Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Floyd has Aced

Floyd Pettaway absolutely enjoyed the new 2017 franchise which services Norfolk and Virginia Beach VA. In the Summer Season he played an amazing 31 matches which was nearly 1/3 of the matches by himself.

He has stated about his experience: It's FANTASTIC compared to the other ladder league we've used in this area. 
They did not have an app at all, it was very basic/primitive and you could only use a web version on your phone.

I've really enjoyed this League, the App and the Match Play.

I'm looking forward to continuing with this league and trying to get others to join in this area.

There are a lot of people who may benefit from the flexibility of the league and they may enjoy the incentives, the matches and the 
possibility of the year end tournament. 

Questions we asked him:

1. Which league are you a member of?

Hampton Roads Tennis League

2. How long have you participated in your league?
I started TLN on June 13th and played my 1st match on June 15th.

3. How did you first learn about it?
I got an email about the TLN from on of the local guys that's all about Tennis in Hampton Roads.

4. How often do you play?
I play 3 to 4 times a week right now.

5. What do you like most about the league?
The "FLEXIBILITY" being able to have a list of guys you can text when you want to play and you can play when it's convenient for both players.

6. How did you get started playing tennis?
I started playing tennis at a Church Picnic in 2003 when I decided to retire from Adult Basketball Leagues.

7. What do you love about tennis?  
I Love that Tennis is a sport that you can continue to play as you mature.

Monday, August 7, 2017

As told by Adam Cooper: Ups and Downs at a Local ATP 500 Tourney

Adam Cooper has been playing in since June 2011 racking up a 162-83 record while playing in the top division. This is his comments about the Citi Open.

I made my annual pilgrimage to the Citi Open in DC this past week.  The tournament has been around for decades: when I was in High School I saw the likes of Michael Chang and Andre Agassi (with long hair) duel it out here.  The facility, like many used for professional events, is open to the public the rest of the year, and I've played on these courts from time to time.  The rest of the year the place looks a bit rusty and worn-down, but it gets all dolled up for this smallish tournament every late July when the ATP comes to town.  DC is always oppressively hot then, with daytime highs in the 90s and plenty of humidity.  I remember one muggy match between Stefan Edberg and Patrick Rafter where both players keeled over in heat exhaustion after the last point (Edberg won).  For the last few years the facility has also hosted a smaller WTA International Event simultaneously, so there's plenty of men's and women's matches to see.  This year some of the key players in the men's draw were Dominic Thiem, Juan Martin del Potro, Milos Raonic, and Gael Monfils; for the women we had Simona Halep, Eugenie Bouchard, and Kristina Mladenovic.  

It's always fun to stroll through the pleasant bustle of fans, each slurping $10 beer, $8 hot dogs, or $5 popsicles.  It's crowded but not overwhelming: DC is not a sports-crazy town.  Politics is the big game here.  I make sure to visit the serve speed booth, where you can wait in line to give your own serve a whack and see what you register on the radar gun (I managed an underwhelming 83MPH, and later noticed a scrawny teenager had hit 114MPH... always good for my confidence).  You can often catch a few pros out on the practice courts if you get there early.  Seeing them up close you're struck by just how consistent the strokes they produce are, getting the same basic solid shot from any kind of ball fed to them (slice, topspin, short, deep, etc.).  You also notice just how TALL all the players are now.  Six feet is just a starting point for these bronzed, lanky athletes.

I stayed for the evening matches, eager to catch a glimpse of Dominic Thiem's backhand, but the weather had other plans as a massive summer thunderstorm broke right over Rock Creek Park.  Fans were sent scurrying like rats for the few flimsy tents that were set up, or else huddled under the bleachers.  I was hoping it would be a passing storm that would just delay things but the sheets of rain kept falling for over an hour.  After the clouds finally moved on, the ground crews leapt into action, drying the courts with rollers, blowers, and even on their hands and knees with towels.  I watched this excruciating 40-minute low-tech process for a while wondering if there wasn't a better way... roof, anyone?  The match was set to finally get going, but then, dishearteningly, a few more drops started to fall.  Tennis, especially on hard courts, is kind of unique as a sport in just being completely intolerant of rain.  It messes with strings, balls, and--most importantly--brings the risk of slipping and falling hard on concrete.  By this time it was almost 9PM and I gave up and headed home.  They were able to get the matches in after the second shower: the final ball was struck around 1:45AM, but I was in bed long before then.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Marcela Merino: A slice of life

Marcela Marino has her mother to thank for leading her to the sport of tennis.

Elena Dominguez was a highly skilled tennis player back in the day, and she used to bring her daughter, Marcela, along to her matches. When Marcela was a very young child, she was unsure what to make of the sport, but by age 8 she picked up a racquet herself and started taking lessons.

It didn’t happen right away, but eventually she fell in love with it. Now, decades later, Marcela is still playing. Her mother introduced her to the sport, but she continues playing matches to this day because she enjoys it herself.

Merino has played over 200 matches with Tennis League Network, and she’s found success forming friendships, winning intense battles and staying active and invigorated along the way.

“I love playing tennis,” she said. “I’m very committed to that, and I think that’s what keeps me finding partners and trying to play as much as I can.”

Merino switched from tennis to ballet when she was around 10, and after that she dabbled in softball as a kid. She’s the kind of person who likes to focus on one sport at a time, making sure she specializes enough in that craft so she can get the most out of the experience.

Around age 20, she picked up tennis once again, and she’s found her niche with the Metro Boston Tennis League a division of Tennis League Network recently. She now plays tennis exclusively, and it’s one of her favorite hobbies. Her love for the sport is the main reason she plays so much, but she also enjoys the personal side of tennis.

She’s become close with Mary Heasley, a fellow veteran who has played even more matches than Marcela. All it takes is an email, and they start collaborating to zero in on a day they’re both free. In no time, they’re on the courts, hitting groundstroke after groundstroke, trying to outwit and outhit the other.

“We’ve actually become very good friends,” Merino said.

When it comes to her style of play, the Newton, Massachusetts resident Merino is tenacious and relentless. After over 200 matches, Her record is close to .500 overall, and she has a winning record in three-setters and third-set tiebreakers.  Marcela's Career stats

She rarely gives in, and she’ll do anything it takes to get the win. Oftentimes, that means unleashing a slick slice at the exact right moment.

“Everybody tells me that I have sort of a nasty slice,” she said, laughing.

But that doesn’t mean there’s not room for improvement. Merino said she wants to improve her serve – both the accuracy and speed. The great thing about tennis is that she can do that by herself.

Once she feels comfortable with her new technique, she can try it out against Mary or another opponent.

She said she enjoys because it’s the right level of competitiveness. The goal is to win, but it’s also to have fun and there isn’t too much stress or pressure.

She’s played dozens of matches and here's Marcela's current division, and she’s showing no signs of slowing down. She wouldn’t be the player she is without her mother, and for that she’s both proud and grateful.

“My mom was very influential in getting me into the sport,” Merino said.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Yuri Krainov: Playing him is like pulling teeth

By Trevor Hass

For a tennis junkie like Yuri Krainov, summer is the most wonderful time of year. The sun is shining, people are available to play and paying for court time isn’t necessary.

Yuri, 53, joined Tennis League Network three years ago and has found his niche on the court. He recently played his 200th match with the site, putting him in an exclusive club alongside several other devotees.   

Yuri's Profile

In the summer, the Brooklyn, NY, resident Krainov plays tennis nearly every day. Sometimes he needs a break. He’s only human. But he’s generally out there at least five times a week, oftentimes making his opponent’s life miserable.

“I’m trying to keep in shape and play as much as possible,” Krainov said. “Basically I’m trying to play almost every day.”

Krainov is a dentist, so tennis serves as the perfect escape after a long day at the office or a thought cleanser on the weekend after a busy week. Many of his opponents would agree that playing him is like pulling teeth.

He’s the kind of player who gets everything back. You can beat him, but you’re going to have to work hard to do it.

“A lot of players tell me that I play a defensive style,” Krainov said.

Defensive tennis is a mixed bag, because sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t – depending on the day and the opponent. Against one particular foe, Alex Twersky, that strategy is effective about half the time.

Yuri and Alex have played dozens of matches. They’re often grueling, but they’re always fun, according to Krainov – who has a 3.5 rating. There’s also his archrival (OK, maybe not quite, but they don’t hold back on the court), David Romero, who he once battled in a 10-game pro set for two hours in the 90-degree heat.

“Usually you don’t remember good matches,” Krainov said. “You usually remember tough matches, and that was a tough match.”

Krainov, who was born in Russia and moved to the United States almost 25 years ago, played minimally in Russia. He was always interested in the sport, but he had trouble finding partners or ample time.

When he moved here, he played more regularly for a few years but stopped for a few years after that. He dabbled a little more, then he took an extended break for close to a decade as his professional career took off.

About three years ago, he decided to pick up the sport again but he wasn’t sure who he would play with. He found part of the the Tennis League Network online, and the rest is history.

Now he has the bug, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down. This is his time of year, so if you mosey down to the courts in South Brooklyn there’s a good chance you’ll see him swinging away and getting ball after ball back.

“Tennis League Network is a good option for me,” he said. “You can always talk to the partners and find a good place to play.”

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Player Profile: Bimal Patel: My visit to Wimbledon

Bimal Patel plays in the San Jose Tennis League.  He is passionate about tennis and plays as often as he can.  He follows the professional tennis and tries to attend tournaments whenever he finds an opportunity. He has been to the US Open, Indian Wells Masters 1000, and the Aptos (California) Challenger Tennis tournaments.

This is Bimal's story:

During a recent trip to London, I was lucky to find some time to visit Wimbledon.  Wimbledon offers a fascinating access to the Lawn Tennis Museum and a guided behind-the-scenes tour which should be every Tennis lover's delight!  Tour takes around 1.5-2 hours and should interest even the non-tennis fans.  It is not exactly cheap (25 pounds ~ approx US$ 31.5), but is well worth the price.  Guided tour takes you around the grounds, players lounge, BBC broadcast booth and visit to the famed Centre Court. There is also a visit to their underground IBM center which provides the digital support for live matches broadcast across the world on TV, Radio and website.

Our group included visitors from Argentina (Del Potro fans, of course !), Czech Republic, India, the US and local British visitors.  As our guide explained, Championships are held during 2 weeks in June-July and the remaining 50 weeks are spent preparing fo the next Championship.  Once the championships are over, all the grass courts are dug up and completely redone with fresh new grass ... no sod is used!  All the courts are surrounded by electrified fence (to keep the foxes out) as they let new grass to grow (see picture). 

Outer courts are surprisingly close to each other (see picture).  Center court is not as big as it seems on TV,  it is quite cozy and has an intimate feel (unlike the Arthur Ashe Stadium at the US Open).
  Except for the last few rows, I felt that every seat had a great view of the action.  One other surprise was every seat at the center court costs the same (150 pounds). As expected, demand for tickets far far far .... (you get it, right ?) exceeds supply.  Tickets are sold via a public ballot, thus ensuring equal access to a true tennis fan, and if you're lucky you could be end up getting the front row seats on Championship Sunday (or Saturday !)

The Wimbledon museum offers a fascinating view of history of tennis and the history of Wimbledon as it evolved over the years from late 1800's to modern-day tennis which has become a truly global sport.  Here are some images from my visit.  Wimbledon, as most of you may know, is a private club (All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club or AELTC).  Easiest way to becoming a member, as our funny English guide explained, is to win the Wimbledon Championships!  Right on, I've started preparing .. see you at the club :)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

GOLD DOOR FILMS: Gentlemen's Fury

Los Angeles - 2017

Admin's Note: I got to see an early release of this film and found it to be an eccentric and definitely for adults movie.   Certainly think this movie will be more enjoyable for most players in our program. Definitely rated R for language. 

Gentlemen’s Fury, a comedy feature film about an ATP player whose Johnny Mac–like temper lands him in a league that might not be strictly about tennis, premieres May 23, 2017 on Vimeo On Demand

Starring Ben Sharples (Flight 7500), Jake Head (Ted) and Audrey Ellis Fox (Law & Order: SVU), Gentlemen’s Fury is a cross between Fight Club and Dodgeball that makes a raucous commentary on the plight of the male tennis player, as well as tennis itself.

Sharples, who also wrote, produced, directed and edited the movie with his wife Marissa, has a long background himself as both a tennis player (he played on the UC Berkeley Men’s Team) and coach that lent itself well to the project.

“Tennis can be a maddening individual sport, and it’s also a sport that doesn’t get the love it deserves here, so a movie about a player whose temper lands him in a violent tennis cult seemed inevitable,” Ben jokes.

Gentlemen’s Fury will be released on Vimeo On Demand on May 23rd, right around The French Open no less, and kicking off the summer tennis season.

For more information and to watch the trailer, please visit

To contact Ben Sharples, please email