Friday, February 17, 2017

Greg Jarucki: Getting back to the courts after 10 years with TennisSF.com




Which league are you a member of?
I am a member of San Francisco league.

How long have you participated in your league?
I started in 2012 and just recently played my 112th match (as of Feb. 17th, 2017)!

How did you first learn about it?
I moved to the Bay Area and decided to take advantage of the all-year great weather and get back to tennis. I haven't really played in 10 years, so at first I started hitting at my local park. As soon as I started feeling comfortable, my competitive nature prevailed and I looked out for a league. TennisSF caught my eye because of the flexible schedule.

How often do you play?
My goal is to play twice a week as long as the weather permits and I am not traveling. As much as I love to travel, not being able to play tennis is one of the few downsides.

What do you like most about the league?
I love playing against different styles and meeting new people. Long time rivalries are even better because you really get to know the other person and eventually make friends. I have made several breaks from the league, but always came back due to my competitive nature.

Tell us about your most memorable match(es)
One of my most memorable matches was in the semi final of the playoffs in 2013, against an opponent who beat me pretty easily in the regular season. I managed to win in 3 close sets and it was my first win against a truly 4.0+ player! I was really glad I could see my game improving and I remained unbeaten in 3 set matches. I went on to win my first 4.0 championship and the semi final win against a really good player was a milestone and a confidence booster.

Do you have any other interesting comments about your experiences with the league?
Playing on different courts is a great way of exploring the Bay Area! I think it is a perfect option for people who just move to the area and don't have tennis partners. But once you start, you're hooked up!

How did you get started playing tennis?
I started playing when I was 12 and played until I was 16. Then I had some injuries and focused on my education, and somehow haven't played for almost 10 years. I was shocked when I realized it's been almost 10 years and I decided to get back to tennis, because I remembered I really liked it as a teenager. TennisSF was a great way for me to get back to playing regularly.

What level player are you? (NTRP rating)
I am 4.0.

What do you love about tennis?
I love the 1 on 1 combat aspect of it. You are by yourself and you have to figure out a way to win or at least do your best.  

Who are your favorite pro players? Why?
My favorite player is Rafa Nadal. I admire his ability to adjust his game during the match, his competitive spirit and passion. I've tried to imitate his style on the court.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, for example: What do you do? Where did you grow up? What are your hobbies (besides tennis)? (Feel free to share any interesting details about your life.)
I grew up in Poland where soccer is by far the most popular sport. I loved playing it as a kid. One of my friends at elementary school used to train tennis and it was very impressive to me that he was the only person I knew who played tennis. A few years later I decided to sign up to a club. From the get go, I realized I was really good at it, as I was catching up much faster than my peers. I started watching tennis on TV and Agassi-Sampras rivalry got me really hooked. In Poland I played on clay or indoor carpet, so hard courts were new to me after I moved to the Bay Area. I guess I still have to master grass to become an all-court player!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Ari Chasnoff: 213 Matches Played. Wow!



 Checking in with Ari Chasnoff out of the TennisSF.com tennis league.


How long have you participated in your league?
I’ve participated in TennisSF for almost five years, starting at the 3.0 level and working my way up to the 4.0 division.

How did you first learn about it?
I did some research online and found that it was the quickest and most affordable way to get out on the courts and start playing competitive matches.

How often do you play?
I’ve played 213 (as of Feb. 7th, 2017) matches over four and a half years, and only missed three or four seasons along the way. That means about once or twice per week. But who’s counting? My rule of thumb is that as long as I can lift my arms I try to play every few days.

What do you like most about the league?
I like the scheduling flexibility and getting to know people who are also passionate about tennis. But it’s more than that. It also provides a reliable framework to pursue personal goals, like improving focus, living in the moment, and controlling my emotions in stressful situations.

Tell us about your most memorable match(es)
Unfortunately every match is a little too memorable. The night after a match I often find myself going over certain points in my head as I’m trying to fall asleep - my best shots, my opponent’s best shots, and what I should have done better. Back when I started in the league I remember long 3-setters against Kwok, Bryce, and Rahul. Those guys forced me to play at a higher level. Then of course there was the championship match one season against Demetrius. We had played each other several times already at that point and had gotten to know each other, so we both were very relaxed and having a lot of fun. He won in a close 3-setter, surprising me with backhand chip shots down the line, but overall the match was played with excellent sportsmanship and competitive spirit.

How did you get started playing tennis?
I never played on a team or in any organized fashion before the league. Up until my late 20’s it was always a matter of getting a cheap racket and hitting around with friends. I had taken some lessons while in highschool, but since I grew up in Chicago it was hard to maintain a steady practice. When I moved to San Francisco in my early 30’s I was determined to play more. Recently I took some lessons from Coach McClane, the legendary San Francisco tennis instructor. He’s the guy on Yelp that turns up at the top when you search for “tennis lessons” in San Francisco. I was curious what the hype was all about. I was about a 3.5 at the time, pushing 3.75, and I told him my goal was to get to 4.0. He got me there in six lessons. He not only taught me important skills, but he revived a joy of tennis that I had momentarily lost in my drive to improve. That’s what ultimately helped me raise my game.

