Thursday, August 31, 2006

Nadal pays respect to 9/11

NEW YORK (AP) -For Rafael Nadal, playing at the U.S. Open also presents an opportunity to make an annual visit to ground zero.

The second-seeded Nadal had been in New York on vacation with his parents and visited the World Trade Center five months before Sept. 11, 2001. That memory draws the 20-year-old standout to the former World Trade Center site each year.

"I was (there) two days ago," Nadal said Wednesday, after he won his first-round match 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 over Mark Philippoussis, the 1998 Open runner-up. "The big hole is still there.

"I always remember when I was in the last floor of the tower. (I) remember the benches in front of the window. I was sitting for half an hour."

We thank you for the respectful value judgement in your consideration by taking time to pay your respects. Good luck!

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Tennis Scripture

Like your typical tennis nut, I used to buy every tennis book that came out. Soon I was disappointed though.

I'll wager that the vast majority of lifelong tennis players have had the same experience. With the same result.

Now, of course, there are exceptions, but for the most part it's always the same old same-old. I'd purchase a book and find nothing in it that I hadn't read in all the previous ones. In fact, you could read the same old same-old in books published before 1960.

The only difference is all the padding that's added. Like we need to be told that you need good tennis shoes and should carry a towel to court and not eat heavily right before you play. Spare me that fluff, please -- I want meat. I'm not so stupid I need an authority figure to tell me that.

When you buy a book, you expect something new. Fresh. There's nothing more off-putting than finding that it's nothing but a rehashing of the same old cliches. Expressed in the same cliches of language too. For example, how often have you heard or read that you should return "at a net-rushing server's feet" and make him hit from "shoetstring level" in exactly those words?

Do we need a new book to tell us that every five years? And it isn't even exactly true. You should return to the DEPTH of a net-rushing server's feet, not necessarily AT them. If you have an angle that can make him have to turn on a dime and lunge at that low shot, take it!

Like all cliches, these expressions get so worn that they've lost meaning. Consequently they don't sink in any deeper than words do to a parrot. Some are even wrong or at least generally misunderstood.

A good example of a stinker is the instruction that, to hit an overhead, you should point up at the ball with your free hand, cock the racket back over your shoulder, and in that pose move backward under the ball.

Baloney. Watch, the pros who tell us to do this don't do it themselves. Why? Because it's clumsy as hell. So clumsy that, if you are good little tennis player who follows instructions and does this, I guarantee that you have a lousy overhead. Don't you?

Where did this instruction come from if none of the pros do it? (Some women do, but they are the ones with lousy overheads. )

Obviously, someone important invented this truth so that it became tennis scripture -- sacred, infallible, and authoritative by virtue of who said it instead of what it says. Hence authors and instructors ever since have parroted it.

One of the most important things I learned from Vic Braden at his tennis academy course for coaches is that the top tourning pros don't know what they do. For example, they will insist that they hold the racket one way, and you will have to prove to them on film that they actually hold it a different way. So, when they tell you what to do, they're repeating conventional wisdom, unaware that they don't follow it themselves.

This fact collides with the belief that the great players are the best ones to tell us how to play. Few great players are students of the game who contribute orginal thought and analysis to it.

Another thing you quickly learn is that books on tennis don't help your game. You can't play by memorizing a thousand rote verbal instructions and recalling each one at the right moment during play. It all becomes a blur. And your brain can't sort through its whole system of relational databases (which is bigger than the Pentagon's) for the right one in one second during play.

Result? Those instructions that are "simplified" to rote dos and don'ts are inaccessible information during play. At best, a few get internalized as a little voice in your head barking things like "Watch the ball" to distract you and bawl you out during play. For an explanation of how this hurts, instead of helps, your game, read the excellent book, The Inner Game of Tennis by Tim Gallwey.

And then they wonder why tennis books don't sell. The kicker is that the demographics are that of the top book-buying market. So, what's the problem? Hint: content, content, content.

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Federer's loss to Murray

He "threw the match"? He "tanked" it?

Every native speaker of English (and a good many millions of others) know what that means. And that's a serious accusation.

