March 30, 2012

U.S. Men's Clay Court Tournament Is Almost Here!

The volunteer kick-off for this year's U.S. Men's Clay Court tournament was last night - and I was there! Once again, I'll be driving for the tournament and living vicariously through whoever ends up in my car. Since this is my second year volunteering, I am seen as a "seasoned" veteran who can help the newbies figure it all out. I'll take my prestige anyway I can get it.

So the line-up for this year is, in my opinion, quite fantastic. The top eight seeds are:
  1. Mardy Fish (USA) - won the tournament in 2006 and won in doubles in 2002 when partnered with Andy Roddick
  2. John Isner (USA) - entered the ATP Top 10 this year and played great last year
  3. Feliciano Lopez (ESP) - got a wildcard, LOVE this guy after watching him play in Davis Cup
  4. Juan Monaco (ARG) - also got a wildcard, just crushed Mardy Fish in yesterday's Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne
  5. Marcel Granollers (ESP) - won the tournament in 2008, also love him after Davis Cup
  6. Kevin Anderson (RSA) - got the last wildcard, won a tournament in Delray Beach earlier this year putting him in the ATP Top 30
  7. Carlos Berlocq (ARG) - drove him and his sweet family around last year
  8. Alex Bogomolov, Jr. (RUS) - I saw him play last year but he never was in my car so I don't have any scoop on him - yet

Besides former champs Fish and Granollers, Ivo Karlovic, winner in 2007, will be back (Yay!!) and last year's champ - Ryan Sweeting - is returning.

And Sam Querry will be there! And James Blake! And, of course, the incredible Bryan Brothers who have won this tournament in doubles four times including the last three years in a row. And their always fun coach and dad - Wayne Bryan.

So this year I plan on taking lots of photos and shooting some video. I start driving next week so stay tuned!

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

March 27, 2012

Olympic Tennis Fix: Who Gets To Play Olympic Tennis?

Just four months until the 2012 Summer Olympic Games and you're probably wondering, just who gets to play Olympic tennis? Well, since men's and women's doubles and singles qualify as both ATP and WTA events, with the opportunity to earn points based on your Olympic finish, its not surprising that a player's pro rankings determine participation.

To qualify for a spot in singles, here are the specifics:
  • The top 56 players in world ATP and WTA rankings on June 11, 2012 will qualify for the Olympics.
  • But - entry is limited to four players from a country. So players who qualify from countries with four higher-ranked players already participating cannot participate, and players outside of the top 56 from countries with less than four players already participating may qualify.
  • A player can only compete if they have made themselves available to be drafted to represent their country in Davis Cup or Fed Cup play for any two of these years - 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012.
  • The player must have played Davis Cup or Fed Cup in either 2011 or 2012.
  • There are eight wildcard slots. Six of these will be filled by the ITF's Olympic Committee, taking into account ranking and spread of nations represented.
  • The other two wildcard slots will be awarded by the International Olympic Committee to players from small nations.
In doubles, 24 teams will automatically qualify as per the rankings June 11, 2012 with a maximum of two teams per nation. Players in the top ten of the doubles rankings can reserve a place, provided they have a partner to compete with. The remaining eight teams will be decided by the ITF's Olympic Committee.

Mixed doubles entries will be confirmed at the Games. Meaning I don't know what. Maybe they just haven't figured it out yet.

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

March 23, 2012

Why I Work Out

While I work out to (hopefully) improve my tennis play, this postcard is a great expression of my true motivation. And yes, I am hoping to see the movie this weekend . . . if I can get a ticket.

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

March 22, 2012

I Heart Almond Milk

I like to keep my Tennis Fixation fans in tip-top shape so here's a quick tip on how to reduce calories while still enjoying your morning cup of joe.

It's no secret that I'm a huge coffee fan. I think this is evidenced by the many times I've posted about it on this supposedly tennis blog. And I take my coffee with milk which means that I probably drink 1/2 to 3/4 cup of milk each day just based on my coffee consumption.

Well, somehow I got it in my head that I needed to cut back on dairy. I'm sure you've all heard the same "rumors" I've heard - reducing dairy will help you cut calories, give you luminous skin and make you feel much less phlegm-y (assuming that is a word or a condition). Thinking I needed to try some alternatives to my morning skim milk, I first gave soy milk a whirl. But the taste was too strong and definitely not a good substitute for skim milk. I went back to dairy for a while. After a few months, I decided to put almond milk to the test. And now it has become my go-to coffee additive. Here's why I like almond milk:

1. It does not have the strong flavor that soy milk seems to have. That is assuming you get an unflavored and unsweetened variety as almond milk, like soy milk, comes in plain, vanilla and chocolate and can be sweetened or unsweetened. And that is also assuming you get the "Almond Breeze" brand, pictured in the photo above. I have tried other brands and have found that some have a stronger taste than others. I've settled on "Almond Breeze" as the least detectable flavor.