What do you love about tennis?  
One of my favorite things about the sport is that you can improve quickly if you put in the time and practice the fundamentals. Watching the ball and building consistency will go a long away, even against superior players. The mental element of the game also fascinates me. Andre Agassi’s autobiography Open was an interesting look at the psychological hoops even the pros have to jump through. The Inner Tennis books by Timothy Gallwey explore this topic and offer some useful exercises along the way. I’m at the point that even when I pick up the occasional book on Zen I read it like it’s a tennis manual!

Tell us a little bit about yourself, for example: What do you do? Where did you grow up? What are your hobbies (besides tennis)?
For the past four years I’ve been a marketing and communications manager at Stanford Graduate School of Business, specializing in web design, social media, and video production. My office is across the street from Stanford’s Taube tennis stadium so I often eat lunch while watching the Cardinal practice or play their collegiate matches. I’ve learned a thing or two just watching these incredibly talented students and their amazing coaches, among them former pro Paul Goldstein. My wife of eight years isn’t into tennis, so I do get some variety in my life. She’s an artist, painting large-scale oil paintings that show in galleries and museums. Check out her work at www.rebekahgoldstein.com!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Significance of Racquet Construction


There are numerous factors that go into choosing the best racquet for any given player.  Weight, balance, head size, stiffness, etc.  One piece that is often overlooked or not known is the frame construction.  How the frame, more specifically the beam and throat, is constructed plays a significant role in how the racquet will play.  Let’s get geeky with beam and throat shapes.

Oblong beam:
The oblong shape, similar to an oval, is the strongest design.  When the ball strikes the string bed, the string bed and frame flex from the impact.  The stronger the frame, the less the frame flexes which results in the string bed flexing more and producing more power.  The thicker the beam, the less the beam will flex.  (The beam is the “oval” part of the frame.)  The ball leaves the string bed before the beam returns to its original position, therefore no power is produce from the “snap back” of the beam.


Elongated oblong beam:
The elongated beam is still strong but slightly weaker than the standard oblong beam.  This means the elongated oblong beam will flex slightly more than the standard oblong beam.  When the ball hits the string bed, the beam flexes more, preventing the string bed from flexing as much as it would if it were the standard oblong shape.  This beam shape produces slightly less power than the standard oblong shape beam.
 
Square-ish beam:
The square-ish beam is the weakest beam design.  The beam will flex significantly when the ball strikes the string bed, preventing the string bed from flexing as much.  Due to the beam flexing more, the string bed flexes less, which results in less power being produced by the strength of the beam.

The same information is true for the throat of the racquet.  The weaker the throat, the more the racquet will flex/bend on impact, which will result in less power being generated from the frame.


 Which frame construction is the best one for me?  This depends on how you play, what you’re looking for out of a frame, whether you only play doubles/singles or both, and your playing style.  For the frames that flex more, or are weaker, the player must generate more power on their own using their body.  If you hit the ball very hard and can produce a lot of power but are experiencing difficulty keeping the ball in or controling the ball, a racquet with a weaker frame (elongated oblong or square-ish) would give you the control you’re looking for.  Most players who try out a racquet that produces less power say that they gained a lot of control, when compairing to their racquet that has stronger construction and produced more power.  What is really going on is that their power was reduced slightly and they were able to control the power they produced much better, resulting in their game improving.  Doubles players would love a racquet with the square-ish beam and throat since these racquets provide the ultimate feel and touch.  The player decides how far a volley or half-volley will go.  With a stiffer/stronger racquet, the volleys will always be more powerful even if you don’t move the racquet.  Players that might want to try a racquet with a weaker beam and/or throat include:  doubles players, serve and volleyers, attackers, and power hitters that are looking for more control.

The racquets with a oblong beam and throat, such as the Babolat Pure Drive, are stiffer and will produce more power due to the string bed flexing more upon impact.  These types of racquets are for the player that has difficulty producing big power.  Using their same stroke, more power will be generated with a racquet of this type.  If a player is able to produce very high topspin, then that player might be able to control the power produced from a all oblong racquet.  For example, Rafa Nadal produces up to 5500 RPMs on the ball which allows him to hit the ball with a lot of power but still be able to have the ball drop in the court.  Players seeking more power should try out a racquet that has an obling beam and throat.

The elongated oblong racquets are a mix of the two types previously discussed.  They range in flexability and try to harness the best of both worlds, power and control.  These racquets will vary in how they feel and perform, so try out a couple different models from different companies to find the best one for you and your current playing needs.  If you play mainly singles but also play doubles every now and then, this might be a good option for you.

Whenever seeking a new racquet, always try them out before you buy.  I hope this information helps you find the best racquet for you.


-Jeff Heuwinkel


Friday, January 6, 2017

Luca Marazzi takes his passion for tennis from Italy to London and now Miami


Which league are you a member of?

How long have you participated in your league?
I started playing in December 2015, so it has been exactly one year. Over the past year Luca has won 44 matches while only losing 21 and he plays in our top Elite Division.  His Profile Page.

