June 28, 2009

Wimbledon Update: American Melanie Oudin Still In To Win!

The Championships - Wimbledon 2009 Day FourSo how does a 17-year-old unseeded qualifier mentally prepare herself for a third round match against No. 6 in the world Jelena Jankovic at perhaps the greatest Slam in tennis?

"[I] was just thinking that she was any other player, and this was any other match, and I was at any other tournament - you know, not like, on the biggest stage, at Wimbledon, playing my first top-10 player."

That's how American Melanie Oudin explained how she made it into the Round of 16 at Wimbledon yesterday. And that's how you have to mentally approach every tennis match you play (even if you're not at Wimbledon)! Good luck to Oudin in her next match against Agniewszka Radwanska of Poland.

And, BTW, Andy Roddick also advanced to the Round of 16, beating Austria's Jurgen Melzer. Andy remains as the last American man playing singles (no surprise there) and I would love to see him make it to the finals.

© Kim Selzman 2009
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June 25, 2009

Tennis Fashion Fix: The Women Of Wimbledon

Jeez! Maria Sharapova got knocked out of Wimbledon on Wednesday and I suddenly realized, if I'm going to say anything about what the women are wearing, I better hurry up and do it before they all disappear!

So, here is what Maria wore before she exited in Round 2. She came out on court in a cute, military-style jacket . . .

The Championships - Wimbledon 2009 Day One

I like this but don't think its too practical. I get it - dressing Maria Sharapova for Wimbledon is like putting on a Donna Karan show during Fashion Week. But I still think the jacket is pretentious.

Her dress was very form-fitting and had great detailing around the neckline. I'm sure this looks even better up close . . .


And here is what she wore as she exited Wimbledon, also from Nike, and pretty darn cute too . . .

Maria Sharapova crashes out of Wimbledon

It's too bad to see Sharapova out so early, especially since Wimbledon is a favorite tournament for her. But she is on her way back up the rankings and will surely be near the top soon.

© Kim Selzman 2009
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June 23, 2009

Tennis Fashion Fix: What Is Roger Wearing At Wimbledon?

Wimbledon has finally started and the big question is, of course, what is Roger Federer wearing? Here is a quick look at his Wimbledon gear which, in my opinion, is pretty darn elaborate. He comes on court in a blazer and slacks with his gold RF bag . . .

The Championships - Wimbledon 2009 Day One

He warms up in vest (!) and slacks (!!) . . .

The Championships - Wimbledon 2009 Day One

The collar and belt are gold . . .

The Championships - Wimbledon 2009 Day One

And the shoes . . . gold . . .

The Championships - Wimbledon 2009 Day One

You know I love Roger Federer, but this seems a little over the top. Stay tuned for more Wimbledon fashion updates and the answer to the burning question - how does he get those slacks off after the warm-up?

© Kim Selzman 2009
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June 22, 2009

Great Tennis One-Liners!

There are lots of little tennis tips floating around. They come from your teaching pro, your partner, your captain, maybe even your husband (definitely my husband). These "tennis one-liners" are often very useful since they distill a lot of information into one sentence or command that's easy to remember. Sometimes they're not so much useful as just really funny. Here are a few great tennis one-liners to jot down and keep in your bag to review before a match. Be sure and send me your own great tennis one-liners!
  • Keep your eye on the ball.
  • Hit to the open court.
  • Keep your head up.
  • Bend your knees.
  • Racquet out in front.
  • Fast feet, slow hands.
  • Play one point at a time.
  • Be consistent.
  • Move your feet.
And, my favorite and perhaps most useful:
  • Stop cussing and throwing your racquet!
You can see more great tennis one-liners by going to this post: More Great Tennis One-Liners!

© Kim Selzman 2009
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June 18, 2009

Quick Tennis Fix: New Shoes

Is it time for new tennis shoes? Your shoes are what give you support, cushioning and traction on the court so wearning good shoes is important. To see if its time for a new pair, look at the bottom of your shoe. The "outsole" of the shoe is the bottom covering that contacts the court. It should be patterned with waves, grooves, herringbone, etc., to provide traction. If the outsole is starting to wear away so that you can see layers and the traction is losing depth, its probably time to get a new pair of shoes. Another rule of thumb - if you play 2 to 3 times a week, you probably need a new pair of shoes every 5 to 6 months.

