August 30, 2010

Happy Birthday Andy!

Finally, the U.S. Open is here AND it's Andy Roddick's 28th birthday. Happy Birthday Andy! I hope, hope, hope this is the year Andy picks up his second Slam. I'm not saying that's likely but you never know what might happen. Good luck Andy and enjoy your birthday by beating the (fill in expletive) out of Stephane Robert today!

© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved

August 29, 2010

Wozniacki and Murray Clinch Top Spots in Olympus U.S. Open Series

The Olympus U.S. Open Series wrapped up yesterday with Caroline Wozniacki's 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win over Nadia Petrova in the Pilot Pen tournament. This put Wozniacki in the top spot for overall points on the women's side, followed by Kim Clijsters in 2nd place and Svetlana Kuzvetsova in 3rd.  On the men's side, Andy Murray is in 1st place, with Roger Federer taking 2nd and Mardy Fish at 3rd.

What does all of this mean for Wozniacki, Murray and any of the other top U.S. Open Series winners?  Well, the explanation from the Olympus U.S. Open Series website is:
The Olympus US Open Series Bonus Challenge links the performance of the top three men’s and top three women’s finishers at Series events to their performance at the US Open. In 2010, the Olympus US Open Series Men’s and Women’s Champions will compete for up to an additional $1 million in Bonus Prize Money.
For example, if Caroline Wozniacki wins the U.S. Open, she wins $1,000,000 in bonus prize money because of her Series win. If she finishes second at the Open, she gets $500,000 in bonus money and with a third place Open finish, she gets an extra $250,000.  So winning the Series puts players in contention for some serious bonus bucks, ups the publicity and focus they receive going into the Open and, I guess, makes tennis a lot more interesting overall.

By the way, I love this photo of Wozniacki after her Pilot Pen win.  She looks fresh, happy and ab fab in her Stella McCartney tennis gear.  I'm sure we'll be seeing lots of this at the upcoming U.S. Open as she's sure to be in it right up to the end (battling for that million dollar bonus!).


Photo by Matthew Stockman, Getty Images

© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved

August 28, 2010

Are You Taking Drugs That Cause Dehydration?

The heat wave just continues and its extremely important to stay hydrated when you're out on the tennis courts. But, be aware - it's not just the heat that can cause you to become dehydrated. Certain common drugs can also lead to dehydration because they cause you to urinate or perspire more than usual. These include diuretics (obviously), antihistamines, blood pressure drugs and a few psychiatric medications. If you're taking any of these, talk to your doctor to get all of the details and then up your water intake and avoid playing during the hottest times of the day.

Need more info on how to stay properly hydrated for tennis? Click on these Tennis Fixation posts:

© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved

August 26, 2010

The Tennis Fixation Store Is Now Open For Business!

I wanted to let all of my fabulous Tennis Fixation followers know that I have added "The Tennis Fixation Store" to this site to give you a quick and easy way to shop for things to improve your tennis game! 

You can see the screen shot to the left to get an idea of what the Tennis Fixation store looks like (lots of purple and pink of course!) but you can easily visit the whole store - just go to the very top of this page you're reading, look above the colorful tennis balls and the "Tennis Fixation" title, and then click on "The Tennis Fixation Store" link.  You'll be taken to a page on this blog where all of the items that I think are cool for tennis are listed.  You'll see lots of helpful info about the item as well as customer reviews. 

FYI - I want to be sure and disclose that this is an Amazon thingie - I am not yet computer smart enough to set up my own web site that makes money for me.  As my husband will be happy to spend hours telling you.

Also FYI - There may be a few items on here that may or may not actually improve your tennis game - like the Balmania lip balm in the little tennis ball keychain holder.   But these types of items do support the Tennis Fixation philosophy that if you can't be the best tennis player on the court, at least be the cutest!

Happy Tennis Shopping! 

© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved

August 25, 2010

Venus In Ralph Lauren!

So somehow I just got word that Venus Williams will be at Macy's Herald Square in NYC this Thursday to celebrate her new "partnership" with Polo Ralph Lauren. Apparently, Ralph Lauren is expanding the tennis portion of his empire beyond clothing the officials at Wimbledon to making stuff for people like you and me. And if this pic of Venus is any indication of what the Ralph Lauren tennis apparel is going to look like, I think he will have a hit on his hand. Venus looks fabulous in this outfit and I'm hoping she'll be in something like this at the upcoming U.S. Open (and not something like her infamous French Open lingerie outfit). So if you're in New York on Thursday (and maybe you are for the U.S. Open prelims), drop by Macy's to check out Venus and Ralph Lauren.

© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved

August 23, 2010

US Open Series: Week 6

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Here it is - the final week of the Olympus U.S. Open Series. Because next week is the start of the U.S. Open! Yay!

This past week. Roger Federer defeated Mardy Fish in Cincinnati to take home the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters' trophy.  And what a lovely trophy it is!  Just see the photo to the left.  I'm sure there's a story explaining what appears to be one of my Grandma's family heirloom vases held upside down and super-sized.  Here's another view just to make sure you're really appreciating this thing:

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

On the women's side, as of this writing, they have not even finished their semi-final matches in Montreal's Rogers Cup tournament. So Carolina Wozniacki and Svetlana Kuznetzova are waiting around to play each other as are Victoria Azarenka and Vera Zvonareva. Hopefully, they'll finish soon.

So - just one more week of this Olympus U.S. Open Series! Both the men and the women will be in the "Pilot Pen Tennis at Yale" tournament in New Haven, Connecticut. That means we only have to watch one tournament this week!

So here is your tennis television viewing schedule for this week:

Thursday, 8/26/10
1-5 pm – Pilot Pen Tennis, ESPN2
11 pm-1 am – Pilot Pen Tennis, ESPN2

Friday, 8/27/10
12-4pm – Pilot Pen Tennis, ESPN2
7-9 pm – Pilot Pen Tennis, ESPN2

Saturday, 8/28/10
1-3 pm – Pilot Pen Tennis, CBS
7-9 pm – Pilot Pen Tennis, ESPN2

© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved

August 21, 2010

Your Tennis Team Needs To Practice

What makes a tennis team great?  A good captain?  Strong players?  Cute uniforms?

Having been on all kinds of tennis teams, good and bad, I think that part of what makes a tennis team great is that they are working together towards a common goal.  Whether its moving up to the next level, winning a team tournament, or just having a really fun time playing tennis with friends, a happy, successful team is the one where everyone's on the same page.

A good way to get on that page is to have team practices.  I'm not saying you need to have weekly practices throughout the year to succeed, although that would probably help your team get to a higher level, but rather to get together as a team at least a few times before the next season starts.

Why?  Well, this is just my opinion, but I think practicing as a team instills some camaraderie or "esprit de corps" that you can't get any other way.  Even if you practice regularly with your partner, practicing with your teammates is different and beneficial to the team as a whole.

Now, how do you make these team practices happen?  If you're the team captain, just call a practice.  Do NOT send out an e-mail asking if everyone thinks this is a good idea and asking for their availability.  I guarantee, if your team has not been practicing together in the past and you ask for your team member's opinions, half the people won't want to do it at all and they will all have different and conflicting schedules.  (I'm speaking from experience here and I have the chain of 24 e-mails to prove it.)  So, captains, just call a practice.

If you're not the captain, suggest it to your captain and offer to help get it going.  If your captain isn't going for this idea, let her know you'd like to try it and set something up just for whoever's interested and see what happens. 

Now, once you schedule a practice, make sure your team actually gets some benefit from it.  So here are a few tips for ensuring a great team practice:

1. Schedule practices when you're going to play.  Team members need to start making themselves available to play league matches.  So if your league play will be on Tuesday mornings, schedule team practices for Tuesday mornings.

2. Try to get most of your players there.  I'm saying this because I promise you - you will never have a team practice where every single team member shows up.  But if you can get at least enough people to play tennis, singles or doubles depending on what your team plays, then that's probably a good practice.

3. Have a plan for your practice.  You don't have unlimited time for a practice, probably only an hour to an hour and a half.  So have a plan.  For example, if your team has regular partnerships, try playing them against each other to determine who will play what line.  If your team switches partners regularly, try pairing different people together to see who works well together.  And don't try playing entire matches or even entire sets.  You can get pretty much all of the information you need by playing as few as 8 games.

