Thursday, November 20, 2008

More Rallies

So had another good pair of hitting sessions with John and Aaron respectively. Had an especially good couple rallies with John. We're both getting better with our consistency and I'm actually coming to the net more and actually winning a point here and there. I just need to remember to keep the racquet in front of me. I notice I'm just sitting there at the net waiting to be passed most of the time. I need to work on close avenues but whatever, it felt really natural coming to the net at times and its not like I'm forcing it.

My forehands seems like I'm miss hitting a bit bc I'm noticing I'm not getting a clean sound from the hit. The backhand is also getting more reliable and not a liability.

Aaron's been out sick for a few weeks so it took him a bit to get his bearings. It was tough getting some good rallies going bc of the amount of net balls (hey I'm partially guilty too I guess). Still though, every hitting session is a good session in my book.

For some reason youtube is making all my vids look darker than they really are. Its kind of annoying.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rallies with Franco, the Spin Doctor

Yeah, hit around with a guy from work, Franco. He's a very strong 4.0. I usually have no issues hitting with guys higher than me, bc I have no problems dealing with their power and giving it right back. Franco's a different case, he has pinpoint accuracy, impeccable reflexes, killer net game and some crazy spins.

No, its not like my heavy topspin shots, Franco gave me a ton of dropshots, slices, side spins, he basically threw the kitchen sink at me. It really forced me to stay on top of my footwork, bc predicting the ball was impossible and I was rarely in position to fire off one of my kill shots...

... and in the event that I did, he had to problem, blocking/slicing them back to me. Franco is exactly the type of I need to exploit some of my biggest glaring weaknesses. I wish I hadn't left the memory card in the laptop or there would be some hilarious footage of me being caught flatfooted and passed.

The one good thing would be he knew to bring me to the net, and luckily I only botched 60% of my vollies (as opposed to 90%). Looking forward to some interesting games.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

11/10/08 - Rallies with John

Finally new Videos!

Added a new hitting partner to the rotation. John is a solid 3.5 with excellent footwork and flat groundstrokes. You can see he has S & V tendencies, but hasn't felt comfortable deploying it yet. We're definitely well matched up and had some pretty good hitting sessions the past couple weeks.

John's Groundstrokes

I'm decently ok with my performance. A couple too many net balls but I know I didn't warm up before hitting and it shows with my lazy footwork. I'm tending to scooping those low forehands too much. Need to bend those knees. I'm also whipping my forehand, need to stop that and drive the ball deeper into the court. Backhand wise I'm getting there. I know what I need to do:
  • Time my step and shoulder turn for more power
  • Hit away from my body and in front of me
  • Drop the racquethead

My service has just not been the same since the leg injury and that sucks bc i was serving so well. The timing is off and I'm not leaping into the court. I guess I just need more time. I'm actually plowing through the kick serve and I realize that some of my "kick" serves due to a bad toss actually ended up being slices.

And yes, I can't volley, not even to save my life...

At the end of it all, I'm just happy being out there. The weather has been excellent and Me and John really push the envelope with lots of running on our rallies. Its almost starting to feel like a workout.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Good Rallies, No Matches

Started off last week with some rallying with Aaron. He was about 1.5 hours late so I really got to work on my serve and I think I just still need to learn how to hit through my kick serve. My 2nd serve is still a liability.

Aaron really wanted to focus on control drills so we tried hitting crosscourt to crosscourt for a while. I realized that the degree of control I have is very fuzzy. Down the line and sharp angles cross court I'm fine with, but I'd say 50% of my inside out forehands landed center and for rallying purpose, hitting slightly left, or slightly right is a bit of a problem.

I tend to use alot of topspin to control my ball. I give my cross court forehands tons of spins to give it a massive topspin to have it land shallow and wide and my running forehand down the line has a mix of topspin and sidespin to reel the ball in. All in all a good session.

This weekend I got to hit with a good friend of mine. He's a rusty 4.5 - 5.0. A really knowledgeable guy when it comes to tennis. I finally got a taste of what I dish out to most people, bc Puerta hits with alot of topspin like I do. I was a tad off, netting more balls than I'd like, but considering the last time I hit with him 2 years ago, i was 1/20 on forehands, I'll take it.