Athletes throwing contests that people bet on is a surefire way to corrupt a sport. So, it's a no-no in sports. A very, very big no-no. That strict rule is what keep the underworld out.

And yet, I'm disappointed in the furor over this. Why? Because the media have been abusing language this way -- by calling things what they ain't -- right and left about vastly more serious things that tennis. Every single day!

Why? To make the news sizzle with controversy (read $$$).

And nobody seems to mind that. But let the media do that to an athlete, and everyone suddenly knows right from wrong.

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Friday, August 25, 2006

US Open Cheesehead Predictions

What? If you blog tennis, you must make predictions? Oh, yikes.

This reminds me of the first time I got in a football pool. I was a first-year teacher in St. Paul, and the Packers were playing the Vikings that week. I made my picks on pure instinct, not having really kept up with the NFL that year. And of course I picked the Packers! Just to be in-their-Minnesota-faces (though the Packers were weak and the Vikings looked great that year). Plus, Chicago hadn't won a game in so long, I figured it was about time for them to beat some hot team.

Ha-HA! my collegues were stunned. (I celebrated by driving across the border to get some good cheese.)

So, let's see what my crystal ball says. . .

Mauresmo vs. Sharapova
Henin-Hardenne vs. Kuznetsova

Mauresmo vs Hennin-Hardenne

Federer vs This is a crapshoot. Murray or Haas? Murray.
Agassi vs Nadal

Federer vs Agassi

Okay, now go ahead -- laugh!
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Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Some "social doubles" players think that their being in a spot takes away your right to hit there.

I don't know where they get this idea, unless they are just stretching the rule of sporting play that you never try to hit an opponent with your shots.

But think about that for a moment. In social doubles, both teams are usually in the Up-and-Back Formation. In that situation, when you're at net and get a volley, there's only one place to aim it -- through the Hole. That is, hit it through the angular gap between opponents. That's an extremely high-percentage shot. And, if it isn't an outright winner, it forces a weak return hit up to you from an opposing net player way back in no man's land. You'd have to be a fool to pass up a chance at that shot.

Hitting the other way, to the opposing baseline player, is the next worst thing to hitting the ball out.

So, if some chick is vegetating there at the "T" and thinks you mustn't hit to the Hole because she's plugging it, she's cheating. If she's going to stand there, she had better be ready to return that shot, because you have a right to try to win the point.

If she can't take the heat, she should get out of the kitchen and go back to the baseline.

Some players actually deliberately cheat this way. They can't return your shots, so they stand in the Hole and then act like it's a mortal sin for you to volley anywhere but away from them. In other words, they make it a moral issue, forcing you pass up chances to score and let them off the hook every time they goof and give your volleyer a shot at the ball.

I hate to admit this, but the culprits are usually women playing mixed doubles.

In tennis you must score by making shots, not by hindering your opponent's ability to make them. To prevent players from body-blocking the opposition's shots or hindering them with the fear of hitting you, the rules penalize YOU for getting hit. And if you position in such a way as to hinder your opponent with the fear of hitting you, you lose the point via the Hindrance Rule.

More on that here.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

On Court Coaching

Now that I got my little sermon on unions out of the way . . .

On court coaching. It's a large subject with diverse angles to view it from.

The First Angle: Tradition

I mentioned here that on-court coaching goes against the nature of the tennis game. Most sports were dreamed up by athletes. Tennis was invented in the Middle Ages by the warrior class. In fact, the terminology is tongue-in-cheek. The "courtiers" deliver their "strokes" in a game of strategy (the science of art = military science) where "love" is valued at nothing. If you know something about the multilateral game of chess that was life at the court of a medieval king, you get the joke. Because it was just another battlefield, with a different kind of "stroke" to deliver the enemy.

The game was intended to be one of self-reliance. It was a battle of wits and stamina and perseverance. Like the knight errant, you were basically alone out there. You stayed out there slugging it out all day, past the point of exhaustion. You were done for if you couldn't think fast on your feet and react to the changing situation without orders/coaching from headquarters. And usually the winner was the more determined combatant -- the one who would not give up, the one still charged up and determined to win at the end of the day. At some point the enemy became dismayed at the realization that he would never give in and fled.

So, tennis is as much a test of wits and mental toughness as a test of stamina and skill. On court coaching waters it down. I'm not a traditionalist, but this is one place at which I balk on departing from tradition. All sports are unique, but tennis is more unique than most for this reason. Why make it like all the others?

The Second Angle: What Good is On Court Tennis Coaching?

This kind of coaching isn't like coaching in football, where the defense gets coaching on the sidelines while the offense in on the field. It isn't like basketball, where the coach can yell instructions from the sidelines continuously. He or she can pull a player out for coaching on the bench and then send that player back into the game.

You can't do that in tennis.

This is strictly timeout coaching. Not even that, because you can't call time out for it.

Timeout coaching is the least effective. I have coached basketball and track as well as tennis. So, I can tell you that, in any sport, coaching during a timeout in the heat of battle often does little good. At such a moment the players are zhombies who can hardly focus. Notice the blank looks they give a coach in the huddle. Those players turn right around and go back out there all in a blur, because the coach rattled off ten things at them, ten things that never really sunk in, ten things they've completely forgotten by the time play resumes.

Yes, at the professional level in sports like basketball, you can expect the players to be able to focus enough to absorb and follow orders about a play they're supposed to run immediately upon re-entering the game. But that's about all. That coaching can't deliver them any long-term strategy to execute.

Yes, there are times when I would have killed for a chance to clue-in a player or doubles team on something or for a chance to talk to them and fire them up with a verbal kick in the butt. In fact, one such moment I'll never forget. It was the moment I noticed how a rival team was sweeping the doubles on us -- by running The Switch Trick relentlessly. Once I caught on to the play that was being run, I could hardly wait for the end of the set to tell my Number One Doubles team to stop switching for lobs.

That coaching helped. It won the match and the meet.

But times when coaching can help are rare. Notice that this advice was one simple and definite thing to tell them: "Don't switch for lobs. I'll explain why tomorrow. Okay?" That they could absorb and execute.

But, if you're going to allow coaching, why force a coach to wait till the end of a set? I had to stand there and watch my kids lose three or four more games before I could tell them to stop switching for the lobs. That's ridiculous. It makes no sense and defeats the purpose of the rule. Furthermore, my players had no idea what was being done to them, so why should they have ASKED for me to come and advise them? If you're going to allow coaching, allow the coach to approach the player with advice whether she asks for it or not.

What few people realize (and few coaches admit) is that coaching in tennis usually does more harm than good. What CAN you tell a player in 30 seconds that won't just confuse and WILL do some good?

A smart coach avoids that. I approach a chance to coach thinking, "Don't say this" and "Don't say that. It will just confuse them." A smart coach says little during coaching timeouts except things designed to evoke a useful emotional response -- for confidence, greater effort, or whatever. For example, there are times when I've deliberately said something that would smart to fire players up. You know, like "Quit foolin' around and stinkin' it up out out there." Works like a charm. Suddenly they're ferocious and playing out of their minds.

Therefore, a smart coach has a short list of things to say for the various pychological situations that arise in a match. For example, if my players just lost the first set, I tell them to blow it off and go back out there quickly, raring to start the second as if THEY were the winners of the first set. I say, "They'll let down a bit now, so get these first two games and you've got a whole new match." My players might as well go out there with a tape-recording of me saying that. It's more like a mantra than coaching.

Sorry, but that's the way to coach. Nothing too grand, eh?

But why should PROFESSIONAL tennis players need a coach to keep them bucked up and intense? And why shouldn't tennis test a PROFESSIONAL player's ability to think for herself?

Frankly, I think some of the push for coaching comes from coaches (and parents?) who want to be more visible and catch some limelight.

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Unions. Take it from someone built out of strike food (hamburger, macaroni, and jell-o everywhichway you can fix them) during her growing years while the United Auto Workers' struggled with "The Big Three" for survival:

Unions -- can't live without them and can't live with them. Solidarity is sacred, but never forget that unions serve themselves first and their members second. And, if you think they can be powerful on management, just see how powerful they can be on members.

The WTA apparantly has its members in line. Kim Clijsters on the WTA coaching rule:

I don't know if I'm allowed to say this but it's a rule I'm absolutely against. Part of being a tennis player is being able to solve things yourself.