4. Remember - it's just practice. Make sure it's fun. Enough things are going to go wrong once league starts. So team practice needs to be a place where everyone gets along and enjoys themselves.

© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved

August 20, 2010

The Rubberband Vibration Dampener

One more thing about vibration dampeners . . .

In my post Using a Vibration Dampener on Your Tennis Racquet, I talked about why you might or might not want to use a vibration dampener on your racquet. In summary, with one you reduce string vibration and possibly noise. But you also reduce the amount of "feel" you get when you hit the ball.

Well, I can't let this subject go without talking about the famous (or infamous) rubberband vibration dampener and one its most well-known proponents - Andre Agassi. Apparently, Andre was not only a fan of vibration dampeners but he preferred to rig his racquet with the rubberband version (see photo).

And, now, you can do this too! By clicking on this link - How to Install Rubberband Damper - you will be taken to a post that clearly explains, with photos, how to tie a rubberband onto your strings to create a vibration dampener. It evens shows you the size of rubberband preferred by Andre - Rubberband #64 (in case you wanted to know the exact size to use).

I myself gave this a try (all part of the R&D we do here at Tennis Fixation) and I can report that a rubberband really does work as a vibration dampener! (As if Andre Agassi might be wrong about this.) But, as I've previously concluded, I am not a vibration dampener person so I didn't keep this on my strings for long.

But maybe it will work for you! If you give the rubberband dampener a try, let me know what you think.

© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved

August 18, 2010

US Open Series: Week 5

The countdown to the U.S. Open continues as we enter Week 5 of the Olympus U.S. Open Series. Here's what I thought was interesting last week:
  • Maria Kirilenko and Victoria Azarenka won in doubles at the Western & Southern Financial Group Women's Open in Cincinnati Ohio, beating doubles specialists Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs. I thought that was pretty impressive since Azarenka is not known for being all that great at doubles.
  • Azarenka now moves into a tie for 4th place in the women's U.S. Open Series standings with Svetlana Kuznetsova and behind Maria Sharapova in 1st place, Kim Clijsters in 2nd and Agnieszka Radwanska in 3rd. Yes, that's right - Maria Sharapova is currently in 1st!
  • Andy Murray leads on the men's side with David Nalbandian at 2nd (!) and Roger Federer in a 3-way tie for 3rd with Mardy Fish and Sam Querrey (!!!).
  • Bethanie Mattek-Sands is blogging about the U.S. Open Series for USA Today. I love Bethanie so this should be good! Click on this post to see what she's got to say: Tattoos, tennis, sky-high heels: Behind scenes on WTA Tour.
The Series continues this week with the men moving onto Cincinnati for the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters and the women in Montreal for the Rogers Cup. Here's the Week 5 TV schedule:

Tuesday, 8/17/10
1-9 pm – Men, Western & Southern Financial Group Masters, Cincinnati, Ohio, Tennis Channel

Wednesday, 8/18/10
1-9 pm – Men, Western & Southern, Tennis Channel

Thursday, 8/19/10
12-4 pm – Men, Western & Southern, ESPN2
7-9 pm – Men, Western & Southern, ESPN2

Friday, 8/20/10
12-4 pm – Men, Western & Southern, ESPN2
6-10 pm – Women, Rogers Cup, Montreal, Canada, Tennis Channel
10 pm-12 am – Men, Western & Southern, ESPN2

Saturday, 8/21/10
12-2 am – Women, Rogers Cup, ESPN2
2-4 pm – Men, Western & Southern, ESPN2
4-6 pm – Women, Rogers Cup, ESPN2
7-9 pm – Men, Western & Southern, ESPN2
9-11 pm – Women, Rogers Cup, Tennis Channel

Sunday, 8/22/10
12- 2 pm – Men, Western & Southern, CBS
3-5 pm – Women, Rogers Cup, ESPN2

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved

August 16, 2010

Using A Vibration Dampener On Your Tennis Racquet

Remember a while ago I got a new tennis racquet? And remember I took you through the whole process so you would have an easy time finding your next tennis racquet?  (If you want to look over those posts, go to A New Tennis Racquet: Part 6 which has links to the whole series.)  Well, one of the things I considered using with my new racquet was a vibration dampener.

