Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sizing Up The 12s Nationals

Every kid who wishes they were taller and every parent who thinks only giants win tennis matches needed to stop by the USTA 12s Spring National Championships in Delray Beach. Small Players with Big Games and Fast Feet were all the Rage of Semifinal Thursday. The days of the 12 and under Pushers have Come and Gone, I am very happy to report. I got there at first ball of the early morning matches featuring 2 South Florida girls playing on Hartru on either side of the Clubhouse. Sophia Kenin was in her usual spot, playing deep into a National Tournament and facing a taller opponent with a more powerful game. I am a big fan of Sophia because she is as good a shot maker as you will see at that age, but, big is never a word that people will use to describe her and sometimes she tends to play passive and not lose. That formula usually dooms her against aforementioned opponent's in previously mentioned situations. Today, if you just watched the ball you never knew who was hitting it. Sophia played first strike tennis, went for her shots and used her feet to frustrate and wear down her slower and of course taller opponent. The girl she played was good, but, got beat by a harder hitting and much faster Kenin.

Awaiting the #1 seed in the Gold Ball Match is dare I say another Small Wonder. On any given day you will see Usue Arconada sliding around the Hartru Courts at the Sunrise Tennis Club under the watchful eye of her Argentine coach Luis Brest. Ask her what Grand Slam she wants to win and she will answer Roland Garros in an accent that sounds like Rafa. Usue and yes her taller opponent from Maryland were locked in a "winner" take all match. They pounded the ball for a tiebreak set that Usue would win before rolling through the second. Short balls led to winners and Usue used superior footspeed, hard groundstokes and variety of shots to wear down a bigger opponent. Does that sound redundant. Kenin vs Arconada. The tale of the tape wont size up the match, but, their new found power games certainly will. Two girls who are a growth spurt away from WTA Stardom. Being small is a blessing because they win with their feet, have learned more shots and now have the pop on the ball that wins them National Titles. Parents and Players takes note!

When I was 12 years old I played a hard hitting lefty from Croatia at the Port Washington Tournament held over Christmas. He was shorter than me, but, boy could he hit the ball, he got to everything and won points at the net. I played great and never had a chance. The loss hurt, we became tennis friends and I smiled 18 years later when Big Goran raised the Wimbledon Trophy. Two years later, I played in the Round of 16 of the Orange Bowl, next to me was a little kid from the Netherlands, who was hitting one handers and serving and volleying. He lost to a giant guy who beat me, but, he grew into another Wimbledon Champion.

I am not saying that the kid who I watched play today, Alex Del Corral will raise the trophy at the All England Club, but, he is 5 foot nothing and strikes the ball with authority. He plays shots with a high margin, opens up angles with his forehand, steps into his backhand, uses a drop shot, finishes at the net and most of all he understands how to use all parts of the tennis court. I remember watching him hit a few years ago and he wasn't worried about his ranking. Well he is on his way to #1 and the curve he is on has him destined to be a Pro. When Alex grows, so will his serve and he will gain natural power. Right now he is fearless, just turned 12 and his best days are still way ahead of him.

Unfortunately I have no idea what it feels like to be Sophia, Usue or Alex. One because I was always very tall and two because I never made it to a USTA National Singles Final. I was slow and relied too much at 12 years old on strength, my feet were slow and I didn't develop enough shots to go to the Pro level. I muscled my second serve and my backhand and it caught up to me when the other guys grew. Height was not a blessing for me because it created a false sense of ability and it didn't force emphasis on speed and technique. It wasn't for a lack of effort, but, my one and only USTA ball was a silver I won in my last 18s National playing doubles with Daniel Nestor, another smaller kid who grew into a Grand Slam Doubles and Olympic Champion.

Big or small, you need to be fast and have weapons. Right now players are moving faster than the ball in Men's tennis and the top Women make you pay every chance they get. My message to every Junior out there especially when you are small is don't hold back, go for your shots and work on your speed. Bigger kids please don't take your size for granted, focus on all the details of your game from head to toe. Your size when you are young can be a curse or a blessing, it is all up to you. It is always a great day for tennis24/7

Tennis Elbow

Causes of and Suggestions for Remedying Tennis Elbow

Millions of tennis players suffer from tennis elbow. This debilitating injury is the result of damage to a tendon connecting muscle to the elbow that generally occurs because of repetitive motion, and tennis is all about repetitive motion. There are several mechanisms specifically associated with hitting a tennis ball that can cause tennis elbow.
Elbow crunch, essentially a muscle spasm, occurs when the muscle extending from the hand to the elbow suddenly shortens due to the impact of the ball hitting the racquet. At this moment, the abrupt hand motions back and forth and up and down also create screwdriver and whip like stress on the same muscle. Additionally, in the absence of damping, vibrations in the racquet frame are translated to the arm, causing further stress.

The worst things for tennis elbow are light, stiff racquet frames where a lot of the weight is distributed in the head. A common misconception is that poor stroke technique is the major cause of tennis elbow. This is simply not true. With the right equipment, poor strokes are not a cause of concern, except for your own sense of satisfaction. In fact, the major contributors to tennis elbow are almost certainly light, head-heavy racquets.

Light weight racquets fail to provide damping of the vibrations caused by the impact of the ball and racquet, and the heaviness of the head adds to the muscle stress. A heavier racquet reduces the vibrations upon impact and provides more appropriate force to a hard hit ball. Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi use racquets over 13 oz., a weight that would be considered very heavy by most recreational players. The casual consumer is generally attracted to the lightest racquets in the store and racquet stringers sadly know little about the subject. However, most professional players know that heavier racquets provide you with a larger sweet spot, more control, better accuracy, and fewer long term injuries.

