huh? What are YOU gonna pay for it?"


No wonder you are so gung-ho.

It costs you nothing. You want someone else to make the necessary sacrifice you demand. How "caring" for you to make other people pay the price for your self-righteous holier-than-thou act.

You want the Olympic athletes to pay for it. After all those years of training, you want to take away their dream of competing? Callous is as callous does.

Whom do you think you're fooling? We see that your kind aren't happy unless you're gasping in a hyperventilating display of moral indignation while shooting one arm up in the air to wave it for attention as you point the accusing finger on the other arm at somebody else for being evil.

Give us some credit for having a brain, please. We see right through that. We see that you are just playing the Oldest Trick in The Book - making yourselves look good by comparison = by making others look bad.

You secular holier-than-thous just use other people, in this case, the Olympic athletes. What are their lifelong hopes, dreams, sacrifices, and hard work to you?

How callously you throw away these precious things that DON'T BELONG TO YOU. How abusively you exploit others to serve as nothing but the idle gestures of your own idle acts.

What makes you think you have the right to waste all their years of hard work? Parasites.

It sucked when President Jimmy Carter did it in 1980, and it sucks now.

You need to learn to distinguish between mine and thine. Because apparantly you can't anymore. What makes you think you have a claim on other people's lives?

It's bad enough when you plunder companies, willfully blind to how you are also plundering everyone who works for that company and driving business out of the United States, but now your grasping shows that you think you have a claim on everyone else's hard work and achievement.

Frankly, I am getting really sick of you all being so gung-ho to make other people pay YOUR way, pay the price for what YOU want. And you call that parasitism "humanitarianism."

If you really cared, you'd cut the vain shows of idle acts and do something effective, something that would actually resolve conflicts and save lives.

If, as individuals, Olympic athletes wish to boycott the Olympics, fine. Or, if as individuals, they wish to step before the cameras in Bejing and voice their opinion, fine. More power to them. Anyone who does so is worthy of our admiration, for he or she is sacrificing their own interests, not someone's else's like you jerks always do.

You are more partisan than the Dali Llamma, who acknowledges and condemns the wrongdoing on BOTH sides, including the violence against Chinese in Tibet, where mobs stomp Chinese children. But you keep that part a secret, don't you? Besides, the bigger issue, by far, is Darfur, and Western European nations, like Germany, are doing big business with Sudan too.

Let the Olympic athletes give the matter serious thought and decide for themselves, as individuals, what they are going to do. And let the rest of us respect and support them in their decisions.

And let the holier-than-thous give it a rest already. It's time the rest of us tuned them out.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tennis Odds and Ends

The Sony Ericsson Open is underway in Miami, running from March 26 to Sunday, April 6, 2008. You can get a copy of the men's and women's draws here.

Just a reminder that there are only a few days left in the Operation Doubles Tennis "March Madness Sale" at the Pro Shop.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008


This is rich! Via Tennis Diary:

Why can't certain ATP players play at the ATP tournament in Dubai?

Pardon me, but if Dubai won't let them in the country because of their nationality, then Dubai should not be allowed to host an ATP tournament.

The ATP cooperates with this attempt of political warfare to isolate a certain people? International apartheid?

Indeed, whom does the ATP represent? The players? Really?

What an amazing crock.

Let's all start doing that. Let all host countries start denying visas to players of certain nationalities. Let's teach the freakin' ATP a lesson it will never forget.

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Mr. Federer

Mr. Federer, we are not satisfied with your performance. Hop to it!

Oooh. I think I just got taller!

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Flawed Tennis Form? Or Flawed Tennis Thinking? Part 2

Part 1

There are two ways to swing a tennis racket at the ball. The natural way and the unnatural way.

In the natural way, you focus on the approaching ball, and your conscious mind thinks something like, "Whack that sucker." No more conscious thinking takes place. Your swing is spontaneous. Instinctive. Intuitive. It is being timed, coordinated, and controlled by the unconscious timing/coordinating/controlling centers of the brain. These are the same areas that take care of things like walking, talking, and handwriting - all spontaneous actions that we do without thinking about HOW.

The unnatural way to swing a tennis racket at the ball is by consciously issuing yourself verbal instructions, like, "Get the racket back, step into the shot (or load and explode), watch the ball, bend your elbow, watch the ball, swing low to high, watch the ball, follow-through...."

There is a serious problem with the unnatural way. It takes a huge amount of brainpower. Brainpower to recall and process the language of verbal instructions. Brainpower that won't be available for sensory perception. Result? You won't see the ball as well. Your judgment will suffer. Your kinesthetic perceptions will be dim, and your dynamic balance will be off. You'll have robotic form because you're issuing orders to your muscles the way a robot issues orders to its movable parts. Plus, you can't possibly think through all the instructions that fast. Plus, you are just interfering with the natural process of coordinating and timing your shot. Learning tennis this way will be painful, frustrating, and very slow.

Yet this is the way most tennis players learn! That isn't the way you learned how to walk, talk, or write is it?

Am I saying that you should forgo lessons and just be a hacker? No. I am just giving you another reason why you should not obsess about form.

Here are some lessons on the main site that will help you learn without doing so:
Learning How to Play Tennis
Dynamic Balance
Tips to Improve Your Tennis Technique

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Flawed Tennis Form? Or Flawed Tennis Thinking?

How many times have you seen a tennis player miss a shot and walk back to the baseline taking a practice swing? When was the last time you did this yourself? You're thinking that you missed the shot because of some flaw in your swing, and that's why you're practicing it.

If we could somehow search the brain of every tennis player in the world, we'd find in most the belief that errors are caused flawed form.

If that's true, then you would never miss a shot if you achieve perfect form.

Golfers think the same way. And this thinking is what underlies the common obsession with form in both sports. The "perfect swing" then becomes a sort of Holy Grail that all pursue for as long as they play the game.

It's an exercise in frustration and futility. In fact, players learn learn in spite of, not because of, their efforts to perfect their form.

That's because this thinking is what's flawed. It is NOT true that you miss a shot because of some flaw in your form. No amount of perfecting your form will enable you to play error-free tennis. And there is no such thing as "perfect form."

Tomaz Mencinger has a good two-part instructional article on the subject, The Biggest Tennis Myth that's Hurting Your Game and Why Tennis Players Obsess So Much About Tennis Instruction.

OK, so here's the Big Myth:

If I miss the ball, I must have done something technically wrong (meaning I moved my body parts in the wrong way). Thus, if I can correct that mistake (move my body parts "correctly"), then I will not miss the ball again.

Based on this myth, we tennis coaches have been earning money giving tennis lessons for decades.

Based on this myth, club and professional tennis players have wasted millions of dollars and thousands of hours, all on trying to improve their game. Without much effect, of course...

Read the rest, and next time I'll come back with some thoughts of my own on the subject.

Part 2

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Pacific Life Open Review

There's joy in Serbia as Ana Ivanovic won the women's singles title and Novak Djokovic won the men's singles title. Dinara Safina and Elena Vesnina of Russia won the women's doubles title; Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram of Israel won the men's doubles title.

What were the surprises?

Well, one is the quarterfinal defeat of Bob and Mike Bryan by Max Myrni and Jamie Murray. But then, maybe that's just me. I always expect Bob and Mike to win ;-)

Another was Svetlana Kuznetsova ending Maria Sharapova's perfect season in the semifinals. But, the Russians know each other's games so well that any one of them is capable of beating the others on any given day. Also, despite her competitiveness, Sharapova's game does have some real weaknesses. Though she deserves her high ranking, it doesn't make her as reliable a winner as one might think.

The biggest surprise was the fall of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the men's semifinals. Djokovic's upset of Nadal on a hardcourt wasn't such a big surprise, but No. 98 Mardy Fish's run at the title, defeating Roger Federer 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinal, was the big story of tournament.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Pacific Life Open Finals


Men's Singles Semifinals
Novak Djokovic of Serbia vs Rafael Nadal of Spain
Roger Federer of Switzerland vs Mardy Fish of the United States

Men's Doubles Final
Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram of Israel vs Daniel Nestor of Canada and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia


Women's Singles Final
Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia vs Ana Ivanovic of Serbia

Women's Doubles Final
Dinara Safina and Elena Vesnina of Russia vs Zi Yan and Jie Zheng of China

Schedule (all times Pacific and all matches in the stadium court)
11:00 AM Women's doubles final
Not Before 1:00 PM Djokovic vs Nadal
Not Before 3:00 PM Federer vs Fish

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The Operation Doubles tennis Connection - March issue

A copy of the March 2008 issue of the Operation Doubles Connection is now online. Sign up here for your free email copy of this newsletter every month.


What's New at Operation Doubles Tennis
Featured Tennis Website of the Month
This Month's Tennis Quiz
This Month's Tennis Q & A
This Month's Shot-Making Tip
Tennis News & Upcoming Tournaments

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