We had a nice slugfest on the baseline, but Puerta's a very deliberate tennis player. He not only moved the ball left and right, but had a very good eye on the angles and depth. Definitely going to step up my game and do this again. I need to stop being so sluggish with the footwork. I seriously need to anticipate the ball bc I was getting my timing messed up when Puerta switched up the topspin and slice. My backhand was so-so, but it still needs lots of work. I can't have it be a liability.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rallies at Winston Park

Had a nice rally session today and I've appeared to fix my shallow hitting problem. It seems when I return shots with little pace I tend to hit shallow. Luckily my hitting partner hits fairly flat and deep and I was able to plow through the ball. It was especially good to hear that the amount of topspin from my shots were borderline annoying. My backhand looked alot better as I'm just taking a bigger swing at the ball. Couple mishits but I think in a few more sessions it'll be back to normal.

My deficiency at the net was jsut too apparent. I think I'm going to have to make join a clinic or something to fix that. Maybe I'll check out some video tutorials on volleying bc mine are really just that bad. I think its bc I tend to step back instead of into the volley, but its just like a reflex.

Hopefully I should get a few good games out this weekend as i'm home for the my dad's Bday. Will try to cram in as much tennis as possible.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hitting Shallow

Yesterday I had a nice hitting session with Aaron, no match, just rallying. I thought I was hitting decently (maybe a few more net balls than usual) but I noticed that I wasn't hitting deep at all. My shots had loads of pace, and plenty of spin, but my shots were clearing the net by a couple inches (if not clipping) and landing mid court, instead of my usually 3/4ths ways back. It was a bit disturbing bc I haven't changed my shots or strings anytime soon. Man it was just weird, I'm usually driving my opponents very far back, and in fact the only time my balls land shallow is when i step up and take an approach shot with loads of topspin.

My backhand is failing me miserably. I need to work on the timing, I know its a timing issue. I'm not timing my footwork and racquet drop with the contact point correctly. I mean they either "ping over" or go long. I don't feel theres that much spin on the good ones I hit over either.

My serve at least is getting it's timing back. After the layoff, I thought my timing with the leg coiling and jumping was off, but I managed a few really nice blasts. I'm also getting the hang of kick serving with more pace, but sometimes bc of my toss, I end up slicing and going long.

We even did a net to net volley drill which i failed at miserably. I really need to get that mid court volley thing down. I mean usually my approach windshield wiper forehand is unreturnable, but as i play better opponents, I will be a sitting duck at the net.

Practice makes perfect, and lord knows I need more practice.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A quick hit with the mythical 6.0

If you know a thing or two about tennis, I'm sure you're aware of the myths and proclaimations of the Prostaff 6.0 as being the Holy Grail of racquets. I'm a religious scourer of cL and just happened to come across a posting for one for only 40 bucks! I immediately snatched it up, gave it a quick hit to see what the fuss was about and found it a new home for a nice profit.

My overall opinion of the racquet is simple, all the fluff of O3, microgel, flexpoint, [k]factor, is all marketing. The thing hits almost identically to the k6.1 tour just with a smaller sweetspot. It is rock solid, low powered, and definitely a player's racquet. I personally prefer a bit more bit on the ball for spin so it wasn't really for me. I even compared my Aeropro Drive and Aeropro Drive with Cortex and really found no real difference (with my rubberband vibe dampeners, without them, the APDC is slightly more muted).

Alright well onto tennis... the weathers been really shitty lately with all the rain. I had been making some good progress. Matchplay wise I lost a really bad match the other week. I usually can beat Luis as I have better groundstrokes and service, and i was ripping my service returns (weak point of mine) but couple points into the game I pop a string (about time, 2.5 months, thats a record). Unfortunately my backup APD's are full poly luxilons and by the time I found my groove with the racquet, I had already lost. 

I was pretty pissed but is my game really so fragile that a stick change effectively dropped me an entire NTRP point in ability? I thought that was pretty ridiculous but I do depend on alot of topspin to keep my shots in and being in the 3.5 range I guess i'm not still comfortable in adjusting my take on the ball to compensate yet.

Had a nice rally against Aaron as well (after brushing off some rust due to rain delays). My serve has taken the biggest hit as my 2nd serves aren't penetrating, and I'm just doing something wrong I'm not sure of with my serve. I plan on bringing out the video camera again to see what the hell is going on (been lazy, keep forgetting to charge the battery). No match play bc we were both rusty and the wind was just crazy.

Its back to basics next week and I'm planning to play alot of tennis to get my game back up to snuff.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Matchplay - Me vs Aaron Round 2

Didn't play a match against Luis, I think he knew he was rusty and would of gotten bageled so we just rallied back and forth. Monday came and played another match against Aaron. Usually I get there early to warm up my serve but I spent some time giving some pointers to 2 newbies in the adjacent court. 

I came out blazing with a 3 - 0 lead but after some double faults (on both our parts) my groundstrokes got cold and Aaron's serves were acing me down the T. Luckily I closed that all and dared him to go wide and it paid off. Aaron also played with more poise and strategy, hitting deep and limiting my approach windshieldwiper forehands which I usually rip for winners. I ended up winning 6-4 but I was pretty dissappointed in the level of my play in the later games.

My serve was slow to warm up but nevertheless when it was on, it was big for aces. Due t my lack of warm ups my 2nd serve was horrendous. My returns for the most part were good but as i lost focus, my coverage down the T sucked (surprising from in the Ad side which is my forehand!). I think I was miss timing the split step and I also found a very bright streetlight in the back caused alot of glare.

I'm really happy with my groundstrokes when they were warm. My mental focus really lapsed when I should of really closed off the match sooner. Aaron resorted to hitting a more aggressive 2nd serve which led to double faults and ultimately interupting the flow of the match which threw me off a bit. I knew Aaron's FH was a bigger liability than his BH (excellent preperation, good wind up and follow through, its his best shot) and I kept my forehand cross court (except for a few inside out shots when I sent him too wide) and able to hit my BH down the line.

Net Game
Aaron added much more topspin to his shot this time and really drove me back, limiting my approach shots (my fav) and my net game (my least fav). When I was at the net though I botched a few easy volleys which was pretty dissappointing.

To Work on
  • Definitely need to stick to my pregame warm up and drills: serves, midcourt approach shots, and agility drills.
  • My BH is coming into its own but I still have a tendency to hit off the back foot especially on the run. Need to learn how to hit an effect on the run BH.
  • I need to work on my coverage on service returns. My split step timing needs to be perfect if I play against someone who can place their serves better.
  • Volleys, yes i know, i hate playing at the net, but I need to learn how to close the point.
  • Kick serve... omg I need it back...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Matchplay - Me vs Aaron

Man played a great match today vs Aaron. Aaron is a solid 3.5, excellent 2 hh backhand and a flat forehand. His court coverage and consistency are his main weapons. I managed the win 6-3, but it was pretty hard fought.

I managed to hold serve well, with a few aces here and there but the main point was I limited the double faults. I was serving around 50% for my 1st serve which to me is great. My service returns were on point. Aaron doesn't have a blistering serve but I managed to time everything right and whip it over to convert on some break points.

I didn't have much strategy other than to limit the unforced errors. My strokes on both wings didn't fail me and I managed to have control of the ball and hit into the open court. Most of my points were won off deep driving forehands with loads of topspin. My approach shot was almost always a put away, theres usually too much angle and too much topspin to catch it.

Net Game
I seldom approached the net but actually won a few good points with a putaway volley. I didn't get flustered when we were both at the net and my reflexes weren't too slow actually.

I think if Aaron works on his service, the game definitely would of been more interesting. I was happy with my performance though and I think playing with some more people is definitely helping my game. I've become much more adaptive and reacting better to the ball.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Rain Rain Go Away

Man, sunshine state my @ss... it literally rains right when I get off campus to screw up my evening games. Doesn't even matter anyways with everyone being injured with back injuries, capsizing boats... Finally got out to hit this week and only a little bit of rust, thank goodness...

Don't drink beer and play tennis... me and Luis decided to celebrate with some beers at the courts. My groundstrokes were ok, but I had to really focus on the points I wanted to improve on. I was playing pretty lazily, but Luis being out of practice had trouble dealing with anything with pace. To make up for it I decided to chip and charge to work on my nonexistent net game. Not bad actually, just closed the crosscourt alley he always used and I was in good position.

Finally got some real playing time today. Played against a new player, a solid 3.5. He had some good angles on me and kept me on my toes. I was worried I was going to get rained out again but the weather held (unlike me on service... haha).  Nah, for being a bit out of practice I was happy to be out and hitting. As usually I'm just so slow to warm up and start. The consistency issues were still prevalent but it was mostly alot of mental mistakes. My windshield wiper FH was just off and I just kept running around my backhand again. Happy with the footwork, I timed most of my split steps right but I'm still lazy on the backhand side. I find myself hitting off the back foot too much. Had a couple good serve holds when my serve was on, I need to work my serve consistency back up and get some semblance of a kick serve back. I think I tried too hard to beat him with big forehands but he was usually able to chip most of them back. I should of approached more, and use my approch forehand but after an embarassing missed overhead, I just stayed back. I think my best improvement was my service returns. I actually broke more than I held which is rare. I used to have so many problems with the return of serve bc of the angle but I think I'm doing better. Man once those serves start dropping in, I'll be really happy.

+ The power was ok, not too spinny, and I actually had a few good inside out FH which I usually don't hit well
+ Spin was definitely still there and pulled in some shots that would of definitely of sailed long.
- When on the run I need to get that timing down. I actually need to work on timing in general bc I got thrown off when I didn't anticipate the spin of the ball.

+ Surprisingly I wasn't picked on with my backhand. I hit 1 or 2 winners from that wing, which is more I can say for it usually.
- Hitting off that back foot. I need to step in to drive the power, I need to prep early, shoot I need to do alot of things.
- Too close to the body, unlike my FH where I use my left arm to gauge the ball, I'm shanking too many BH's

+ Tried dropping the shoulder more but it felt too awkward. I still can get some good pace so its just a matter of consistency.
- %'s too low on the 1st serve and WAYYY too many 2nd serves. 
- I kept forgetting to mix up some flat serves with some slices. Especially on the ad side.
- I need a more consistent toss, and I have to stop hitting serves with a bad toss. Just mental mistakes...
- Kick serve is like gone. I'm whipping up too much, then hitting to light, I just need practice.

Oh well, thats the fun of the game, getting better and working up a good sweat. Maybe I should go back to the wall and drill the backhand a bit, and maybe work on the serves and some wall volleying drills. Well should be another rematch in 2 weeks or so. Need to find someone to play M-F next week. Anyone for some Tennis?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

State of the Union

Keeping up with this trend of how much I've progressed I think I should clearly define where I was, where I am and where I want to be as a player. I'll be rating them on an NTRP scale (1-7)

Quick Summary - Past, Present, Future
Forehand - 2.0, 4.0, 4.5
Backhand - 3.0, 3.0, 3.5
Serve - 2.0, 3.5, 3.5
Net/Approach - 2.0, 3.0, 3.5
Footwork - 2.5, 3.5, 4.0
Mental - 1.5, 2.0, 3.5
Overall NTRP - 2.2, 3.2, 3.8

Before - 2.0
  • Power - 3.5
  • Control - 2.0
  • Consistency - 1.5
  • Spin - 2.0
Now - 4.0
  • Power - 4.5
  • Control - 3.0
  • Consistency - 3.0
  • Spin - 4.0
Year End - 4.5
  • Power - 5.0
  • Control - 4.0
  • Consistency - 4.0
  • Spin - 4.0

The forehand is like the bench press of tennis. Its pretty much a good litmus test of your ability as a player in my opinion. I've always been a strong guy and racquet and arm speed hasn't been a problem. As I've progress i've managed to Incorporate more shoulder turn and better foot work to plant and really unleash on the ball. From here I'd really like my consistency to be almost perfect, and be confident to take risks on down the line and inside out shots.

Before - 3.0
  • Power - 3.5
  • Control - 2.0
  • Consistency - 3.0
  • Spin - 1.0
Now - 3.0
  • Power - 3.0
  • Control - 2.5
  • Consistency - 2.0
  • Spin - 2.5
Year End - 3.5
  • Power - 4.0
  • Control - 3.0
  • Consistency - 3.05
  • Spin - 3.0

If the forehand is the benchpress of tennis, the backhand is the Pull ups of tennis. You don't like doing them but you have to (well in my case I love pull ups...). Its funny I don't think my Backhand as gotten "better". My old 2 hand BH was very compact, and flat. It was actually my rock when my forehands were going all over the place. Problem with it was I wasn't able to hit very low shots with it. I'm trying more and more to Drop the head down and add spin. The biggest problem is that I really need to remember to step with the right leg and hit. If I don't do that, I lose all pace and the ball gets "pushed" over. If I can get a grasp on down the line and cross court shots, I'll be happy with it at years end.

Before - 2.0
  • Power - 3.5
  • 2nd Serve - 1.0
  • Control - 1.0
  • Consistency - 1.5
  • Spin - 1.0
Now - 3.0
  • Power - 4.0
  • 2nd Serve - 3.0
  • Control - 2.0
  • Consistency - 2.5
  • Spin - 2.5
Year End - 3.5
  • Power - 4.5
  • 2nd Serve - 3.0
  • Control - 3.0
  • Consistency - 3.0
  • Spin - 3.0

My Serve is one of my biggest weapons I haven't been able to take advantage of. I've always had good head speed in the beginning but I wasn't priming the legs and jumping enough which I've been doing to negate my height disadvantage. My dink 2nd serve has finally become a decent 2nd serve. My control is nonexistent, I either go in or fault. My over all consistency needs to go up, i'm averaging about a 50%/80% split. I hope to develop my 1st serve consistency to 60% and be able to control it to go down the line or swing out wide. I want to get more power on my kick serve so I'm able to pull an ace every now and then with it.

Before - 2.0
  • Coverage - 2.0
  • Consistency - 2.0
  • Placement - 1.5
  • Power (approach) - 2.0
  • Angle (approach) - 2.0
Now - 3.0
  • Coverage - 2.0
  • Consistency - 2.5
  • Placement - 2.0
  • Power (approach) - 4.0
  • Angle (approach) - 3.0
Year End 3.5
  • Coverage - 2.5
  • Consistency - 3.0
  • Placement - 3.0
  • Power (approach) - 4.0
  • Angle (approach) - 4.0

I don't play at the net often but I do like to use my approach shot to shorten the court and put away balls. It took me awhile to get a hang of the windshield wiper but its become a staple of my game. Reflexes have always been a weak point for me, as soon as I can improve that, I can improve my coverage at the net. One of the biggest things I can do to improve is instinctively know which alleys to close off when approaching.

Before - 2.5
  • Footspeed - 3.5
  • Split Step - 2.0
  • Coverage - 3.0
  • Agility - 2.0
Now - 3.5
  • Footspeed - 4.0
  • Split Step - 3.0
  • Coverage - 3.5
  • Agility - 3.0
Year End 4.0
  • Footspeed - 4.5
  • Split Step - 4.0
  • Coverage - 4.0
  • Agility - 3.5

I've always had quick feet but I definitely lack proper footwork. I did the split for just the sake of it, instead of using it to prime my legs to jump at the ball. I'm getting better with my court coverage and not being caught flat footed. The things to work on is perfecting my split step timing, coming back to the center of the court, and lateral movement agility.

Before - 1.5
  • Focus - 2.0
  • Temper - 1.0
  • Strategy - 1.0
Now - 2.0
  • Focus - 2.5
  • Temper - 2.0
  • Strategy - 2.0
Year End - 3.5
  • Focus - 3.5
  • Temper - 3.5
  • Strategy - 3.5

Probably the most overlooked aspect in tennis. I have a very weak mental game. I get angered (incensed actually) very easily. If i'm fatiguing I make mental slips like not split stepping, footwork, etc... Strategy wasn't a factor early on b/c I didn't have the tools (like directional control) to employ them. I need to work on staying focused, I've played a few time where I was drained physically but I let that carry over into the mental realm and was just mentally sluggish and lazy.

Overall I'm pretty happy with my tennis game. I'm about a 3.0 - 3.5 NTRP. I know I can hang with players at the NTRP of 5.0 b/c of my raw physical ability. But its technique I need and I know I've been improving and I've identified points in my game that need improvement and I'm making attempts to fix them. I got a good 4 months left and I'm going to make the most of it. Mainly by playing against a high calibre of opponents. I'm getting a bit complacent playing around with lower skilled players (even though the games are fun) and I need to make a serious effort to challenge myself.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Groundstroke Progressoin

So I wanted to compare how my strokes look in the last 5 months I've committed to playing tennis. Other than the 1st couple weeks my strokes haven't changed too much at first. Upon closer inspection and with the help of slow mo I actually notice I do more shoulder turn, left hand use, knee bend and smoother stroke. What the video can't show is how much more consistent I've become.

8-9-08 Groundstrokes and Serves

Its been a while but I've been playing some insane tennis. My forehand has become a consistent weapon with some good directional control. My backhand is becoming more reliable as well. I can slice from both wings and my service returns are much improved. My 1st serves are going in about 50% or more and my kick and 2nd serves are gimmes anymore. I still occasionally double fault but I think with some more work my service will be much better.

Groundstrokes! in Slow Mo

Serves! in Slow Mo

To work on:
- Need some more knee bend on lower shots.
- I'm going to try finishing by my bicep and work on some depth control
- Going to see if i can sustain more higher powered rallies

- Drop that racquet head and work on sharper angles with spin
- Consistency

- Need more time getting comfy at the net. Strategically learn which alleys to close on approach.

- must get up to 60-70% 1st serve and 90% 2nd serve.
- more Kick on the kick serve
- more knee bend and more jump

Friday, July 25, 2008

7/25/08 - I'm back

The last few outings (weather permitting) have been incredible. My forehand has really jumped in terms of power, consistency and spin. I thought the last few months, why forehand was getting a tad on the weak side but after I changed the strings and switched back to my old combo of kirschbaum and synth gut, I've been on fire. Really have the motion down for the windshield wiper shot which really helps against dink shots when i used to always hit long.

My service return has also gotten better. I'm timing my split step and cutting off the serve's angle instead of straight going out wide. My service has been reliable too. I'm consistantly using slice and kick serves for a huge improvement. The backhand is still a bit rough, but I'm finding my groove with the new longer stroke. I need to follow through a bit more to get some more spin before I'm confident with it.

Footwork has been excellent as well. I'm not getting passed and I'm not playing lazy. Hopefully I can take advantage of the next month and really do some damage on the court. If I can develop a decent net game, it might be tennis league time!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Back with a Vengeance

Its been 3 weeks since I've been able to play... why you ask? Because of this... I wreck my leg being very stupid. Being even stupider I refused treatment for a whole week while it didn't heal which lead to a massive infection and so and and so forth.

In any case I've spent the entire time analyzing everyone of my tennis vids and I have a massive hitlist of things I will be working on because as of next week I'm hitting the court with a vengeance...

- Split step on time, not late or its useless
- Stay on balls of feet
- Reaction time, quick first step
- get back to middle using cross step, don't get caught flat footed

- Kick, Kick, Kick Consistency
- Placement and control

- More shoulder turn
- Must bend more at the knees and step in, don't open stance every shot
- Hit in front of me, I'm 90% hitting long when I hit late
- Early preparation

- Dip the racquet head down, more brush. I'll deal with the net balls for now, I want good form to build off of.
- Get away from hitting too many slices.

- If stuck in mid court, goto the net, don't back pedal to the baseline
- Finish the point
- Improve coverage area and minimize passing shots

- Stop hitting to center, default location of all my shots will be the opponents backhand
- Focus on predicting my opponents shot and get there early
- Don't get Angry
- Control the point, don't just react
- Be methodical, every one has weaknesses, I need to be able to exploit them

Basically by summers end I want:
- to be a solid 4.0
- 50% 1st serve, 80% 2nd (non dink) serve
- 90% forehand consistency on easy and med shots
- 80% backhand consistency on easy and med shots
- footwork reflect my quick feet and speed
- to play against andrew and steal 3-4 points off him in a set

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

6/8/2008 Vs Ball Machine

Rented the ball machine again and making more progress now. I've been having a few issues with my footwork, forehand inconsistency and now backhand inconsistency. My serve believe it or not has gotten better. I'm about 40% on 1st serves and 70% with a 2nd Kick serve. With the ball machine I tried to stay on top of staying on my feet and split stepping but after a while that just faded. My take back problems stemmed from me taking the racquet back with both hands which would essentially FORCE me to turn my shoulder. The draw back was that my timing was off a bit and I was hitting too close to my body instead of in front of me, resulting in balls going long.

Dipping my racquet head down on my backhand has also been an issue. I'm just more powerful and consistent with the compact motion. I'm going to really work on changing this.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Quick update

Been dealing with some sore tendons in my meta tarsals, but I played today against a very capable 5.0 and although the score showed i got wiped, I was actually pretty proud I was able to hang in with some nice rallies against him. I'm not used to hitting against someone who gives me some pace, so it was really nice to be able to open up and throttle my racquet. I popped my strings, but it was due anyways. I guess if i can work on the mental aspects of my game, maybe, just maybe i got a shot at being decent after all.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

2nd serves?

As most of you know, my service is not my forte. In fact that was something my coach never really showed me how to do when I was a kid growing up. My 1st serve is a flat banger, I basically go for broke with power and I can usually land it about 40% of the time with that mentality. I have no 2nd serve and i'm embarrased to even call "it" a serve; I would refer to as a "Dink" serve. I know I should have a kick serve as a 2nd serve, but saying is easier than doing. I've been spending about an hour a day for a couple weeks working on it and thanks to Fuzzy Yellow Balls and some related threads on this forum, I'm starting to get the hang of it. I can land it in about 60-70% of the time now. It not great but its a start. My question is at what point do I begin to incorporate it as my 2nd serve. Crunching some numbers, at this current point with:

a 40% 1st serve and a 60% (worst case scenario) 2nd serve, I would be double faulting 24% of the time.

Assuming with due diligence I can get my 1st serve to about 50% and my kick serve into the 70% range that would yield only a 15% double fault %

...or should I wait until I hit a 60% 1st serve and a 80% 2nd serve for an 8% double fault %?

At what point should I be moving toward the kick serve as a 2nd serve? I understand most people will spout off things like "till your 2nd serve is 100%" or something but I'm a tad more realistic. I mean assuming I serving 5 times in a game (6-4 or 4-6) and each game has a mean of 7 points per game for a total of 35 serves in a set. with a:

double faulting 15%, I'd DF ~ 5 times in a set
double faulting 8%, I'd DF ~ 3 times in a set

The thought analysis is that if i'm serving 35 times in a set, should i give up 5 or 3 points automatically in order to have a better chance at winning the other 30-32 other serves (ie: not get crushed by throwing up a dink)?

Actually in the mean time I've toyed with the idea to do an underhanded topspin 2nd serve. I actually started doing these after seeing HR Kid's video of his drop ball forehands in his basement and I started doing the same on the courts to practice hitting against shots with no pace (which i sometimes have trouble with). I think that it would be a good replacement to my dink serve so my opponents don't crowd the service line and kill me on my 2nd serve.

These are just some thoughts and numbers I've crunched in my head since I get bored at work. Any comments and thoughts would be awesome. Thanks in advance.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

5/13/08 Post Match Thoughts

Today was really tough to swallow. I showed up early to my match, got into a good groove with my serve. Made sure my FH slice was still timed ok, bc my opponent had a big serve. During our prematch rallies, I was hitting on fire. Everything was going in, where I wanted it to go, and which great spin and power. We proceed to the match and naturally I lose the 1st point (he serves 1st). Somewhere between all this my opponent remembers I can't shots with no pace and starts to slow play every ball. I'm over hitting, hitting into the net, its horrible. I lose my cool and my serve starts to be affected. I'm hitting double 1st serves to shut him up and force him to play but all that gets me is double faults. I fall behind, try too hard to come back by playing harder not smarter and continue to lose. I go on to lose the match 6 - 3.

Big lesson learned today. I've always had trouble controlling my emotions specifically my temper but today was ridiculous. I'm a mentally weak player which explains why I lose to people with inferior groundstrokes. I'm spending most of the day tomorrow analyzing my groundstrokes and what works for me. Pre-match I'm going to hit some drop shots and make sure I know what to do to hit those junk balls. I'm going to be hitting and placing my 70% power shots and only open up when I've given an opening. I also need to work on preventing my opponent from seeing my 2nd serve. I need to go into the match with no pressure and come out with a win.

My good friend David made some great comments on my game I will carry to tomorrow's match. My forehand set up is way late. In a lot of my videos I'm scooping low too much bc I'm not setting up early enough. I've also started rotation too much into my forehand instead of stepping in. Especially on those stupid junk balls, I need to drive my hips to supply my own power.

Something I read about serving caught my eye. I of course after making contact with the ball, my eyes follow the ball to the net and hopefully to the other side of the court. I read that I should continue to look up and at the blur of my racquet. Tilting your head down will break your shoulder rotation and cause the ball to go into the net. I'm going to try this next time. I'm aiming for a 50% 1st serve percentage. Also I need to analyze my opponent and formulate a strategy and stick to it. Don't let him take my head out of the game.

Well tomorrow, my opponent will most likely just tap the ball back and hope for me to make errors. Like most, his weakness is his backhand. I'm going to hammer his backhand. Only if he gives me the opening, will I open up and hit my deep topspin crosscourt forehand. He also has a tendency to stand in front of the baseline. I'll start off hitting low power, but if I see him come out of the baseline I will hit a penetrating deep shot. If things get desperate, instead of turning up the juice, I will chip and charge or serve and volley. I'm going to deliberately try to shorten the court and make him beat me with a passing shot. Tomorrow is redemption day... I will win...

5/10/08 Match Play

You know I'm pretty happy with the result. I've gotten the hang of my new racquet the Babolat Aeropro Drive. Started off slow which is my trademark but the next 4 straight points showcased alot of the finer points I've been working on. Despite the tired legs from Ultimate Frisbee in the morning, I had decent hustle in chasing down my some shots. The biggest improvement has to be my ability to hit that forehand slice. My reaction time is atrocious and when Luis can actually hit that 1st serve, I'm slow to react. I've never been able to hit a forehand slice, or any approach shot on my forehand side so that was a great improvement for me. When necessary I was able to hit DTL or cross court, but I was really more interest in keeping the ball in play so I could prolong the in game rallies. My 1st serve was better than on most days (even had a couple aces) but my 2nd serve is a joke. I'm putting learning the kick serve on hold until I can develop a decent 95% 2nd serve where my opponent isn't standing on the service line.

The biggest glaring weakness, which is where Luis started coming back was hitting shots with no pace. I'm overhitting, or overspinning. This has always been a big problem for me.

Some 1st serves actually got in!
+ Only 1 double fault!
- 2nd serve is a joke
- Need to still improve consistency on 1st serve.

Good power, good control when employed
+ Consistent, not too many unforced errors after the 1st set (other than on junk balls)
+ Forehand slice was hit!

It didn't unravel my game
+ Slice was very consistent
- No Backhand winners, need to rely on 2 hander not slice
- Not much directional control

+ Able to hustle when needed
- Lazy, didn't get back to center, didn't have mental focus
- no lateral steps, all running, if he double backed me, i would of been stuck

4/13/08 Groundstrokes vs Ball Machine

I'm pretty happy with the level of play today, but then again with 5 hours on the ball machine, I better have developed some consistency. A good mix of running shots and just tweaking my groundstrokes here. I feel I have good contact and transfer of energy on my power shots and I'm getting the hang of my directional control. My slice is becoming more reliable which is a big bonus for me. Footwork was off and on... I was happy with my speed but I noticed that I totally didn't employ a split step like I usually do. Too much stuff to remember.

Good shoulder and hip rotation
+ Excellent power and contact in front of the bod
+ Consistency and ability to hit a softer shot is also coming along
- Low balls, still not bending at the knees
- On a couple Kill shots, getting lazy and swinging with reckless abandon

Consistency is developing
+ Backhand slice is now a legitimate shot to employ especially when out of position
- Off and On with starting racquet head low
- Must elongate stroke, still to short of a motion

+ Light on feet, good foot speed
- No split step
- As fatigue creeps up, losing mental focus

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

4/2/08 Groundstrokes and Rallies

I'm clearly developing my forehand into being more consistent, well at least when it warms up. I think this has to do with the fact that I'm now able to slow down my stroke and hit at a slower pace. Since I took a about 4 years off, I have muscle memory of how to hit a hard forehand, but the slower ones well... yeah. I know its weird. What worries me most is how my backhand has deteriorated. I'm learning to hit a slice on my backhand side for running shot purposes. I'm getting the hang of directing my forehands at least, they go left and right when I want, but not necessarily in bounds. My footwork is also coming along ok, much lighter on my feet, but I need more bending at the knees to set up my shots.

consistency is getting there
+ able to hit the ball with less pace.
+ able to hit high and low balls finally
- midcourt forehand needs work, FH slice maybe, but windshield shot needs improving
- running forehand needs work
- low balls go over, but lack knee bend
- directional control, yes; directional control with ball being in, no

trying to slice, don't know if i have any positives here
- consistency is deteriorating
- must remember to dip racquet head down on set up.
- starting to slice more instead of using the 2 hander, since i don't rush the net this is not a good idea

light on the feet, able to get to the ball
- being still lazy and not moving back to center after hitting the ball
- should work on longer strides to get to the ball, short steps only when setting up
- need work on reaction time after ball is hit, not waiting for it to bounce to make a move

Monday, May 12, 2008

3/26/08 Groundstrokes

Ok the big thing about this vid is that if you noticed, my swing speed has decreased, but my ball velocity remains the same if not faster. I'm making more solid contact with the ball. The footwork is getting there, but still needs work. You can really see my weight transfer from the back foot to the front foot clearly. I threw in a few 1 handed backhands for fun to mixed results. Still need to dip the racquet head down and swing through on those 2 handed backhands.

+ They look much better, more complete. Consistency is much better.
- Footwork on low balls could use more leg bend. Directional control will be my next big focus.

If in a pinch or in the need of a reach the 1 hander can be deployed. The slice is becoming a rock in terms of consistency for me now
- My 2 handed backhand needs overhauling. No spin, bad form, just needs retooling.

Much more lively on my feet.
- Ready position needs to be more bent, a little too jumpy at times

3/19/08 Groundstrokes vs Wall

Ok so the biggest thing I've been working on is working on my contact point. I'm pretty happy with where I'm making contact with the ball now, but I'm still in need to work on loading power in my legs. The wall is a good yet difficult learning tool. It acts like an unbeatable opponent at the net. so yes every ball comes back, but your reaction time is halved. My footwork is atrocious but so long as there is improvement, I am happy.

Things to work on:
- Reaction time
- power loading in the legs
- smoother stroke
- footwork!

3/12/08 groundstrokes

Ok this in these vids i'm just banging away while being fed. Things I learned from watching myself:
- not extending the left arm for aiming purpose
- this results in hitting the ball at my body instead of by my lead foot
- too much jumping, i'm not using my legs to load up power, its all arm
- my racquet speed is way fast, but i need a smooth transition to use it appropriately
- my backhand motion is excessively short and flat, i need to drop my racquet head down and develop a full stroke

A lot of work ahead of me but it'll be fun...

Back in the swing of things

Ok well the tennis bug has bitten me again and I'm determined to increase my level of play to the point where I can dominate matches. I've always been a fairly good rallying partner but have stunk at match play. I'll be chronicling my exploits into tennis with vids and drills I'm working on. If you got comments, they're greatly appreciated!