Thursday, May 30, 2013

We get better at what we practice

Dallas Aleman | Towpath Tennis Owner | Tennis Guru

Tennis is both an individual and team sport. This time of the year we have a lot of you practicing to compete. But sometimes we hear grumbling off the court after a match with players wondering why they can't play like they do in practice.

Well we say, you get better at what you practice. So next time you're on the court take a moment to reflect, what are you practicing?
  • Stretching before and after
  • Hitting recklessly
  • Being generous with your comments
  • Skeptically shooting down ideas for lineups and pushing your own agenda
  • Having energy (moving your feet)
  • Grumbling
  • Looking for opportunities to improve your game
  • Dreaming pipe dreams with no substance
  • Blaming others for your fault
  • Working on a particular shot
  • Giving useful feedback
  • Making an effort
  • Being on time
  • Hitting with accuracy
  • Playing it safe
  • Positive attitude

Practice is just that, a combination of positives and negatives. It's up to you now to decide the outcome of your next practice by seeing what will outweigh the other.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Is it a lost point for reaching over the net?

Kristianne Bontempo | Towpath Tennis Employee | Legit Tennis Fanatic

By NickStenning via Wikimedia Commons
We're constantly faced with many on court challenges, but recently we've seen a lot of fuss over whether it's okay or not to reach over the tennis net. Well there are two answers to this, which is why there has been a lot of confusion over the correct ruling.

The first part of the official USTA rule states 'a player may break the plane of the net on a follow through from a shot as long as the ball was on that player's side of the court when the ball was struck. In other words, DO NOT reach over the net to hit the ball. Wait for it to cross the net and then swing all you want.

However, there are times when reaching over the net are perfectly acceptable. In the second part of the official USTA rule, it states 'if the spin or wind brings the ball back over the net to the side of the player who hit the shot, the opponent may then reach over the net and play the ball.' In other words, if you don't reach over the net, you lose the point. Just be careful not to touch the net with your clothing, equipment, or any part of your body because your efforts will be at a loss.

There you have it, you cannot reach over the net to hit the ball unless an untouched ball bounces back over the net. If your opponent were to ever question you, whip out a rule book (USTA's Friends At Court) or your phone and look it up. Your opponent's ignorance does not call for you to replay the point, so if you state the rule and defend it positively, then the outcome will usually go your way. Now that you know the rule, your job now is to correctly judge the situation at hand and see if it calls for a ruling.

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Getting vs. Taking

Dallas Aleman | Towpath Tennis Owner | Tennis Guru

Participants of Towpath's Game On weekend where
players committed to a series of clinics and play.
When it comes to tennis players who are bent on improving, there's a difference between how they motivate themselves during lessons and how they view the improvement process itself. We call this getting vs. taking.

There are players out there that spend some time and money to get lessons as the 'be all and end all' of improving. They come ready and willing for the pro to give them something of value to make their game better, and they wait for the pro to mark a course of improvement.

Then there are those players that take the best of any program or lesson available. They push more, ask more questions, explore opportunities, and invent new ways to work on their game. Basically they do more than the minimum. These players are eager to learn and take the time and do the work.

We commend everyone that takes the initiative in taking private lessons and programs to improve their game, however it is the player that takes the extra step that will see a leap of improvement in no time.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

How to handle a bad line call

Kristianne Bontempo | Towpath Tennis Employee | Legit Tennis Fanatic

Although the Hawk Eye system is not available
for everyday play, it has made a vast improvement
on line call verifications amongst the pros.
Anyone that has played some sort of competitive tennis can relate to a bad line call. Whether it's intentional/ unintentional, occurring on the next court over, or you're the one being interrogated, you have to learn how to handle it with some etiquette. The last thing you want to be known for is "that guy" or "that girl" that cheats or flips their lid over a line call.

Handling your opponent:   
"Are you sure that was out?" If you like to avoid confrontation like we do, this is the easiest way to question a bad line call without completely throwing your opponent into defense mode. If there's more than one doubtful call, then taking a long hard look will suffice--sometimes that alone will get your opponent to question himself. However, if it appears your opponent is blatantly making bad calls, then not only call them out on it but call over a coach, captain, or an offical (whatever the situation calls for) to resolve any future disputes.

Handling as a spectator: You might be watching from the bleachers or the next court over, but if you witness a bad line call can you do anything about it? When it pertains to the actual match, no officially there is not much you can do. We advise you to tuck it away and make a note to watch this player in the future, but getting involved in somebody else's match is just a bad idea and poor sportsmanship.

Handling when accused: Whatever you do, hold your ground! Point to where you saw the ball hit the ground to really emphasize your confidence in your line call. Afterward, really watch your lines and be absolutely positive before you make a call to avoid any further conflict.

Handling your partner: When playing doubles the partner closer to the line should be making the call, although sometimes your partner can make an honest mistake. In that situation, gently tell them after you thought the shot was good. However, if your partner makes a blatant bad call, then good sportsmanship will urge you to overrule it.

Most importantly, keep your cool! You may be one of those players who play great under fire (we envy you). But if you're like the majority of us, anger only invites errors so take a deep breath and focus on the next point while aiming inches within the line.

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Is your tennis game lucky?

Dallas Aleman | Towpath Tennis Owner | Tennis Guru
Roger Federer's the King of creating his own luck (flickr)

Luck is winning the lottery. In tennis, there is no such luck. When you hear players say "this guy is so lucky" or "how lucky can a girl get," you're listening to those that feel you don't deserve such a point. The thing is you may have thought it was lucky, but you created it!
Luck represents hard work and like many pros, such as Roger Federer, they create their own luck. When you have the urge to rationalize your opponent's shots by calling them lucky, you are actually going down a dangerous road. It's not a rabbit's foot in their pocket, nor the rituals they go through before a match. It's simply because their hard work and effort has paid off.

So come out and create your own luck. There is nothing more rewarding than to hear your opponent cry "lucky shot!"

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Do kids who play tennis get better grades?

Dallas Aleman | Towpath Tennis Owner | Tennis Guru

You bet they do! The USTA recently ran a study to demonstrate tennis as more than just a game. They called this nationwide study the USTA Serves 2013 Special Report, More Than a Sport: Tennis, Education and Health.

Pictured from our 2013 High School Doubles Invitational are Brian Carano, Frank Jin, and Gavin & Austin Aten

So what did they find in this study?

Tennis players are better students - They spend more time studying and doing homework, and according to the study 48% of students received an "A" average and 81% plan to attend college.

Tennis players do not get sent to the principal's office - Well at least 73% of students haven't. All in all, these athletes stay out of trouble.

Tennis players are well-rounded - How many junior tennis players do you know that are involved in other extracurricular activities? Results indicate a higher involvement in other sports and clubs, and over 80% of students volunteer for their communities.

Tennis players have better health - You might already know that tennis players are less likely to be overweight but what you might not have known is tennis keeps kids from getting into such unhealthy behaviors as drinking and smoking.

So if you're ever asked if kids who play tennis get better grades, you can tell them absolutely! It goes to say that for the last 10 years of student employees here, the majority have graduated in the top 10 in their class in which all of them received some kind of athletic or academic scholarship. If anything this survey proves that playing tennis can only improve your education and your life. It's unofficially something we knew all along--now it's official!

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Top 10 things to look for in a good tennis club

Kristianne Bontempo | Towpath Tennis Employee | Legit Tennis Fanatic

New to the area or need a change a scenery? Finding a new tennis club can be a daunting process, especially when pinpointing the best one around. So for your convenience we compiled a top 10 list of what to look for when searching for a new place to play.

1. Staff/Employee outlook - Is the staff friendly, attentive, informative on tennis? Check for newsletters and if they're up-to-date with social media to see how they communicate with their members. These people are the face of the company and are a good representative of the club's goals and management.  

2. Atmosphere - How does it feel when you walk in the door? Is it family-oriented? A club for recreational play? Or maybe you find that it's hard-core competitive. Whatever the reason, we think one of the most important aspects of choosing a club is feeling like you're home.

3. Cleanliness/Updated - When you walk into a club, you'll see first hand if the club appears properly maintained. Are garbage cans emptied on the court or insulation hanging from the ceiling? How updated is the building? Do you need the sleek look of marble under your feet as you enter the club house or are you comfortable with floral wallpaper that may or may not have been from the 80s? Keep in mind every club is at a different cycle for their age.

4. Court service/Lighting - There are numerous kinds of surfaces out there (ie. clay, har-tru, carpet, etc.), but the most common you'll see in the US is hard court. It's important to note when the last time the courts were resurfaced, because you'll get a better bounce on your ball. As for lighting, you obviously don't want to play in a dimly lit facility or would hope for some lighting if you're playing outdoors at night.

5. Amenities - It's always a perk when you can find a club that offers more than just tennis such as a workout facility, racquetball, or even golf. What's great is many of these sports go hand-in-hand and can actually help improve your tennis game, however, if tennis is important to you make sure it's the forerunner of the club. Another great amenity is if the club has a fully stocked pro shop. If you show up without shoes or need a quick stringing, you'll be lucky to have access to these products within your reach.

6. Variety of tennis events for all players - Whether you're an adult beginner, someone who is looking for evening clinics, or taking your child in for a Saturday lesson, check to see if the club offers these programs and research the junior program and it's success stories.

7. Solid team of tennis professionals - How many tennis pros does the club have? Do they work as a team or on their own. Usually the type of clubs with an excellent teaching infrastructure are the ones that collaborate as a team.

8. Flexible court scheduling/hours of operation - What good is a club when you can never get a court time? If you can only play weekends, it won't help if the club books their courts for other programs or if they close early. That is why finding a club that works with your schedule is ideal.

9. Location, location, location - Close proximity, easy access, close to other stores (how many times do you find yourself at the grocery store afterward?) Take all of these into account, but we will say sometimes it's worth the extra drive for the right club.

10. Membership/court fees - Does the value speak for itself or are you willing to pay the big bucks to belong to the prestigious 'so and so' club?

Make your life easy and ask yourself, do you feel welcomed and feel a connection with the club? Because that's all that matters!

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