So what is a vibration dampener and why would you use one? First, you have to know that every time you hit a tennis ball with the strings of your racquet, the racquet and the strings vibrate and some of the shock of this vibration is transferred up your arm. This might bother you or it might not. If it does, adding a vibration dampener to your string bed can reduce (or dampen!) string vibration.

A vibration dampener (or damper) is a little thing you add to the strings at the bottom of the string bed to reduce string vibration.  Is there a specific place where a dampener has to go?  Yes!  According to the USTA's Official Rules of Tennis, a vibration damping device "may only be placed outside the pattern of the crossed strings" (Rule 4, Case 3).   Check out this photo to see what that means:

A vibration dampener will definitely change what happens when you hit the ball. I tried one with my new racquet because the first few times I hit with it, it made a really annoying ping sound. The dampener definitely removed that ping. But the other thing a dampener does is reduce the "feel" you get with your racquet. You just can't feel the ball on your strings the way you can without the dampener. So it's a trade-off. And I was willing to put up with the ping sound (which I don't really notice now) to keep the feel.

If you decide you want to try a vibration dampener, it's easy enough. I suggest you pick something that's cute and cheap. Give it a try and, if you like it, branch out into other dampeners (really - this is a cheap tennis accessory). If you don't like the loss of feel, no problem - you're not out too much money.

You can see from the above photos, there are lots of different kinds of vibration dampeners. Here's my favorite:

Even Sponge Bob plays tennis!

© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved

August 13, 2010

Tennis Thoughts: Confucius on Tennis

"It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop." - Confucius

Do you know how slowly you can ride a bike uphill before you actually tip over? Four miles per hour. That's right.  Four miles per hour.  Believe me, I know. I was there many, many times on my recent 6 day bike trip through the Canadian Rockies. But even though I could only go four miles per hour up some incredibly steep hills, as long as I kept going, I didn't fall over and I made it to the top of those hills.

So I'm sure Confucius's idea about going slowly but never stopping applies to bike-riding.  And I think it also applies to tennis?  How?  With tennis, sometimes it seems like, even though you're working extremely hard, improvement to your game progresses very slowly. Take your serve for example. You can work on it and work on it and yet it doesn't appear to get any better. In fact, sometimes when you're working really hard on changing some aspect of your serve, it actually gets worse! But, you know and I know that if you keep working, improvement will come. It may be slow, but as long as you don't stop practicing, it will come.

So, apply Confucius's philosophy to your tennis game - work on your game, and even when improvement is slow, keep right on working.  Just don't stop!

© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved

August 12, 2010

Federer Looks Good In Pink

The men of the ATP are in Toronto, Canada this week playing the Rogers Masters tournament. And Roger Federer is still in, playing in a pastel shade of pink that Nike calls "Perfect Pink." (Those Nike color-naming guys are so creative.) I, for one, am a big fan of tennis players in pink (see, for example, Parlez Vous French Open?, in which I gushed over Rafael Nadal's 2009 hot pink shirt). I hope Roger will be wearing this when he plays in the upcoming U.S. Open. Rafa won that French Open in pink. Maybe Roger can do the same.

© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved

August 9, 2010

US Open Series: Week 4

The Olympus U.S. Open Series rolls on in Week 4 with the women playing the Western & Southern Financial Group Women's Open in Cincinnati, Ohio and the men playing the Rogers Masters in Toronto, Canada.

Just in case you missed out on the Series action this past week, David Nalbandian beat Marcos Baghdatis in the Legg Mason Tennis Classic. Nalbandian came into the tournament as a wildcard and was ranked No. 117. This will surely push his ranking up a bit. Here's a photo of Naldandian in which he looks like he's taking this whole tennis thing pretty seriously:

For the women, Svetlana Kuznetsova took out Agnieszka Radwanska in the Mercury Insurance Open (can't someone with an easy name like Mary or Susie make it to the finals?).  Here's Svetlana enjoying her moment:

Planning on watching tennis this week? Here's the Week 4 schedule for the U.S. Open Series:

Tuesday, 8/10
1-5pm - Men, Rogers Masters, Tennis Channel
7:30–9:30pm - Men, Rogers, Tennis Channel

Wednesday, 8/11
1-5pm - Men, Rogers, Tennis Channel
7:30–9:30pm - Men, Rogers, Tennis Channel

Thursday, 8/12
1-3pm - Men, Rogers, ESPN2
3–5pm - Women, Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open, ESPN2
5–9pm - Women, Western & Southern Open, Tennis Channel

Friday, 8/13
1–5pm - Men, Rogers, ESPN2
5–7pm - Women, Western & Southern Open, Tennis Channel
7–9pm - Women, Western & Southern Open, ESPN2
9–11pm - Women, Western & Southern Open, Tennis Channel

Saturday, 8/14
1–3pm - Women, Western & Southern Open, Tennis Channel
3–5pm - Men, Rogers, ESPN2
7–9pm - Men, Rogers, ESPN2
9–11pm - Women, Western & Southern Open, ESPN2

Sunday, 8/15
3–5pm - Men, Rogers, ESPN2
5–7pm - Women, Western & Southern Open, ESPN2
8–9:30pm - Women, Western & Southern Open, Tennis Channel

© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved

August 2, 2010

US Open Series: Week 3

The countdown to the U.S. Open is on! Right now, there is plenty of tennis to enjoy as the Olympus U.S. Open Series is being played throughout North America. The goal of the Series is to create a "cohesive, six-week summer tennis season" that leads into the U.S. Open. What a great idea! Top-level players are supposedly interested in playing in the Series because, depending on how well they do at the U.S. Open, they can earn bonus money based on the points they accumulate during the Series. (I think. I started reading the rules but got bored with it. You can read them here: U.S. Open Series Bonus Challenge.)

Week 2 of the Series just finished.  Currently, on the men's side, Mardy Fish and Sam Querry are tied in points for 1st place.  On the women's side, Victoria Azarenka leads.  But there are four more weeks of Series play before the U.S. Open so a lot could change between now and August 30, when the Open begins.

So, I'm sure you're saying, "well, this is all fine and good but what does it have to do with me? Where is the benefit to me and my tennis game in the U.S. Open Series?" The benefit to you and me is that, for the next several weeks, there will be lots of great tennis on TV! You just have to know when and what channel to watch. We're currently in Week 3 of the Series with the men playing the Legg Mason Tennis Classis in Washington, D.C. and the women playing the Mercury Insurance Open in San Diego, California. To assist you with your U.S. Open Series watching pleasure, here is the Week 3 TV schedule:

Thursday, 8/5:
4–8 pm, Men - Legg Mason Tennis Classic, Tennis Channel

Friday, 8/6:
12–2 pm, Men - Legg Mason Tennis Classic, ESPN2
3–5 pm, Women - Mercury Insurance Open, Tennis Channel
5–7 pm, Men - Legg Mason Tennis Classic, Tennis Channel
7–9 pm, Men - Legg Mason Tennis Classic, ESPN2
9–11 pm, Men - Legg Mason Tennis Classic, Tennis Channel
11 pm–3 am, Women - Mercury Insurance Open, ESPN2

Saturday, 8/7:
1–3 pm, Men - Legg Mason Tennis Classic, Tennis Channel
4–6 pm, Women - Mercury Insurance Open, Tennis Channel
7–9 pm, Men - Legg Mason Tennis Classic, ESPN2
10 pm–12 am, Women - Mercury Insurance Open, ESPN2

Sunday, 8/8:
3–5 pm, Men - Legg Mason Tennis Classic, ESPN2
5–7 pm, Women - Mercury Insurance Open, ESPN2
8–9:30 pm, Men - Legg Mason Tennis Classic, Tennis Channel
9:30–11 pm Women - Mercury Insurance Open, Tennis Channel

As long as you're willing to spend your day flipping back and forth between ESPN2 and the Tennis Channel, you'll get lots of great tennis viewing in!

© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved