August 31, 2009

Quick Tennis Fix: Pack Some Balls!

League tennis is starting up. Do you have a can of balls in your bag? I sure do.

After being the partner-who-never-remembers-to-bring-the-balls all last spring, I have now transformed myself into the partner who has a case of balls in the garage and always has at least one unopened can in her bag. So pack a can or two in your own bag so you're always prepared for your next match!

And, PS, those balls that were only used once, they don't count as new balls.


© Kim Selzman 2009
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August 30, 2009

The US Open Is (Almost) Here!!!

The U.S. Open starts tomorrow! At last!

Between the Tennis Channel and ESPN2, I plan to watch as much as I can possibly stand. And I will be sure to update anything of interest! I'm hoping, hoping that, with all the hours being broadcast, lots of doubles will be shown. And I'm really looking forward to seeing what the players will be wearing since they can get just as colorful as they want (vs. all-white Wimbledon).

Stay tuned to Tennis Fixation for your U.S. Open updates!


© Kim Selzman 2009
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August 27, 2009

Reaching Over the Net

I like to play up at the net just as much as the next person. I play a lot of doubles and don't have the greatest groundstrokes so the net is the best place for me to be. And a lot of ladies I come up against also like to be up at the net. Good for them! That's where you're supposed to be in doubles.

But a small percentage of ladies seem to play literally right on top of the net. And when the ball comes to them, they very often come up with incredible volleys. So it seems like a good idea. The closer, the better, right?

Well, I don't play 6 inches from the net as these ladies do for two reasons. 1. I need a little room to react and (hopefully) hit a good volley. 2. I don't want to contact the ball on the wrong side of the net.

So what do you do when you come up against these ladies who are playing right on top of the net, ladies who you THINK are so close to the net that they may be making contact with the ball before it crosses the net?

First, be aware of the rule against this. Rule 24(h) of the USTA's Official Rules of Tennis says that a player loses the point if "[t]he player hits the ball before it has passed the net . . . ."

A great explanation for what Rule 24(h) means is given on the USTA's website in their article "Reaching Over The Net" (click on the title to read the whole article). This article explains:
A player may break the plain of the net on a follow through from a shot as long as the ball was on that player’s side of the court when the ball was struck. (The player can only reach over to play a ball in the situation stated in the paragraph below).

The player in either situation may not touch the net, or the opponent’s court with anything he wears or carries or with any part of the body.
OK, so now that you understand the rule, what can you actually do if you think this is happening during a match? Before you do anything at all, be aware that the call as to whether the player hit the ball before it crossed the net is made by the player hitting the ball - not by you. So the most you can hope for is to make them aware of the rule (honestly, some people don't know) and to let them know you're watching. Do it like this:
  • First, watch the player carefully. If someone is constantly playing so close to the net that this might happen, it probably will happen (in my opinion).
  • Second, if you think the player has reached across the net, just ask them, "Did you reach across the net to hit that ball?" They will most likely say "no" but now you've put the idea in their head and they'll know you're watching.
  • Third, if this maybe-they-reached-across-the-net situation keeps happening, keep right on asking about it and bring up the rule: "You do know you can't reach across the net to hit the ball, right? You lose the point if you do." For the vast majority of people, these few steps will not only ensure that they don't reach across the net, but will actually get them to back off the net.
  • Finally, if you're convinced someone is repeatedly reaching across the net but is denying it, let them know you need to bring in a linesman or a captain to watch for this. At this point, you're basically accusing them of cheating. Most ladies will not want it to go this far and, again, should back off.

© Kim Selzman 2009
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August 24, 2009

Even More Great Tennis One-Liners!

Here's another edition of great tennis one-liners - those words of tennis wisdom distilled down into one easy-to-remember line. Keep this list handy to refer to right before your next match and see if it doesn't help you win! And be sure to send me your own awesome tennis one-liners to post here on Tennis Fixation!
  • Brush up on the ball.
  • Take the ball on the rise.
  • Watch the ball hit the strings.
  • Don’t swing at your volley.
  • Move your feet.
  • Hit through the ball.
And, as always, one of my favorites:
  • “Are you sure?” (referring to opponent’s line calls)
You can see more great tennis one-liners by checking out these posts: Great Tennis One-Liners! and More Great Tennis One-Liners!

© Kim Selzman 2009
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August 20, 2009

When You Hit the Ceiling In Indoor Tennis

I'm talking about literally hitting the ceiling in tennis (not just hitting a figurative ceiling in your game).

I play in an indoor league and during a recent warm-up, I hit the ceiling when feeding lobs. I asked the other players what happens if I hit the ceiling during the match and no one knew. Maybe you already know the answer to this one and think this is a stupid question with an obvious answer. But I've been playing in this indoor league for about 4 years and nobody out there that day knew what happens when a ball hits the ceiling during play.

So here's the answer!

According to Rule 2 of the USTA's Official Rules of Tennis, the ceiling over a tennis court is a permanent fixture (as are the backstops and sidestops, the spectators, the stands and seats for spectators, all other fixtures around and above the court, the chair umpire, line umpires, net umpire and ball persons). Rule 13 then explains that "If the ball touches a permanent fixture after it has hit the correct court, the player who hit the ball wins the point. If the ball in play touches a permanent fixture before it hits the ground, the player who hit the ball loses the point."

So if I hit a lob and it touches the ceiling before coming down on my opponent's side of the net, I lose the point. If I hit a ball those touches their side of the court and then somehow bounces up and touches the ceiling, the ball is good and can be played. (I guess I need to work on hitting overhead smashes that somehow bounce up and touch the ceiling.)

I think the lesson here is - hit some lobs to your opponents during warm-up to get an idea of just how high the ceiling is and then make sure you don't hit it!

© Kim Selzman 2009
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August 17, 2009

Tip From The Pro: Neutralizing The Lobber

Here is my first guest post from an incredible tennis pro that I have been working with for the past few years. Brian Montez is a teaching pro working with players of all levels and abilities, from kids to adults, beginners to open-level, and everything in between. Here, Brian gives a great doubles tip.

Everybody has been beaten by the infamous lobber. So how do you defend it? Staying back is an option, but does this really allow you to play offensively or are you just playing defensively and waiting for your opponent to make a mistake? In my opinion doubles is won at the net in most situations, so here is my solution:

As a team you should be in the net zone together as much as possible. When you are both in the net zone one of you should be on the offensive, moving forward, while the other is positioned in a neutral spot, the service line, to cover the lob as well as a possible shot that may be hit in your direction (the offensive player should be the one that is directly involved in the rally). As the ball is switched from player to player your positions should change as well. If you were the offensive player and the ball has been hit to your partner in the neutral position, you should then become the neutral player, sliding back to the service line, as your partner becomes the offensive player and moves forward. This type of movement should be incorporated on every shot to effectively cover that pesky lob!

If you want to contact Brian for lessons, call him at 713.417.6780.

© Kim Selzman 2009
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August 14, 2009

All New Tennis Fixation!

Welcome to the all new Tennis Fixation blog! This completely redesigned Tennis Fixation is better than ever - easier to navigate, way more colorful and full of all kinds of great tennis information. And lots of tennis balls everywhere, which I love, especially the purple ones! I think this new Tennis Fixation looks incredible! Lots of thanks to Shannon Dow of for working with me and making my ideas a reality. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!


© Kim Selzman 2009
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"But I LOVE My Opponents!"

Don't you hate playing your friends? Sure, you want to have fun. But what you really want to do is play well.

Maybe, if your friends are pretty good players, you want to show them you're not the weak link out on the court. (Read this post to figure out who IS the weak link: Pick On The Weak Link.) And what's the worst thing that can happen in this situation, the thing that inevitably happens? You completely tank. You play so poorly that you humiliate yourself. How can you ever face your friends again?

If this psychological drama doesn't sound familiar to you, congratulations. You're obviously a well-adjusted individual who does not let their athletic abilities (or inabilities) determine their self-worth. (Or possibly you're playing way too far down.)

But, if you've ever had even just a twinge of discomfort with playing your friends, here are a few things to think about that will get you through those matches with your friendship, and dignity, intact:

1. Realize that no one is thinking about you. You may think they are. But they're not. They're most likely thinking about themselves and how they are playing. In fact, your friends are probably just as worried as you about being perceived as the weakest link!

2. Forget about impressing anyone. It just never works. To play your best, you have to play relaxed. Trying to hit a really hard serve usually just results in hitting a really bad serve. And if you're in the situation where you need to impress someone because you're "trying out" for a team, its best to follow your mother's advice and just be yourself. Again, play relaxed and you'll see much better results.

3. Don't apologize for the quality of your play. I mean it. Absolutely do NOT apologize when you feel you are playing poorly. First, it doesn't help. Second, if your partner is upset because she thinks you're the reason for how badly things are going, apologizing will only piss her off more. Third, you have NOTHING to apologize for when you're playing tennis. It's a game for God's sake and it's supposed to be FUN!

4. And, remember - you only get better by playing better people. This is the one great truism about tennis. So don't feel badly if it turns out that, for this match at least, you ARE the weakest link. Play as well as YOU can and know that being beat by your friends can only make you a better player.

© Kim Selzman 2009
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August 11, 2009

"I HATE My Tennis Partner!"

First off, I don't HATE any of my partners. There are many, many of them and they are all lovely people with whom I enjoy playing tennis. I wouldn't play if I wasn't having fun, right?

And you probably don't hate your tennis partner either. But, sometimes, on occasion, maybe every once in awhile, you end up with a partner you're not completely compatible with. I call this the "mismatched partner."

Maybe your mismatched partner is someone new you've never played with before. Or never even met before! Maybe your mismatched partner is someone you've been invited to play with for fun. Or maybe your mismatched partner is someone you were assigned to play with by your team captain for a league match. However it happens, we’re all familiar with how difficult it can be to have to play with one of these mismatched partners.

Here are a few tips to make sure you not only get along with your mismatched partner, but that you enjoy playing and maybe win your match!

  1. Control your emotions. The worst thing you can do when you're unhappy with your partner is let her know it. It won't help her play any better and it probably won't make you feel any better. So get a grip on yourself and decide that, between the two of you, YOU are going to be the strong and positive leader.
  2. Be positive. It doesn't help anyone if you're negative. It makes you feel bad and it makes your partner feel even worse. If you have some helpful criticism, give it in an upbeat way. For example, if your partner won't come up to the net, telling her "I think we can really hurt them if we're both up at the net" is a lot more productive than "Why can't you just get up to the net??!!"
  3. Help your partner focus on tennis. Its hard to play with someone who isn't concentrating on your match. Instead of letting them ramble on about the chances of their son getting into a really good college, help them concentrate on your match by talking about what's happening on the court. Just letting them know what you're thinking about and planning, i.e., "I'm trying to serve up the middle to set you up for the poach", may be enough to get them focused on tennis.
  4. Communicate. Talking throughout the match can only help. Let your partner know what you're thinking. And if you're worried that this will bother your partner (maybe they'll think you're being hypercritical or don't know what you're talking about or are just talking too much) do what I do and claim you're mostly talking to yourself. Here's my standard disclaimer: "Don't let all of my talking get to you. I'm mostly talking to myself anyway."
  5. Don't throw in the towel. Giving up is the best way to lose your match. And once you've let your partner know you've given up, she will probably give up too. So don't quit because you never know what might happen. The match you think you may lose can turn out to be the incredible comeback story you're telling your tennis pals about later!
  6. Work on your own game. When all else fails, when you've finally decided the match is unwinnable because you just can't play well with this person, think about playing well for yourself. Play your game and find something you can work on - be more aggressive, hit your spin second serve, poach more, come in more, lob more. Use the match as an opportunity to improve your own game so you can walk away feeling good about tennis.
The mismatched partner - you have a hard time playing with them, but you can't back out. And you shouldn't! Because, I think this is a common tennis saying - tennis with a mismatched partner is always better than no tennis at all.

If you want to make sure YOU'RE not the mismatched partner, click on the following post and get my tips on How To Be A Great Tennis Partner!


© Kim Selzman 2009
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August 10, 2009

Tennis Destination: Galveston Country Club

The palm trees waving in the breeze, the sand blowing across the court, the running shoes on my feet . . . it can only be tennis at the Galveston Country Club! We spent the weekend at the beach and at the club where my husband barely beat me multiple times. Notice my fabulous service form in this pic. Notice how my service motion does not end with me in the court but still firmly behind the baseline - something may be wrong here. Oh well! Tennis at the beach is still lots of fun!

© Kim Selzman 2009
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August 7, 2009

Common Tennis Etiquette: When To Forfeit

So I'm getting ready to play a match for my indoor league this past Friday. I'm literally about to walk out the door when the captain of my team calls: Can I come by her house and get the score sheet to take to my 9am match? She was also going to play at 9 but the opposing team's captain just called her, at 8am THE DAY OF THE MATCH and FORFEITED 2 OF THE 4 LINES!

While my match is still on, my captain's match, and those of 3 other people on my team, have just been cancelled. So whatever plans those 4 people had made for the day to accommodate playing tennis have just gone out the window. No tennis for them today. And its probably too late for them to make any other tennis arrangements for that morning (let alone any other arrangements at all for that morning).

And since one of the cancelled matches was to occur at 9 am and one was set for 10:30am, and it is now 8am, it is too late to move the later match up to the 9am time slot because those players are all set to be there at 10:30, not at 9. So I will play at 9, my teammates will wait around to play at 10:30, and there will be an empty court just sitting there for several hours. Despite the fact that my teammates would have loved to play at 9am. Had they known this was going to happen.

Now, lest you think I am ranting here about nothing and this kind of gamesmanship and decision-making is just part of the game, let me add that, after my match, my partner and I talked to our two opponents who indicated their distress over the fact that this forfeiting of 2 lines had been going on ALL SUMMER LONG. They couldn't remember a match where their team had been able to get more than two lines worth of players together and, in fact, some weeks they had forfeited ALL 4 LINES!

If you don't see any problem here, don't read this post. If all you see is the opposing captain strategically holding out in the hopes that, at the last minute, her subs will come through, then you don't get it and you're not going to.

But if you see MULTIPLE problems with this situation, as I do, let's talk about the etiquette of forfeiting. When exactly do you call in a forfeit?

Now, I'm not talking about the forfeit that occurs during a match because someone is injured or sick. That is, for the most part, unavoidable and forgivable. I'm talking about the forfeit that occurs because you can't get enough players to fill your lines.

The reality is that, as a captain, you usually know this is going to happen several days before the day of the match. Sure, there are last minute forfeits because a player gets sick or her child gets sick or her car breaks down and you can't find a sub at that point to take her place. These are going to happen and you can't do anything about them (although reshuffling players and bringing in subs often does work).

But when you forfeit 2 lines - you know that's coming (I'm pretty sure the captain who forfeited to my team knew this was going to happen WEEKS in advance).

So, please, be polite to your opponents. Have some manners and FORFEIT THE NIGHT BEFORE. That is my rule and I think it should be everybody's rule. Don't get me wrong - I too have played the game of waiting until the last minute to forfeit, hoping that either my subs will come through or, even better, the other team will forfeit a line, saving me from forfeiting (and, of course, giving me some points). But the bottom line is there are many people making plans to play and whether they play or not depends on you. If these people are on your team, of course you would not think of inconveniencing them. But if they are your opponents, why screw them around? Have some "Common Tennis Etiquette" and call in your forfeit the night before.

© Kim Selzman 2009
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August 4, 2009

Tennis Destination: Vegas Baby!

I just got back from a long weekend in Las Vegas where we took our racquets, played one day at the Flamingo and basically gambled our money away all over the Strip. We stayed at The Palazzo (awesome), ate at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill (awesome) and Joe's Stone Crab (beyond awesome) and saw The Amazing Johnathan (weirdly awesome as my husband was on stage as a "volunteer" participant for 30 minutes of a 45 minute show). This pic was taken in the middle of Caesars Palace where, apparently, you can walk around the entire casino taking pictures with your tennis racquet and no one even looks at you sideways!

© Kim Selzman 2009
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August 3, 2009

100 Great Tennis Fixation Blog Posts!

Dear Tennis Fixation Readers:

Grab your tennis party outfit and celebrate the big event! This is the 100th post on the Tennis Fixation blog! Hooray!!!

Its good news for me because, honestly, when I started this, I wasn't sure I'd be able to think of 100 things to say about ordinary, fun tennis played by people like me. And good news for you because - guess what? I now realize I have 100s and 100s of things still left to say!

So, to celebrate this 100th blog post, here's a list of Tennis Fixation's Top 10 Posts, especially for you readers who may have missed a few of these. What qualifies as a Top 10 Post? Its one that either received plenty of comments (which I love) or its one that I really liked and think you would too. Enjoy and keep reading to support your Tennis Fixation! (To read one of these great posts, just click on the title.)


1. What Our Tennis Team Needs Is . . . A Cool Name! - This is absolutely the most popular post on Tennis Fixation. People from as far away as Russia and Italy have clicked on this post to figure out what to call their tennis team. See? Its a world-wide problem!

2. Why I Love Mini Court - I didn't think anyone would get this one since most of my friends will tell me they HATE mini-court. But a few people told me they became convinced of the benefits of mini-court by reading this post. Its as if I'm actually doing good in the tennis world!

3. Are You The Tennis Partner No One Wants To Play With? - I have played tennis with each and every one of these people and was just hoping that, if one of them read this, they might see themselves and change for the better. Unrealistically optimistic, I know.

4. It's A Tennis Party! - Another very popular post that is constantly clicked on. Which just proves - here at Tennis Fixation, we're addressing the issues that other tennis blogs are too scared to deal with - cool team names and tennis party favors.

5. "What Are They Talking About?" - This is another one of those issues that no other tennis blog is addressing - the crazy stuff we start thinking about when we're playing a match.

6. How To Be A Great Tennis Partner - This post came up when I started calculating how many different partners I might potentially play with each month. And the answer was - 16 different partners! So this post explains all of the things I do, and hopefully my partners do, to maximize the winning potential in those 16 partnerships.

7. 4 Reasons To Keep Playing Tennis - Your tennis pro isn't going to remind you why you need to keep playing tennis when you lose 6-0, 6-0. But this post will.

8. Sizing Up Opponents - I love improving my tennis game without actually doing any hard work. Here's a great post about how to play better tennis just by paying attention to who you're playing against.

9. Why Are You Losing To Weaker Opponents? - Another popular post that addressed a problem all of has have had - losing to someone we know we should beat!

10. Australian Open "Fashion"? - And here is exactly the type of post that typifies what Tennis Fixation is all about - tennis fashion! You won't win any matches because of it but, some days, looking cute may be all you've got!

© Kim Selzman 2009
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