2. It has a lot less calories than milk - even less than skim milk! While a cup of skim milk has 90 calories, which seems pretty low, a cup of unsweetened almond milk has only 40 calories. So follow me here as I prove that almond milk is the miracle diet I've been looking for:
  • If I am drinking 1/2 cup of milk in my coffee each day, that's 3 1/2 cups per week.
  • If I use skim milk in my coffee, at 90 calories per cup, that adds up to 315 calories per week.
  • If I switch to almond milk, at 40 calories per cup, it's only 140 calories per week.
  • That's a savings of 175 calories each week.
  • And that adds up to a savings of 9,100 calories each year!
  • You have to burn 3,500 calories to burn a pound of fat.
  • So, theoretically, I can lose 2.6 pounds in a year simply by switching to almond milk.
  • Theoretically.
There's probably more to it than that but is sounds good, doesn't it? If you're switching to almond milk to reduce your calories, just make sure you get the unsweetened, unflavored variety. You can see in the photo above that the "Almond Breeze" carton has "unsweetened" and "40 calories" printed on it - be sure and check the calorie count on your almond milk.

3. Almond milk lasts a long time. This is a pretty big  deal in my house as I'm the primary user of milk. I used to find that my skim milk often went bad before I used it up. I switched to organic skim milk because, besides being better for me, it has a longer refrigerator life than non-organic skim milk, maybe 4 to 5 weeks. But I find that almond milk has an ever longer refrigerator life - something like 7 to 8 weeks, meaning I never throw it out and can actually stock up.

I should probably warn those of you who take your coffee with regular milk or even cream - if you hate skim milk in your coffee, almond milk is probably not going to make you happy. It really does not have the richness you're looking for. But as someone who switched to skim milk long, long ago, I am very happy with my new friend - almond milk. And when the pounds start melting away, I'll be ecstatic!

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

March 19, 2012

The Tennis Fixation App Is Here!

Want Tennis Fixation on your mobile device? Well, there's finally an app for that!

Not too long ago, I placed the Tennis Fixation app (shown in this photo) in the right sidebar of this blog. If you go over there and scroll down a little, you'll find it. You might not have previously noticed it and I didn't really "announce" it until now because, frankly, I wasn't 100% sure what I was even doing - acting like I knew how to develop an app? including a QR code? really?

But I found a great way to do it using a website called Bloapp. And, after fooling around with it for a week or so, I finally felt confident enough to go public and post it here. So - TA DA! - there's now a Tennis Fixation app!

You can get the Tennis Fixation app two ways - (1) scan the QR code in the photo or in the side bar (that's the weird square bar code thingy) with any QR scanning app you have on your device (there are a bunch of free QR scanning apps), or (2) download the Bloapp app to your device and then search for Tennis Fixation and add it to your Bloapp dashboard. If you go with the second option, you'll not only be able to access Tennis Fixation, but you'll find tons of other blogs on all kinds of topics.

If you give this a try, please comment and let me know what you think - was it easy to get the app? Which option did you use - scan the QR code or download Bloapp? Is the mobile version of Tennis Fixation easy to read or do you prefer seeing it on your computer? I'd love to hear from you!

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

March 16, 2012

New Lacoste Tennis Dress - Very Cute!

I was out shopping for tennis shoes for my son yesterday and spotted this super cute tennis dress which I had to share. This is the Lacoste Sleeveless Technical Pique Vintage Tennis Ball Printed Polo Dress and I saw it at Tennis Express. I like the loose drop waist look (which is a change from most super-fitted tennis dresses), I like the contrast between the top half in print and the bottom half in white pique, I like the slash pockets in front, and I LOVE the tennis ball print! The dress comes in the red print shown here and also a blue gray print (with the white pique). It sells for $135 which, typical for a Lacoste piece, is a little pricey considering it does not include a built-in bra. However, this is so comfy looking and sweet, I may be able to justify that cost.

P.S. - Photo editing all done by me! Just another of the many useful lessons learned by having a blog. Or, as my husband might say, just another of the many ways to waste time by having a blog.    

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

March 13, 2012

What's The Difference Between Regular And Extra Duty Tennis Balls?

Still wondering what tennis ball to play with? In a recent post, we talked about how to choose a ball based on what's going on inside the ball: What Is The Difference Between Pressurized And Pressureless Tennis Balls? But that's not the end of the tennis ball story. Now, let's talk about the outside of the ball.

