July 27, 2011

10 Quick And Easy Tennis Fixes For The Lazy Player!

So you want to play better tennis and you want to do it NOW! But, you don't feel like changing your strokes, learning new strategies or even fixing your footwork. In other words, like me, you're too lazy to do any real work.

Well - have I got good news for you! Here are 10 super quick and super easy fixes that you can easily add to your tennis game TODAY, no matter how lazy you are, that will help take you to the next level.

1. Eat. This is so simple but can have a huge impact on your game. Because, if you're hungry, you're definitely not going to play your best tennis. You won't have as much energy. You are prone to muscle fatigue and cramps. And you definitely won't be able to concentrate. To prevent all of these problems, be sure to eat a healthy meal well in advance of your match and carry along a portable snack you can munch on between sets (a banana, a granola bar or the ever-popular Jelly Belly Sports Beans all come to mind).

2. Drink. Failing to properly hydrate before and during your tennis match can leave you both physically and mentally weak. Extreme dehydration can cause muscle cramping and, ultimately heat exhaustion or heat stroke. So it's important to drink up before you hit and court and to sip often while you're playing, on every changeover at least. The best on-court drink is also the cheapest - water. Be sure and bring your own so you know you'll have something. If water sounds a little boring, try flavored waters or sports drinks to keep yourself fresh and hydrated while playing. For more tips on hydration, check out this post: Drink! Drink! Drink!

3. Keep a can of balls in your bag. And a bottle of ibuprofen. And some Band-Aids. And a new wrap for your racquet grip. And a second racquet. In other words - keep your bag well-stocked with everything you might need out on the court to ensure you're playing your best. You don't want to forfeit your match because you didn't have a Band-Aid to put on a blister. Need more info on what to keep in your bag? Read this post: What's In My Tennis Bag?

4. Do your physical warm-up before you get on court. Warming up is easy, right? You bat a few balls around with your opponent for five minutes or so and then you're raring to go. Well, maybe this works for some small, obscure part of the population that isn't seriously considering buying a Tempur-Pedic mattress to alleviate morning back pain (FYI - I've already bought one), but for the vast majority of us, a few minutes of half-hearted hitting does nothing to get us truly warmed-up. So before you step on the court, take some time to do some pre-match stretches that will get your body loose and limber. You can find some great ones that you can do on court without feeling embarrassed in this post: Winning The Warm-Up.

5. Do your mental warm-up. Preparing yourself for a match mentally may be even more important than preparing physically. Because we all know, if nothing else, tennis is a head game. So spend a few minutes before you step on court, calming yourself and focusing on your upcoming game. Need some tips on how to get into the match mentally? See this post: Adjust Your Attitude To Win In Tennis.

6. Scope out your opponent. Even before a match starts, there are plenty of things you can learn about your opponent. Here's a great post on how to evaluate the person on the other side of the net: Sizing Up Opponents.

7. Focus during your match. When you're in a match, don't spend so much time chatting up your opponent on changeovers. Don't mentally beat yourself up for smashing that floater into the net. Don't try to figure out what you can make for dinner tonight. Remain calm and focus on what's happening on your court (not on the court next to you!).

8. Talk to your partner. I know some people are "bothered" by on-court chattiness. But my position is - in doubles, you can never talk too much on the court. If it helps you to discuss what's happening to your tennis game, then that helps me too because I know you feel better just by talking. And there's plenty to talk about with your doubles partner! For some suggestions, check out this post: "What Are They Talking About?".

9. Target your serve. This is absolutely the most important thing you can do to improve your serve. As the saying goes, aim for nothing and you will hit it every time. But by aiming for something, there is a very good likelihood you will hit that instead. So, rather than just hoping that your serve lands somewhere in the box, pick out a target and go for it. Read more about targeting your serve here: Target Your Tennis Serve.

10. Know the rules. Did you know that if you hit your opponent with your serve before the serve bounces, its YOUR point? Did you know that if you're serving in doubles and one of your opponents calls your serve out but the other calls it in, the serve is good and its YOUR point? Learn the rules of tennis so that, should any situation ever come up where someone wonders "what the rule is on that," you can whip out your rule book (which I assume you have in your well-equipped bag) and authoritatively state the proper outcome. And, hopefully, you won't get cheated out of a point ever again.

DON'T FORGET: Leave a comment on this post to enter the current Tennis Fixation Stringlet Giveaway. Go to this post - Stringlets: A Fun Fashion Statement And Giveaway! - to see what you can win and for info on how to get more entries!

© Kim Selzman 2011 All Rights Reserved

July 25, 2011

Stringlets: A Fun Tennis Fashion Statement And Giveaway!

I'm always on the lookout for something fun, cute, tennis-related and, perhaps most important, cheap. No. Wait. Tennis-related. That's most important. But cheap is a bonus. And I've definitely found all of that in the Stringlet.

The Stringlet is an adorable little bracelet made from tennis string with a magnetic locking clasp.  It comes in a number of solid colors and color combos. I've been wearing a black one for several days now and it has yet to come off through several sets of tennis, working out, and all of the other stuff I do in my daily life as maid/secretary/short order cook/personal assistant to my family.

What I really like about the Stringlet is that its not the kind of thing you would associate with tennis right off the bat. But the more you look at it, the more you get it. So its like an insider's tennis accessory. And because the Stringlet is not pricey at all (from $5.25 to $5.75 each), I can see buying several of these as gifts for team captains or as favors at your next tennis-themed party. In fact, head over to the Stringlet website - www.stringlet.net - and you can get free shipping on orders of $15 or more!

Interested in trying out the Stringlet right now? The folks at Stringlet were nice enough to give me several Stringlets to review so I have two sets of three Stringlets to give away to two lucky Tennis Fixation followers! The first set is made up of one Optic Yellow, one Natural and one Blue and Optic Yellow Twist Stringlet:

The second set has a White, a Black and White Twist, and a Blue and Tangerine Twist Stringlet:

How do you win one of these fun Stringlet sets? Easy, as usual.
  •  For your FIRST entry, leave me a comment on this post before midnight Central Time on Saturday, July 30, 2011. To get to the comment form, click on the title of this post and you will find the comment form at the bottom of the page. You can do this one time for this post. Just go ahead and leave your comment right now so you know you're entered!
  • For additional entries, leave one comment on each post that appears between now and midnight Central Time on July 30. I'll try to do several posts so you have lots of chances to comment (and enter).

So leave a comment right now to make sure your entered in this giveaway. And then continue to check in and comment to gain entries throughout the week! I will draw two winning entries after midnight on July 30 and announce the winner on or after July 31.

Please note: Winners will be announced on this site. Winners must respond to me with their e-mail address within 3 days of being named. If I don't hear from the first winners within the 3 days, another winner will be selected.

If you are the least bit confused about how to enter this giveaway, just send me an e-mail at this address - kimselzman(at)gmail(dot)com - and I will give you all the help you need to become a Tennis-Fixation-giveaway-enterer!

© Kim Selzman 2011 All Rights Reserved

July 21, 2011

Retro Tennis Fixation: Get Ready For League Tennis!

The bad news: we are all in the grip of a killer heat wave as we roast under the latest weather phenomenon - the "heat dome." (Similar to Mad Max's Thunderdome in that you  might die but more sunscreen is required.)  The good news: fall tennis leagues are about to start up! 

Yes, I received the sign today when I got an e-mail from my captain telling me its time to pay my league dues. So, let's forget about the furnace outside and get ready for a fantastic fall season!  To help you (and me), here's a blast-from-the-not-too-distant-past "Retro Tennis Fixation" post (retro because its from the past, get it?). Originally titled, "Your 'Tennis Fixation' Personal Assistant," here's every tip you need to kick-off your best fall tennis season ever:

Summer is pretty much over, the kids are back in school and its time to start playing league tennis again - Hooray!

That's right - its time to get organized and ready for another fantastic season of tennis. This is the season you're going to be a winner! This is the season you're going to have fun and feel good about your game! This is the season you're going to beat the tennis skirts right off your opponents!

And, to get things rolling in the right direction, your Tennis Fixation Personal Assistant is here with everything you need to prepare. Just go through the list below and do as much as you can NOW to prepare for an incredible season of tennis:

1. Get your gear in gear. When is the last time you restrung your racquet? Do you even remember? (Read this post to figure out when you're supposed to restring: Quick Tennis Fix of the Day: Time to Restring!) Do you have balls in your bag? A towel? Any of the other stuff you should have in there? (Read this to find out what to keep in your bag: What's In My Tennis Bag?) Maybe its time for a new racquet, maybe its time for new shoes. Take some time to check all of your equipment out and make sure you're ready to play great tennis.

2. Tune-up your game. I love to take lessons, love to go to clinics, love to do drills. I always say - if they would just get rid of those match things, I'd be such a great tennis player! So I've been going to lessons and drills all summer long and am ready to play. If you have NOT, now would be a great time to do a tune-up session or two with your pro. Maybe get your team together for a group lesson. And if that sounds like too much work, get together with teammates or friends for some fun, practice matches.

3. Talk to your captain. Believe it or not, every captain has some kind of plan for the team. Whether the plan is to win the division or to just have a lot of fun, your captain is thinking about where she wants the team to go this season. So be sure and touch base with her and get an idea of what the expectations are for the team and for you, as a player. Find out who your partner is, if you don't already know, and let your captain know what you think of that. Offer to help in any way you can. Let her know your availability, or unavailability, now, before the season gets going. Being a captain is often a thankless job so any help you can give to your captain will be appreciated.

