Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Racquet History - Babolat Pure Drive Team Plus

Babolat Pure Drive Team Plus
I had picked this racquet up after I bought the more response (when I first got back to playing), but kept it in my bag bc one my 1st hit, I just didn't like it. Once my form improved I whipped it out...
Wow. I mean I called this racquet "the boomstick" . I had replaced the original syntec grip with leather and restrung it around 54#s (it originally had pro hurricanes at 61# which was wayy too much for me at the time). The PD was like a cannon. I was blasting shots left and right with recklass abandon. I also found something else out too. I liked the hollow feel of the frame. I liked the thick beam. It felt great at impact. In the end though, it was a bit too "clunky" for me. I don't play with much control, but I do like to play with some. I relagated the pure drive to be my "hail mary" racquet. If i was behind, I'd pull it out and literally swing for the fences.

Racquet History - Donnay Pro1 International

Donnay Pro1 International
The pro1 was a sweet stick. I had tried out an nBlade recently and absolutely hated it. Too much of an even balance, too thin beamed. just didn't do it for me.
I traded it for the Donnay. I probably should have opted for the oversize (ala Agassi) but I went with the midplus. This stick was great. Really solid feel, great balance, I got some nice spin and definite power on my serve. I just kept coming up a bit short on my groundstrokes. The handle is also a bit short. I'm a 2 hander so my left hand was resting on the frame rather than the grip. I think had I gone oversize, I would of loved this racquet. It can be described with one word: butter. It was flexy but not too flexy. Had I been a control game type of a player, I would of thought this to be my holy grail. Unfortunately insane amounts of topspin and pace was what I play with and it didn't last. Luckily it found a good home with my friend John and I get to see it often (on the other side of the court). Weight - 12 ozString Pattern - 16 x 18Headsize - 95 sq inFlex - 58

Friday, August 21, 2009

Hitting with Franco, Ari and Jorge

Man, i am slow. My footwork is getting worse and it must be the extra lbs i'm carrying on me. Got more vids but still cutting them up. My groundstrokes feel ok, not too much rust, especially with Franco's shots spinning every which way. My shoulder doesn't hurt anymore so the backhand is coming back. Need to work on the legs, not getting enough bend, especially on low forehands.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Hitting with John

It feels great to be back on the court. Had a nice rally session with John. We both has some rust, but really the only major issues with my game was the footwork. I was a bit lazy, and had trouble moving quickly on the court. My forehand was a bit underpowered but consistent and my when needed, I didn't have trouble turning up the power for winners. I did though have issues with high forehands, just had timing issues. Backhand wise I'm pretty happy, shoulder feels great and I can get some pace on it now. Slice is floating up a bit too much but I need to step in more instead of chop the ball.

Service wise... well my 2nd serve is getting better, but I'm having issues with my timing on my 1st serve. Need to put in alot of work on it this weekend. All in all, not bad for such a long layoff!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Racquet History - Prince Precision 730

Prince Precision 730

In my haste to find more copies of the Precision Response, I stumbled across the Precision 730. Basically it looked like a POG but in longbody form and lighter in weight. It served great, but then again all I've always served well with longbody frames. I just couldn't get much pop off my strokes with it. My shots would be either way too big, or way too soft. It must of been the strings strung too low. Regardless it was a nice frame to have and I kind of felt like my idol Michael Chang out on the court with it (crossbar stabilizer). I should of given it more of a chance but it just didn't feel right to me.

Racquet History - Prince More Control

Prince More Control

When I realized the More Response wasn't really the sucessor to the Precision Response line, I found out about the More Control. Definitely more of a players racquet than the More Response, it was only 11.5 oz but felt much heavier. It also had a slightly smaller headsize at 97. Generally I was ok with the frame except for its stiffness. It made impact like a rock, almost pure driverish... Still it was a decent racquet but around this time, I was wary of the "More" line and wanted something with grommets and still in production. I will note that the color scheme was pretty sweet, with the white and black halfs.

Weight - 11.5 oz
String Pattern - 16 x 20
Headsize - 97 sq in
Flex - 71

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Racquet History - Prince More Precision

Prince More Precision

I hated this racquet. After not being able to find another More Response, I picked this up. Thinner beam, felt even stiffer than the Response, and more heft. At this point I was taking huge cuts on the ball and it was definitely underpowered. Everything went over as powder puff shots. This didn't last long. I think if I would of dropped the tension it would of been ok, but it felt way too stiff for my liking despite the fact it had a thinner beam. It came with a leather grip too so that just threw everything even more off for me.

Weight - 11.5
String Pattern - 16 x 19
Headsize - 95 sq in
Balance - 7 pts HL
Flex - 66

Racquet History - Prince More Response

Prince More Response

Sadly though, after giving up tennis in college, I lost my precision response. after about a 5-6 year absense I set out to look for a new racquet. Sticking to what I knew, I found the next iteration of the Response. What I got was the More Response. I honestly took a huge liking to this racquet. It was light, but not too light (11 oz). HL but not too HL (4 pts). It had a nice open string pattern and although it had a thin beam, it had a 70 stiffness rating. I have to say it was the best racquet for me coming back. Not exactly a players racquet, but light enough and easy enough to play to get my strokes back (and I was basically starting from scratch...).

I actually will go on to say I loved this frame and I went through many loops to secure and hunt down backups for it. Ultimately though the grommetless design worked against the racquet. My many off center shots (more specifically, on the serve, hitting close to the upper hoop) would cause the strings to press against the edge of the holes. Since I was stringing polys on the mains at 61 lbs, this led to frequent breaks (sometimes days apart).

Since I couldn't find more backups (at a fair price) I was forced to really ramp up my quest for my next racquet. I still have fond memories of this racquet, and credit it for being there for me while I got back into the game I love, but I'll be the 1st to say it... it's a tweener stick and big departure from the Precision Response tradition.

Weight - 11.1 oz
String Pattern - 16 x 20
Headsize - 100 sq in
Balance - 4 pts HL
Flex - 70

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Racquet History - Prince Precision Response

Prince Precision Response

For a long time, this was my holy grail. I loved this racquet. It took some initial getting used to b/c it was my 1st players racquet and with my skinny arms swinging around an 11+ oz frame. Plus it was my 1st headlight balanced racquet. It was also around this time ironically I transitioned my game from playing at the net to your basic counter puncher. My forehand was pretty much all spin, but my backhand was flat and hit most of the winners; this racquet was able to play both styles perfectly. This racquet gave me a ton of spin, and a decent pop on my strokes. I can't explain it, but it just felt right. The balance (headlight, but not too headlight), the spin (open 16x20 string pattern), the power (heavier but not too heavy), the flex (not too flexy, not too stiff), just everything. From here on out every racquet that I've liked has had specs that almost mirror the Precision Response.

Weight - 11.6 oz
String Pattern - 16 x 20
Headsize - 97 sq
Balance - 8 pts HL
Flex - 65

Racquet History - Prince Thunder 820

Prince Thunder 820

After messing around with aluminum frames, my parents finally decided I was worthy of upgrading to graphite. I knew I wanted a longbody (shorties like me and Michael Chang had them) and the thunder was within my parent's price point. I had some fond memories of this stick, but too bad it didn't last. What I do remember was I hitting blasts from the baseline. It was nice and light, and the extended length gave me something to really hold onto on my 2 hander.

My fondest memory of the racquet was a night time match I had against my dad. There was a thunderstorm brewing and I was on serve. It was Ad out, and I had to hold serve to force a tiebreaker. I remember tossing the ball up and about to strike, when my dad yelled out as loud as he could "BOOOOM!!!". Thinking I had been struck by lightning b/c of my longbody racquet, I let go and dropped to the floor. Then I heard the laughter, followed by "fault". I went on to double fault in anger and lose the match... good times.

The love affair didn't last long as I kept breaking the strings on this sucker every couple of days. Now I know I have always hit with alot of topspin, but I was only 14 years old... Alas, and luckily enough I ended up moving onto a frame that would influence my game in so many ways...

Length - 28"
String Pattern - ? ~ open
Weight - 10 oz

Racquet History - Wilson Air Kannon

Well being that it won't stop raining, I decided to go on a journey through memory lane. As you can probably tell I'm a huge gear head. I've played with a ton of frames and I thought I'd give my opinion on them.

Wilson Air Kannon

Yes, I had one of Wilson's aluminum knockoffs of their own Sledgehammer line. I remember it being really light (relatively), lots of vibration, and huge! I think while learning the game, I really can't provide much insight into the frame. Nevertheless you have to start somewhere and I started here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hitting at UM

Not able to hit during the week, I manage to find time in between work and class to work on my serve for about an hour. I've been making unbelievable progress. My 2nd serve is really coming along. I still play it safe and spin them in, but I've been using my kick serve as a 1st serve as well by tossing more in front. I need to be more consistant on my ball toss though, b/c if I'm off a little the ball noticeably doesn't kick up as much. Ironically my serve on the Ad side of the court (particularly the 1st) is way more consistant. I think its the more closed stance I use on the Ad side. I might  go back to serving close stance on both sides to disguise my serve a little better but I find myself consistantly hitting up the middle too much and not being able to go out wide (unless I slice). Whatever, I'll take it, my service as been such a crutch with my game, I'm happy its finally working.

Funny thing, I saw someone waiting for their partner so I asked him to hit for a bit. I saw him warming up these silly looking chop shots so after I fed a shot to him, I was almost knocked out of my shoes by an extremely hard, extremely flat ballistic tennis ball. I think he's the flattest and one of the hardest hitting guy's I've played with. It was awesome, I was feeding off his pace and just ripping some really heavy forehands back and forth. Of course, my backhand was a bit lacking in umph but it held on. I wish I would of gotten his name, bc it's the first time I got to play with someone where I could comfortably stand way back on the baseline and just crush the ball. 

Hoping to find someone to hit some pick up tennis this sunday at 7 am... otherwise its just more serve practice.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Kick Serve! and rallying with John

While waiting for John to show up I finally had a break through with my kick serve. My issues were that I was trying to impart the spin with the pronation of my wrist at contact. I went out yesterday and just tried to hit up and over the ball and viola! I nailed 11 out of 12! I'm hoping to build off this... if I can develop a reliable 2nd serve, I can finally just open up on my 1st serve.

Despite not playing for a while me and John had one of our best hitting sessions today. Rallies were easily 7 balls and more and we had a lot of fun just chasing shots all over the court. Suprisingly enough was the appearance of a Net game for me. I wasn't flubbing up vollies but at times me and John had several net to net exchanges. I felt really good on the court today. I was really seeing the ball well and I've come to realize which forehands to hit in which situations. My backhand was also consistant. I flubbed up only when trying to rip one. My 2 hander on the run really lacks any depth though but I can hit my slice deep now to give myself time to recover. I hope this keeps up!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hitting with John

Had a decent hitting session with John. We were both showing some signs of rust but fought it off rather quickly. I'm getting more impressed with my backhand side now. I can really rip some winners now. The problem lies in consistency, just like my forehand. If I remember to focus, step, contact point, etc... my shots are great, but sometimes i just mental lapse and its downhill from there. I think if i focus on my footwork some more I'll be ok. I think for both of us being a bit out of it, we were able to manage about 5 ball rallies back and forth.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Tim v Puerta

Had a decent hitting session with Puerta again. My backhand is getting its power back as I was able to rip a few nice winners from that wing. I still need work on my timing but that will come with practice. My footwork was attrocious though. I was really sluggish on the court and just not feeling it. Maybe it has something to do with playing at 7 am in the morning, i dunno... I will say we were much more consistant than last time and I was able to gradually warm up, instead of going balls to the wall on the 1st hit like usual.

We even played a set. I lost of course... 6-2 (both points off breaks). My serve wasn't bad, just inconsistant (didn't do any serve warm ups). I even managed to rip a couple aces, and after adjusting my grip to an eastern backhand, my kicks were falling in a bit. I'm still slicing on the Ad side though... I'm finding I'm doing better dealing with the return of serve, but i'm still succeptible on down the line.

I think if I warm up my serve I would hold a few times and our games might get more competitive.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Drakulie, Panterka and Puerta... Oh My

Finally got a chance to play some real tennis after the big move. Hit with Drakulie and Panterka from the TWSFC. Both of them are insane, and while being all round great people, are really good players (Panterka being a former #15 in Poland). I'm surprised they put up with me as long as they did.

Them rallying after having their rhythm interrupted by me

Drak's 1HD Backhand (this is how its done)

Panterka would bagel me in flip flops

The bright spot of the day (other than meeting them) was Drak actually said I have a very heavy forehand in terms of topspin and pace. Coming from a guy who can blast 120 mph serves and is swinging a kps88, I'll take that as a real compliment. I always knew I hit with an excessive amount of spin, I never though it had enough pace to garner praise from anyone 3.5 and higher. On a whole though, my movement wasn't so great bc I'm terrified of messing up my knee again on clay. My backhand wing was deplorable... and I was actually hitting long on my FH. I got lots to work on, but its nice to know, I have a decent weapon on my FH.

Also got to play with Puerta and we're making it a weekly thing. The rallies were good once we got warmed up. We were kind of all over the place at 1st since the balsl were a mix of clay balls and hardcourt balls. I also realized I forgot to pack my tripod so I had to afroengineer a stand using my tennis bag and the water sweeper. Needless to say it wasn't stable. I felt good about our hitting session though. My feet were a bit lazy but my backhand, though horrible, wasn't as bad as its been in the last month. Its getting there. My set up was correct, good follow through, just need to get the timing issue down.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I Hate the Sun

I got to play a little bit of tennis this weekend. Actually played some matches with my friend Dave. It was about 2 pm in the afternoon and the heat was blistering. Dave hasn't picked up a racquet in quite some time but he has some excellent reflexes and motor skills and was able to block back about everything I gave him. We played a quick 10 pt tie breaker which I took 10 - 8 (after blowing a 6-1 lead). He insisted on some match play and thats about where I unraveled. I've been pretty bad with practicing my serve and coupled with serving with the sun in my eye. I was about 5% on my 1st serve. Just like my issues with Luis, when my opponent doesn't give me some pace to work with, I either overhit or hit into the net. And of course that led to frustration, swearing and just a loss both physically and mentally.

The left shoulder feels fine though, and I'm going to be bringing it back into the mix. This week I'm working on my serve, and next time we play, I'll practice some drop balls to calibrate myself on hitting balls with little or no pace.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hitting Session with John

I must say, this is probably the best I've hit in quite a long time. I just wish I would of brought the camera. Hit with John today and boy was it exhausting. Why? We hit tons of 10+ ball rallies. No more unforced areas keeping the hitting sessions short. I finally noticed more speed and quickness on my movement... p90x to thank?

My forehand was a machine. I fired off multiple blasts from that wing. Ample power, ample spin. The only issue was on my approach shot I wasn't getting low enough and in effect, I hit a few FH approaches into the net.

My backhand was another story... My shoulder is about 80% right now, still can't push it too hard, but for tennis its ok. I've actually improved my slice BH as a result. I don't have power anymore on the BH wing. The timings just been off, but I can slap a few back with little spin. I just need to get the timing back to make contact in front of me, and get a little earlier on my preparation.

My movement like I said was great. John sent me running more than a few times and I was able to streak up, down, left and right on the court to get to it. I was caught flat footed a few times but less often than usually. I actually won a few points at the net... while John was at the net already. Volley to volley is something I never win points off of.

Though my shoulder hasn't healed, I'm going to be returning to the p90x routine. I'll just skip the push up exercises, but I feel ok doing pull ups and overhead presses. If I feel I didn't get a good enough workout, I'll just tack on a run at the end.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Shoulder Issues

Well I pushed it a bit too hard and hurt my shoulder pretty badly during my p90x workout. Luckily its supposed to be my recovery week anyways, so I'm safe for now. Not too happy but I can still run a little bit. Took about a week but I have almost full range of motion and almost no pain. Not sure when its safe to start working out again, but I'm anxious to get back on the routine.

Tennis wise last week as a funk, but this week with only 1 arm, I was hitting much better. Its funny, with the plyo, I've yet to see an improvement with my quickness but I guess I'm being a little over anxious. With the week off from p90x, I power was definitely there. I'm having issues hitting into the net, need to work on my footwork, maybe some footspeed drills will get me on track. I hilariously tried to hit a 1 handed backhand but that was pathetic. I didn't have ability to really hit my 2 hander thanks to my shoulder, so I basically hit the slice on my backhand wing. The rallies with John was alot of fun. He was hitting well and with a lot of confidence. Let me tell you, the bastard is FAST. He chipped and charged and just put everything away at the net. We had some nice rallies going back and forth today.

Going to be a crazy few weeks coming up so hopefully I manage to get SOME tennis in. Oh well I guess my shoulder could use the break though...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hitting with John, p90x effects

Hit with John today, we were both a bit rusty with the weeklong layoff. Compared to last time I wasn't as sore as before, but my muscles felt lazy. I wasn't able to get maximum power from my strokes as I'm used to. I would of thought I'd be faster on the court, but I felt lazier than usual. I'm going to give it a few more weeks, and definitely on the recovery week I'll really gauge if I see any noticeable improvement.

Fitness wise I'm down 8 lbs, and p90x is going well. I feel myself getting a little lazy and have to keep motivated to keep with the routine. Today I do chest and back with maybe some running afterwards. Hope I can get a little more court time though.