If you hadn't noticed, tennis balls come with two types of felt coverings - regular-duty and extra-duty. I myself don't pay a whole lot of attention to this as evidenced by the photo above (taken by me of some balls I had in my bag). I just buy whatever is cheap or handy and, consequently, I have a wide variety of balls around; some regular-duty, some extra-duty.

Does that matter? Well, maybe. "Regular-duty" or "soft court" balls are designed for use on clay courts. As you might guess, tennis balls travel slower on clay courts than they do on hard courts or on grass. The clay absorbs the impact of the ball more readily. Regular-duty balls therefore have a thinner and less fuzzy felt covering so that the balls will pick up less clay when used on those courts.

"Extra-duty" or "hard court" balls are for use on hard and grass courts. Their felt covering is thicker and they have more fuzz on them, allowing them to be used longer on hard courts.

You can easily tell which kind of ball you're playing with in two ways - first, look at the can! But if you're somehow playing with balls that are not in the can (maybe your opponent took them out of the can and you don't want to be rude or weird and ask to look at the can), just look at the brand name printed on the ball. Regular-duty balls will have the brand name printed in red (like red clay) while extra-duty balls will have the brand name printed in black. Useful trivia to know, right?

Why should you care? If you play on clay a lot, and some people actually do, you may prefer the regular-duty balls as they should perform better and last a little longer. And if you play on hard courts or grass a lot, the extra-duty balls would be preferable not only because they will have a longer life, but that extra fuzz may help a tiny bit with increasing the spin you can put on the ball.

Having said all of this, I just played a match last week on hard courts where the opponent provided regular-duty balls. I knew this because I saw that the brand name on the balls was printed in red. However, I didn't bring it up and I certainly didn't complain (I'm sure that would have been an interesting argument). Frankly, at my level, I'm not sure the difference in the two types of balls really matters that much. But when you are buying balls, I recommend you get the appropriate type to get the maximum life out of your tennis balls.

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

March 10, 2012

The Art Of Lawn Tennis - FREE For Your Kindle!

I got a Kindle Fire over the holidays and have been loving it. This was to replace the much more expensive much less feature-filled Kindle I previously had that was "accidentally" broken by one of my sweet children putting a knee to the screen and cracking it.

While that story is not on point, I've been looking for an opportunity to mention it.

Anyway, it turned out to be the perfect excuse to get the Kindle Fire. I wasn't sure how much I would care about all of the things this new Kindle can do. I mean, do I really need one more device to watch Netflix on? But I have been playing around on it (i.e., watched all three seasons of "Arrested Development" so checked that off my bucket list) and I absolutely LOVE it. Turns out I do need another place to access Netflix. And Twitter and Facebook. And the Internet. And to download music. And, thanks to my Kindle Fire, I now have yet one more e-mail address to use. Which I've actually used! So, for me, the Kindle Fire rocks.

Now, the good news for my Tennis Fixation Followers: while doing all of my Kindle "research," I came across some FREE tennis e-books that you can download to your own Kindle (or your device's Kindle app). And here's one that I find surprisingly current and useful despite the fact that it is FREE and was first published in the 1920s!

The Art of Lawn Tennis by William (Bill) Tatem Tilden is a fabulous book full of useful tennis info. If you don't know (and I certainly didn't), Bill Tilden was an American tennis player who dominated the sport during the 1920s and 30s. (Check out the photo of Tilden above - don't you love seeing pics of tennis players in whites with wooden racquets?) He was World No. 1 for seven years and won 14 Majors, including 10 Grand Slam tournaments. In 1920, he became the first American to win a Wimbledon singles title. He also led a very interesting life - hobnobbing with Hollywood celebrities, performing in plays and movies, financing Broadway shows and even engaging in some unsavory sexual liaisons resulting in jail time!

Anyway, while The Art of Lawn Tennis was published at least 90 years ago, it is amazing how current and useful it still is. Racquets, balls, courts - they've all changed. But the basic strokes, fundamental skills and techniques that Tilden used, and explains in his book, remain the same.

Here are just a few examples of what he has to say:
  • On equipment: "The best tennis equipment is not too good for the beginner who seeks really to succeed. It is a saving in the end, as good quality material so far outlasts the poor."
  • On errors:  "About 85 per cent of the points in tennis are errors, and the remainder earned points. As the standard of play rises the perecentage of errors drops until, in the average high-class tournament match, 60 per cent are errors and 40 per cent aces. Any average superior to this is super-tennis."
  • On overheads:  "Most missed overhead shots are due to the eye leaving the ball; but a second class of errors are due to lace of confidence that gives a cramped, half-hearted swing. Follow through your overhead shot to the limit of your swing."
  • On psychology: "Tennis is played primarily with the mind. The most perfect racquet technique in the world will not suffice if the directing mind is wandering."
I could go on and on quoting from this book as almost everything he says is something that I've heard in a lesson, a drill, a video or some much more recent book or magazine article.