Thank you, Kim. Yes, you are allowed to say that. In fact, as far as I know, you can still say that even in the EU, where freedom of speech is disappearing under "directives" from unelected bureaucrats in a super-national bureaucracy.

So THAT'S why the other players' statements are obviously canned. They read like they came out of a WTA press release.

Yes, it's appropriate for unions to mainatain unity by keeping members from undercutting each other so that they can be exploited with divide-and-conquer tactics by management. But it is inappropriate for unions to dictate what comes out of members' mouths or goes into their heads.

Players, it's your union. Control it, or it will control you.
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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Yes, Andy Murray really did beat Roger Federer.

Don't miss this piece by Dave Winship of

If the British Lawn Tennis Association harboured any lingering doubts about the lucrative three-year contract it offered Brad Gilbert to work with Andy Murray - the richest coaching contract in the history of British tennis, they were surely dispelled when the Scottish teenager became only the second player this year to beat Roger Federer.

Murray's victory didn't come out of nowhere though, since he defeated Andy Roddick at Wimbledon a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, the exileration caused a bit of a letdown that lead to Murray exiting the tournament meekly in the very next round. I commented at the time on the effect on the Britometer.

Many people then thought that his defeat of Roddick was a flash in the pan and that his loss in the next round was the real Andy Murray. I think that was a mistake, because it would be highly unusual for such a young player not to have a letdown after his first big victory -- especially when he's a Brit who has it at Wimbledon. The subsequent defeat was no reason to lose faith in his potential. The LTA apparantly saw what he needs and supplied it.

But, of course, with Brad Gilbert, you get a little more than that.

Anyhow, this defeat of Federer will be viewed as due to Gilbert's coaching. In fact, I heard some gnashing of teeth over that on this side of The Pond.

Perhaps that assessment is justified.

But do read the rest of the article -- MURRAY IN A PICKLE. I won't tell you why, because that would "spoil" it ;-)
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Links to informative tennis sites

I stumbled upon a post at Google Answers that many of you may find useful, because it includes research to unearth links to many great tennis websites. Here's the question:

I'm interested in obtaining a list of the best tennis resources currently online. I want to improve my game (I'm a novice) so I'm very interested in training, strategy, and tactics. I don't want links to sites that discuss statistics or scores or specific players without providing key strategic game-playing information . . . .

See what the Google researcher came up with for an answer.
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Friday, August 18, 2006

Mystery Solved: What's "Photoshop Tennis"?

How many times have you searched for tennis websites and come up with this? That page just sits there and sits there and sits there smirking at you.

Now, I know what photoshopping a photo is. I can do it myself. For example, I photoshopped this image to eliminate another picture of Dolly on the right, "smudging" the areas I "cloned" to paint on top of it and then adding the text. Cool, eh? I also photoshopped the still photos of Rafa's service backswing here, to desaturate the background so he and his racket and the ball are more visible against it. I had much more success with that stunt here, to make John McEnroe stand out visibly from the crowd in the background. If I wanted to, I could cut myself out of one photo and paste me into another to make it look like I am playing on Centre Court at Wimbledon!

And I'm just a hack who has learned these tricks by fooling around with high-end graphics software like Photoshop and Canvas. So, imagine what an expert can do, especially with that decietful "clone" tool.

So, for awhile I wondered if Photoshop Tennis was a scandal about media "photoshopping" photos of tennis matches, like the recent scandal about a "photoshopped" Reuters photo of the Israeli strike on a Hezbollah hideout in Beruit to make it look like half the city was being bombed.

No. Sports photographers don't have to juice up their work like that.

So, what IS Photoshop Tennis? The forerunner of Beach Tennis?

Give up? When bewildered, try Wikipedia. See also here.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Operation Doubles Connection - August 2006

Click the title of this post to see this month's issue of The Operation Doubles Connection.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

What's Buzzin' in the Tennis Blogosphere

Via On the Baseline we finally know how much Venus and Serena Williams pay their father. Hmmm. Hmmm. Can't think what I think of that. Hmmm. Can't even think why I should think anything about that.

