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.



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.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Darko Teodorovic -- Tennis in the Mile-High City

Darko Teodorovic, won an exciting championship match last week, adding to an already impressive season.

He's truly passionate about the game and plays every chance he gets.

This is what he had to say about tennis and his experiences with the league:

Which league are you a member of? 

I am a member of Tennis Denver Summer 3.5 league, and spring mixed doubles with my wife as well. I just finished my Spring 3.0 league, and I won the championship.

How long have you participated in your league? 

I started in September of 2014, and I managed to play over 30 matches so far. With the rain in Colorado this spring, I'd say it is quite an accomplishment! With the whole summer league ahead of us, and fall too, I hope to play at least 50-60 matches this year.

How often do you play?

I have 3-5 matches every week, plus I hit with my wife every time we don't have a match.

What do you like most about the league? 

I like that there is a large pool of players to compete with. I like that admins are responsive. I love how easy it is to submit your scores - some other leagues require you to go on site and write in a notebook.

Tell us about your most memorable match(es).

My favorite match must be my championship match last week. I played Will twice before and I won both times. I was sure that I could win again, but it was hot and I got very tired and my legs were shaking, and I managed to lose the first set in a tie break. I didn't break down mentally, and I managed to come back in force to a 6-0 second set, and I was able to finish it at 6-2 for the final set.

Who are your favorite rivals in the league? 

I like playing Will and Derek in the 3.0 league, as they always give me a workout. Both of them are much lighter than I am and can run and put a racquet on almost every ball, and it makes for a fun game. I will see Will again in a competing 3.5 league through a local tennis center, so we will keep the rivalry going

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

I won a drawing for a new racquet - just as I was starting to beg my wife to buy a new one, I won the Roland Garros drawing and now I have a new Head Graphene Speed MP Pro. Thanks TennisDenver!

How did you get started playing tennis? 

I moved to states 16 years ago and I played for recreation with my dad a few times per year. Last year in July, my wife decided that she wants to play tennis because her parents were doing it, and that is when we got a personal coach for a few lessons, and I decided to join this league so I can play, as it is impossible to get "pick-up" tennis games.

What do you love about tennis? 

I love the fact that it is a great work out - last year I lost 10 lbs playing it - I gained them back over winter, and I hope to lose them again this season. I love the competition aspect - it is one on one, and you can't blame anyone else for your mistakes. I like that you can pick up a racquet and play and improve your game visibly with repetition, and the satisfaction I get when I see how much better my serve is now than it was 9 months ago. I love the feeling of seeing that ball land where I intended it to go.

Who are your favorite pro players? Why?

I love Novak Djokovic, as he is a fellow Serbian. I love his ground strokes, his playfulness, and how much he has improved over the last few years.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am originally from Bosnia, and when the war started, I moved to Serbia. When the war started there, I moved to the USA as a refugee. I am a Server Administrator for the Cancer Center at the University of Colorado. I spend all my free time playing tennis or doing stuff with my family. We have to large dogs that are spoiled rotten and demand long daily walks, preferably at the Cherry Creek State Park where they can be off-leash and swim in the creek. I do like basketball, mtn and road biking, hiking etc, but most of my hobbies have been on the back burner any day the weather is nice enough to swing a racquet.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

How to Treat and Prevent Tennis Elbow

In tennis, when you constantly swing your racquet it forces the muscles and tendons in the forearms to work excessively. This can often lead to inflammation in the elbow—known as Tennis Elbow.

Not only is Tennis Elbow an uncomfortable and irritating physical condition, but it forces people to take time off the court which does a number on an avid player’s mental and physical well-being. If you find that you are suffering from Tennis Elbow, here is some information that will help you.

Signs you are suffering from Tennis Elbow 

Although Tennis Elbow is quite explicit in its symptoms, there are a few factors to take into consideration to make sure that you really do have Tennis Elbow:

  • Pain occurs in the elbow when using the forearms and wrist, such as grabbing and lifting objects
  • Pain radiates from the outer part of the elbow 
  • Pain does not significantly subside throughout the day (i.e. chronic) 
Before you rush to a diagnosis, it’s in your best interest to seek out a medical professional so that they can give you the proper diagnosis, and advice going forward.


Because Tennis Elbow is chronic and not acute, it is not a quick fix. Here are the most common treatments that doctors will recommend and that you should consider:

Rest and Relaxation: Tennis Elbow is a product of inflammation, and therefore it is necessary to rest the affected arm. This will allow the tightness and pain to subside. Not only does this mean taking time off from the court, but also avoiding any activities that will put undue stress on the forearm and wrist.

Physical Therapy: For many cases of Tennis Elbow, physical therapy will be suggested. During this time, therapists will work to strengthen the muscles and tendons in the forearms to both treat the pain, and prevent it from returning down the road.

Medication: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) will likely improve pain in the short term, yet they are not sufficient to treat the underlying causes of tennis elbow. Check with your doctor for more information.

Surgery: Surgery is rarely needed or suggested, except in cases of extended discomfort. This will usually be after 6 to 12 months of consistent treatment.


One reason people are so prone to Tennis Elbow is because of the nature of tennis, that is, it requires the use of repetitive ground strokes. This begs the question, however, as to why tennis pros don’t get tennis elbow.

It would seem inevitable that these pros, who practice hours a day virtually every day, don’t often suffer from tennis Elbow. So what’s their secret?

Technique: There is a lot of speculation, and evidence, that suggests Tennis Elbow can often be caused by poor form. Incorrect placement of the wrist, as well as poor grip technique, can exacerbate the likelihood of getting elbow pain. If you take tennis seriously, it’s likely that you have a coach or have a ‘tennis expert’ in your circle of playing partners. If not, then you may want to consider signing up for a few lessons, so that you can learn correct form to prevent injury down the road.

An Exercise Regimen: Because Tennis Elbow is caused by overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons, it is essential to strengthen these outside of tennis. Consider lifting weights a few times a week, as doing so will build muscles all over the body. You don’t need an intense routine; any moderate weight lifting will be sufficient to stimulate strength in the forearms.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Tomokazu Sawano -- An Expat Who Fell in Love with Tennis

Tomokazu Sawano, came to the United States nearly seven years ago. After getting a taste of the 'Big Apple' he found that tennis was a popular sport that would give him plenty of joy.

He is likely going to be leaving the USA soon, but hopefully he can play a few more Tennis League matches before he's gone.

Here is what Tomokazu had to say about tennis and his life in New York:

Which league are you a member of? 

Tennis-New York

How long have you participated in your league? 

Since April 2014.

How often do you play? 

About two or three matches a week. At least one over weekend and one or two more on weeknights. 

What do you like most about the league? 

A few things:

1) It makes me feel like being a tour pro (albeit just a wannabe) by playing on different courts every time depending on each opponent's preference. Indeed, I have played at 119th Riverside, 96th Riverside, Central Park, Inwood, Astoria, Flushing Meadow, Lincoln Terrace as well as my home court East River Park.

2) Opportunity to face diversified players with different styles and to learn through matches with them. I'm learning and progressing very very slowly. At first, I was a very simple baseline flat stroke player who never went to the net or hit slices. Then, through many matches I learned by going to the net to volley on a right occasion gave more chances to win a point. And then, through fighting many good slice hitters, I learned that I couldn't defend against them well unless I got to slice back these shots. Right now I'm trying to figure out how to tackle tough top spins and kicking serves, but cannot find an answer yet.

3) Capability to post and store all personal match records. I only wish they also kept past league standings and playoff brackets.

Tell us about your most memorable match(es).


1) A match when I won coming from behind 1-6; 7-5; TB 10-8. That was against a far better player and I still remember my final winning shot netting onto the opponent side.

2) Two matches where I blew 5-0 game leads (one I fended it off but another one I eventually lost the set) Ever since, however many games lead I get, I stay very nervous until the final point.

Who are your favorite rivals in the league? Why? 

Wendy Ham. As our face-to-face records simply tell (5W-5L as of June 2015), we are pretty much equal and we always have a very close match until the end which itself is very exciting and soundly nail-biting. She is very tactical and effectively changes her approaches over the course of a match. She learned and executes "Winning Ugly". We have other shared interests such as golf, and so far our face-to-face records there are quite lopsided in my favor.

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

It's very fair that the organizer promotes and relegates players between divisions. Personally it stings sometimes. In a season I had very good (maybe too good) records in 3.0 division and started to envision the championship. Then suddenly after another (5th actually in that season) dominant win I was promoted to 3.5 division mid-season and I totally lost advantage. Kind of naturally I lost in the first round of the playoff.

Wendy Ham showed me the trophy she had gotten in women's division and I really really missed one. (Actually the eventual winner of that 3.0 division for the season turned out to be a very good player (3.75 caliber now) so probably I would not have had big chance to win the trophy anyway.) Disclaimer: this is not a complaint at all to the league!

How did you get started playing tennis?

I just started in 2009 in my early 30s and thus I've never had integrative lessons / training and my playing style is self-developed. I was always playing soccer until my 20s but when decided to move into the US, I somehow thought it would be hard to keep playing soccer in the US (which I later found wrong) and started thinking that tennis was more easily accessible in the US and was a good alternative as an exercise.

After moving into the country, I was lucky enough to have a colleague living in Princeton NJ in a apartment with free tennis courts for residents. He also showed interest in tennis and we started to play every Sunday. In 2010 I found an online tennis meetup in NYC and started playing there instead of travelling to NJ. And then in 2013 a friend who likes tennis moved in and we started to play single matches every week, having myself find a fun of single matches. Then, that devotion culminated with joining the league in 2014.

What do you love about tennis?

An opportunity to put myself in a mentally very pressured / nervous state in a single match, especially in a close one, even if in a casual (not an official) match. Sometimes the pressure takes its toll on my mind but that's something special and I cannot often experience it in my daily life or at work.

Also, as opposed to soccer, tennis is an individual sports and every point/game/match is on myself. I just love that responsibility.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I'm an expat employee since 2009 from a major Japanese metal manufacturing company as Treasurer and Secretary. Getting a chance to work in the US, I've always tried to find opportunities to get friends with ordinary Americans besides my work and the league is helping me a great deal in that regard. As a temporary (albeit it past 6.5 years) expat, I will be most likely to return to Japan late in 2015 and will certainly miss the league (and the country).

Besides tennis, I started to avidly play golf since 2013 and it often conflicts with my weekend tennis schedules. I'm trying to balance them out as much as possible, and I believe I'm doing a good job mostly by planning more tennis matches on weeknights.