April 30, 2009

What Our Tennis Team Needs Is . . . A Cool Name!

The spring tennis season is practically over and summer season is on its way. You know what could really turn it all around for your team this summer? A really cool tennis team name! I've been collecting these for awhile since I was once "questioned" about a team name I chose (I stand by the team name I selected - The Tennis Chicks. It was fun and hip and our team t-shirt was very cute. The lady who questioned me was in her 70s and smoked.).

Below is a huge list of fun tennis team names for you to choose from. Be sure and send me your own list of great tennis team names!

VERY TENNIS SPECIFIC: Acers, Ad-Ins, Alley Cats, Alley Gators, Court Jesters, Dare Doubles, Double The Fun, Double Trouble, Hot Shots, Love Hurts, Love Stinks, Match Makers, Net Nuts, Net Setters, No Faults, Poachers, Queens of the Court, Racqueteers, Racquettes, Slammers, Shot Girls, Slice Girls, Smash Girls, Super Shots, Sweet Shots, Sweet Spots, Tennis Addicts, Tennis Angels, Topspinners, Volley Girls

CLEVER: Banger Sisters, Double Shots (I'm reading this as alcohol-related but maybe that's just me.), Drop Shots, Good Gets, Got Its, Grand Slammers, Kiss My Ace (you better have a good team if you pick with this name), Match Points, Miss Hits, Net Assets, Racquet Scientists (very clever), Serves You Right, Servivors, Sets In The City (clever), String Courtets, Terminetters, Tightly Strung

NOT TOO TENNIS-Y BUT I LIKE THEM: Dream Team, Laser Shots, Pure Insanity (I know no one will use this but I like it), Violet Offenders (you wear purple - get it?)

© Kim Selzman 2009
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April 28, 2009

Quick Tennis Fix: Stretch!

Here's your "Tennis Fix of the Day": Stretch before you get out on the court. Spending just 10 to 20 minutes stretching out your muscles before you start playing makes a huge difference in how quickly you can get into a groove. But waiting until you're out on the court means you probably won't do much stretching at all. (You need to get water and find your towel and spin the racquet and figure out whether to serve or receive . . . .) Stretching is an important part of getting ready for your match - making sure the large muscles in your legs and arms are warmed up can help prevent injuries and soreness. Look, if you're going to spend 15 minutes picking out your tennis outfit, you can spend at least that much time taking care of yourself with some real stretching!

© Kim Selzman 2009
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April 27, 2009

Drink! Drink! Drink!

No, I'm not talking about the latest wild party I've been to (which would be a very short, possibly non-existent post). Rather, the weather has warmed up really quickly and its time to hydrate.

You know how important it is to keep on drinking while you're playing tennis. What's the best way to get yourself hydrated on the courts?

1. Start drinking before you start playing. Don't wait to drink until you're already sweating it out on the courts.
2. Drink water. It's the best thing to keep you properly hydrated.
3. Try fruit-flavored, calorie-free waters. There are plenty of substitutes for water out there so give them a try and find the one you like.
4. Keep a water bottle or jug with you all the time, even when you're not playing.
5. Drink until your urine is pale yellow. Maybe you don't want to look at your urine. Or maybe you don't want to admit that you look at your urine. But this is a great way to tell whether or not your dehydrated. Pale yellow = good. Dark yellow = really bad.
6. After you finish, recover by drinking water or a sports drink to replenish your losses.

© Kim Selzman 2009
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April 24, 2009

Four In A Row!

I won my doubles match today and thereby set a new record for myself - four matches won in a row all in the same week! I know I've probably jinxed myself by talking about it, but I'm just really excited! Thanks to all of my great partners this week: Milo on Tuesday, Andrea on Wednesday, Monique on Thursday and Mimi on Friday. Hooray!

© Kim Selzman 2009
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Doubles Psychology 101

What do you need to play great doubles? A great serve? Solid returns? Strong net skills? Smashing overheads?

While all of these are important, perhaps the best thing you can bring to a doubles match is a positive attitude. Because not only do you need confidence in yourself, you've got a partner who may be looking to you for psychological support.

I played a doubles match yesterday and one of my opponents just could not get her first serve in. She didn't seem to have trouble with it during the warm-up but once the match started, that serve fell apart. And several times, throughout the match, she made comments about it: "I can't believe this." "What is wrong with me?" "Where is my serve today?" Her partner never said a word. Now, maybe they talked during changeovers and between points and her partner was supportive. But I sure didn't hear it or see it. Not in the exchanges I overheard and certainly not in the body language of either player. And they didn't look like they were talking that much anyway.

Maybe they didn't like each other. Maybe they'd never played together before. All I know is my partner and I ended up winning that match 6-1, 6-0.

When things aren't going well for me, it helps to know that my partner is still supportive of me. Any words of encouragement she can give can only help our situation. And so I always try to be positive with my partner - no matter how bad things get. Because we're partners!

© Kim Selzman 2009
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April 22, 2009

Recycling Tennis Balls

Today is Earth Day! As a tennis player, there is plenty you can do to go green. How about finding creative ways to recycle all of those old tennis balls? We all know people with dogs love them. But here are a few more ideas:

1. Toss a few tennis balls in the dryer to fluff up comforters, jackets or other heavy items.
2. Protect a trailer hitch with a tennis ball. Apparently people don’t like their trailer hitches getting scratched.
3. Make a small “safe” for valuables by cutting a 2” slit in the ball and storing small valuables inside. Be careful that this ball doesn't get used or thrown out!
4. Hang a tennis ball from the ceiling in the garage so it hits the car’s windshield when the car is in the right parking spot. No more hitting the garage wall as I have done. Really.
5. Cut an X into 4 balls and use on chair or table legs to protect the floors. Supposedly, elementary schools love this.
6. Strengthen your grip by squeezing on a tennis ball. You could keep one in your car just for this!

© Kim Selzman 2009
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April 21, 2009

"What Are They Talking About?"

Does it drive you crazy to see your doubles opponents strategizing between points? It drives me crazy. Even if I'm 99% sure that they're talking about where to go for lunch after the match, I'm not 100% sure so I can't help but wonder. Are they changing tactics? Have they spotted some weakness? Is one player telling the other to go down the line because I've let one too many of those shots go by?

If my opponents start talking to each other, I can think of all kinds of things they MIGHT be talking about. It doesn't matter whether I'm right or not - just thinking about it is enough to unnerve me. And if I'm thinking about them, I'm probably not thinking about my partner and what we should be doing to win the next point or the game or the match.

So how do you deal with these chatty, strategizing opponents? The answer is - you don't. Because they're only doing what's right. When playing doubles, YOU should be a chatty, strategizing opponent. You should be communicating with your partner after virtually every point. That's what the pros do. In fact, Venus Williams says its "clueless" not to be talking that often. So that's what you should do too.

Even if you're not a brilliant tennis tactician, there are plenty of things you can be talking about to your partner between points. Here's a list of just a few:
  • Tell your partner about anything you observed in the warm-up about your opponents.
  • Decide which of your opponents is weaker and how you are going to pick on her.
  • When its your turn to serve, let your partner know what kind of serve you're trying for - up the middle or out wide? hard and flat? soft and short?
  • Let your partner know where you're going to aim your return.
  • Suggest different serves and returns for your partner to try.
  • Let your partner know if you're going to poach.
  • Point out the set-ups that have caused your opponents to poach.
  • Talk about court positioning and whether you need to try something different.

This is a really short list of some really pertinent exchanges you and your partner should be having. Of course, there are lots of really un-pertinent exchanges you can have. For example, you can talk about where you bought the cute little skirt you're wearing (Wal-Mart, Junior's Department, only $10). Or you can comment on the great match the two of you played LAST week. Or you might even discuss where you're going for lunch. And, as you know, if you're facing someone like me, that may be all it takes to cause trouble on the other side of the net.

© Kim Selzman 2009
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April 20, 2009

Guess Who Has The Tennis Channel?

Thanks to my wonderful captain, Kathryn, I now have the Tennis Channel! Plus I have a lot of movie channels and some kind of extreme sports package - all for less than what I was paying for cable before. While I'm happy about all of this, somewhere in the back of my mind I'm vaguely pissed off at Comcast. Why did it take me having some fortuitous conversation at a tennis match for this to happen?

Anyway, I have spent a lot of time over the last several days doing Tennis Fixation "research" by watching Rafael Nadal win his 5th consecutive Monte Carlo Rolex-Masters on clay. The French Open is right around the corner and I plan on watching every bit of it on the Tennis Channel! Hooray!

© Kim Selzman 2009
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April 15, 2009

I May Switch To Head For This

Sorry to post something so totally not about "ordinary fun tennis" but this is hilarious:

Thanks to the Down The Line! Tennis blog for posting this great video!

© Kim Selzman 2009
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Surfing for Tennis Tips

Where can you go when you need a quick tweak for your backhand? Can anyone explain the ten different kinds of service spin you can put on a ball? How can you learn to "watch the ball hit the strings"?

Here are a few blogs and websites to check out when you want some quick tips to improve your tennis game:

A great source for tennis instructional tips aimed at all levels of players is about.com's Tennis section. This site not only gives some great instructions, it includes photo and video analysis of all kinds of shots and strategies. Jeff's Tennis Blog, included on this site, usually has some spur-of-the-moment updates on the world of tennis and suggestions about further improvements to your game.

The Tennis Channel's One Minute Clinics not only provide great tips, but they have awesome videos to go along with them. (As you may know from a previous post, I don't have the Tennis Channel so right now I can only enjoy it by checking out their web site.)

The USTA's website also has an Improve Your Game section that has tons of tips and videos you can watch.

Is your mental game is giving you problems? A great site for looking into the psychology of tennis is Sports Psychology for Tennis, a site aimed at all levels and all ages of players and usually analyzing the psychology of tennis by looking at what the pros are doing (which can be interesting even if you're not a head case).

© Kim Selzman 2009
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April 13, 2009

Hewitt Wins US Men's Clay Courts

Here's a photo of a Lleyton Hewitt backhand return taken by me with my cell phone at yesterday's U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships at Houston's River Oaks Country Club. Hewitt beat American Wayne Odesnik 6-2, 7-5. The match was lots of fun to watch as my seats were right up close to the action.

Hewitt is an incredible returner, changing it up constantly. Thank goodness. Because his first serve went in only 33% of the time! He's on his way to Monte Carlo right now for another clay court tournament so hopefully he'll be rested and ready to go for that.

I don't know what my favorite part of the match yesterday was - it might be all of the people-watching I got to do. Easter Sunday at River Oaks Country Club means lots of women in hats and high heels and lots of men in seersucker suits and pink slacks. But the best part was probably seeing Lleyton Hewitt's little girl run out onto the court to congratulate her daddy after his big win. Very sweet.

April 10, 2009

Mens' Clay Courts at River Oaks

The 2009 U.S. Mens' Clay Court Championship is going on right now at River Oaks Country Club here in Houston. I just love this photo - a typical day out at the tournament.

I will be there on Sunday for the singles finals thanks to my husband's college pal who is an attorney with the Tennis Channel. That's right - Tennis Channel box seats!

Hopefully, the finals will not be rained out and hopefully, someone I recognize will be playing. Stay tuned for updates!

Photo courtesy of www.mensclaycourt.com

© Kim Selzman 2009
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Finding the Fun in Losing

First, I want to say I won yesterday. I didn't lose, which is a nice change for me lately. But while I was really happy to win, I felt sorry for my opponents when they lost. I could just tell they were having a bad time and were not enjoying themselves at all when it became clear which way the match was going to go.

Now last week I too lost in tennis. I played a great doubles match where my partner and I ultimately lost 7-5, 7-5. But my partner and I played so well that, even though we lost, I walked away feeling great about my tennis game.

So how do you make sure that you're having a good time even when things don't go your way? How do you stop yourself from whacking your $200 racket on the court after a bad match? How do you find the fun in losing?

1. Don't focus on the negatives. Look for the positives. Even when everything seems to be going wrong, there are probably a few things that go right. Maybe you get a high percentage of first serves in. Maybe you successfully serve and volley several times. Maybe you are wearing the cutest tennis outfit that day (a good reason to keep ahead of the tennis fashion curve). Celebrate what went right for you when you lose.

2. Learn from your mistakes. As much as you may hate it, it does help to go back through the match you lost and figure out what you did wrong. Did you choose the wrong shots? Was your court positioning wrong? Were you unresponsive to what your opponents were doing? Even your losses should teach you something and help you improve.

3. Learn from your opponents. Try to figure out what your opponents saw in your game and how they used it to win. Or, if you feel like they didn't try to (or didn't need to) analyze your game too closely, think about how your opponents played and what made their game hard for you to handle. Example: I like to play aggressively up at the net. An easy way to win against me is to play a very casual, lobbing game and make me run around. Because I've noticed myself having a hard time with ladies who play this game, I try to be much more conscious of it and I also have tried using the lob more myself (although I still would rather be up at the net volleying).

4. Don't dwell on your losses. If you're going to enjoy yourself in tennis, if you're going to just SURVIVE week to week, you have to accept that you are going to lose every once in awhile. Even when you play an incredible game, your best game ever, you may lose. So you need to learn what you can from those losses and move on. Don't give up on tennis when you find yourself in a losing streak. And don't break that $200 racket!

© Kim Selzman 2009
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April 5, 2009

What Happened To Bethanie?

Bethanie Mattek-Sands did, as I indicated in my last post, play in this week's Sony Ericsson Open. In singles, she lost in the first round to Russian Anastasia Pivovarova, 7-6 (1), 6-3. In doubles, she and her Russian partner Nadia Petrova lost in the second round to Spaniards Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, 7-6, 6-4.

The real question for me was, of course, what has Bethanie wearing? As you can see from the above photo, she went with nothing over-the-top - pink tank and white skirt. But how about the hair? Red red red! I think blonde was a better look for Bethanie.

Photo from www.zimbio.com

© Kim Selzman 2009
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April 1, 2009

Who Is Bethanie Mattek-Sands?

So a recent little blurb in the Sports section caught my eye - "U.S. needs new star successors." The gist of this very small article was that, outside the Williams sisters, there are no upcoming U.S. women tennis players. To put it bluntly, "No [female] American teenager is being heralded as a future Grand Slam champion."

If you check the WTA rankings this week, there are four U.S. women in the top 100 - Serena Williams is No. 1 and Venus Williams is holding spot No. 6. The next ranked U.S. woman, coming in at No. 37, is Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Jill Craybas holds the next spot at No. 85. Jill Craybas I've heard of. But who is Bethanie Mattek-Sands?

I've never even heard of her let alone seen her play. So I thought to myself, "I'm going to track some information down on Bethanie. Maybe highlight her on my blog."

Well, the photo above comes from the WTA website's official entry on Bethanie. Sure, they give some stats. But the big news? She just got married in November 2008. Here's how the official WTA website puts it:
With a perfect sunset backdrop, Mattek wore a Romona Keveza dress and Marciano zebra print stiletto shoes. Her 5.5 carat custom engagement ring was paired with a wedding band resembling zebra stripes, 3.5 carats of black and white diamonds. The intimate wedding of just 40 guests in attendance consisted of friends and family who all dressed to the wedding's theme of black and white. The flower arrangements consisted of purple orchids, white lilies and white hydrangeas, and an ensemble of violins, drums, harp, flute and piano. The cake complimented the theme too, created with vanilla and strawberries and a layer of chocolate mousse.
I didn't realize you could get so much wedding information from the WTA! A description of the cake even! I think I've found a new addition to my Tennis Fixation favorite websites!

It appears that Bethanie is down in Miami right now, playing in the Sony Ericsson Open. I'll try to keep up with how she is doing and, of course, what she is wearing. Zebra stripes maybe?

© Kim Selzman 2009
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