And Off the Baseline just took the words out of my mouth: Did Andy Murray Really Just Beat Roger Federer? Kinda leaves one speechless. He hasn't much more to say on it, and neither do I. Well, woops ... not for long.

Planet Tennis Fan has some interesting takes on the new rule that will allow some coaching on the WTA Tour.

Me? I agree with Clijsters -- being alone and self-reliant out there is part of the game. It's the nature of the game. It's what's unique about the game. Tennis is a game invented by warriors back in the day when you made your plan the night before, went into battle the next morning, and just kept fighting till the other side quit -- with no time-outs, no orders from headquarters giving commands (= coaching). A battle of mental toughness, stamina, and thinking on your feet. No, tennis doesn't have to be that way. But I prefer it that way.

Pat Davis, over at Tennis Diary, waxes poetic about Jelena Jankovic:

What a breath of fresh air Jankovic appears to be! I love her attitude on court, especially on change-overs. Instead of hunkering down in her chair in a pose of morbid contemplation, Jelena is looking around at the crowd with a bemused expression. She notices what is going on, she reacts to it, she smiles at the camera as it tries to catch kissing spectators in the act. If this is her way of dealing with nerves, it’s a good one, but the girl seems to be without nerves.

She's so great she even reads books too.
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Monday, August 14, 2006

TM: Stupid Shots

By Tomaz Mencinger

Have you ever said »Oh, what a stupid shot?« If you were referring to your own shot, how did you feel? Not too good, I bet. And how did you play after that »not good« feeling? Not well, right?

But a mistake isn't stupidity, it's just a mistake. You intended to win the point in one way or another: only after you actually play that shot can you see its results in that particular situation.

And since we are not computers, we sometimes need to miss many times before we realize that a certain approach usually will not work. Before that, we see that the approach isn't working, but we aren't sure whether the problem is the approach or just failing to execute it well enough. That's why we keep trying something even when it may seem stupid to an outside observer.

So now that we know all this and realize that there are no stupid shots, what are these mistakes then?

I simply call them "inexperienced" mistakes.

You haven't enough experience to decide perfectly every time. Sometimes you experiment. Sometimes you want to do your best, but you don't know all the strategic and tactical mistakes or the correct ways of playing the game.

This means that you just lack experience.

So, when you make a mistake, instead of labeling it as a �stupid� mistake, view it as an "inexperienced" mistake. How does that feel?

It sure does feel better, doesn't it?

It relieves you of the guilt feelings and gives you hope for the future. Indeed, seeing mistakes as stupid implies that you are stupid. And, since stupidity is a permanent condition, this view implies that you are doomed to make stupid mistakes forever.

The choice is yours--how will you view your mistakes from now on? As stupid or as inexperienced?

Copyright 2006, Tomaz Mencinger -- all rights reserved worldwide

Tomaz Mencinger is the author of The Mental Manual for Tennis Winners and The Tennis Strategy Encyclopedia and an athletic consultant who works with nationally ranked juniors at the Tennis Academy of Asia in Thailand.

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Friday, August 11, 2006

The Service Backswing

Ahwile back, in this blog post and in this shot-making tip on the website, I mentioned in passing that Pete Sampras has a long backswing on his serve.

It's hard to find fault in Pete Sampras' serve, but many people would find fault with that aspect of it. Many say that the backswing is superfluous, that the service motion really begins when the racket drops down behind your back in the "back-scratching" position.

But that isn't so, unless you have a hitch in your serve so the racket head pauses at that point, accelerating then from a dead stop at 0 miles per hour.

It would be more accurate to say that the service motion really begins just before that, when your backswing is finished and you've cocked the racket in the "trophy" position. But players like Sampras keep the racket head moving even through that point. So, I'm not convinced that they aren't building up racket-head momentum with that long backswing.

Let me keep this brief and skip the pros and cons for now. I'm not interested in convincing you that there's a "right" backswing you should use. I'm interested in making you AWARE of your backswing.

Pay attention to it, not with a view to fixing or changing it, but to simply understand it. Feel it. You should know exactly what you're doing and be able to demonstrate your backswing.

Why? Because over time, or even during the course of a tiring match, it can change without you realizing that. All you know is that you're having trouble with your serve. Because the timing's off. Whenever I start having trouble with my serve, I go out to practice serving, keying on my backswing and making it shorter -- like it used to be. Almost always, my problem immediately disappears.

A long backswing takes longer. Though there are other ways to compensate for that, the natural way is to toss higher. In fact, players with long backswings tend to have high tosses.

Since it takes more force to toss higher, a slight miscalculation throws off a high toss more than it would a low one. Also, since a high toss stays in the air longer, it's more affected by wind. Perhaps most important at the upper levels of the game, a high toss gives the receiver time to read your toss. For example, if your toss is out to the side, the receiver can tell that you are going to slice the serve. If your toss is high, he or she has time to register and react to this knowledge. That's why high tossers, like Pete Sampras, work hard to disguise their serves, trying to hit every kind of serve from roughly the same toss. But that isn't ideal: there's a trade-off in it that had better be worth what you're getting for it.

So, just what IS a short backswing? Let's look at one, in Rafael Nadal...

Get this video and more at

Here is a sequence of still shots of that serve.

Notice that Rafa never lets the racket drop below his waist. Instead of dropping the racket down alongside his leg in the direction of the lower arrow (as Sampras, Federer, and others with a long backswing do), Rafa takes it straight back over his shoulder in the direction of the upper arrow.

Both arms are going up together. I circled the ball to show that it's still in his hand.

In the last photo of this sequence, Rafa is just about to drop the racket down behind his back in the "back-scratching" position. You might want to watch the video again to get a good idea what a short backswing is. You can compare it with these photos and videos of Pete Sampras' long backswing.

So, short backswing? or long backswing? Chances are that you'll be most comfortable with something in between.

More on this at the main website in a few days.

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

What's the difference between a great shot and an out shot?

A millimeter.

I get the strangest looks from people complaining about bad calls when I reply with this question. They don't view it from the same perspective that I do.

Here's the way I look at it: Let's say that here comes the ball. It can land at Point A or at Point B. If it lands at Point A, it's in. It it flies a millimeter farther to land at Point B, it's out.

What's the big difference? Is that Point-B shot any harder to hit back? No. So, it isn't like you're being made to play more difficult shots than your opponent. You are just as capable of returning the Point B shot as the Point A shot.

So, be confident in your ability. Don't wish for points on millimeters and technicalities.

This is why people with a positive attitude freely give the benefit of the doubt to their opponent, as they should. The only time they are bothered by bad calls is when they see that an opponent is deliberately "wishing" their shots out or playing "when in doubt, call it out." Then it IS unfair, because you are giving the benefit of the doubt to him and he is too.

When people with positive, sporting attitudes play against each other, they each play a few out balls per match.

By the way, when I was as the Vic Braden Tennis Academy, we did an experiment with high-speed film to judge who sees the ball best: players, spectators, or linespeople.

The linespeople won hands down. Guess who was worst at calling the shots? The players.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

More on Tennis Rage

Don't get me wrong: in my previous post, I wasn't criticizing players for expressing emotion.

There are strategic and tactical reasons for dissembling, concealing your emotions on court, but no moral ones. Emotions just are: there's nothing right or wrong about them. So long as players have self control and express their feelings metely -- that is with a sense of measure that keeps their conduct decent -- there's nothing really wrong with expressing emotion on court, whether that emotion be joy, frustration, anger, or whatever. That's just being honest.

But this isn't that...

Frankly, it's over the top and seems put on.

There has been this advertizing meme since the 1990's = "Let 'er rip, boys and girls, and cross the 'borderline.'" In other words: "Go wild!" It is the antithesis of the old saying Moderation in all things. It has sold a lot of other commodities by the truckload, and now it's selling the icons of tennis.

Just as politicians have learned that they can't make the nightly news without launching some smear against their opponent, and as Middle Eastern Arabs have learned that they must do something outrageous to play to the cameras, tennis players are learning that they won't get their picture published without being, shall we say, "photogenic" with rage.

There's money, as well as flattering fame, in publicity.

But spare us the hype, please. Those faces look like they should be under helmets with AK-47s in hand instead of tennis rackets.