My recommendation? Download The Art of Tennis as soon as you can and get some incredible FREE tennis instruction!

By the way, these are my own opinions about the Kindle Fire. I'm not getting paid and didn't receive anything like a free Kindle Fire for this post (I wish!).

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

March 5, 2012

"Weird" Tennis Rules: Touching The Ball Before It Bounces

I'm a big advocate for knowing the rules of tennis. You can easily and wrongly lose points by not knowing the rules. (And you can just as easily win them by being the one person on the court who actually knows the rules!)

And there are definitely some weird rules in tennis that you should know. So here's one that you might not have seen played out yet. This has happened to me in at least one match and I've seen it in several others so I'm guessing that if you haven't come up against it yet, you soon will.

You're at the base line. Your opponent hits a ball that is clearly sailing out. It's going to hit the back fence. There is no doubt about it. You know it and your opponent knows it. So you call it out before it lands out - not all that great of etiquette on your part but you do it anyway. However, before it lands, you catch it in your hand. Or maybe you catch it on your racquet (if you're really good). Or you hit it away with your racquet. Or it actually hits your body before it lands because you don't get out of the way fast enough (this would be me). Anyway, the point is - although the ball was going out, you somehow touch the ball before it bounces out.

Well, guess what? You just lost the point.

Why? First, you need to look at Rule 11 of the ITF Rules of Tennis which states: "Unless a fault or a let is called, the ball is in play from the moment the server hits the ball, and remains in play until the point is decided." Not too helpful because the rule itself doesn't address our specific situation. But USTA Comment 11.1 does:
Is a point decided . . . when an apparently bad shot passes over the baseline or sideline? No. A ball is in play until it bounces twice or lands outside the court, hits a permanent fixture, or hits a player. . . .
Rule 24 also addresses this scenario. This rule talks about when a player loses a point and Rule 24, Case 8 explains:
Case 8: A player standing outside the court hits the ball or catches it before it bounces and claims the point because the ball was definitely going out of the correct court.
Decision: The player loses the point, unless it is a good return, in which case the point continues.
The Code even weighs in on this situation. Section 41 states: "Catching a ball. If a player catches a ball before it bounces, the player loses the point regardless of where the player is standing." And Code Section 6 reminds us that the opponent always gets the benefit of the doubt.

Here's how I saw this played out in a ZAT-level match involving 12 year-olds. A kid hit a return that was sailing out. But, before it bounced out, it hit his opponent who just didn't get out of the way fast enough. The kid then called the score, giving that point to his opponent presumably because the kid knew his ball was going out. The opponent, however, who knew the proper application of the rule, told the kid, "No, its your point because it hit me." But the kid wouldn't take the point because he knew his ball was going out BUT he didn't know the rule in this situation. So, he wound up wrongly giving the point to his very nice, very upstanding opponent. I was involved because after the match, the kid's mom tracked me down (I was training as a USTA official) and asked me to explain the rule to the kid.

Here's how I explained it: losing the point in this situation actually makes a lot of sense. Even though your ball looks like it is going out, it isn't actually out until it bounces out. Because who knows what weird spin you might have put on it? Or what strange wind might blow it back in? Or even what never-before-seen shift of the Earth's axis might occur at that exact moment?  Until the ball bounces out, there is always some slight, miniscule chance it might bounce in and your opponent must give you benefit of the doubt on that and make sure the ball is really out.

The bottom line - if you're the one who hit the ball and your opponent touches it before it bounces, take the point. If your opponent questions you on this, cite the rules above. And if you're on the other side of the net, let the ball bounce out and then, immediately, call it out. Act any sooner and you may lose the point.

Interested in other weird tennis rules? See this post for a good example: "Weird" Tennis Rules: Reaching Over The Net.

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

March 1, 2012

Tennis Cupcakes - I Could Go For That!

Just in case you thought things were getting too serious around here - look at these very cute tennis cupcakes!

These will be perfect for the next tennis party I host. Except - I'm not sure the color is right in this photo. It seems like the swirly icing should be green and not blue, right? And who took the time to make those little miniature racquets and tennis balls out of marzipan or royal icing or sugar dough or whatever? Should the day come when I have enough time on my hands to churn out something this sweet, you can be sure I will memorialize it with a Tennis Fixation post.

Want to see more tennis cakes? Just check out these great posts:

A Tennis Cake With Pink Cupcakes - Yum!
A Whole Tennis Cake TV Show!
Another Great Tennis Cake
Tennis Ball Cake, Anyone?

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved