Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Mohammed Audah - In the midst of a year-long tennis sabbatical

Wow, we caught up with Mohammed Audah and his tennis story is wild!  

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I'm in the middle of a year-long tennis sabbatical. Basically, I'm on leave so I can just play tennis all day. I got so obsessed with tennis two years ago that I think I might have watched every instructional video out there, so now I coach other people who didn't grow up playing. If you see me playing (backward cap and all), you'll also see me smiling. Oh and also, next time I play SJ I'm 100% going to win more than 2 games.  

Which league are you a member of? 

TennisDC with the cool kids.

How long have you participated in your league?

On and off from 2016 (*gulp* getting old-er).

How did you first learn about it? 

Rallying at Banneker Rec Center.

How often do you play? 

Almost every day.

What do you like most about the league? 

The community I've built around it.

Tell us about your most memorable match(es): 

I looked back at my starred matches and it seems like I really enjoy when I win 6-0 6-0 so go figure. I loved beating Alexis Toussaint (1-6 6-4 14-12) because I lost 0-6 1-6 the previous time we'd played, so my redemption tour was complete (think Roger at AO only much slower and fatter). 

Who are your favorite rivals in the league? Why?

I usually like the Nadal-Gasquet type of rivalries in which I never lose, but I'll begrudingly say Brian Seliber cause I'm 0-7 (1-0 in non-tennis DC matches so take that Brian). It's almost (almost!) amusing cause no matter how much I improve it's now in my head. 


How did you get started playing tennis? 

I really really got into it at the start of COVID and now it's an essential part of who I am. 

Do you play to compete, or for fun?

Both. It's an exploration of mind and body for me. It's taught me so much about my self that all aspects of the sport are fascinating to me. 

What level player are you? (NTRP rating):

4.5 (a little generous but don't tell anyone, you have to inflate a little).

What do you love about tennis? 

I have very fun ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in case you're lazy), and in so many ways tennis has given me an outlet to just understand more about how I think about the world. I've lost 0-6 0-6, I've won 6-0 6-0, and I hope to always experience every score line in between. 

Who are your favorite pro players? Why? 

I loved Tommy Haas growing up mainly for the backward cap (it's statistical fact that wearing a cap backwards makes you better at tennis). I love Iga Swiatek now, and a little bit of Medvedev villain-ery. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I'm in the middle of a year-long tennis sabbatical. Basically, I'm on leave so I can just play tennis all day. I got so obsessed with tennis two years ago that I think I might have watched every instructional video out there, so now I coach other people who didn't grow up playing. If you see me playing (backward cap and all), you'll also see me smiling. Oh and also, next time I play SJ I'm 100% going to win more than 2 games.  

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Player Profile: Jeffrey Dimen - Appreciate all the ups and downs of tennis

Which league are you a member of?

I currently represent the Columbus Tennis League!  Player Profile: https://www.tenniscolumbus.com/127420/profile

How long have you participated in your league?

I have been a member of the Columbus league for the past 5 seasons. Before this, I also participated in the partner program of the Tennis Cincinnati league.

How did you first learn about it?

I first heard about it from one of my friends and hitting partners who I met in Cincinnati. He told me about the league, and after playing a few matches, I was hooked. I was happy to hear that they are active in a lot of other cities across the country, including Columbus.


How often do you play?

I try to play at least 2-3 times a week. If i didn’t work 3 twelve hour shifts a week, I would be hitting a lot more!

What do you like most about the league?

I love how it has connected me to so many different types of people from various backgrounds and walks of life, that have all signed up in this league for the sole purpose of meeting up to play a game of tennis. I couldn’t have imagined when I was younger, playing this much tennis with a bunch of strangers I met online. It gives me something to look forward to on my days off from work, and it has served as a great way of staying active and meeting new people after moving to a new city.

Tell us about your most memorable match(es)

Towards the end of the fall 2021 season, I was on the outside of the playoff picture for the advanced division, and I was on a bit of a losing streak against some of the tougher opponents in the division. I was not playing the greatest tennis.  It was only a few days before the regular season deadline, my playoff chances slim, and I had to win 1 of my next  2 matches to get in. They were both against opponents with stronger records than me, but I came in feeling loose and relaxed and played my game and was able to sneak into the advanced playoffs for the fall by winning both matches in straight sets. 


Who are your favorite rivals in the league? Why?

There are so many great players in my division, top to bottom, and I really believe that anyone can lose on any given day.  Craig, Adam, Adolfo, and Hakan are a few players in my division who I’ve played recently who I feel always give me a good match whenever we play. Craig in particular has only been playing tennis for a year or so, but already hits pretty well, so I think he’ll be scary if he keeps playing.  Also, Enver and Gautam are two guys in the upper division that I’ve crossed paths with that usually get the better of me, but regardless,  I always look forward to playing them because I know I have to be on my game to be able to beat them and I always expect a great battle.


Do you have any other interesting comments about your experiences with the league?

My advice for new players would be to appreciate all the ups and downs of tennis because a lot of the mental strength you gain from playing this wonderful sport can also apply to everyday life as well. When I first started competing, I did nothing but lose. Even now, I still lose a lot, but I feel I’ve come a long way.  But tennis is like that sometimes. You’ll be playing great one week and then inexplicably, you might feel like you can't hit the broad side of a barn. But the important thing is to stick with it. You cannot afford to dwell on past mistakes. One thing I love about the league is how you can always schedule another match. No matter how many matches I lose in a row, my mentality never wavers and I approach each match with the intent to improve and a mindset that I'm going to do whatever it takes to win. In my mind, results are just a product of the process, so it is essential not to be discouraged by bad results, but instead focus on the process of improvement.


How did you get started playing tennis?

I have early memories of playing tennis with my dad when I was 6 or 7 years old, but I really didn’t start playing consistently until my sophomore year in high school where I mainly played doubles. 


Do you play to compete, or for fun?

I have the most fun competing, so a bit of both I guess. At the end of the day, this whole league means very little to anyone else outside the league, but you definitely get out what you put in. I feel this league has helped me improve my game tremendously playing so many players with different styles. 


What level player are you? (NTRP rating)

I don’t have an official NTRP rating but I’ve competed in both 3.5/3.75 leagues so somewhere around there. My next goal is to compete at the 4.0-4.5 level. 


What do you love about tennis?  

I love tennis because it provides an outlet from the everyday monotony of life. I also believe that tennis is a sport that challenges you both physically and mentally and helps you become better equipped to deal with adversity.  Just the past few months, I’ve really come to appreciate the constantly changing nature that a competitive tennis match can provide. I’ve tried to shift to a mindset where I look forward to the matches where my opponent is very difficult and nothing is coming easy.  I enjoy the constant problem solving that is involved in tennis and  trying to utilize one’s own strengths and weaknesses,  and figuring out what makes your opponent uncomfortable.  I love the ebbs and flows of gaining the lead, losing the lead, and (hopefully) regaining it back again. I really think that approaching the game in this manner has helped me build resiliency towards life's everyday challenges. Lastly, I also believe that this sport in particular is one that you can play well into adulthood and have longevity if you take care of your body right. 


Who are your favorite pro players? Why?

I will always respect the consistency of the Big 3, but I really am a fan of this next generation of tennis players coming in. Young players like Jannik Sinner, Carlos Alcaraz, Hubert Hurkacz, and Frances Tiafoe to name a few. On the womens side, I really like the game of Iga Swiatek and Leylah Fernandez. I feel like this next crop of young stars will hopefully keep the game exciting and attract new fans. 


What do you do? Where did you grow up? What are your hobbies (besides tennis)?

I work as a registered nurse at an ICU in a nearby hospital. When I’m not playing or watching tennis, I enjoy cycling, reading, playing musical instruments like the ukulele and piano, and spending time with my tabby cat. I also like to hang out with my close friends either by going out to new places to eat, or staying in for a game night. 

Friday, June 17, 2022

Yolanda Romanelli - Loves the opportunity to improve and grow on the courts


We caught up with Yolanda Romanelli
out of the Tennis-Austin.com franchise.  She's been playing with us since 2020. She's part of a wonderful community of tennis players that say the nicest things with their match submissions.


Which league are you a member of? 

Austin Tennis League


How long have you participated in your league? 

Since November 2018, so a little over 3.5 years

 

How did you first learn about it? 

Google search. I was looking for a flexible, and still competitive way to play tennis that fit my schedule. 


How often do you play? 

I try to play 3 matches a week, but I usually can get at least 2 a week in. 

 

What do you like most about the league? 

My favorite part about this league is the opportunity to improve and grow as a player through playing others. Tennis is very much a mental game, and getting to play so many players with different styles, it really stretches your mental and physical capacity in the best of ways. 

 

Tell us about your most memorable match(es): 

Some of my favorite matches are those head-to-head matches where the rallies drag on and we both somehow get seemingly impossible shots. They are the matches where it feels like I am playing my best game against someone who is also playing their best game. 

 

Who are your favorite rivals in the league? Why? 

Some of my favorite rivals are David Sherby, Gregory Huntington, and Aaron Luna. David is always encouraging and always trying something new. I have learned a lot playing him. With Gregory, I feel like I always have to stretch myself to play better and harder, and we always have some really fun rallies where we are both right at the net trying to get past each other. And with Aaron, we are both strong defensive players, so our rallies are long and super tiresome. I have to stretch my stamina to keep up. 

 

Do you have any other interesting comments about your experiences with the league? 

I just enjoy getting to meet and play so many different people and learning about their tennis stories. How they came to tennis and what they are working on to improve their game. I also enjoy being able to see how people I have played have improved, or ways I have improved in playing them. 

 

How did you get started playing tennis? 

I started tennis in Middle School and have only ever played recreationally. Tennis is the only sport I have really ever played. 

 

Do you play to compete, or for fun? 

I play both to compete and for fun. I’m a very competitive person, and do not have too many opportunities to be competitive in my life outside of tennis. 

 

What level player are you? (NTRP rating). 

I believe my rating is closer to 3.75. I am very consistent, but I don’t have enough variety in my shots to be considered a 4.0.

 

What do you love about tennis? 

I love that tennis is a sport you can play at almost any age and that it was available during the start of the Pandemic, when it seemed no other sports were. Tennis is such a flexible and fun sport that you can play almost anywhere.  

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself, for example: What do you do? Where did you grow up? What are your hobbies (besides tennis)?

I am a Montessori teacher at a Public Montessori school here in Austin, and a published children’s author for Monarch Readers. I am also a mother of 2 girls. My whole family plays tennis, including my husband, Bryan Heersema, who also participates in this league. I coach my daughter’s soccer team (though I have never played soccer—sort of like Ted Lasso). I also enjoy playing ukulele, piano, and chess.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Vijendra Singh - He loves playing players with so many different styles

Which league are you a member of?

Tennis Tampa Bay

How long have you participated in your league?

This is my second season. I joined TennisTampaBay in November, 2021 for the first time and this actually is my first league ever.

How did you first learn about it?

One of my friends, Raj Anne, introduced me to this league. 

How often do you play?

3-4 times a week. If time and body permits, my mind and heart asks for it everyday :-)

What do you like most about the league?

The best part is getting to play with a lot of different styles of players. Some love being aggressive, some would just love to keep building rallies. It really developed me better as a player. Before this, I have never played with these many different styles. And of course the flexibility to meet people and play. I never run out of people to hit with. It has given me many new friends and I would love this community to keep growing further. 

Tell us about your most memorable match(es).

I would think of 3 matches which really stood out and stay in my memory. One was last season's semi-final with Tom Foran where I won but I loved playing with Tom since we kind of have a similar style of playing, we both have decent top spins and good serves (Tom has better than me of course, balls were kicking 2-3 ft over my head almost every time).

Second was the one I played with Chritopher Conte (I'm sure he is 4.5 or up) and lost 0-6,0-6 ( In my opinion, he is the only opponent I faced ever where I could not handle the pace of the shots). 

Last but not the least was with Alexander Damjanovic, lost 5-7,5-7. Both sets started with 0-2 and I took the lead to 3-2 on both and I was 2 points away to level the first set (at 5-6 down) and 2 points away to win the second (at 5-4) but couldn't convert it. Alexander really has great slices and flat top spin shots with wide angles. I was really happy with the way I competed in this match knowing Alex plays 4.0 and 4.5 level.

Who are your favorite rivals in the league? Why?

I would not say rival but I would love to play with Andrew Epperson again and again, even though he beat me badly in both the matches, I see him as the most consistent player with the best defense. I wish I could get only 50% of his consistency.

Do you have any other interesting comments about your experiences with the league?

Well, when I started playing this league I used to get frustrated initially with few unconventional styles of tennis and would just give away the match in frustration. I slowly learnt to focus on my game rather than the feed and I can proudly say I'm getting better. With only 15 months of tennis in my life, without any professional coaching, I feel I came a long way and thanks to this network of players as well who really shares great feedback after every match.

How did you get started playing tennis?

I was out of work for a few months during 2020 and finally October, 2020 started with one of my friends just to kill some time but never knew that this would become my obsession (in a positive sense).

Do you play to compete, or for fun?

Right now, I am playing to improve and learn. Playing great and losing gives me more pleasure than playing bad and somehow winning.

What level player are you? (NTRP rating)

3.5 

What do you love about tennis?

I just love every aspect of it. The mechanics behind how a contact should be made to mental toughness. 

Who are your favorite pro players? Why?

Rafa. He has got the best shots either forehand or backhand. I think the only player with no bend in his arms while contacting the ball gives him the most spin and power. 

What do you do? Where did you grow up? What are your hobbies (besides tennis)?

Mechanical Engineer in Application sales. I grew up in one of the Himalayan towns, in north India and came to the USA for a Master's degree and have been here since then. I love working out in the gym 5 days a week if time allows and love hanging out in the mountain sides. Just have one beloved wife :-) and one kid. 


Antonio Marcelin - He's loving TennisFortLauderdale.com

I've been a member of TennisFortLauderdale for almost 3 months now. I've played other leagues which I enjoyed very much but TennisFortLauderdale is the best so far in terms of self-scheduled matches, incredible tennis players with different style of plays, the professionalism that is shown with each individual meeting for their first match is off the charts.


Back home in Haiti, I've always played soccer and ping pong growing up, I kept those 2 hobbies here in the United States convincing myself I'm never gonna let go untill 10 years ago, a co-worker, who herself did not know how to play tennis but was so concerned about me driving 45 mns back and forth for a soccer game, has invited me to play tennis and i must say "there's no other sport better than tennis. Since then, I took it upon myself to make it a challenge where the sky is the limit. I teach myself from day 1 and had the opportunity to play or practice at least 5 days a week by spending countless hours online watching videos, learning from anything that's helpful to help elevate and move my tennis game forward weather it's footwork videos, forehand/backhand/serve/ slice videos, you name it.


I'm always online learning, relearning something old or new. I discovered TennisFortLauderdale through a tennis friend who was playing a scheduled match, and as I watched the two of them going to each other's face with skills, consistency, great shot selection, anticipation and the ability to cover the court almost from all angles. I said I should try, so he sent me the link, I joined the same day and I played him in the finals during the playoffs to become a champion. I will never forget the last point of that match, the emotions, and the joy I experienced.

My memorable match: I played against Carlos, one of the great players in the league, he was up a set, 5-0 second set and 40-30 match point. He hit a backhand crosscourt shot in the open and I was lucky that it went wide. I started walking towards the net to say " great match" but the ball landed (way-wide). We fought for another 3 mns till somehow he got broken. Well, that was a story in another story, surprisingly i happened to win the second set and went on to win the match. Ask me how I did it , I got (lucky). There's no other way. Sometimes luck is better than skill.

But it was not easy during the regular season and the playoffs. I met a bunch of great players who showed me what it takes to be part of the advanced level group, how much harder I have to work to get a point, a set, never mind a match.

Jessie, Tony, Luke, and Jeff just to name a few are some of my rivals, very challenging opponents whom I learned a lot from during warm ups and matches played. My game is very simple, nothing special in particular and that is why I admired those 3 players (Hsieh Sue-Wei, Iga Radwanska, and Ons Jobeur). No big power, no big groundstrokes but figured out a way to play smart and get the W. Lastly, the websites with players information and records are spot on and updated as we go. Hats off to TennisFortLauderdale crew.



Thursday, October 21, 2021

Player Profile: Raj Anne - Tennis is a sport where we need to be mentally strong

We caught up with Raj from TennisTampaBay.com and here's his story.

Which league are you a member of? 

TampaBayTennis 

 How long have you participated in your league?

From June 2021

How did you first learn about it?

Got to know about this league from a friend (Sandeep Kolluri)

How often do you play?

2-3 times a week

What do you like most about the league?

Flexibility in scheduling, court selections, incentives, meet and learn from new players

Tell us about your most memorable match(es) –

Match played with Greg H in Sep 2021, it went ~3 hours, have enjoyed it fully. We know each other's game so well that our rallies and games are long. We became good friends and discussed a lot of other things.

During recent doubles finals in a different league, we were 0-4 but came back strongly to make it 6-4 and set two with 6-1 [won 11 games in a row] – This was possible only by being mentally strong and never give up attitude

Who are your favorite rivals in the league? Why?

None so far, yet to find one

Do you have any other interesting comments about your experiences with the league?

I Love the way it is organized, like the various kinds of incentives, Friendly admin, Flexible and Competitive - it's all in one Package.

Love the mobile app – it's super friendly ! The web site is also very easy to navigate and has all details like courts, player profiles, complete stats, rules, pics and a lot.

How did you get started playing tennis?

Informal games with colleagues/Friends

Do you play to compete, or for fun?

Started with fun but now liking competing

What level player are you? (NTRP rating)

We currently have Raj at 3.5. 

What do you love about tennis?  

It feels like I miss a lot if I don’t play tennis at least twice in a week, I get a sense of satisfaction.

Meeting interesting people in different professions from many different places and making new friends, learning from their experience and discussing various other topics.

Tennis is a sport where we need to be mentally strong, we can run for 2-3 hours all over the court but if we are not mentally strong and if no proper strategies, we will end up on the other side of the fence. During recent doubles finals in a different league, we were 0-4 but came back strongly to make it 6-4 and set two with 6-1 [won 11 games in a row] – This was possible only by being mentally strong and never give up attitude

Who are your favorite pro players? Why?

Rafael Nadal, like his game, attitude and consistency

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 am an IT program manager by profession. I grew up in a small town in India and never played tennis during my childhood/school/college days – started a few years back for fun and slowly developed love towards tennis and it feels like I miss a lot if I don’t play tennis at least twice in a week.

My other hobbies/activities: running (I have done 4 half marathons so far), I also play Volleyball and Pickleball but Tennis is my favorite sport.

Love spending time with family and friends

 

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Player Profile: James Pudner - How you play 106 matches and counting in a year and a half.

We checked in with James Pudner out of the Jacksonville league.  He's already played 106 matches in 16 months. That's amazing.

Which league are you a member of?

JacksonvilleTennis League

 

How long have you participated in your league? ​

June 2020.

How did you first learn about it? ​

Google

 

How often do you play?  ​

When I'm not fighting some little joint tweak, I try 3x per week. 

 

What do you like most about the league? 

The flexibility. When I have a slow week I can play 5 times, if I'm out of town I cannot play for 2 weeks. 

 

Tell us about your most memorable match(es) 

Two matches stand out, against Ingan and Ziki. Both matches went 6-7 / 7-6 and very competitive 3rd set tiebreaker. Against Ziki no one broke serve until the last 2 games of the 2nd set. Extremely competitive and high quality tennis (for my level). 

 

Who are your favorite rivals in the league? Why?  

I really have enjoyed everyone I play, but I really like people who can push me and force me to be aggressive. Ingan and Ziki both come to mind, but there are many more. 

 

Do you have any other interesting comments about your experiences with the league? 

When I finished college I thought my competitive sporting days were over. I was ecstatic when I learned about the local adult soccer and basketball leagues, but nothing has compared to the tennis league. I just love the flexibility, frequency of play, the people and the exercise.

 

How did you get started playing tennis? 

When I was in middle school I started playing on the neighborhood team. I played through HS and then stopped for 15 years until COVID cancelled all my other sports. From my first match I instantly fell back in love with the sport and its now the primary one I play.

 

Do you play to compete, or for fun? 

Both. I'm internally a competitive person so I try very hard to improve and win, but ultimately I'm out here for fun and exercise. You won't catch me arguing any calls I disagree with or using gamesmanship. I want people to enjoy playing me as much as I enjoy playing them.

 

What level player are you? (NTRP rating) 

I'd call myself a "weak 4.0"

 


Who are your favorite pro players? Why?

Musetti, Federer, Thiem and Dimitrov. I love all anyone (except Tsitsipas) with a good one-handed backhand. 

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I grew up all over, but went to Auburn University and have lived in Florida working as a CPA since finishing my Masters. I enjoy all sports but am best at soccer and tennis. I have 3 awesome kids (2, 4 and 6) and an even better wife who lets me abandon her to play sports several nights each week.