Advocates for light racquets argue that lighter frames allow you to swing faster. While this may be true, less mass translates to less force applied to the ball. So, what you gain in racquet speed, you lose in overall force and performance. Another way to think about it is like this: if you were in a head-on accident with a Hummer, which would you rather be in, a Mini Cooper or a Chevy Tahoe? In short, light tennis racquets, which are all too common these days, are bad for tennis elbow. Tennis is steadily losing players, largely to injuries suffered from using insufficiently and incorrectly weighted racquets. Salesmen are often uninformed or more concerned with short term profit than identifying the best product for the consumer.

The good news is, if you already own a light racquet or are still inclined to purchase one, there are options available to remedy the situation. Craig Brotman is the owner and operator of Pro Circuit Stringing, which provides service for players ranging from club level to world class and is the official stringing company of Pro Tennis World in Davie, Florida. Questions about choosing the right racquet for you or customizing your current racquet can be answered at www.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Follow The Tennis24/7 Blogger

Have you ever run out of places to go on the Internet to read about tennis? When you put that last monthly tennis publication down, that is really 2 months old, do you wish you had something else to peruse to feed your starving tennis appetite? I do. Well I can't help myself, but, I certainly can try and help you. This summer I'll be at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and The US Open. You might hear from me when summer tennis heats up in Cincinnati, Atlanta or Washington. If you don't have a ticket for Davis Cup, well I'll be there. Why am I Tennis24/7? Cause I don't just stop by where the Big Boys and Girls make their Millions. Last year I was at Kalamazoo, could I be there again? You never know where and when I'll pop up. And I don't just watch the game, I play it and I still play it pretty well. I have the famous forehand I learned from the Master himself at the Academy that bears his name in Bradenton. Playing with a Babolat Pure Drive helps my cause considerably. If I had a Babolat stick in 1987 and no one else in the World had one, I might not have just played in the Junior US Open, I might have stuck around for the real deal. I owe the Babolat switch to The Tennis Equipment Guru at PTW, Jeff Miller. Playing with a stiff racket with a W on it wasn't making my arm feel any younger. Three deductibles later, when they finally kicked me out of the Cleveland Clinic and said I had no real damage, I picked up the Wonder Stick. I needed Dr. Jeff, not the Orthopedic Guy that looked at me like I was a paranoid 38 year old who was trying to hold on to my youth. Now, I'll tip you off to the next Babolat Game Changer coming to the Shop off State Road 84. May 1st at PTW might be like the line I saw at the Apple Store in New York City when they launched the Ipad 2. BABOLAT TENNIS BALLS. Yes, you did read that correctly and yes Tennis 24/7 has hit with them. The weight is perfect, they don't fluff up and the can is souvenir style. It bears the Roland Garros Logo. When you tune into Tennis Channel at 5 am et on May 22 for the start of the French Open, Phillipe Chatrier, Suzzane Lenglen, the Bull Ring and all the courts in between will be bouncing with Babolat Balls, the new official ball of Roland Garros. It doesn't stop there though, if you liked the Anniversary French gear Babolat sold you last year, you are going to love this. The King of Clay will be swinging a special frame that I am hearing is hotter than his Shakira video. You might want to stop reading this and go to PTW and ask Jeff or one of the girls to save you one. I have a Donnay Borg Pro in my house strung with VS gut, you getting the hint. This will be something you will look back on 25 years from now and it will stir up the memories of a magical time in your life as a tennis fan. On my shelf I have the outfit Roger wore to win the French and the one he had on when he broke Andy's heart in that epic final on Centre Court. Keepsakes I am glad I bought. I will end with what was a great week for Broward County Tennis Fans. First Congrats to Ft.Lauderdale's Ryan Sweeting for Winning his first ATP Title in Houston. I was there when Ryan won the US Open Juniors over Jeremy Chardy when he embraced his mom with tears in their eyes. I can only guess, that Sunday was even more emotional and Sweet! Here's Hoping he keeps it going!!! Second every tennis fan in Broward should be thanking the Tennis Gods for the Gift of the Orange Bowl moving to Plantation's Central Park. Everyone who hits a ball, boys, girls, men and women MUST come out and see the best Junior Tennis Players in the World in our own backyard. There should be 1000s of you come out to support this event. Two weeks ago, I had a ticket to see Roger and Rafa play on Stadium Court at Key Biscayne, packed house, no tickets, big money, you get where I am going. Well guess what, I saw Roger Federer play for free on that same court back in 1998, when he won the title. Me and about 100 people knew who the greatest tennis player who ever lived was before anyone in this entire country did. Same Guy! Same Game! I walked away thinking how does this kid have so many shots and hit them so well, that one hander was ridiculous. I went back again to watch an American boy with a huge serve and forehand win the title, going by the name of Andrew Roddick. Who knew? Me! You will go to watch and know them too. I played the Orange Bowl when it was at Flamingo Park, it was special then, but, those days have come and gone. We as a Tennis Community can create our own legacy. We were given a gift and bestowed an honor by the USTA that we should not take lightly. Thank you PMac for this gift to Plantation and all of Broward County. My life has been Tennis24/7 for the better parts of 30 years. I have passed the love on to my kids and check in with me from time to time and if you are ever in doubt, I'll pass it right on over to you! It is going to be a great summer. Tennis Channel has every Clay Event in Europe on right now leading up LIVE coverage from Paris. Will Djokovic stay unbeaten on Clay, doubt it. I know I'll have TC on when he gets his first test on the slow stuff. It's Always a Great Day For Tennis24/7