4. Have you paid your league dues yet? Your captain probably has to write a check to cover the league fee for the entire team and then waits for you to reimburse her for your portion. Don't stick your captain with the bill on this one. Send her that check today!

If you take these four simple steps, you and your team are sure to be off to a great start for this season!

© Kim Selzman 2011 All Rights Reserved

July 11, 2011

Spain Absolutely Beats US In Davis Cup

Spain's Davis Cup Team Celebrates Ferrer's Victory
What an incredible weekend for tennis! I just got back from Austin where I was one of the lucky 18,000-ish fans who got to witness Spain's decisive victory over the United States in Davis Cup quarterfinal play. And, as big a fan as I am of the U.S., I have to say - Spain deserved it. Those guys are incredible!

So here's my take on this weekend:

First, Davis Cup is AWESOME! I had no idea how intense this would be. Davis Cup play, where its country vs. country, is the most adrenaline-pumping tennis ever. I know - I've been to the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships several times and watched some major guys play. I've been to the ATP season-ending Master's Cup and seen THE major guys play. I've watched college tennis and I've been to high school championships. I've cheered my own team mates through some very tight, competitive matches where I supposedly had a stake in the outcome. But nothing compares to Davis Cup. This was more like going to a World Series game. Or maybe the Super Bowl.

Second, when you go to Davis Cup, you better be prepared to cheer and support your team. Because this weekend was all about fireworks, smoke machines, thunder sticks, red, white and blue anything and everything, pom poms, stunt-performing cheerleaders, a break-dancing American eagle mascot, a house band, a house DJ (!), lots and lots of flags - both American and Spanish, and, of course, face paint. At lunch on Sunday, two women proudly showed my husband and I their star-spangled five inch platform shoes that would usually look more appropriate in a strip club except that it was Davis Cup weekend so we thought they were fantastic.

Third, my new favorite player is definitely Spain's David Ferrer.  In the space of three days, the guy beat both of the top-ranked American men - Mardy Fish and Andy Roddick. And, having witnessed it myself, I can tell you - he kicked Roddick's butt. Andy looked like he was Ferrer's practice partner. Yikes. As my husband and I sat watching Ferrer's matches, we just kept coming back to one word for his style of play - scrappy. He's a relatively little guy at 5'9" but he is anywhere and everywhere on the court. There was never a time when he looked like he had given up on a shot - no matter how impossible it appeared to be to get to he always had an answer. Easy prediction - Ferrer will go way deep in this year's U.S. Open.

Finally, the Spanish team absolutely rocked. So they look like a bunch of male models to start with, which is pretty great all by itself. But they were so dang enthusiastic and excited.  Just for one example, Feliciano Lopez was supposed to play doubles against the Bryan Brothers with Fernando Verdasco on Day 2. But after his nearly 4 hour match against Mardy Fish, Spanish captain Albert Costa made the right call and subbed in doubles specialist Marcel Granollers for Lopez. However, not only was Lopez not tired from the previous day, he was absolutely coming out of his seat throughout the entire doubles match, enthusiastically providing back-seat coaching to Granollers and Verdasco from the sidelines. And Granollers and Verdasco, who had never ever played doubles together before, took the first set off the Bryans! That's the kind of stuff you talk about for the rest of your life.   

I LOVED my Davis Cup experience and really hope I get to see another weekend of that kind of tennis enthusiasm some time soon.


© Kim Selzman 2011 All Rights Reserved

July 8, 2011

Top 10 Things To Know About Davis Cup Tennis

U.S. Davis Cup Team
I'm off to Austin for Davis Cup this weekend. Hooray! But the truth is - I don't know my Davis Cup rubber from my Davis Cup tie. And I'm pretty sure I don't know what a dead rubber is or why I should care about it. I just know it sounds like something I don't want to get within 10 feet of.

So, to make sure that both you and I can impress our tennis pals with our encyclopediac knowledge of tennis trivia and we can get this Davis Cup stuff straight once and for all, I've put together this quick and easy list of Top 10 Things To Know About Davis Cup. Give this list a once over and you'll know as much about Davis Cup as I do and possibly we'll be playing our own dead rubbers in no time.

1. The Davis Cup is the top international men's team tennis event. It is run by the International Tennis Federation and consists of teams representing their countries competing against each other in both men's singles and doubles.

2. The first Davis Cup tournament, held in 1900, pitted the United States against Britain and was played in Boston, Massachusetts. The United States won (yay!).

3. The tournament was initially called the International Lawn Tennis Challenge but soon came to be known as the "Davis Cup" after the trophy made for that first tournament, paid for by one of the American players - Harvard University student Dwight Davis.

