Monday, October 28, 2019

Player Profile: Arunprasad Sujanakumar: One of our passionate players in the Philly league has been playing for 9+ years

We caught up with Arunprasad Sujanakumar, he's been playing with TennisPhilly for an amazing 9+ years. He was the 2018 Player of the Year and currently 3rd for 2019. He's compiled an amazing 230 wins and 174 losses in his career. 

How did you get started playing tennis?
I used to watch in TV while i was a kid. Never visited a tennis court until 2003(23yo), got a racquet at Walmart  for $19 and hurt myself tried playing tennis for first time then decided not to play the game, I thought this game is not suitable for an adult to start at late stages. Then watched my first ever live tennis in 2004 USOPEN finals. Me and friends cheered for Leyton Hewitt against a player named 'Federer'(How i knew Fed back then). 
I was amazed by how Federer hit his single handed backhand, his overall game. Came back to the Tennis court and never stopped playing Tennis. Since then i followed Federer and tennis. People know me as "Federer fan". I would go on to say, my fav shot is my SH backhand when someone asks me.

In 2016, I played just 5 matches the entire year. I almost decided to quit as I moved far from my current place I lived. Absolutely no motivation to play. Then Federer wins the 2017 Australian out of nowhere. It motivated to pick up racquet again. Came back to the league. I learned better techniques this time. stronger forehand, Backhand. Improved my serve from YouTube tennis channels (top Tennis training, daily Tennis). Went on to win 2 consecutive championships in 2017. Was promoted to 4.5 for first time in 2017 summer since i joined the league as a 3.0 player in 2010. 

I was awarded player of the year Thrice(2011, 2012 and 2018) in 2012 i shared 'National player of the year' with another player. Won 5 championships so far. 3 Elite (2) and 2 advanced!

As I write this section of the questionnaire, I feel emotional a bit. :) as I realize how much tennis changed my life. Thanks to Tennis Philadelphia league who made this happen.

Which league are you a member of?
Tennis Philadelphia,  The Metro Philadelphia Tennis League

How long have you participated in your league?
9+ years. Since August 2010-Fall season. Member since July 2010. Arun's Profile

How did you first learn about it?
One of my acquaintances on the tennis courts. Arthur Galyash told me about the league. He  was responding to a challenge i mentioned to him in playing Tennis, that is I don’t get partners to play with. I was somewhere between 3.0-3.5 level player at that time.

How often do you play?
 Crazy level. Try to schedule matches at least 2 in a week. But hit with local players almost every other day.

What do you like most about the league?
Matching partners, Flex leagues and timings, website and Stats history, "The Playoffs"

Tell us about your most memorable match(es)
  • Beating Jason Rompola in 3 sets in 2012 summer league, my first win on a 4.5 player being at 4.0 level. 
  • Beating Milan Obradavic in 2017 summer Elite2 championship match. Came back from when Milan serving for the match. I found a last min technique to return his wicked lefty serve and it clicked. 
  • Loss to Jason Rompola in summer 2012 prior to my win against him: I was up 7-6, 5-1 40-15, then went on to lose: 7-6, 5-7, 6-7. Heartbreaking but those are matches made me a stronger player.
  • Beating Brian Calhoun in 2018 Spring season: My first win in 20 matches. I could say no one beats me 20 times in a row! :) But Calhoun and Jason are the type of players caused from me playing at 3.0 level back in 2011 to currently around 4.5 level.
  • Loss to Erich Plate Ortega in summer 2017: 7-6, 6-7, 10-8. 3+ hrs match on a 100+ Heat! don’t know if I can play a match like that again. i was up 8-5 and went on to lose.
  • Pretty much all of my matches with Andrew Levin in 2019 season are memorable. Edged Andrew 5-4 H-H in the season. 
  • Beating John Perineli summer 2019 : 5-7, 6-1, 10-7: I was down 7-3 in tie and then hit 3 drop shot winners in a row,  went on to win the match.
Who are your favorite rivals in the league? Why?
  • Andrew Levin: 15-5: we play at same level but somehow I edge him out. Most of our matches at least 2.5+ hrs. Very intense matches. 
  • Jeff Ware: 11-5: Not easy matches with Jeff. Not a good match up for my technique but somehow I slog it out.
  • Matt Gilbride: 5-3: Intense matches. Felt like he is gonna beat me every time we play. 
  • Erich Plate Ortega:  0-4: very different match up and though I don’t play at same level but came close twice to beat him. 
Do you have any other interesting comments about your experiences with the league?
Helped me to be healthy! I shed some pounds end of the year then in winter gain back again. Cannot wait to join back in spring season. Never got bored of the matches and seasons. 

Do you play to compete, or for fun?
Both. It’s a passion for me. I enjoy my wins and some of my losses.  But competing is what made me to improve my game. 

What level player are you? (NTRP rating)
4.5 (4.25 in the league based on my wins and losses)   

What do you love about tennis?  
I guess I love watching 2 players go at it each other on the tennis court. The emotions!, come backs, championship point after a hard fought match! Lot of things. 

Who are your favorite pro players? Why?
You would have guessed it by now. Federer from Q9 above. I also like Stan Waw, Now Tsitsipas,  Medvedev kind of getting there as my "to be followed" list.

Tell us a little bit more about yourself, for example: What do you do? Where did you grow up? What are your hobbies (besides tennis)? (Feel free to share any interesting details about your life.)
I work as an IT manager in Capegemini. Living in Downingtown, PA.  Grew up in South India playing cricket which may have helped me to transition to Tennis . Moved to USA in March 2003. 

My Hobbies Besides Tennis: Music, Taking Photos, now part of local community looking to contribute in community service. Have 2 kids. My wife just delivered our second one :)
My family likes and follows Federer too, including my 6yo. i guess that’s because of me . 

My wife thinks Federer is a perfect man in the whole world based off how he handles his Tennis, Family, Kids and Business. Not sure thought if she is passing any message to me by saying this.;)
I love to be a coach somewhere in the future only to keep doing what I love and share some of the things with the beginners, about how I improved my Tennis. I try teaching my son but he is not there yet. 
Tennis had made a great impact in my life. Again, thanks for the league and you have been the support for the change in my game. This is a great format and always recommend players who I meet to join the league. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Ray Gonzales - He's an integral part of our Tennis-Austin community.

We caught up with Ray Gonzales out the league.  He's played an amazing 333 matches over his 8 year career.  Last year Ray was Player of the Year runner-up and this year he's leading the race by only 10 points as of this writing.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.  What do you do?  Where did you grow up? What are your other hobbies?
Well, I retired from Time Warner Cable (now Spectrum) about 8 years ago.  I’ve always been somewhat into staying fit so I hit the gym at least 3x week and work with light weights.  I used to run and even ran an Austin marathon back in 2009.  Nowadays I get my cardio from tennis and speed walking my crazy dog, Archie.  Other hobbies include reading thriller novels, gardening/landscaping, and travel when I can afford it.  I grew up in west Texas.  Attended high school in a really small town, Mertzon, near San Angelo.  Would not trade growing up out there for anything.  Moved to Austin in 1972 and been here ever since!  Love it here.

Which league are you a member of?
Tennis-Austin,  Austin Tennis League

How long have you participated in your league?
Since August of 2011….8 years!

How did you first learn about it?
I was playing a match in a different league, and my opponent referred me to Tennis-Austin and I’m so glad that he did.

How often do you play?
I play at least 2-3 times per week.  I like to play at 12-15 matches during a season.  I love the sport and I’ve played almost 350 matches.

What do you like most about the league?
There’s no ONE thing I like about this league; there are MANY reasons why I will sign-up, season after season.  Just a few reasons:  easy to set up matches; the schedule reminder is wonderful, the coordinator is fair with level placement, easy to submit scores, fantastic discount based on number of matches played, fair and fun season playoffs, separate tournaments if you care to join, full list of tennis courts, fair rules and guidelines for players.  Just an overall statement; this league makes it EASY AND FUN!

Tell us about your most memorable match(es) and who are your favorite rivals in the league.
As we all know, you never know who is going to have a really great game and play really well on any given day.  That’s what makes tennis such a great sport.  But, we all have those certain opponents that we love to play because they consistently give you a FUN and COMPETITIVE match.  Sometimes I win, sometimes they win.  Recently, it seems that my matches have been very close, going 3 sets and 2 hours.  Not long ago, Tom Linehan and I played a 3rd set tie-break that went 16-14…crazy.  Other great rivals and fun matches have been played with David Sherby and  Brian Determan.  This current season has brought new players who I’ve really enjoyed playing:  Noah , Katar, Son, Ilya to name a few.

Do you have any other interesting comments about your experiences with the league?
I would just like to say that this league has really given me a sense of camaraderie and well-being.  All of the players I’ve met (both young and old) have been super kind.  Playing in the league has definitely helped to keep me a good physical condition.

How did you get started playing tennis?
Don’t laugh, but I picked up my first wooden racket back in 1968 when I was a senior in high school.  Played for a year and then dropped off for several years, then played occasionally for several more years.  Once I retired in 2011, I started playing regularly; and let me tell you, it was a rough and ugly start.
Do you play to compete or for fun?
BOTH!  Before every match that I play with someone, I will always say “let’s have fun”.  And it’s not so important if I win or lose; but, I always strive to hit winners and/or make decent shots.  And when I do hit a great shot, there’s not a better feeling!  And other players will tell you, that I will commend them on their play.  I’m wow’d and enjoy seeing great form and placement.

What level player are you?
I started out as a 3.0 player and was soon promoted to 3.5 level where I stayed for a few years. But recently my win/loss count hasn’t been so great.  I’m currently at a 3.25 level. I’m comfortable at this level and I still have the opportunity to play others at higher levels, which I do.

What do you love about tennis?
Tennis is a sport that exercises not only me physically, but also mentally.  As you get older in life, your body has a natural tendency to get slower; what a great feeling it is when I run down and return a difficult shot from my opponent.  Every time I play a match, I try to work on improving some part of my game; my serve, net play, backhand, forehand….something always needs improvement. And meeting so many different opponent personalities; all of them have been great sportsmen.  Tennis keeps me feeling young at heart.

Who are your favorite pro players and why?
Novak, Roger, Dominic Thiem, Tsitsipas, Serena, Gauf, Venus.  I’m an avid Tennis Channel fan.  And love to watch these guys play.  Each of them are all business when they play and give it their all.  Cool, calm, collected. Incredible players.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Player Profile: Vikram Sivakumar: Thankful to his grandfather for the love of tennis!

We checked in with Vikram Sivakumar from the franchise.  He's been a member with us since June 2017 and has just played his 50th match.

Which league are you a member of?
Tennis Portland  Advanced Division (4.0)

How long have you participated in your league?
I learnt about Tennis Portland in 2016. I had been looking for a flexible league since my grad school days back in Boston where I had played in MIT-Harvard tennis ladders over the summers which I had enjoyed. I was glad to find out about this league, and particularly liked the season based format. I finally got around to signing up for the Summer and Fall Leagues last year.

How did you first learn about it?
I stumbled upon it either through Facebook or through some tennis related website or through an ad at some USTA tennis tournament I played in, not sure.

How often do you play?
Depends. Sometimes too busy to play tennis, and go weeks without playing. Ideally I would like to play at least once or twice a week.

What do you like most about the league?
I like the online platform - super intuitive and easy to use and loaded with features and great info for tennis such as court locations and other useful information for players. Also it is refreshing to see the wide variety of playing styles which makes for some very interesting matches. 

Do you have any other interesting comments about your experiences with the league?
It is a very well managed league and works on an honor system with clearly stated rules. I have mostly found the opponents to be good with scheduling and showing up on time and several of them also overall good competitors and love for the game of tennis. The scheduling is entirely left to the players so that is a good thing for the players since they will not have to play when tired or injured and can play at their convenience. 

How did you get started playing tennis?
I was perhaps 8-9 years old. I remember watching Wimbledon semis and finals where the likes of Becker, Edberg and Lendl battled each other with their pre-synthetic era racquets. I was intrigued by the contrasting styles of play and in particular the serve and volley games of Edberg and Becker. On the women's side Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova were at the top of the game and their matches were always legendary. I also remember watching Davis cup matches in the early 90's including India vs France World group quarterfinal which India won. I remember also going to the stadium in New Delhi to watch a Davis cup match (India vs Croatia) and was thrilled to see Goran Ivanisevic in person. 

What level player are you? (NTRP rating)
3.5 -3.75 or so.

What do you love about tennis?  
I really liked reading Andre Agassi's autobiography where he compares tennis to boxing. Each shot is a punch or counterpunch depending on whether it is hit during attack or counterattack meant to throw the opponent off balance (or court position). The person who wins is not the one who pummels the opponent into submission  - rather the winner is the last man standing - the one who either weakens the opponent enough to throw a knockout punch (winning shot) or forces errors from the opponent (technical). I love the free flowing nature of the game and the way it allows for so many different styles of play and the sheer athleticism and fitness it demands of its players. It gives me motivation to improve my fitness levels. The engineer in me also loves the intense problem solving involved in competitive play and the technical details in various shots. In tennis, every opponent is different. The key is playing to the opponent's weaknesses and one's own strengths, being creative in designing points to bring in the element of surprise. Also there is a life lesson as well - if you lose a point or a game or a set or even a match, one need not despair - there is always next time - what's important is to reflect, learn from the previous point/game/set/match, do a complete mental reset and start all over again and give it your best each time.

Who are your favorite pro players? Why?
Currently Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens. I had the opportunity to watch Federer play Lleyton Hewitt at the US open in the 2004 final - was a memorable experience. Watching Federer on TV is great but watching him live in the stadium elevates the experience to a different level. Historically, I used to enjoy watching Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Jana Novotna, Martina Navratilova and Monica Seles.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, for example: What do you do? Where did you grow up? What are your hobbies (besides tennis)? (Feel free to share any interesting details about your life.) 
I grew up in India. I came to the United States when I was 17 or so for grad school. I spent 6 years in Boston where I got my doctorate degree before moving to Portland, Oregon for work.
The person whom I am most thankful for igniting the love of the game of tennis in me is my maternal grandfather PV Kalyanaraman  "Goalie Kalyani". I used to accompany him to a tennis club in Madurai, India where he played with his buddies until he was 65 or so. I was amazed at the camaraderie and friendships he cultivated at that club and also his matchless enthusiasm for the game of tennis in particular and for sports in general.  He was a man of many sporting talents of which tennis was just one. He played cricket and football (goalie!) as well and represented his districts in both sports.  He used to tell us about the old days - the players and the rivalries and the likes of Pancho Gonzales, Segura, Emerson and Rosewall. He even gifted me and my elder brother (my first tennis buddy) his old wooden and steel tennis racquets - we used to play with these in the terrace of our rented house or against the wall inside our rooms - it was hard to find tennis courts so we had to be flexible on playing surfaces! My grandfather recently passed away back in Chennai India. He was 94 years old. I will miss him dearly especially our conversations on sports and his unfailing wit and enthusiasm. His love of sports continues to live in his children and grandchildren, including his daughter who has been an award winning university athlete. I salute him for living life to the fullest with tremendous charm and joy and I am forever thankful to him for instilling in me a lifelong passion for the game of tennis.