Saturday, February 12, 2011

Outdoor Tennis is Just Weeks Away- Improve Your Health, Burn Calories, Get Fit

Some activities are just for fun. You already know this or you wouldn’t be part of Tennis League Network. But tennis offers so much more. It contributes to both your physical and mental health. There is so much you can read on this topic that you could probably burn up to 90 calories an hour just reading about it. If you read in bed and fall asleep, that’s about 60 calories more for doing nothing at all except breathe.

But, wait a minute. There's more to life than breathing. Get off the couch, put down that book, get out of bed, and get thee to a tennis court. That’s something members of our Tennis League Network are happy to do as soon as they can. Tennis compares pretty well with other activities. 
That’s probably why tennis writers and television commentators so frequently talk about the “fitness” of tour players. Much of the time, it seems, the term “fit” is just a euphemism for fat or overweight, as well as being strong, in good condition, and without injury. Serena Williams, whose weight seems to go up and down like a piston, is a case in point. The tennis writers and commentators are still blabbing on and on about the 30 pounds dropped by Mardy Fish last year. Now at 6’2”, 180 lbs., Fish has begun to turn his career around, winning 2 titles each in 2010 and 2011.
For a person weighing 155 lbs. and 1 hour of activity, this is what it looks like:

Running 1267
Tennis, singles 563
Swimming laps, freestyle, slow 493
Walking 3.0 mph, moderate 232
Typing, computer data entry 106 (!!)

More specifically, in an article provided to the USTA by Dr. Jack L. Groppel, Ph.d. (and also published on, a study about this topic about concluded that people who choose to play tennis appear to have significant health benefits, including improved aerobic fitness, a lower body fat percentage, a more favorable lipid profile, a reduced risk for developing cardiovascular disease, and improved bone health.

So it’s no wonder that scientists and physicians worldwide view tennis as the most healthful activity to participate in. Other sports, undoubtedly, provide excellent health benefits, as well as stimulate mental and emotional growth. But no other sport received such acclaim for its great benefits; physically, mentally and emotionally.
Read more from

You can also find more tennis information about tennis and health at the USTA Player Development Web site,

The Facts:

• People who participate in tennis three hours per week (at moderately vigorous intensity) cut their risk of death in half from any cause, according to physician Ralph Paffenbarger of Harvard University School of Public Health. (Paffenbarger not only studied over 10,000 people over a period of 20 years in his landmark 'College Alumni Health Study', but also finished over 150 marathons over the age of 45.)

• Tennis players scored higher in vigor, optimism and self-esteem while scoring lower in depression, anger, confusion, anxiety and tension than other athletes or non-athletes, according to Dr. Joan Finn and colleagues in a study done at Southern Connecticut State University.

• Since tennis requires alertness and tactical thinking, it may generate new connections between nerves in the brain and thus promote a lifetime of continuing development of the brain, reported scientists at the University of Illinois.

• Tennis outperforms golf, inline skating and most other sports in developing positive personality characteristics, according to Dr. Jim Gavin -- author of The Exercise Habit.

• Competitive tennis burns more calories than aerobics, inline skating, or cycling, according to studies on caloric expenditures.

Is it any wonder that scientists and physicians worldwide view tennis as the most healthful activity to participate in? Other sports may provide excellent health benefits, as well as stimulate mental and emotional growth. But no other sport received such acclaim for its great benefits physically, mentally and emotionally.

But wait. There’s more. In an article on heart and vascular health, the renowned Cleveland Clinic says this:

“Bjorn Borg, the stoic tennis-playing Swede who won five straight Wimbledon and six French Open singles titles, was famous for his calm, cool demeanor on the court. For a time, he was dubbed "Ice Borg." His conditioning was legendary, and so was his resting heart rate, a reported 45 beats per minute...

“Whether true or not, the story about Borg's tranquil cardiac tissue underscores an important point about tennis: playing it on a regular basis is good for your heart. It's also good for the body and mind. In fact, playing tennis on a regular basis produces physical, physiologic and psychological benefits.

On the other hand, probably few people recall that it wasn’t until she lost a lot of weight at age 22 that Lindsay Davenport began her ascent to the top of women’s tennis. Burning all the calories necessary to shed the extra pounds helped her to be a better mover on court and to burn away so many of her opponents.

So, TLN players, where do you stand with regard to fitness? Moving too slowly? Need to shed some pounds to increase your speed and stamina? Or so that your clothes fit better? Playing tennis on a regular basis is good for your body and mind. In fact, playing tennis on a regular basis produces physical, physiologic and psychological benefits.

Most spring seasons start in April. Do what you can to do now to get ready to play. Hit the gym, run, swim walk the dog and even shovel snow. And when you do play, you will not only have fun, but you will likely burn the calories that translate into pounds that can affect your health and keep you from playing your best tennis.

Which Seeds Will Grow in the Wimbledon Grass?

Speculation about who will win the 2010 Championships Wimbledon, which begins on Monday, probably began right after last year,  when it took five sets for Roger Federer to beat Andy Roddick,5-7, 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 16-14, and just two sets for Serena Williams to beat her sister Venus, 7-6, 6-2. Typically, player seeding is aligned with ranking, and that’s true for Wimbledon, although there are some interesting departures, particulary in the top 10 seeds on the men’s side. Although Rafael Nadal has regained the #1 ranking over Roger Federer, Federer is seeded first, apparently because of his Wimbledon record of 6 wins. He’s going for his 7th, which would tie the record how held by Pete Sampras.

And, hey, Andy Roddick is the #5 seed! Reaching last year’s final is apparenty why Andy Roddick has been kicked up to the 5 spot,even though his ranking is #7. As 5th seed, Roddick edges out Nikolay Davydenko, who is ranked #5, but seeded 7th. Another departure is David Ferrer, ranked #11, but seeded ninth. Because Juan Martin Del Potro, ranked #8, is out with an injury, that leaves the #8 spot open for Fernando Verdasco, who ranks 9th. Robin Soderling, ranked #6 is also seeded 6th. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is ranked #10 and seeded 10th.

The Women
The women’s side of the lawn is less complicated, and the Williams sisters are crowding each other at the top as the #1 and #2 seeds. Unlike the men, there are no discrepancies  between rank and seeding. Serena Williams ranks #1 and is the top seed. Venus is #2 in both categories. Although Venus has won Wimbledon 5 times, unlike Roddick, she didn't get the bump up in the seeding. It's getting harder and harder for her  to compete with sister Serena. The top 10 seeds this year might have looked a little different if Elena Dementieva, who is ranked #4, had not withdrawn because of injury. And the bottom of the top 20 seeds will look different because the #20 seed, Dinara Safina, has withdrawn because of a back injury. Here are the rankings and the seeds:

1. Serena Williams

2 Venus Williams

3 Caroline Wozniacki

4 Jelena Jankovic

5 Elena Dementieva

6 Francesca Schiavone

7 Samantha Stosur

8 Agnieszka Radwanska

9 Kim Clijsters

10 Na Li

Rank and seeding aside, think about your picks and see if they change over the next two weeks. The draw will probably have a lot to do with it. Here is the Wimbledon website:

TLN Profile: David May- Intimidated in the Past, But the Courts Are Turned Today

For most of us, it’s hard to imagine that a 4.25 amateur player would be intimidated. But roll back 25 years or so and it’s more conceivable when you know that the kids on David May’s high school junior varsity team—at one time the best team in California-- were not only playing in juniors tournaments, but playing people like Pete Sampras, as well.

In fact, he was so intimidated – and who among us wouldn’t be?--that he dropped out of tennis for the second time. (He had started playing at age 12, but stopped until he was in high school and played on that intimidating team.) Apparently, the sting of intimidation lasted so long that David didn’t play in college or in his 20s.

He didn’t pick it up again until he was in his 30s. And pick it up he did! He worked on his game with David Maxwell, who had been trained at the elite Nick Bollettieri Academy in Bradenton, FL, whose alumni include the who’s who of professional tennis: Sampras, Agassi, Seles, Courier, Hingis, etc  “He taught me how to play the modern game with more topspin and extreme grips. After I worked with him for a year, I got back in to competition form.”
His next step was to join the Tennis Los Angeles; he was referred by John Geary. Now, at age 41, David is one of his league’s biggest fans. Here’s David’s testimonial in his own words:

“The reason it’s such a good system for me is that I live in big city and I’m not a member of a club. It’s a good way to get connected with people of your skill level. People in Los Angeles will pay people to hit with them.

This league, especially, is such a good network of several different player levels. In the past year or so, Steve has gotten best players he can get, and has created an Elite division of 4.5 players.” With his 4.25 rating, and a solid overall league record of 45-52, May—a 7-season league veteran--certainly qualifies as an elite player. (despite his tennis shoes!)

“I am also playing in USTA tournaments (he has a USTA rating of 4.5) and this is good preparation for that. In fact, David has reached several finals, semis and quarters, and has run into Paul Ferguson, Reagan McClymonds, and Jonas Stasevicius (other Elite 4.5 players in the league) in those tournaments. “We often inform each other and look forward to seeing each other and rooting for each other in those tourney’s.

”In the league, the scores are recorded, which creates a record, giving you the pressure of competition, and pushing yourself to do your best and win matches. It’s also a good way to play according to your own timeframe, provided other players can play when you can play. I play during the day, so I can find other players. The guys who work normal hours play in the evening. In L.A. plenty there are plenty of public courts around, so you don’t have to reserve time and can play according to your personal schedule.”

May’s personal schedule by the way, is filled with tennis- the sport he gave up twice. He now plays 4-5 times a week. One of his more memorable matches was against Bob Hamm. “He is slightly older than me, and a great runner, although he doesn’t hit you with a lot of pace. I ran into him in USTA and I thought I should beat him in the final. I had a mental breakdown. Then he showed up in my league division and I was looking forward to revenge. It took three sets and was the longest match I ever played. He was a steady guy and I had to be patient. After three hours I beat him. 7-6, 2-6, 7-6. He actually won more games than I did. I had to dig deep for that one.”

On the other hand, Tom Emmitt of also Tennis Los Angeles, and also profiled on this blog, has a winning record against David. “Tom is a tough one and is always a challenge. He has a traditional game. He controls the court and is very good strategically.”

So, 25 years later, welcome back to Tennis, David May. It’s a benefit to Tennis Los Angeles that you did. Between May and Tom Emmitt, by now we have a good idea about the strength of competition in the LA league. It seems that at least two players them have a good shot at being called an intimidator on the tennis court.

David, by the way, insists that "if you are a member of a club and have outgrown the competition there, or you want some new competition, or if you aren't a member of a club at all and are looking to connect to a diversity of competition -- the best way to do that is to join this league"
David was also a key contributor on our Tennis Channel expose. Check out his work here:

US Open Report: Wish You Could Have Been There

After two days of intense anxiety about the possibility of Hurricane Earl wrecking our trip to the US Open, I was thrilled when I woke up last Friday to one of the best days of the year—bright sun, perfect temperature, practically no humidity and a slight breeze. Earl was a no show. So much for the weather forecasters.
My husband Gary and I have attended the U.S. Open for the past 12 years, usually on a bus trip. Our seats had always been top of the house—the last few rows of the top tier of Arthur Ashe stadium, which holds about 23,000 people. This year, our tickets, a gift from a cousin, took us to the best seats in the house, in my opinion. We were in the club level, close to the court, and at the end of it, rather than in the middle, which would have meant looking back and forth to follow the shots.
We saw three matches: Kaia Kanepi upset Jelena Jankovic. Maria Sharapova clobbered Beatrice Capra, 6-0, 6- 0—only to be beaten 2 days later by Caroline Wozniacki, the #1 seed. And we saw Roger Federer beat Paul Henri Mathieu, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. No surprise there.

However, there was so much wind that at one point that Jankovic, about to serve, battled verbally with thewind, and then thrust her arms up into the air and yelled, “St-o-pp! Jelena, you can battle an opponent, but you can’t battle Mother Nature, whose devilish whirling dervish dance was partly responsible for her losing battle against Kanepi, who won 6-2, 7-6, If you live in a region that is close enough to New York, going to the US Open is your best shot to see one of the major tournaments. My cousin flew in from Miami.

In many areas there are day trips organized by tennis clubs, townships and even public parks. I know three people who went on that kind of trip. I suggest that you explore those possibilities for next year. Costs are usually reasonable. I went with someone from Tennis Philly two different years. All in all it was a great day, which was capped off by this amusing experience:

Everyone enjoys bumping into a celebrity, but not necessarily this way. Leaving Arthur Ashe stadium, we took the elevators at the players entrance because I can’t walk down steps and other elevators were either too crowded or not working. So we dropped down to the ground level, where we walked out into the bright sun and breeze.

As we were walking toward the South Plaza, I was walking a foot or two away from my husband Gary, on his right. He stopped short because something was tugging at the hem of his left sleeve. The hook of a broken hanger had latched onto him. The perpetrator (a woman) and Gary both tugged a couple of times to try to free his sleeve, but the more they tugged, the more it hung in there. Finally, one of them moved forward and the shirt sleeve came free. Fortunately, it was a plastic hanger, and not a wire hanger, which would have pierced his sleeve.The woman was walking toward the player entrance with what looked like dry cleaning draped over her arm. She said Oh, and Gary said Oh, and they both laughed. Initially, I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Then I heard a familiar voice, looked around, and lo and behold, the perpetrator who had hooked Gary was……..Martina Navratilova.