October 4, 2012

I'm Working Out With Tennis Star Serena Williams

I was shopping in Wal-Mart recently and came across something I absolutely had to buy. The Serena Williams Workout Mix. I found it in the candle section (really) on one of those displays of soothing music to relax with where you can play samples of all of the music using their clever little sample player. And as soon as I saw it, I knew - I had to buy it.

Who knew Serena Williams was putting out workout mixes? I certainly did not and I actually try to keep up with this kind of stuff. But she is and lucky me, I found it.

So what exactly is the Serena Williams Workout Mix? It is one hour of non-stop music at 130 to 134 beats per minute. If you don't know anything about beats per minute, this speed would have you walking at a pretty good clip. The tracks are all remixes of songs that have been incredibly popular this past summer. In other words, if you keep up at all with Top 40-type pop hits, you'll recognize most of this stuff.

While I bought my Serena Williams Workout Mix at Wal-Mart, I found it a little cheaper on Amazon. Here's a link to the MP3 collection on Amazon if you're interested:

And - surprise, surprise - I also found the Serena Williams Workout Mix 2 with even more disco-ish remixes! Here's a link to that collection, also on Amazon:

Just FYI, if you purchase either of these MP3 collections through the above links, Tennis Fixation gets a small percentage of the purchase price. However, these CDs are available through a number of other sources, both on-line and in stores, so please feel free to buy them from wherever you'd like. But I can tell you - if you go check these out on Amazon, you get to listen to samples of each track and that can help you decide if you like the pace or the songs.

Here's my dream - doing Cardio Tennis with the Serena Williams mix playing in the background. I wonder if I could make that happen? I'll let you know.

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

October 1, 2012

When Your Tennis Lob Hits The Ceiling, Who Makes The Call?

I bet you're reading the title of this post and thinking, "Is that really a question?" Because that was my first reaction when I got this question from Tennis Fixation follower Wendy.

Wendy recently saw this post: When You Hit The Ceiling In Indoor Tennis. That post discusses exactly what happens when a lob hits the ceiling on an indoor tennis court. Specifically, it explains that the ceiling is a permanent fixture and, per Rule 13 of the USTA's Official Rules of Tennis, if a ball touches a permanent fixture before it hits the proper court (the opposing player's court), the player who hit the ball loses the point.

Now, while you would think it would be obvious whether or not a ball hits the ceiling, I can imagine a ball barely grazing the ceiling and there being a dispute. Look, I play in an indoor league on Fridays that is a very "competitive" league (and that is putting it nicely). Balls are often lobbed pretty high and I can see a dispute breaking out over whether or not a ball actually hit the ceiling.

As far as who makes the call in this situation, here is what I think:

While we know the outcome when a ball hits the ceiling (see the post cited above), the rules do not address the issue of who makes that call. So you have to go to The Code which governs the conduct of players in tennis matches.

This exact situation (hitting the ceiling) is not discussed. But I believe Paragraph 5 of the Code applies here. That paragraph states - 
 Player makes calls on own side of net. A player calls all shots landing on, or aimed at, the player's side of the court.
So if your opponent hits the lob, and it is obviously aimed at your side of the court, you get to make the call. And if your call is that the lob hit the ceiling, you win the point.

Thanks to Wendy for this great question. I really had to think about it. And now I'll be ready with the answer if it ever comes up in one of my own indoor matches.

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

September 26, 2012

What's The Weather Like On MY Tennis Court?

Autumn is officially here and, in Houston, that means that which I dread the most in my tennis matches - rainouts. While we don't get much in the way of cold, snow or ice here during the fall and winter, we can get plenty of rain. Ugh.

So watching the weather becomes a priority. And that's why I'm pretty happy with an app I found that gives me a very localized, very "micro" forecast of the weather right in my own neighborhood. The app is called "Ourcast" and I've put a shot of the opening screen to the left.

What can this app do? When you check in, it precisely identifies your location (using the pin drop feature) and then tells you, minute by minute, what the weather forecast is in your exact area for the next two hours. Since Houston is one of those places where it can be bright and sunny at my house but pouring rain at the tennis courts two miles down the road, this is just the kind of weather information I need.

Ourcast also allows you to broadcast what kind of weather experience you're having, letting others know just what to expect in your vicinity. It even allows you to comment on the weather - through words or through little smiley or pouty weather icons (depending on your mood, so if your tennis match gets rained out, you can choose the pouty rain cloud when checking in).

What I really like is that one of my local news stations is tied into the comments section of the app, allowing me to not only see what people like me think of the weather (with our smiley and pouty icons), but getting a little "professional" insight into what is going on.

Best thing about the Ourcast app? It's free. I always love free stuff. Especially if it might help my tennis game. You can find Ourcast in the iTunes store for your iPhone and there is also an Android app.

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

September 19, 2012

The Coman Tennis Tiebreak - It's So Easy!

Have you heard of this "Coman" tiebreak? Not the Conan tiebreak (check out the photo). Not the Coleman tiebreak. It's the "Coman" tiebreak.

Although the Coman tiebreak has been around since the 1980's, it was not until the early 2000's that it was adopted by the USTA for national league play, leading to its widespread acceptance.

So what's the difference between a Coman tiebreak and the standard tiebreak procedure?

As you know, a tiebreak is used when the score in a set reaches 6-6. It is one game that determines the winner of the set. So when the tiebreak is over, the winner will have won the set 7-6. Since it is a game that is part of the set, service rotation does not change.

To start a standard tiebreak, the player whose turn it is to serve begins by serving one point from the deuce court. Serve then passes to the opposing player or team who serves two points, the first from the ad court and the second from the deuce court. The serve then alternates between players or teams, with each serving two serves, first from the ad court and then from the deuce court. Players or teams switch sides between the 6th and 7th points and then every 6 points after that. The winner is the first team to reach at least 7 points AND be ahead in the tiebreak score by 2 points (so 7-6 is not a winning tiebreak score but 8-6 is). Note that a "super" tiebreak is sometimes used in lieu of playing a 3rd set where the tiebreak score may be first to 10 points.

So what about the Coman tiebreak? The Coman tiebreak is JUST LIKE the standard tiebreak except that players switch ends after the first point and then after every four points.

That's it.

Why this change?

1. In a standard tiebreak, during a doubles match, players will end up serving from both sides of the court, rather than from "their side." The Coman tiebreak ensures that doubles players will always serve from their side and thus helps provide some consistency within the set. In other words, the tiebreak serving conditions are consistent with the set serving conditions.

2. The Coman tiebreak also results in more frequent changes in sides, meaning that the effects of the court conditions (sun, wind, overhead lights, etc.) are more fairly experienced by both players or teams.

Now you're ready for any tiebreak that comes your way. Just remember - it's Coman. We're not talking about an old Arnold Schwarzenegger movie here!

Not sure what to do after the tiebreak? Check out this Tennis Fixation post for the answers: After The Tiebreaker, Who Serves?

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

September 17, 2012

After The Tiebreaker, Who Serves?

How many times have you played a tiebreaker after which everyone tries to figure out who gets to serve at the beginning of the next set? And from which side?

Maybe this has never happened to you. Maybe in every match you've played, everyone knows the rule. But I've played in plenty where the question has come up - most recently in a Girls 16s SuperChamps (and they should know) (and I was officiating, not playing) (as if). So here's the answer once and for all.

1. Who gets to serve after the tiebreaker?

Think of the tiebreaker as a game. Before the tiebreaker, you're tied at 6-all (or in a pro set, you might be tied 8-all, or 11-all, whatever). After the tiebreaker, the score for the set is now 7-6. So the tiebreaker is the 13th game of the set.  This means that whoever served the first serve of the tiebreaker, gets credit for serving this 13th game. So the serve for the next set passes to the other player or team. Get it?

In other words, in singles, if I served the first serve of the tiebreaker, you get to serve to start out the next set, even if somehow you had the last serve of the tiebreaker. I started the tiebreaker game so now its your turn to serve.

2. From which side do you serve after a tiebreaker?

Following the logic above, the tiebreaker is the 13th game and that means when its finished, since its an odd  game, players need to switch sides. So if I got first serve in the tiebreaker on the East side of the court (for example), now we start the second set with your serve and you serve from the East side of the court.  Whether we actually switch sides or not will depend on the score of the tiebreaker. But to know which side to be on, just go back to where that first server was in the tiebreaker game. (Yeah, it might mean some weird switching or no switching, but the 13th game logic applies and helps ensure that no player or team gets an unfair advantage due to sun or wind conditions.)

To sum it up - as long as you remember that the tiebreaker counts as a game and the server for that game is the first person who served in the tiebreaker, you should be able to figure out who serves after the tiebreaker and from where.

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

September 14, 2012

How Many Vibration Dampeners Can You Have On Your Tennis Racquet?

I recently got a great question from Tina S. asking if you can have more than one dampener on a tennis racquet.

I really didn't know the answer to this question which made me feel a little stupid since I consider myself "Queen of Tennis Rules, Codes and Other Court and Equipment Related Issues." So, before doing any kind of research on the question, I thought I'd ask some of my tennis pals to see if they knew the answer.

Well, let me tell you - people were adamant on this one. Yes! Of course they knew the answer! The problem was - some of my friends were unshakable in their belief that you could have one, and only one, dampener on your racquet. Others were just as insistent that you could have just as many dampeners on your racquet as you want, dammit!

So what's the answer? Well, I first looked at the ITF Rules of Tennis. Rule 4 governs "The Racket" and pretty much just states that racquets must comply with Appendix II of the Rules. Case 3 of Rule 4 is a little more helpful:
Case 3: Can vibration damping devices be placed on the strings of a racket? If so, where can they be placed?
Decision: Yes, but these devices may only be placed outside the pattern of the strings.
Case 3 refers to "damping devices," plural, being placed on the strings of "a racket." So that seems to me like its inferring that more than one device could be used. I'd say the answer is yes, more than one dampener can be used on a racquet.

If you look to Appendix II, paragraph a, you learn that devices "utilised solely and specifically to limit or prevent wear and tear or vibration" are permissible, but you don't get much info beyond that.

I think the best answer can be found on the USTA's website. Richard Kaufman, USTA Director of Officials, states: "Dampening devices may be located on the outside of the last cross string on the sides, top and/or bottom of the racket face. Multiple devices are permitted. The device may not be placed inside the outside cross strings but the device may touch the outside cross strings." (Click here to see his answer on the USTA's website.)

So Tina, use just as many vibration dampeners as you want!

If you'd like to know more about vibration dampeners and why you might use one (or more!), check out this Tennis Fixation post: Using A Vibration Dampener On Your Tennis Racquet.

Thanks to Tina for submitting her question. And if you have a tennis question, please send it in. As you can see, I love researching this stuff!

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved