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

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Do you know what drives our program? It's all about the VETERANS.

        One basic tenet drives any good tennis league:  Players attract Players.  So it doesn't matter how great a format is or a program's software is, if it doesn't have a density of tennis players it's worthless.

        It would seem like such an obvious statement but it's proven to be true time again over the past 12 years of running Tennis League Network.   In as many cities we have a great viable community we have numerous examples of failing locations (ie. Atlanta, Houston, Dallas & Raleigh/Durham to name a few).   Same great software but without the players adopting the format the locations never got up and running.

Orlando Tennis League    In some of our locations it took years before we finally had solid players return season after season and the location started to take off.  In Orlando we meander along for several years before the community really started to find the players who truly loved to play singles tennis matches. Now we have a vibrant community of great tennis players across 4 different levels.

     Crazy Fact: We've had over 120 players play 200 or more matches in our program over the past 12 years.

     The players come from 15 different franchises/locations with no big surprise that Tennis Los Angeles is leading the way with 29 players on the list. 

    So starting today we've dramatically increased our Veteran Discount moving forward. 

  • Players who have played 400 or more matches will now receive 33% off all program enrollment moving forward. This use to be 10%.
  • Players who have played 200 or more matches will now receive 20% off on all programs they enroll in. (Use to be 5%)
  • Players who have played 100 or more matches will receive 10% off all program enrollment. This is a new discount.  As someone who has played 100 matches are definitely an expect with meeting up with other players and has definitely been a master of compromise that's necessary to play in this program.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Artie Wood: TennisNewYork has so many Options for you to enjoy.

My name is Artie Wood and I've been a player in for approximately 5 years.  Since the beginning of my involvement I've had the time of my life. It was so difficult for me to find a match in my local park. Being in Tennis NYC gives me the ability to play people in different boroughs, play people with different styles. Some of my closest friends I met by competing with them.  

There are so many options of play for you to utilize. If you are just looking to play, you can utilize the partner program. If you are looking for even more competition the ladder program is good as well. There is a ladder tourney in the Fall. Anyone who has played 7 different opponents is eligible to participate. There are monthly tourneys to participate in. My favorite option is league because there are so many divisions and I can challenge myself by playing younger, higher level competition. When you participate in the league you can qualify for a playoff each season by winning usually 3-4 matches. The only way to get better is to play people that allow to evaluate your game against theirs.

The last option which I hope will flourish this year is the doubles. Doubles helps me to sharpen my net skills and touch for my singles game. Many of my tennis friends participate in outdoor meetups in which we play round robin 10 game prosets. One of the best things about these meetups is you can catch up with tennis friends on a regular basis and keep rivalries going.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Player Profile: Geoff Lambrechts, he'd play every day if he could.

 We caught up with Geoff Lambrechts out of

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’m a product manager for a small software company (50).  Fortunately, this company does have tennis players.  Just like everyone in the Bay Area, I wasn’t born here but came here from Europe 20+ years ago.  Besides tennis, I like to run.  I’ve ran 10K, half marathons, full marathons and 50K.  I think the running helps my footwork on the tennis court J  I also like to bike, both road bike and mountain bike.  Hiking is also something I enjoy.  I have hiked Mt Whitney and Half Dome among others…
Which league are you a member of?
I am currently part of USTA combo and Tennis San Jose.  In the past, I have tried USTA flex (bad), eTennisleague (bad), tennisround (bad), racketlogger (average) and Tennis San Jose (the best).

How long have you participated in your league?
I have been with Tennis San Jose since 2014 and have played 125+ matches.  Geoff's Profile.

How did you first learn about it?
I learned about Tennis San Jose by googling Flex leagues in the bay area.             

How often do you play?
I love this game and can literally play every day.  Sometimes, I play every day for 10 days straight.  Sometimes I only play 1-2 times a week.  On average, I play 2-3 times a week.

What do you like most about the league?
This league is better than the other ones in many ways.  First of all the majority of signed up players are motivated to play (not many flakers).  Second, you can replay someone 1-2 times depending win/lose.  Third, the staff of this league is on top of it and will respond to your emails very quickly.  Fourth, there are many leagues throughout the year.  Most other leagues have a really long time from the time the previous league finishes to the time the new one starts but not Tennis San Jose. 

Tell us about your most memorable match(es)
I can think of one match that lasted hours.  We were both getting tired and every game went through add in/add out.  It seemed like it would never end.  I was playing someone who I had beaten before and should have beaten them faster but it was a playoff match so it was important and neither one of us wanted to give it away.  I eventually managed to take it in the tie break after we had been playing for more than three hours

Who are your favorite rivals in the league? Why?
There are so many! Ted Nguyen is one of my favorite players as he can place the ball left and right all day long and I just run left right left right…  We’ve played each other many times over the last two years and it’s always intense

Do you have any other interesting comments about your experiences with the league?
This is my favorite league as it’s the one that gets me the most matches.  There are many other flex leagues out there but many of them don’t have good staff and don’t have quality players.  By quality I mean people who sign up who actually want to play.

How did you get started playing tennis?
My mom plays tennis and got me started.  I started with tennis lessons when I was around 5 years old.  In my teens, I played maybe once a month.  It’s not until the last 2-3 years that I kicked it into full gear and started playing a lot more.

What level player are you? (NTRP rating)
My USTA rating is 3.5.  Unfortunately, I don’t play enough in USTA to be bumped up.  I consider myself a 4.0 player.  Geoff's rating is Advanced 4.0. 

What do you love about tennis?  
I love playing tennis because it gets my mind to focus on tennis and forget about all the other stressful things around me.  I love the fact that you could win to a better opponent or loose to a weaker opponent.  You could have a really great day or a really bad day.  It’s very mental!  Sometimes I think it’s more mental than physical…  I love to meet players from different background and cultures.  Especially living in the Bay Area, people come from all over the world to be here, it’s always interesting to hear their story how they got here.  I’ve played players from the US, Canada, Mexico, Japan, India, China, Korean, Vietnam, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, South Africa, Argentina, and Jamaica to name a few…  I have also played players from different job backgrounds…  

Who are your favorite pro players? Why?
My favorite pro player is Pet Sampras.  He was always a smooth player who kept it cool.  He was also a great person off the court.  He inspired me to play more tennis and to be a better person off the court.

Friday, February 17, 2017

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

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!