© Kim Selzman 2009
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June 15, 2009

Cleaning My Closet Of (Tennis) Clutter

As I told my good friend and tennis buddy Paula, this is my summer to clean out my closet and get rid of all of those clothes and shoes I never wear. I need to admit the mistake of some of my purchases (too big, too small, too hideous) and just get rid of them. Paula responded that she would not only like to do the same thing, but she also has several tennis outfits that she would like to just throw out. Well, I too have quite a few things in my "tennis closet" that I can't stand and, inspired by Paula, I am finally going to dispose of them:
  • the very cute Nike top that shows just a little bit too much cleavage (OK - way too much cleavage)
  • the two white skirts and the gray skirt that were such bargains but come down to my knees (I'm 5' 4" and look like a granny in these skirts.)
  • the couple of tops that are "old favorites" but are so worn out that I appear to be just in from Tennis Hobo Camp when I put them on
  • the black Nike skirt that fits - as long as I don't move (And you know how tennis is one of those games where you never really need to move, right?)
  • the 4 (yes, 4!) pairs of tennis shoes that are too worn out for me to wear but which I surely must have some other use for (What? Vases?)
  • the tennis dress that I bought on eBay that has never, ever fit me properly (Lesson learned - never buy something as hard to fit as a tennis dress without trying it on first.)
  • etc.
The problem with these items is that I feel guilty when I don't wear them but then I feel incredibly uncomfortable when I do wear them. And I have enough to think about with my tennis game without wondering "Does this skirt make me look fat?" during a match.

So, all of these things, plus many others, must go. My shoes will go to Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe recycling program (click HERE for more information). My clothes - well, I'm looking into the "freecycle" program as a place where I might find someone who could actually put the clothes to good use (click HERE for more information). And, I'll also go through all of my old equipment too (racquets, bags) to see what else needs to move on to a new home.

I hope you'll join me and Paula in the summer purge of bad tennis purchases! Clean out your own closet of tennis clutter! You'll not only feel better about yourself but maybe your game will actually improve (certainly mine will if I can quit pulling and tugging on my ill-fitting skirts)!

© Kim Selzman 2009
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June 12, 2009

Quick Tennis Fix: Wear Them Down!

OMG! I was in a doubles tennis clinic the other day and heard the greatest tip! It was hot, hot, hot by the time this clinic started. And it just got hotter as we were hitting. The pro said when it's hot like this, and you think you're in better physical condition than your opponent, you need to make them hit as many balls as possible. Just keep them out there on the court as long as you can and wear them down. I don't know why I hadn't thought about it this way! I get so impatient that I just want to hit the winner and finish the point. Yet I have seen so many ladies go completely limp in the heat, to the point that their early match play really has no relation to what they are doing by the end of the match. So - make friends with the sun (wearing your sunscreen of course)! If you feel like you can keep going in the sun longer than your opponent, make them play a few extra balls each point and wear them down.

© Kim Selzman 2009
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June 9, 2009

Pick On The Weak Link

You know that the most basic doubles strategy is to "pick on the weak link" - figure out which of your two opponents is worse and hit to her again and again. While this strategy alone may not win the match, it is usually a big component of doubles success.

The time to start looking for the weak link is, of course, during the warm-up. So recently, I played a match where my partner and I had warmed-up and then discussed who we thought was the weaker of our opponents. We had decided that both women were pretty consistent and we wouldn't necessarily pick on one of them. As the match wore on, I found myself getting into rallies at the net with one of the two women - the one who was taller, played the net more aggressively and got most everything back. Finally, thank goodness, my partner said to me, "Why are you hitting to her? The other one's a lot weaker. Hit to that one!"

Oh yeah! Pick on the weak link! I had not only forgotten that strategy, I was actually engaging in a one-on-one battle with the better player!

The lesson - just because you don't see the weak link early in the match doesn't mean there isn't one. The warm-up doesn't reveal everything. Lots of players are great at going through the motions of the warm-up. But then they refuse to come up to the net during the match. Or they get worn out and suddenly aren't so great. So constantly be looking for that weak link. And if your partner keeps hitting to the stronger player, by all means tell her to stop doing that!

© Kim Selzman 2009
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June 7, 2009

Federer Wins French Open!

At last, Roger Federer has done it - won the last Slam he needed to complete his career Grand Slam - the French Open. The last man to do that was Andre Agassi in 1991. And by winning at Roland Garros, Federer has tied Pete Sampras' record of 14 Slam wins. For a great recap of the win and some wonderful photos, click here to go to the GoToTennis Blog's story. For some reason, I myself feel very relieved that Federer finally won today!

Photo courtesy of Getty Images via GoToTennis Blog

© Kim Selzman 2009
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June 5, 2009

What Can You (Or I) Learn From The Pros?

As promised, I have been diligently watching the French Open, picking up as many Tennis Fixation tips to pass on as possible. Of course I'm watching mostly men's singles played by genetically gifted, highly trained pros. Which is, of course, the polar opposite of what I'm playing - mostly ladies' doubles played by ordinary, not necessarily athletically-inclined women.

So what can someone you and I learn from watching the likes of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer or Dinara Safina and Ana Ivanovic? How about:

1. Be confident. Dinara Safina is the No. 1 ranked woman tennis player in the world right now without having won a Slam. She has been trashed-talked by many for this, most notably by Serena Williams (claiming to be the true No. 1). Yet, watching Safina play in the French Open this week you can tell - she believes in herself and has every intention of winning this tournament. She just exudes confidence on the court and that has got to be hard to face when you're on the other side of the net. She is my pick to win this year's French Open for the women and that should put an end to any talk of her questionable No. 1 status.

2. Never underestimate your opponent. Venus Williams loses to No. 29 Agnes Szavay. Defending French Open Champ Ana Ivanovic loses to 19-year-old Victoria Azarenka. Jelena Jankovic loses to unseeded 19-year-old Romanian Sorana Cirstea. Rafael Nadal, four-time defending French Open Champion, loses to No. 23-ranked Robin Soderling of Sweden. Then Soderling proceeds to take out Andy Murray! You never know if your opponent may be about to have the match of their life so be ready for anything.

3. Work with what you've got. Dominika Cibulkova, the "scrappy Slovakian" (I love that), is 5' 3" and another come-out-of-nowhere player who somehow manages to not just beat, but totally dominate, 6' tall Maria Sharapova, taking her out 6-0, 6-2. I know that Sharapova is playing her first Slam since her shoulder surgery, but she's 6 feet tall! How intimidating is that! Good for Cibulkova for not letting her relatively small size get to her. She's an inspiration to ordinary-sized women everywhere.

4. Never give up. First round of French Open. Lleyton Hewitt vs. Ivo Karlovic. Karlovic sets a new ATP record - 55 aces in a single match! But Hewitt just keeps right on playing even though ace after ace is going by. Imagine what it must feel like to face 55 aces. That's enough to win 2 whole sets and almost two more games! And because he doesn't give up, Hewitt wins the match and proceeds to Round 2 of the French Open!

5. Be a good sport. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez takes a direct hit in her arm and, ultimately, the point on a hard volley hit by Serena Williams. Martinez Sanchez claims the ball first hit her racket then her arm before going over the net and giving Martinez Sanchez the point. After the match, which Williams won, Williams accuses Martinez Sanchez of "cheating" and Martinez Sanchez says Williams comments are "stupid." The post-match commentary, in my opinion is unnecessary. The match results are what they are. Be a good sport and move on.

6. Have grace under pressure. Right now, no one symbolizes grace under pressure better than Roger Federer. He is the best clay court player remaining in the men's singles draw at the French Open and yet he still has to fight to win every match he plays. But he rarely looks ruffled, even when he is down two sets to love against Tommy Haas and has to take it to five sets to win. Remaining calm and in control works for Roger Federed - maybe it could work for me too!

Photo by Bob Martin/SI

© Kim Selzman 2009
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June 3, 2009

Quick Tennis Fix: Balls!

What is up with all of the different tennis balls? Does it really matter to you, the ordinary player trying to have fun, what kind of balls you use? You may (or may not) know that extra duty balls are for hard courts and regular balls are usually for clay courts and the difference between them has to do with the felt covering. But, if you're playing a match and use a new can of balls for each match, you should not have any problems using either type of ball on any kind of court. And that new can of balls should make it through at least one match with no dead ball problems. So my recommendation? Buy the cheapest brand name balls you can find in bulk and play with those.

© Kim Selzman 2009
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