Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Lucas Natalini--Where Have all the Clay Courts Gone?

Today Lucas Natalini joins us to share his experience with Tennis League Network after having reached 'Veteran Status' after playing 25 games.  He's a member of the Tennis Los Angeles franchise and currently plays on the Westside of town.

Lucas came to the US 5 years ago. His first tennis games here were tough as he had become so used to playing on slower clay courts, which are everywhere in Buenos Aires. After putting in work he is back on his game. He's come a long way and he hopes to win his division.

Congratulations are also in order as he and his wife are expecting their first child next year.

***


Hi Lucas. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with the league so far. To start, could you tell us a little bit more about yourself? 

I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 99% of the courts are clay courts so the game is slower. When I was 23 I went to a concert and I met an American girl who was taking Spanish classes in Argentina. She was the reason why I moved to the US. We are now married and expecting our first child next year.

I moved to the US in 2010 and I remember that the first few matches I played were the first on hard courts. I was lost. The ball was bouncing so low and after the bounce it was traveling through the air so fast. I lost pretty much all the matches I played for a year or so.

I was only playing with people I knew through work and some relatives and in 2013 I started doing some research online and I found this league. I thought the concept was great so I gave it a try. I  played 5 matches and I only won one. I had to stop playing tennis because I was overwhelmed with my new job.

This year I felt that I really wanted to play tennis and the only way to get good at it is to do it regularly. I took classes with a great coach for about 8 weeks. This fall season is my third tournament in 2015 and I fell my game has improved a lot. I hope I can win my division sometime.

Which league are you a member of? 

Tennis Los Angeles's  West - Div. C: Men's Competitive2 3.25

And since you joined, about how often do you play? 

2 or 3 matches a week. A few months ago I decided to start playing only during daytime. After working 8 hours in front of a computer, I cannot see the ball at night :)

How long have you participated in your specific league? 

I played one tournament in 2013 and this is the third I played in 2015.

In all the years you've been playing tennis, what do you love most about it?

I like that you are on the court by yourself. I grew playing soccer, rugby and volleyball and in those sports there is always somebody to help you. In tennis, it's just you. No matter how much professional players like to thank their coaches and physical trainers, the person on court is the one doing the job. I like that I am the one winning or losing a match.

Since joining, what is it that you like most about our league in particular? 

A few things. I like the competition, getting to know my opponent and also, I like that we are all trying to get better. I can definitely notice some improvements in some guys.

Can you tell us about your most memorable match in the league? Or multiple matches?

I was playing Steve Chocron for the first time. We both have similar game styles. We went to a third set. I was serving 3-4 and 30-40. It was after 9PM. I faulted on my first serve and the employee from Roxbury comes and says: "Guys, I am going home"...and he turned off the lights.

So Steve and I met again the following week and that whole week the only thing I was thinking was that whatever I did, I could not double fault. That is what ended up happening. He started serving 5-3 and somehow I broke his serve. We got to the tiebreaker and he beat me. It was a great match and after that match I definitely learn how important the mental part is in tennis.

Based on your picture, we're guessing Roger Federer is your favorite player. If so, why?

I have always looked at sports the same way. If you want to win you need to attack. Federer attacks since the first point. I can write a book about all the reasons why I think he is great. Just to answer the question I think his game represents the way I would like to play tennis.

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

I really enjoy the fact that we are all taking time from our lives to play this beautiful sport.

Excellent. Well thank you for your time, and best of luck on your future matches.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Alex Twersky -- Ready...Set...TENNIS!

Alex Twersky is now a 'Peerless Veteran' in our league after playing in 100 matches--all in only 2 years! Alex started playing regularly a few years ago and soon after joined our league. He now plays upwards of 5-6 times per week.

Outside of tennis Alex stays busy--like most New Yorkers--as a marketing consultant. But he is also quite cultured and a fan of opera and film. In fact, he is a movie producer himself! He has released three films in major cities across America and hopefully has more in the works.

Here's more about Alex and his experiences with Tennis League Network:

Alex, could you tell us a little more about yourself?

I am a marketing consultant as well as being a film producer. My third feature, JULIA, is a thriller that was released today Oct 23 in theaters in LA and Chicago. Hopefully it will open in other cities soon before coming to VOD and DVD.

I love all things cultural – opera, art, film – apart from tennis I am not really into sports! I grew up in Forest Hills (Queens), then moved to Manhattan for 18 years before settling in Brooklyn, which I love!

Great stuff! And which league are you a member of? 

Tennis New York
Brooklyn - Queens Competitive 3.5 Division.


How long have you participated in the league altogether? 

I only started the league this fall, but prior to that I have been in the partner program (for about 2 years) and started in tennis ladder in 2014.

 

 How did you first learn about us? 

Like all good things: Google

How often do you play matches? Both with the league or in general? 

When I started really getting into tennis about 2-2.5 years ago, I played 2-3x per week. Now I play 5-6x per week in the warmer months, and 3-4x per week in the colder ones.

What do you like most about the league? 

I like the diversity of players you’re matched up with. I believe you get better in a number of ways, one of which is playing a variety of people who have different styles.

Tell us about one, or a few, of your most memorable match(es).

I can’t recall a specific most memorable one, but the ones I like are the ones where my mental game and strategy align with my physical game. that’s bliss.

Who are your favorite rivals in the league? Why? 

Everyone is different: Artie Wood has a unique style of play that you have to adapt to, and other people like Anton Sujdarat (sp?) are just damn good!

How did you get started playing tennis? 

I played sporadically as a kid and young adult, but got into it a few years ago as a regular form of exercise. Helps that I really fell in love with the sport.

What level player are you? 

The league currently has Alex as a strong 3.5 level player.

What do you love about tennis? 

I love that it’s a game that’s not only provides terrific exercise and enjoyment, it allows you to sharpen your mental reflexes as well. There is a ton of strategy, almost like a chess match across the court, which gives you an experience blending the physical and mental that’s hard to compare to other one on one sports.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Luis Perez -- An Unlikely Tennis Veteran

Growing up in Uruguay, tennis was uncommon to say the least. Not only did soccer dominate the country, but tennis is an expensive sport, out of reach for many people in the country. This makes Luis Perez an unlikely tennis player.

But for the last four years, Luis has been an avid player of the game. In fact, Luis has become a 'Peerless Veteran' after playing 100 matches as part of Tennis League Network over the past 3 years.

What makes this even more impressive is that he is a member of our Fort Lauderdale league. This is a smaller community that grew out of our booming Miami league. It is composed of a tight group of talented players, who have had a lot of fun and playing each other on the courts.

Here's more about Luis and his experience with our league:

Which league are you a member of? 
Fort Lauderdale tennis flex league  

How long have you participated in your league?
Since 2012

How did you first learn about it? 
I found it via google.

How often do you play?
Between 2 to 3 times a week.

What do you like most about the league? 
Flexibility to schedule games, cost, organization and variety of players

Tell us about your most memorable match(es)
When I was very close to beat one of my arch-rivals Mr. Tatz Tanaka in a 3 hours game where I lost 7-5,7-5

Who are your favorite rivals in the league? Why? 
Michael Litel, super nice guy, consistent but not particularly aggressive game, nevertheless he is nearly un-beatable. Also, Leoncio Gutierrez, another great guy with very consistent game, nice technique.

Do you have any other interesting comments about your experiences with the league?
One of the best things happening to me in the last 5 years was to become a member of this league, I have not only improved my game of tennis but I have met a lot of nice people!

How did you get started playing tennis? 
About 4 years ago I was at 240 lbs., being 5’9” this was not ideal, I started eating better and got involved in tennis, now I am at 180 lbs., healthy and with lots of energy!

What level player are you?
3.5

What do you love about tennis?
In singles is just you vs the other player, if things go well is because of you and if they go bad is because of you. It's also highly technical, being an engineer I love the theory applied to practical and in tennis there is a lot of theory behind the tennis techniques.

And of course, in tennis,  the size or the age of the other player does not necessarily influence the results.

Who are your favorite pro players? 
Federer because the way he moves, he flies over the court. And Ferrer too because of his never giving up attitude during play.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Being from a humble family and growing up in a Latin American third world country (Uruguay), the chances to pick-up tennis as your sport are almost nil… the sport everyone plays is soccer because is cheap and easy, you grab a ball and you play on the street or on the closest empty field… tennis is expensive and reserved for an elite crowd.

I remember being 12 years old and walking by the tennis clubs, peering through the fences and watching all these people learning, training and playing and I loved it but never had the chance… Migrated to USA in 1986, got married and raised three children, today all grownups, just had the chance to pick up a racquet about three years ago and never looked back!!

So far I have not won any tournaments and only once made it to the playoffs, but it doesn’t matter, I have improved my game in these three years and I will keep playing until my joints scream at me to stop !!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Alex de Frondeville -- Frisbee Anyone?

New England is known for its cold weather. We wouldn't consider it a 'tennis city', compared to places like sunny Los Angeles or Miami. Though when the weather is warm you can guarantee Alex is making the most of it.

Alex recently became a veteran of Tennis League Network after playing in 25 matches in the Boston league. Despite his dedication to the game, it's not even the sport he plays most. That title belongs to ultimate frisbee.
He has seen a tremendous amount of success in competitive frisbee, and has won numerous national titles and is even a world championship!

Here's what Alex had to say when we recently interviewed him:

Which league are you a member of? 

Summer/Fall doubles, Fall Advanced singles league in Tennis NorthEast.

How long have you participated in your league? 

This is my first year. I started in competitive in the spring, then in the summer I was put in advanced.

How did you first learn about it?

I've been getting back into tennis (I played on my high school team) after 30 years of playing ultimate frisbee. I have been looking for regular playing opponents for two years with zero success. I randomly came upon this league doing a web search, signed up, and have loved it ever since.

How often do you play? 

I'm averaging about 1 to 2 matches a week. I'm not doing any outside tennis at the moment which I need to also be doing at the same time. I've been trying to develop a topspin backhand but it isn't good enough that I can break it out in these competitive matches.

What do you like most about the league? 

I'm definitely appreciating the ability to schedule matches based on my schedule. Some weeks I don't play any matches, but once I played 5 matches in 7 days!

Tell us about your most memorable match(es). 

Well, my very first match in the league this spring was with Josh Kushinsky. I double-faulted about a quarter of the time and got in 4 first serves in the entire match. This was the first time I had really played a true competitive match in years. Before my next match I went out and served two buckets of balls and proceeded to win my next 7 matches before being moved up to the competitive/3.5 division.

Who are your favorite rivals in the league? Why? 

I've played Nick Matsuura in Advanced twice this fall and we've split and they have been very close both times. I think I stole the victory the first time, but now that I'm improving my second serve, I don't think he will be able to tee off on it quite as much and I'm looking forward to winning the rubber match!

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

Playing singles and doubles at the same time has been a little bit more challenging in terms of scheduling matches, but that is on me, not the league. I'm grateful for the opportunity as I also love doubles.

How did you get started playing tennis? 

I started when I was pretty young, playing at a club in my hometown. I ended up playing on my high school tennis team, playing first doubles and making all-country and just missing the state tournament after losing in 3 sets to our 2nd and 3rd singles players in the sectional tournament.

When I got to Princeton, I quickly realized that I wasn't even going to make the JV team, saw a flyer for ultimate frisbee practice and played ultimate for the next 30 years. I picked up a racquet maybe 15 times in that interval.

What level player are you? 

The league has me at a 3.75 right now. Before I started this league, I had barely heard of USTA ratings and had to ask a friend I'd played a few times what I should be rated. She said between a 3.5 and 4, and when I applied as a 3.5, I was started at 3.25 and worked my way up.

What do you love about tennis? 

Unlike most of the sports I've played, it is truly an individual sport (when playing singles). There are lots of styles of play, strategies, and the theoretical best player doesn't always win.

Tell us a little bit more about yourself.

I was born in Massachusetts but moved to Rye, NY when I was 5 and my parents still live there. I switched from tennis to ultimate frisbee in college and I've been playing ever since. I've been fortunate to be able to compete and win at numerous national and world ultimate frisbee championships, the most recent of which was the world beach ultimate championships in Dubai back in March playing for the US grandmasters team (40+) where we beat Sweden in the finals. As ultimate winds down, it's time to get back into tennis which I should be able to play for a long time.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Nikolas Buitrago -- San Jose's Most Interesting Tennis Player

We wanted to feature a profile of Nikolas Buitrago to show his dedication to Tennis League Network after playing dozens of matches. So when we asked to learn more about him we were surprised to see that Nikolas does a whole lot more than dominate the courts: He dances, dives, swims and more!

He's also originally from Europe, having lived in Spain, France and Italy (No doubt he's had some jealousy from peers). He's also had the opportunity to see some tennis played at Roland Garros--home of the French Open.

If you want to find out more about San Jose's most interesting tennis player, read the interview below:

Which league are you a member of? 

I am a member of Tennis San Jose.  He's played 30 matches this year and has a 19-11 record.  https://www.tennissanjose.com/69467/profile?hh=1

How long have you participated in your league?

I have been playing in the league since June 2015.

How did you first learn about it? 

My friend, Albert Gomez, highly recommended it since I was looking to play a lot more matches than the other leagues I had joined. He was right, I found a lot more players as eager to play as me.

How often do you play? 

My work schedule isn't easy as I work on weekends and have to get creative finding time to play during the week. I try to play 3 matches a week, but if I had the time I would play double that!

What do you like most about the league? 

I love the rematch idea! It's great to be able to play against opponents you had great fun with or simply want to get another shot at beating them. The playoffs, of course, the pinnacle of the competition, are great, too.

Tell us about your most memorable match(es).

It's funny because, the 3 matches that come to mind are all losses to really good players. My losses against Geoff, Tam and Andre were all matches that pushed me to focus on what I need to improve. That's what I love so much about this sport: losing and then having to work up a strategy; a game plan; having to dig deep and find a way to beat your opponent. It's like trying to crack a code or solve a puzzle.

Who are your favorite rivals in the league? Why? 

I have so many rivals I like...and that is another thing I like about the league. There is such a variety of styles and a large draw of players to compete against. You rarely will have enough time to play against every single player in your draw. There is also a wide variety of levels that makes it really interesting because you never know who can upset who.

Do you have any other interesting comments about your experiences with the league? The players are really friendly and accommodating. I rarely have any problem finding someone to play against.

How did you get started playing tennis? 

At age 15, I took some lessons and loved it. I watched a ton of tennis and wanted to imitate all of my favorite players of the time.

What level player are you?

I am a 3.75...I think.

What do you love about tennis? 

I love to compete, one on one, where the only person I can rely on is myself. Win or Lose, it's up to me. I love how cerebral the sport is and how physically demanding it also can be. A lot of people don't realize how much technique, proper movement and a positive mentality goes into playing tennis.

Who are your favorite pro players? Why? 

I have so many...My first idol was Pete Sampras. I tried to imitate every tiny aspect of his game. A lot of people would give me praise on how well I could imitate him, but unfortunately I wasn't nearly as good of course.

When I first started playing, I would serve and volley all the time, and I would get my butt kicked most of the time as well. Nowadays, I have an admiration for a lot of different players and different aspects of their game and I try to adapt them to mine.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up in Europe. I lived in Spain, Italy and France. I have great memories going to watch pro tournaments. One of my favorites is Roland Garros, I got to see a lot matches there.

I have a lot of hobbies: art, salsa dancing, swimming. This year I also picked up scuba diving. I have a lot of different interests and I am always looking to try something new and exciting.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Shahin Jahromi -- It's Never Too Late to Pick Up a Racquet


         Here at Tennis League Network (TLN) we have a never ending supply of quality tennis players living and playing in Los Angeles. And with the fantastic California sunshine, this comes as no surprise. Today we want to feature one of the up and coming players out of this city, Shahin Jahromi. Shahin recently earned Veteran status here at TLN after having a busy 2015 and playing 25 matches.

         Shahin hails from Iran where he first got his start in tennis. But after coming to the US for school, he stopped playing and has only started playing again in the last few years. Because tennis is a sport that you can play at nearly any age, there's no excuse not to start up again like Shahin.

Here's more about Shahin:

Which league are you a member of? 

Tennis Los Angeles /Valleys Competitive 3.5 Division.

How long have you participated in your league? 

I joined Tennis Los Angeles in 2012, but didn't really get into the league until 2014. I've played 3 seasons since then (took one season off when my son was born).

How did you first learn about it? 

An old class-mate who used to play tennis with me told me about the website and the league.

How often do you play? 

Twice a week - Tuesdays and Saturdays. Sometimes I play outside of the league with friends, but that would be on top of the Tue-Sat schedule.

What do you like most about the league?

Variety. I feel like having to play against different players with different styles has enhanced my own game (vs. having played against the same couple friends that I used to before the league).

Tell us about your most memorable match(es).

I really needed one last win last year to get to the playoffs, and I was able to schedule an evening match. My shoes were worn out so I decided to buy a new pair for the match, and I did so over my lunch break. My car broke down on the way to the courts, and I desperately asked my wife to switch cars with me.

I barely made it to the courts only to realize I had left my shoes in the other car. I played with my work shoes, and I still won!   Admin's comment: Now that is dedication!!!

Who are your favorite rivals in the league? Why? 

I like quite a few. It's tough to name one favorite, as I take something away from almost every match. I could tell you that I don't enjoy slicers, i.e. it drives me crazy when all my opponent does is return my shots with slice forehands & backhands.

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

Observing players out-of-game habits is a favorite hobby of mine. How they greet me, their attitude when they lose, win, or during the short breaks. I often try to guess my opponents profession and life-style outside of the courts.

How did you get started playing tennis? 

My dad took me to the courts to watch him play since I was 7, shortly after I started taking lessons.

What level player are you? 

I'm currently rated 3.5. 

What do you love about tennis? 

It's an excellent work-out, and it also acts has a venting session for me. I find the post-game exhaustion extremely relaxing.

Tell us a little bit more about yourself.

I grew up in Tehran, Iran and that's where I learned how to play tennis. I got to be pretty good during college, almost beating all the players I knew around me; I moved to the US to for graduate studies in 2000, and have lived in LA since then except for short breaks.

Upon immigration I took a 10 year break from tennis, and now work full-time, married and raising a 10-month-old. I'm trying get back in shape; maybe I'll be able to play as well as I used to, maybe I'm too old now; either way I can sincerely say playing tennis is one of the most joyful activities of my week, every week.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What can we learn from the Epic US Open Finals between Roger and Novak?

What can we learn from the Epic US Open Finals between Roger and Novak?    by Yann Auzoux

       When Federer and Djokovic compete, you are certain to be in for a treat. The two players performed at the highest level possible for over 3 hours and mesmerized us with magical plays, extraordinary angles, and fascinating trajectories.  The two players in the end were only separated by 2 mere points (147 for Novak to 145 for Roger).
 
       Besides the obvious exhilarating tennis excellence that was on display on Sunday night, the final score really boiled down to one simple number: Break Point Conversion. 
 
       Djokovic converted 46% of his break point chances and Federer fell short in that department with only 17% winning just 4 or 23 break point chances.  The final score was 6/4 5/7 6/4 6/4 in favor of Novak who broke Roger 6 times in 17 chances.
 
       Obviously, breaking Novak at his best is not the easiest task to complete but what Roger had to decide each time is the same process all tennis players go through when in position to close a game.  Here are the three top scenarios to choose from:
 
Take a chance, Wait it out, Challenge the most obvious weakness
 
Take a Chance:
 
       Taking a chance when you have several break points is a great strategy because the pressure is on your opponent.   You can go for a winner early or rush the net to force a passing shot. This strategy assumes that you get the chance to return the first serve in and last night Novak did a great job serving big first serves when he needed to get out of a sticky situation. He only had 3 aces but all three came at the perfect time.  That being said, Roger did have many other opportunities where he returned the ball in perfectly.  What happened?  In my estimation, Roger relied on the same patterns each time by trying to get into a rally and waiting for the right time to attack.  He never used his SABR attack once on break point or took a chance on the 2nd serve return. Rogers winner/unforced error ratio was +2 while Novak’s was -2.  In the end the “Patient choice“ did not work in his favor.
 
Wait it Out:
 
       Waiting it out simply means to be solid and hold your ground.  You would return the ball in and play a patient rally without taking any blatant risks. This strategy assumes that our opponent would feel nervous and give away an opportunity to attack or make a mistake.  For us mere mortals, this strategy often works because we don’t handle our nerves as well as Novak.  Djokovic on the other hand is probably the best “Clutch” player the game has ever seen and waiting it out against him has never been a good choice.  Roger probably remembers well the last two times they faced each other in the US Open semis where he was up 2 sets to 0 two years in a row and saw key points in his favor disappear both times.  Looking at the stats, Novak won 54% of his own 2ndserve points and 54% of Roger’s 2nd serve points clearly showing that the Wait it out game was a better option for him.
 
Challenge the obvious weakness:
 
       Off all the strategies available on break point, this is probably the smartest one of all.  Players at all levels have areas of their game that are less reliable than they would like.  For most recreational players, the backhand would come to mind.  Over the years, Federer had suffered some major losses because his opponents would challenge his backhand. Recently, Roger has closed that gap and turned his backhand into a very solid weapon.  Novak on the other hand has never been a natural net player and even though he is no slouch in that department, you always want to challenge your opponent with the least natural shot in their arsenal. The one strategy I wish Roger had used more was to force Novak to come to the net with a slice approach.  We all know how multi-directional and multi-dimensional Roger’s slice backhand is but I only saw him once force Novak to come to the net with a slice backhand which he capped with a beautiful down the line passing shot (with a little help from the net).  Looking at the stats, Novak won 66% of his net points which means that Roger won 44% of Djokovic’s net points.  By using these stats, Roger would have won 10 of his 23 break points turned the tide in his favor.
 
       Next time you face a similar situation, make sure you keep in mind these three options and remember that your ability to win or lose is based on how well you convert.
 
Check below for all of the stats from the final.


Written Yann Auzoux
 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

How to Develop the Right Mindset for Tennis

After you’ve completed your warm-up it’s go-time. You should be feeling ready physically, but you also need to prepare your mind for the match ahead.

Sports psychology is an interesting subject because our minds have such an important impact on how we play. For example, there was a recent incident when tennis-pro Nick Kyrgios muttered some profane lies to Stan Wawrinka during one of their matches. Kyrgios’s comment hit a nerve, and Wawrinka subsequently lost the match. While this is an example of bad sportsmanship on Kyrgios’s behalf, it’s also an example of how much the mind affects our game.

When playing your matches, you need to make sure you mindset is dialed in. Or as others say, 'Get Your Head in the Game'.  Focus is highly important, but there are also a few different ways to approach your mindset.

To Be or Not to Be Competitive 


Like all sports, tennis is competitive in nature. Although many of us play tennis simply as a leisurely activity, we’re always keeping score. Nobody likes to lose, and even if were playing with a friend or family member, we’d rather win. This can cause some to develop an unpleasant mindset.

What ends up happening is that people get so consumed with winning that they let their emotions take control of their game and their actions can often frustrate others. It’s important to find the right balance between being motivated enough to perform well in your matches and controlling your outbursts.

When in doubt, stay calm. For example, never smash your racquet or curse. If you’re playing in the Tennis League Network or with friends, then you don’t want to isolate yourself from potential partners with your poor behavior.

Have Fun 


It may sound cliché, but you have to remember why you’re out on the court in the first place: To have fun!

If you didn’t have fun playing tennis, then you probably wouldn't play it would you? Having fun and your ego go hand in hand--you have to put one aside to experience the other. Choose fun.

Don’t Criticize 


If you find yourself playing a doubles match, there’s going to be times where your partner slips up. Whether it’s a double fault or a missed shot, errors happened. Even the pros aren’t immune to this.

Highly competitive players tend to jump all over these errors. They will berate their partners and criticize them, often without even being aware of this.

It’s best to avoid criticism on the court. People are not likely to change their technique, and have no way to enhance their agility and speed within a matter of minutes; criticism accomplishes nothing on the court.

If you really want to help a partner improve their game, save the constructive criticism for after the match. Tel them that you noticed they have a specific weakness that could definitely be easily improved. Offer to help them out as well.

Learn From Your Mistakes 


Just as it’s important not to criticize your opponents, it’s important not to criticize yourself. If you hit a bad shot, it’s easy to focus on that error. That’ll only get you down.

Instead of dwelling on mistakes, take a mental note of them. After the match you can rethink your mistakes and make an effort to correct them during practice or lessons.

So the next time you step on the court, keep these in mind to play your best tennis ever!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Robert Pierce -- Tennis Down in Sunny LA

Robert Pierce, has now reached 100 games as a player in Tennis LA. After starting out in a rough patch, Robert has greatly improved his game. His consistency in the league is most admirable.

Here's a little bit about Robert and his thoughts on the league so far:


Which league are you a member of? 
Los Angeles Valley's 3.5.

How long have you participated in your league? 
Since 2013.

How did you first learn about it? 
Google. I was playing USTA but only a couple matches a season were available as there were only 7 guys in it.

How often do you play? 
Try for over 20 matches a season.

What do you like most about the league?
The availability to play as much as possible with the freedom to reach out to players at a higher level and all over town.

Tell us about your most memorable match(es) 
My first win ever was over Valentin. I was 0-13 I believe, as I had never played a match before the league and serving was a foreign concept. Was great to get a first win after such a long losing streak. When I was 0-13 I have never had so many match invitations from other players.

Do you have any other interesting comments about your experiences with the league?
A fantastic organization! Great format and a great group of players that for the most part just like to get out there and have fun on the court.


What level player are you? 
3.5 but looking to advance.

What do you love about tennis? 
Competing against oneself then trying to compete with your opponent.

Who are your favorite pro players? Why?
I like Djokovic, not that he is my favorite player but I enjoy the fight he gives going after every ball making the opponent hit another shot.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Was born in Canada, I like playing with my kids, and inventing stuff.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

How to Warm-Up for a Tennis Match

When you step on the tennis court, racquet in hand, there’s nothing else on your mind, but crushing forehands and serves. Though we can’t deny our love for the game, before we start a tennis match, or even practice, we have to warm-up.

Warming-up is a part of any sport, and tennis is no exception. Going through a comprehensive, dynamic warm-up allows a player to:
  • Prevent Injury 
  • Move Faster
  • Improve performance 

Just to name a few benefits...

Also, tennis is a full body sport and the body should be worked from head to toe during the warm-up. Tennis players need to prepare the body for quick sprints and stops, jumping, reaching and swinging.

Before we jump into the warm-up, first thing’s first: Show up early! Not only is showing up early a part of good tennis etiquette, but it allows you 10-15 extra minutes to get prepared. By the time your opponent arrives they’ll see you’re anxiously waiting and will get the match started ASAP, giving you a competitive advantage.

First, Get the Heart Pumping 

The first part of any warm-up should consist of an exercise that increases the core body temperature such as running or jumping jacks—you could even bring a jump rope with you.

This exercise should be done for several minutes, to the point where heart rate has increased and the body is starting to get warm. This helps to get blood flowing, loosen the joints and warm the muscles to prepare them for strenuous activity.

Novak always makes sure to stretch first
Move Your Feet 

Next you want to specifically work on footwork and short bursts of speed. Not only does this help the body warm up, but it prepares the lower body for the match ahead in terms of coordination and movement.

Consider using these agility exercises for several minutes. You can also use techniques like carioca, high steps, and hops, for example.

Lower Body Warm-Up 

The goal here is to specifically target and loosen up the ankles, calves, hamstrings, quads, and hips. All of these muscles and joints deserve attention on their own.

To do so, use a combination of static and dynamic stretching. Static stretching is where you stretch and hold. For example, reaching down to your toes and holding the position.

Dynamic stretching, on the other hand, involves movement during the stretch. So instead of holding the position when touching your toes, you would reach down once, come back up, and then reach down again.

Both forms of stretching have their own benefits, which is why both should be used. For joints like the ankles and hips, you’re going to need to use mobility drills. A mobility drill is when you take a body part and put it through it’s natural range of motion.

For example, a good mobility drill for the ankles and hips is to move them both in circles.

Upper Body Warm-Up 

The shoulders and arms work on every stroke you hit, which is why they require plenty of attention during your warm-up.

Again, it’s a good idea to focus on both static and dynamic stretching. For static stretching, make sure to stretch your triceps and shoulders. For dynamic stretching, do plenty of arm circles: Forwards and backwards, big and little. This takes your shoulder through a wide range of motion, preparing it for the match ahead.

Warming-Up With the Racquet

If you’ve been playing for some time now, it’s likely that you begin your matches by hitting back and forth with your partner. While this is no substitute for a full warm-up, it is an essential part of preparing for your match as it acclimates your mind and body for the match ahead.

Begin by playing ‘mini tennis’, that is, playing within the two service boxes on each side. This forces you and your opponent to hit softly from the start. It also prepares your body to react and reach for balls.

From there, make sure to practice volleys. It can be one person hitting from the service line, or both players at the net.

Then, move back towards the base line. Don’t start crushing balls yet, but do make sure to get a deep, full range of motion on your shot.

It’s also a good idea to practice serving. A serve requires a lot of exertion muscles, and it’s something that should be eased into as opposed to 100% power from the get-go.

Get Started!

Although warm-ups may seem time consuming, they will pay off well during your matches. If you take 10 extra minutes before your match to warm-up, you will not only prevent injuries and enjoy the health benefits of tennis more, but you’ll develop an advantage of your opponents.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

How to Improve Your Backhand

Although the backhand is a fundamental stroke in tennis, it still gives seasoned players a lot of trouble. Because it requires the use of our non-dominant hand for power and control, the backhand often pales in comparison to the forehand.

Though like any other shot in tennis, whether it be a serve or a volley, a powerful backhand is a learned skill. You should always be practicing your technique and practice hitting plenty of backhands with a partner.

Here a number of tips to keep in mind to improve your backhand.

Find Your Weak Points 

The best place to start with your backhand is to analyze where your weaknesses are. For starters, try and notice whether the majority of your backhand shots that don’t go in either go long or into the net.

If you find your shots going long, make sure to keep the face of your racquet closed during the backswing. Also make sure you’re using proper grip (See Below).

If your shots are going into the net consistently, it means you’re not getting you racquet under the ball enough. This means you need to drop your racquet lower.

Proper Grip 

Notice the grip on both hands
There really isn’t a definitive grip to be used on backhands, as it depends on what feels most comfortable for the individual. This means you should experiment with different grips to see which one is most effective for you.

However, most people will feel comfortable with a backhand grip that utilizes both hands, specifically one where the right (dominant) hand uses a continental grip and the left (non-dominant) hand uses an Eastern grip.

Preparation for the Backhand 

One of the reasons people have weak backhands is because they’re not active enough in getting to the ball: Their footwork will be slow, the racquet will not go through a full range of motion, and they won’t get a jump on the ball.

As soon as you recognize the ball’s position and you realize you’ll need a backhand, start moving your feet to where you need to be and adjust yourself. Then make sure to take a full swing back using the above-mentioned grip.

Have An Aggressive Mindset

Because most people don’t feel as comfortable with their backhand as they do their forehand, they tend to use the backhand as a push shot. This means that there isn’t much power on it; it’s simply a tool for getting the ball back over the net.

While the backhand isn’t usually as powerful as a player’s forehand, it still deserves as much attention. It should also be treated in the same manner such that more power should be put into the shot. By doing this, your opponents won't be able to anticipate your backhand as an easy shot.

And perhaps most importantly is that if a player only uses the backhand as a push shot, their stroke will never improve. This is why each backhand shot should be hit with focus and power.

Add caption
The One Handed Backhand 

The majority of tennis players use a two handed backhand. This is because it generates more power and people often feel like they have more control over the shot. It’s also less likely to give you tennis elbow.

That said, the one handed backhand is an acceptable shot. It is often more useful for chasing down balls, whereas the two handed backhand has a limited reach. What it really comes down to, however, is what you feel most comfortable with.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Keiji Tomita -- Work hard, play harder!

Keiji Tomita, is a 4 year veteran of the league, playing out of LA. Although starting tennis at a late age as a way to curb his 'bad habits', he has honed his skills and has become a true competitor on the court.

He is a restaurant manager of a Japanese restaurant, and also a guitar teacher. Here is a little more about him and his experiences with the league:

Which league are you a member of? 

Tennis Los Angeles.

How long have you participated in your league? 

Since July 2011

How often do you play? 

I try to set up 2 to 3 matches a week.

What do you like most about the league? 

I like our league because there are so many good players and different style of tennis, and we can play with anyone with anytime, and as many as I want. At tennis leagues I played before Tennis Los Angeles, an opponent was already assigned, and only once a week.

Tell us about your most memorable match(es)

It's a tough question, because there are so many matches I remember and that are memorable in many different ways. I'll just pick one, a match played one evening sometime ago. I lost the first set easily, and the beginning of the 2nd set, I injured my left leg, and I couldn't run. But I hate quitting for any reason, so I kept playing with one leg. At the end of 2nd set, the sun went down, it was getting darker, but the lights on our court were off!

Since it's dark and I couldn't see the ball, I suggested we stop playing and resume a different day. Knowing I couldn't move, my opponent rejected the offer and insisted he wanted to keep playing. So we kept playing, and somehow I took the 2nd set at 7-5. Again I asked if we should stop here, and his answer was "No". So next I asked if we can play a 10 point tie-breaker, his answer was "No". So I was forced to play whole 3rd set with one leg in darkness.

I was determined to play the whole 3rd set, I focused, refused to give in, and ended up wining the 3rd set at 7-6. He was furious after the match, saying, " I wanted to stop playing!" It was funny and comical at this moment. He really wanted to win. I am proud of this match in terms of my determination.

Who are your favorite rivals in the league? Why? 

This is another tough question, because I have many favorite rivals. I feel it's unfair to mention just a few names here since I equally respect them, but if I have to pick one, I have to pick Valentin Ionescu-Tiba. We've played 34 matches so far, and will keep going.

One of the things I am proud of between us is that we've had no problems at all so far. I don't think we've had any disagreements at any single point. I accept his calls and he trusts my calls; it's a mutual respect.

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

I have to say I love our league; I've met many good players and great people in this league. I am blessed.

How did you get started playing tennis?

I started playing tennis a little after I turned 30 years old. My boss initially taught me. He had experience teaching tennis in Japan, and one of his students was a coach of Kimiko Date, one of the top women pros back in the 90's. But I really got into tennis after I joined Tennis LA.

What level player are you?

I am currently playing at 3.5.


Who are your favorite pro players? Why?

Kei Nishikori! If you are Japanese, there is no other option. Anyone in Japan recognizes his name now, he is a hero.

Tell us a little bit more about yourself.

I was born in Japan and grew up there. I came to the USA for my college, and ended up staying here. I am now a US citizen. I also play and teach guitar professionally, and have worked at a Japanese restaurant as a manager for many years.

Monday, August 10, 2015

What You Should Know About Sportsmanship and Courtesy on the Tennis Court

Whenever somebody wants to improve their tennis game, let alone any sport, they take plenty of time to research and learn all the different techniques, tips and tricks. Though what often flies under the radar is basic sportsmanship and courtesy.

If you play recreational tennis, chances are you want to enjoy yourself—your opponent does to. Although you likely already exhibit sportsmanship, it’s always good to remind yourself of what you should be doing before, during and after your matches.

Here are a few different things you should keep in mind for your next match:

Show up on Time

Because tennis is usually a 1 on 1 sport, it’s essential that you show up on time because the game can’t start without you. This is the case for Tennis League matches as players can choose their own playing times to fit their busy schedules. So any delay is going has the potential to throw a person’s schedule off and may leave them a bit frustrated, and probably not make them want to play with you again.

Don't do this
Restrain your Anger

Whether it’s a double fault or a missed volley, tennis can often leave us frustrated. You may have seen pros on TV smashing their rackets, yelling, or launching balls into the crowd, for example. While this makes for good television, you should never do these things on the court.

Refrain from Arguing

One of the unique aspects of tennis is that the points are often subjective, in that it relies on a player to make the call whether a shot was in or out. Plus, the scoring can often get muddled. Both of these factors contribute to confusion, and often disagreement.

Although we may get frustrated at a bad call, it’s not likely that the other person will suddenly change their mind. Accept the point, and move on.

Call the Score

Going off of the last point, an easy way to avoid arguments is to make sure that you’re calling the score out loud after every service point of yours. And when you’re not serving, don’t hesitate to ask your opponent the score to make sure you’re both on the same page.

Win with Humility

Coming out on top in a lengthy 3-set match is a sweet feeling. It makes you feel good and you want to let your opponent know—bad idea. As good as you’re feeling they’re probably feeling the opposite. Simply congratulate them on a hard fought match and save the bragging for family and friends.

Lose with Grace

Whether you lost a nail biter, or got crushed in both sets, losing is never easy. Some people can’t accept a loss, especially when they feel like they had a better shot. They may walk off the court without saying anything, or complaining about the score from the previous set—this accomplishes nothing.

Even the pros don’t win all the time. It stings for the world’s best to lose, especially when they were the favorite, but they accept their loss, shake hands and prepare even harder for the next match.


Just Have Fun

Sure, it’s cliché, but that’s why you’re playing tennis isn’t it? It’s okay to be competitive and want to win, but don’t lose sight of the fact that you love the game of tennis and want to savor every moment you spend playing it.

Next time you’re on the court, make sure to keep these things in mind. It’ll likely make your matches more enjoyable, and your opponent will surely be glad too.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Mark Winkelstein -- Tennis in Charm City

Mark Winkelstein, has been playing in Tennis Baltimore for several years now, having just hit the 25-match milestone--with a winning record to boot. He's a marketing specialist by trade and spends a lot of time outdoors, enjoying the city of Baltimore and it's beautiful harbor.

Here are some of his thoughts and experiences with the league:

How long have you participated in your league?

On and off for 3 years.

How did you first learn about it?

Referral from a colleague.

How often do you play? 

I try to get out at least 2-3 times/month.

What do you like most about the league?

I love the ability to set up my own matches and work them around my hectic schedule. Everyone I have encountered has been responsive and friendly, and the matches are usually competitive.

Tell us about your most memorable match(es).

I have had a couple of really good 3 set matches, especially in the playoffs. Most players in the league appreciate a good close match and are gracious in victory and defeat.

Who are your favorite rivals in the league? Why?

I have had some of my best matches with Michael Gries, Colby Catania, and Jon Chalik. No real rivalries yet as I haven’t really played anyone more than twice.

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

This league provides me the opportunity to play with a great mix of players with many different strengths and styles. It has challenged me to improve parts of my game that I was able to get away with just playing with the same friends over and over. Overall, everyone I have played has displayed great sportsmanship and camaraderie. There have been very few of my 25 matches that I felt like I wasted my time.

How did you get started playing tennis? 

I started playing high school and played through college. After college, I took about a 5 year break to focus on racquetball. In 2012, I decided to get back into tennis and start to shake off the rust. This league was a perfect avenue to do that.

What do you love about tennis?

I love that it is an individual sport that tests your mental and physical strength. I love that you never have anyone to blame but yourself for a loss, or nobody to credit but yourself for a win.

Who are your favorite pro players? Why?

I am a big Roger Federer fan, mostly because of his unshakable demeanor and the way he carries himself in defeat.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a Senior Marketing Specialist for a specialty insurance company. I spend a lot of time traveling to trade shows and events around North America (which is why I love the structure of this league so much with being able to schedule my own matches).

I grew up in Syracuse, NY and am an avid Syracuse Orange basketball fan. I have lived in Baltimore for about 15 years now and love this city, especially the Orioles. My hobbies outside of tennis include golf, cooking, and frequenting my favorite Baltimore bars and restaurants.

Monday, August 3, 2015

How to Master the Net: Volleys, Poaching, Lobs and more!

Tennis players devote plenty of time to practicing their ground strokes and serves, but oftentimes neglect working on volleys and playing at the net.

Although playing at the net is a fundamental part of tennis, it has fallen out of favor among many pros and is deemed aggressive by some experts. That said, it is still an indispensable part of the game that needs a lot of focus and attention.

Also, tennis players often avoid practicing volleys and overhead slams because they assume that volleys and overhead lobs are easy.
When they miss a volley during a match, they chock it up to bad luck. The reality is that volleys and lobs are strokes that deserve plenty of attention and require just as much technique as serves and ground strokes.

Dominating the net during your matches will put you on another level compared to your competition. Being able to respond to and perfectly place balls is a surefire way to get more points every match. 

Here are some things to take into consideration:

VOLLEYS

There’s nothing more frustrating than having a shot hit directly to you at the net, only to have it hit your racquet and then drop like a dud into the net.

The common approach to learning volleys is to use the ‘punch’ method, that is, using a direct, forceful punching motion when attacking the ball at the net. This is an effective means for getting the ball over, however, it’s important not to punch too hard as that will likely throw off your stroke.
Make sure to get a good feel for the stroke as that will do a lot more for accuracy.

Start by practicing basic forehand and backhand volley with a partner at the net. Once you can consistently get the ball over, work on placing the ball so that you can hit it to a spot where your opponent won’t be able to track it down.

OVERHEAD LOBS

Approaching the net when your opponent is in a weak position is a good idea. This is because they are likely to hit a soft shot, so you can easily hit a volley to where they won’t be able to track it down. However, what ends up happening often is that your opponent hits a lob overhead.

The overhead lob is such a tempting shot. It flies high, moving slowly, just asking to be smacked. Most people fall into this trap and try and crush these lobs, only to end up not getting it in.

Getting a solid return, perhaps even a winner, off a lob requires a few things including proper footwork, agility, and a smooth stroke. And of course, don’t try to kill it! Make sure to hit it hard, yes, but when people put 110% of their power into the shot more often than not it ends up out of play.

Have a partner with a few gentle lobs a few feet over your head. Don’t try and crush it, but hit it firmly enough to where you can put the shot away.

POACHING

The Bryan Brothers Poaching
This is a technique that is used in doubles matches where the partner of the server moves towards the opposite end of the court in anticipation of the serve’s return. This is an aggressive tactic and is a great way to get easy points off of soft returns.

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WRAP-UP 

A lot of pro tennis players get to the top through their skills at the net. Maybe yours will take you to the next level too. Always make sure to practice volleys and hitting overhead lobs, the latter of which rarely gets practiced. Then during games, be aggressive and don’t hesitate to put your new skills into practice.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Jonas Persson -- 100 Matches in the Bag

Jonas Persson, has reached the century mark, playing 100 games as a member of Tennis Philly. He's honed his skills a great deal since he started playing in 2010 and has developed a number of rivalries and has had several memorable matches.

He's a software developer by trade, originally from Sweden. and has two beautiful children. Here's a little more about him, as well as some thought and experiences with the league:

How long have you participated in your league? 

I've been enjoying the league since the summer of 2010.

How did you first learn about it? 

I found it on the Internet. I had been playing with a friend for a while, but wanted to find more opponents (so I could play more often), and after browsing cyber space for a while I stumbled onto the site.

How often do you play?

I would like to play twice a week, but with two little kids and a very busy wife, I play as often as I can, which vary depending on schedule. I think I average a match a week during the spring and fall.

What do you like most about the league?

The flexibility, getting to play against different styles, and, also, the competitive edge. I haven't played anyone but friends before, and I like to push myself to get to the play-offs, etc. It brings a little extra nerve to the match.

Tell us about your most memorable match(es).

There are so many really fun matches. this spring I've played a lot of really tight 3-setters. I've lost most of them, but it's been some remarkable rallies, and a lot of fun. I love matches that go to a third set and with long, nerve-wrecking rallies (even if I lose them more often than not- something I'm trying to improve).

My most memorable match was probably against Jon Vanscoyoc, whom I have a 7-0 record against. Jon is a great guy, and we've had many competitive matches but I've always come out on top. This time Jon was determined to break my unbeaten streak, and for the first time it went to three sets. After two close sets, the third set went to a tie-break, and I think I saved two match points before winning with 6-4, 6-7, 7-6. I almost felt guilty afterwards.

I should add, that the vast majority of players in the league are excellent sportsmen. They are pleasant, and interesting to talk to between games, and, I have experienced on more than a few occasions, opponents calling their own shots wide while I've had a bad angle and offer them the point by the benefit-of-the-doubt method (if not sure, assume in or on the line).

I should end memory lane with another great memory, which was winning the End of Year tourney in Key Biscayne, Florida, last fall. It was so much fun to get out and play at these great facilities, and to be lucky enough to win it. I had come down with my parents as babysitters for my 4-year old son, and it was a great little vacation for all of us. I wasn't expecting to win a single match, because I had just moved up a division and was getting schooled most matches that fall, but winning was just a bonus. The real fun was to meet some great people, enjoy the weather and family, and to play tennis. It doesn't get better than that- so thanks!

Who are your favorite rivals in the league? Why? 

Jon Vanscoyoc and Shaun Johnson are the players I've played the most. Jon is a great guy, and I'm a bit sad that we haven't played in the same league this year. Shaun I have a 3-3 record against. Every time I win, I walk away thinking I've broken the code, but he always comes back better than ever and beats me. I look forward to another close one next season.

Eric Fagin is another great guy to play. Fun rallies, and a really nice guy. Last match we played I was on the clock to pick up kids from daycare, but we decided to still go for a full third set. We tried to play quickly with short change overs, but the rallies just got longer and longer. It ended with me losing in a tiebreak, and getting back without a second to spare.

How did you get started playing tennis? 

I played a little with friends when I was 12-13. We just played on a public court nearby and always five setters. Usually we teamed up and played the Davis Cup format of two singles, a double, and two more singles. Then I had a 15-20 year break before I moved to Philadelphia and found Tennis Philly.

What level player are you?

3.5 and 4.0. I hope to establish myself at 4.0 this or next year.

What do you love about tennis? 

I love how it's a sport I believe I can grow old with. The courts closest to me have an 85 year old man playing. He takes the bus the two blocks from his house to the tennis courts, and he doesn't move too well around the court anymore, but he still loves the game. I see all age groups play, and as my kids grow older I look forward to playing with them one day.

I also love that I can still improve my game. I watch YouTube instruction videos, and then go out and try to apply what I learnt. I've come a long way since 2010, and feel like I'm a much better player now compared to then, and I have tons to keep improving (and when my legs give out I have to adopt a less intense playing style, which will be a new challenge). Tennis is just getting more and more fun, and this spring season has been my best so far. Even though I have a 4-8 record I've been playing better and at a higher level, and I've had a fair chance of winning every match I've played.

Who are your favorite pro players? Why? 

I grew up in Sweden watching Stefan Edberg play serve-volley in Wimbledon. He's always been my favorite. Lately, I'm a Djokovic fan, and I like to watch Andy Murray's creative style when I have a chance.

Also, I'm following the progress of the Ymer brothers in Sweden. Mikael Ymer just lost the boys' Wimbledon finals a year before his last as a junior. Keep an eye out for him in the next few years to come :-)

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I'm a 37 year old Swede (born and raised). In 2002 I visited the US for the first time (Chicago) and found myself an American wife. I took her back to Sweden with me, but in 2007, we moved to Philadelphia. Since then, I have gotten two beautiful children, and found the amazing sport of tennis. I work as a software developer. I'm currently a self-employed consultant, which gives me great flexibility for daytime tennis (well needed since my evenings are usually dedicated to bedtime stories and making sure everyone eats their dinner).

Monday, July 20, 2015

5 Tips to Increase the Accuracy of Your First Serve

One of the unique aspects of tennis is that you’re allowed a ‘do-over’ when serving. If you miss your first serve, you have the opportunity to serve again.

The problem with this is that many players, especially beginners and intermediates, become too conservative with their 2nd serves. They put the bare minimum amount of power on it and then are faced with a powerful return from their opponent.

Ideally, you would get your first serve in every time, although even professionals don’t have near 100% accuracy with their first serves. However, there are a number of ways to improve your accuracy.

Keep the Same Serve

To continue on the topic of consistency, you should stick to the same technique for all your first serves. Instead of using a variation of first serves that are flat, have top-spin etc. learn one. Master that serve and then in the future you may choose to implement different techniques, but make sure not to get ahead of yourself.

Use the Proper Grip 

There is a wide variety of grips used in tennis. However, the best grip for a serve is the ‘continental grip' (see left). This grip requires you to have your right knuckle lined up with the right edge of the racquet. This keeps the arm straight and allows the server to serve the ball with accuracy and control.

Practice and Preparation

A single serve isn’t going to leave anyone gasping for breath. Though if you do dozens of serves back to back you’re definitely going to get your heart pumping.

Serving a tennis ball is requires an exertion of effort because you are using a number of different muscles in your body, and are generating a ton of power. When done continuously it requires you to be in proper shape.

The last thing you want is fatigue to bring down the quality of your serve in a match. Not only should you be doing exercises to enhance your endurance, but you should also practice serving large amounts of balls.

Set Up Targets 

A surefire way to increase accuracy is to set up targets in the service boxes across the net. Set up 3-4 different targets in each box, varying them towards the center, corners, service line and singles line. Choose targets that can easily be knocked over like pylons or a pyramid of tennis balls—even a water bottle will do.

When serving, serve much softer than you would do in a match. The point of this exercise isn’t to develop power, but accuracy. It will definitely be difficult at first but really take time to master directing the position of your serve. Once you have that down you can begin to put some power behind it.

Develop a Ritual 


To consistently hit your first serves in, you need to be consistent with your habits. A good way to do this is by developing a ritual before each serve. You can try taking several deep breaths, bouncing the ball a few times, or staring across the net to the exact point where you want to hit your ball to.

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Conclusion

Missing your first serve isn't the end of the world. In fact, you should practice technique for your 2nd serve as well.

However, there are few things that are as unstoppable as a powerful and accurate first serve, which is why it's something you want to master.