4. Right now, there are four "groups" into which the Davis Cup teams are split. The top 16 teams are in the World Group and this includes the USA and Spain (which are playing this weekend in Austin!). The remaining teams are spread throughout the Zone Groups - the Americas Group, the Asia/Oceania Group and the Europe/Africa Group. Within each of those Zone Groups, are numbered groups with Group I being the highest-ranked teams and Group IV being the lowest. So a lot of groups - got it?

5. Okay - here's the part that most people don't get (including me) - the structure of Davis Cup play. The 16 World Group teams play and 8 of them win. Those 8 go on to play the quarterfinal, semi-final and final matches for the Davis Cup championship and are all guaranteed a spot in the next year's World Group.

6. The 8 World Group losing teams and the Zone 1 winning teams play each other for the 8 other spots in the next year's World Group.

7. Now, when teams play each other, those rounds are called "ties" and the matches played in a tie are called "rubbers." So a tie consists of five rubbers played over a 3 day weekend - two singles rubbers on Friday, doubles on Saturday and reverse singles on Sunday. Reverse singles means the singles players from the first day play again but they swap opponents.

8. A team has to win 3 out of 5 rubbers to win the tie. If a team wins the first 2 singles rubbers and the doubles, the third day rubbers are called "dead-rubbers." If those dead-rubbers are played, the captains may substitute in some of their lower ranked players to give them Davis Cup experience.

9. The format of play in a rubber is usually best of 5 sets, with tiebreakers played in the first 4 sets but no tiebreaker in the fifth - players keep going until one side wins by 2 games (just like Wimbledon!). In dead rubbers, teams may agree to play best of 3 sets with tiebreakers.

10. Finally, the winningest Davis Cup team is the United States!

You now know as much about Davis Cup as I do and we both know all we need to know for me to understand what's going to go on this weekend. I'll be watching the United States vs. Spain quarterfinal tie and, while I hope the United States wins their first three rubbers, I'd rather not have to watch dead rubbers on Sunday. But if I have to force myself to watch dead rubbers, I will (now there's a sentence I never thought I'd write). Stay tuned for more Davis Cup news!

All of my Davis Cup information comes from the Davis Cup website - www.daviscup.com - and  the Davis Cup Wikipedia page - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Davis_Cup. Go to both of those sites for more great Davis Cup info.

© Kim Selzman 2011 All Rights Reserved

July 7, 2011

Tennis Fixation's Wimbledon Wrap-Up!

The summer is flying by and I had a fantastic 4th of July weekend at the beach watching Wimbledon. Isn't Wimbledon the best?  It comes during the funnest part of summer, when we're all on some sort of vacation. It's on during the hottest part of the day when we can't go outside anyway. You get virtually continuous coverage with ESPN and NBC passing the tournament back and forth throughout the day. And since everyone who's anyone in the world of pro tennis is there and most of the names are recognizable, my family actually feigns interest in this tournament to please me. (Thanks kids!)

So how great was Wimbledon this year? First, I was very happy to see German Petra Kvitova win the women's final. While I was surrounded by my family rooting for Maria Sharapova for some unknown reason (they'd actually heard of her maybe?), I'm personally ready to see the new wave of women's players step up. It was Li Na at the French Open and now Kvitova at Wimbledon. Here's a shot of the champ and the runner-up:

And I was also excited about Novak Djokovic beating out Rafael Nadal in the men's final. I know that's pretty sacriligeous to say but I really love watching Djokovic play - he just seems to enjoy it so much. Case in point - here's Djokovic nibbling on the grass at Wimbledon. It always tastes better when you win:

And of course, the Bryan brothers winning Wimbledon makes this their 11th Grand Slam championship. They are now tied with Mark Woodbridge and Todd Woodforde for most Grand Slam doubles championships - a record I'm sure they will beat as they are nowhere near being done with the ATP tour. Here they are doing their 2011 Wimbledon championship chest bump:

The women's doubles winners were Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik. They took out Sabine Lisicki, who made such a great run in women's singles, and Samantha Stosur. Here's a shot of the winners. And I think Peschke, on the left, may be a new fav for me since she looks to be of average height (like a lot of us normal tennis players).

Finally, I want to say Yay! to Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic and Jurgen Melzer of Austria for their mixed doubles championship win. I've been a big fan of Melzer ever since I saw him play several years ago in a final at the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships here in Houston. Its great to see him playing doubles and winning on such a huge stage.

Ok. Enough Wimbledon. I'm moving on to Austin for Davis Cup this weekend! Roddick, Fish, Bryan Bros. and lots of cute Spanish players (although not Nadal). I'm sure I'll have lots of stuff to report from there. Like I'm a reporter or something. Hey - maybe I should find out how to get a press pass!

© Kim Selzman 2011 All Rights Reserved