Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Operation Doubles Connection - November issue

The November issue of the Operation Doubles Connection (the free Operation Doubles monthly newsletter) is late this month but now online. For information about this newsletter and how to subscribe, see here.


  • What's New at Operation Doubles
  • Featured Tennis Website of the Month
  • This Month's Doubles Quiz
  • This Month's Q & A
  • This Month's Shot-Making Tip
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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Playing Both-Up Against the Both-Back Formation

This month The Tennis Server features an instructional article by me entitled Playing Both-Up Against the Both-Back Formation.

Here's the introduction...

Everyone says that the way to win doubles is by attacking the net. But are you one of those teams who often loses the point when you do? If so, and if your strokes are good enough, you are probably just making a strategic error, one you can eliminate almost as soon as you understand it.

Read the rest and see the diagram.


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The Operation Doubles Connection

The Operation Doubles Connection (the free Operation Doubles monthly newsletter) is a little late this month, because I had to take a few days off. Subscribers should receive it on the 21st. For information about this newsletter and how to subscribe, see here.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

DW: Save Tennis from Frankenstein!

By Dave Winship

The scientific landscape was still relatively pastoral half a century ago when Albert Einstein warned: "It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity". Today, when scientists are applying for permission to create part-human, part-animal embryos, it seems pertinent to consider how scientific and technological innovations have blurred the lines between reality and fantasy, between authenticity and artificiality, even in the world of tennis.

It was way back in 1818 when Mary Shelley's famous novel, Frankenstein, drew attention to the danger of scientists running amok and crossing thresholds that ought not to be crossed. In tennis, a significant threshold flashed by when Jimmy Connors started brandishing his metal Wilson T2000, consigning wooden rackets to junk shops, museums and attics within a decade. Nowadays we have electronic line-calling technology. We also have "smart" rackets.
Piezoelectrics in the form of lead zirconate titanate fibres are embedded into composite frames. When these "smart materials" contort, they generate electric energy which is harnessed to increase the stability of the racket and dampen vibrations. Is it cheating to use a microchip to produce a counterforce in this way? Apparently not. But how far will manufacturers be allowed to go? What if the next innovation were to allow players to adjust string tension "on the fly"? Would that be acceptable?

Technological advances tend to elicit reactive responses. Innovators seldom anticipate controversy. Actually, perhaps that's too kind. Innovators have plenty to gain from the postponement of ethical debate. So, clearly, the onus is on decision-making bodies to anticipate and plan for the future.

Being proactive is the only way to avoid being presented with faits accompli. A good example of the creeping introduction of new technology is the advent of pitch-correction in the music industry. Fans are just beginning to wrestle with the thorny ethical question of authenticity as it dawns on them that their favourite artists utilise auto-tuning to make them sound better. Singer-songwriter Allison Moorer brought the subject to the forefront of public attention when she noted on the liner notes of her 'Miss Fortune' CD: "Absolutely no vocal tuning or pitch correction used in the making of this record." She was drawing attention to the fact that the use of auto-tune was the rule, not the exception. But what about integrity, she appears to be asking? What about authenticity? It's difficult to imagine Johnny Cash would have taken advantage of auto-tuning. But it's Ms Moorer's misfortune (!) that she is a great singer at a time when it isn't necessary to be one. In fact, pitch correction technology has been prevalent in the music industry since the 1990s and poor Allison is simply whistling in the wind, albeit with pitch-perfect delivery.

Unlike the music industry, tennis is not primarily profit-driven. The marketability of the product is important - crucially important, according to tournament organisers and tour executives - but the sport must be managed in a way that ensures its integrity. No one would wish to stifle innovations that are targeted at injury prevention, but the time has come for the ITF and other tennis organisations to start defining what aspects of the game should be preserved and protected. They must then legislate accordingly, before tennis stealthily mutates into something undesirable.

Copyright 2006, Dave Winship -- all rights reserved worldwide

Dave Winship is an L.T.A. coach at the Caversham Park Tennis Club in Berkshire, England, and the author of magazine at

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

TM: If I play this 10 times...

By Tomaz Mencinger

After a good baseline rally, you finally force your opponent to cough up a short ball. You attack down the line, and your opponent hits a running forehand a few inches from the line passing you cleanly.

You think, "Wow, I’d better not approach like that next time. I must risk more or not come to the net at all."

Is that the right decision? Very likely not.

How can you know whether you should play a certain tactic or shot?

First, ask yourself, "If I play this tactic/shot 10 times, will I win more than 5 times?"

Or, "If my opponent plays this type of shot, can they make it more than 5 out of 10 times?"

That way you can judge whether your tactic works LONG TERM. There is something you need to know about the mind—that its No.1 priority is to protect you from pain, both physical and emotional. When your opponent hits a clean winner past you, you don't like it because you feel emotional pain, even if but a slight one. Your brain reacts by signaling you to avoid that situation.

Your mind isn’t interested in the distant future, where you will experience even greater emotional pain when you lose the match. (I hope not, but most people do.) It wants to protect you from immediate danger, so you start doubting that you should come to the net.

When you think, "If I do this 10 times what will be the result?" you realize that you may have to sacrifice a few little emotional pains to win the match and avoid a bigger pain, gaining greater pleasure.

Look for long-term strategies and tactics that will help you win the match. Avoid hasty decisions based on your emotions.

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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