How did you first learn about it?
I was looking for tennis leagues, but not in a very convinced way, until my wife found Tennis Miami online and told me: “you are getting bored playing socially, join this league!” In London, I used to play matches regularly, at least once a week throughout the cold and rainy season, and the less cold and less rainy season (once I played for 2 hours under the rain and another time it was snowing during a match, on a February morning in Hackney Downs!). So thank you, Efe, for finding this great league!

How often do you play?
On average, I played 1.5 times a week last year, typically once in the evening during the week and once at the weekend. I try to playing mostly when I really want to so that I am motivated enough, a key for having more fun! I keep myself reasonably fit with light gym workout and running so I can get to as many balls as possible and put them above the net & inside the lines.

What do you like most about the league?
I used to play with the same 5-10 players over and over again,but in the last 12 months I competed against 31 different tennis players in 61 matches! Amazing, because confronting guys with different style, ball pace and personality on the court does enrich my game. Tennis Miami is a very well organized league that really stimulates you to get out there to challenge yourself and great opponents. I feel pushed to get to clear goals, such as winning a tournament, beating better ranked players, or being among the top 5-10 players of the year (POTY). And the league values the more you win, but also the more you play, it’s about having a lot of fun in the end! and it’s easy to make new friends too.

Tell us about your most memorable match(es)
The 1sttime I played Giampaolo Guarino, we had such a tight match: I won 6-4; 5-7; TB 12-10, after almost 3 hours (March 2015). Ups and downs, attack and defense, a true roller coaster! More recently, I played another memorable match at Kings Creek South (nice courts, but bring your chair: no benches) against Luis Jimenez.He battered me 6-1 in the 1st set with his formidable forehand, but I hung in there, made my game more solid, and managed to come out of a close breaker 10-8 (I think) after saving match point, and then won the championship tie-break. One other time at Biltmore, I was winning 6-2 5-1 against David Rodriguez, and then tennis showed me what it’s all about: my opponent came back with some great shot making from the baseline, including Djokovic-like passing shots (not kidding) – I only managed to prevail 10-8 in the final long-format tie-break. It is so difficult to close out matches staying aggressive when it’s almost done. In tennis, it’s never over until the very last point!

Who are your favorite rivals in the league? Why?
It’s difficult to choose, as I am having nice rivalries with Benoit Benaibbouche, Tim Aballo, Giampaolo Guarino, William Jimenez and Eduardo Sandoval. I played 5 full matches with Benoit, he is a great player with a complete game: better serve than mine, great volleys and amazing running and defense skills (and what a sliced backhand!). Last April, he beat me in the final at the Crandon Park center court under a scorching heat: my energy was drained after coming back from 2-4 to win the 1st 7-5, he regained the initiative and pretty much closed the door on me for the rest of the match. But I improved over the summer and won against him the next 3 times; he didn’t like that, so he beat me the other day in a very close 10 game set at Morningside. I also lost a final to Tim, but then managed to beat him the next couple of times – the last one being down for most of our 2 hr&45 minute match (6-7 7-5 10-7). Giampaolo and I are both from Italy, we’ve had three very close matches, all ending on a championship tiebreak (one with a few match points saved): lots of volleys, passing shots and lobs, which is a lot of fun! I played William 4 times: don’t go on his dangerous forehand!and Eduardo 5 times: very good volleys and serve. Benoit has a lot of experience and is able of turning matches around: there is a lot to learn from him, so I am going to nominate him as my best rival (so far).

Do you have any other interesting comments about your experiences with the league?
I love the fact that Tennis-Miami.com keeps all the records of matches & games won/lost (what about sets won/lost?) and even the head to head of the greatest rivalries. The league is GOOD VALUE FOR THE MONEY, and I am sure that everyone playing in it wishes they had even more time to hit tennis courts, and pretend that we are like the pros! J

How did you get started playing tennis?
I started playing with my dad at the back of a supermarket in his hometown of Como, played a lot against the wall in our garden and at the tennis center with my best teenage friends. I would impersonate Edberg, while Andrea was Lends and Alberto was Becker, I miss those times: back then we even played 3 out of 5 sets!

What level player are you? (NTRP rating)
4.5 (maybe a bit generous? up from 3.5 in a year)

What do you love about tennis?  
Tennis to me is like a physical and mental dance involving every muscle and every neuron: bend your knees, twist your torso, and flick your wrist to put that yellow ball exactly where you want it to go. But it’s more than that: it’s a metaphor of life.The more you believe in yourself, the more you can (and will)get to your goals.Winning is great and losing sucks, no doubt about that, but playing fair, respecting your opponent, and improving with your mistakes make you feel so good!

Who are your favorite pro players? Why?
Stefan Edberg, period. Because his unique elegance, amazing serve and volleying, and sportsmanship are a great example for all tennis lovers. I admire a number of today’s champions: Djokovic for his fighting &risk-taking spirit and stunning composure, Nishikori for his laser groundstrokes and clever tactics, Nadal (what a champion!), Tsonga and Berdych for their massive forehands. Roger Federer is the best of all, as long as anybody gets 18 Grand Slams (and maybe even beyond).