Someday these players will look back on these photos with embarrassment. Don't sell yourself like that for attention. You are a human being, not an artificial persona for public consumption.

I have nothing against the old "clenched" fist gesture. I could have posted photos of Roger Federer with his fists both raised in triumph...but he has a happy smile on his face in those photos. So, the gesture means something totally different in that case than it does (especially midmatch) in the photos I posted yesterday. He isn't AIMING his fist at anything and with a look that could kill on his face.

Don't tell me that players aren't also trying to intimidate their opponents with the fist-pumping roars and get in their heads. It's often just plain, old taunting.

And the male hip thrusting speaks for itself. Spare us that narcissism, please.

It's already really getting old and has become a cliche.
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Monday, August 07, 2006

Tennis Rage

Is it just me? Or is this getting pretty off-putting?

I mean, even Mr. Sportsman, Arnaud Clement,
is playing to the media with it.

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

What to do about a bad call

Here's my suggestion. Try it, you may like it.

First, a call you're just unsure of isn't a bad call. Even one you think is wrong isn't necessarily a bad call. By "bad call" I mean a stinker: You are SURE the ball was well in and know that your opponent is either lying or playing "When in doubt call it out."

When you get a bad call, my advice is to walk up to the net and say, "That ball was in." Period.

Calmly, not angrily, but firmly. That's a statement, not a question. And you walk closer to him to confront him with it by approaching the net as you say this. That ups the ante of making a bad call, doesn't it? He thinks, "Ooh, this guy won't lay down and just take a bad call." He may respond by changing his call or suggesting that you play a let. If so, fine. If not, just go back to play the next point.

Avoid an argument. Don't LET yourself get drawn into an argument. Arguing is pointless -- a dribble to nowhere. It's HIS call, not yours. And you do not sit in judgment of him for it, so giving him the Third Degree on how "sure" he is as inappropriate as futile. To cut off discussion, if necessary, just unhear whatever he says and go back to play the next point.

If he made an honest error, he will be more careful from now on. If he was cheating, he may do it again. If you get more bad calls and become convinced that he is cheating, just say, "That ball was in" and go to the proper officials, telling them the problem.

By handling the situation this way, you have the best chance of fixing it so that you nip the problem in the bud. You also avoid arguments that delay the game and distract you. And you behave in a way nobody can either criticize or take advantage of.


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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Andre Agassi: Great Expectations

Because he announced his upcoming retirement, everywhere Andre Agassi plays, he is met with great expectations.

He lost to a qualifier today in the Legg Mason tournament in Washington DC. The Italian, Andrea Stoppini, was ranked 265 and defeated Agassi by a score of 6-4, 6-3.

Andre played so badly that at 3-0 in the second set, he shocked the crowd by hurling his racket so hard it broke.

The pressure to perform can get to anyone.

Details here and here.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What's Buzzing in the Tennis Blogosphere

Check out this week's World Tennis Round Up at the Tennis Zoo (not to be confused with ZooTennis from Kalamazoo).

We are into the second week of the US Open Series of tennis tournaments with three events:

  • The WTA  The Acura Classic in San Diego
  • The ATP The Orange Prokom Open in Sopot, Poland
  • The ATP Legg Mason Classic in Washington DC
ProTennisFan has the latest.

If you're concerned about the development of American tennis players, don't miss Peter Bodo's post, Wither American Tennis? He gets right to the bottom line and challenges the assumption that the USTA should be involved with junior development.

I like it when people examine assumptions before swallowing them whole. Bodo offers some food for thought on the matter:

Much as I love tennis, I always thought there was something Orwellian and borderline de-humanizing in state's involvement in the development of tennis talent in places like France, Germany and, now, the Brand New Big Brother on the Block, China.

TennisPro has an important tip about running: BALANCE. I might add that you should pump your arms naturally as you chase a shot. Having a racket in one hand shouldn't keep you from doing that. And NEVER sidestep to chase: sidestepping is for recovering, not for moving to the ball.

Colette at ZooTennis has the seeds and the draws for the Boys 18 & 16 National Championships in Kalamazoo, Michigan, scheduled to begin this Friday.
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