May 31, 2012

Venus Is Out Too! - Venus Williams Out Of 2012 French Open

We're still in the early rounds of the French Open and these are the days when anything can happen. So it comes as no surprise to me that before I even had a chance to say something about how much I LIKE Venus Williams' French Open dress, she's already out of the tournament!

Venus lost in the second round to Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska, going down 6-2, 6-3. But the good news for Venus is that by winning in the first round, she has pretty much guaranteed herself a spot in the Olympics this summer. See how everything ties into the Olympics?

So what about her dress? As you know, I have spent many a blog post questioning what is going on with Venus in the fashion department. Here's a sample post on this topic that gives you an idea of my feelings: Wimbledon Is Back! . . . As Is Venus' Appalling Fashion Sense. Or how about this one: Tennis Fashion Fix: Venus Continues To Baffle Me.

Anyway. A few months ago something changed about Venus' Eleven line. I don't know who is behind the designs now - maybe Venus herself. But suddenly they look pretty great. Check out this collage of tennis outfits, etc. that even I would consider wearing:

Okay, yes, it helps if you have the tall, lanky, skinny body of a ranked tennis professional. But still - these are cute! If you want to see the entire collection, including her line for men, visit her very well-done website:

Conclusion - I'm sad to see Venus go but I'm sure we'll see her plenty at Wimbledon and, right after that, the Olympics!

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

May 30, 2012

Oh Serena! - Serena Williams Out Of 2012 French Open

Oh, Serena! What happened?

Serena Williams is out of the 2012 French Open after a first round loss to France's Virginie Razzano. The final score - 4-6, 7-6, 6-3. This loss marks Serena's earliest exit from a Grand Slam and her first time ever to lose in the first round of a major.

But don't worry about Serena too much - she is still alive, playing mixed doubles with Bob Bryan. And I expect they'll not only do well, but I'll bet they are testing the mixed doubles waters for a possible run at the Olympics!

P.S. Even though she lost, the dress looks great!

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

May 27, 2012

"La Divine" - French Tennis Legend Suzanne Lenglen

Just in time for the French Open . . .

Can you guess who this severe and scary looking woman is? If you think she might be a famous tennis player - you're right! (If you think this might be a publicity shot of Joan Crawford in full Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? make-up, well, that's what I thought at first too.)

This woman is, in fact, French tennis legend Suzanne Lenglen, or "La Divine" as she was known in her day. And with the French Open officially getting under way today, I think its time we all get to know her. Why?
  • The trophy awarded to the female French Open champion each year is named after her - the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen.
  • The second court at Roland Garros Stadium is named after her - Court Suzanne Lenglen.
  • She won the French Open six times in the Amateur Era, tying the Open Era record held by Steffi Graf. The only woman to win more than either of them is Chris Evert, who won seven times.
And was she good? Take a look at this photo collage of La Divine and tell me what you think:

Très divine, oui? You and I wish we were that athletic.

So what's her story?

Suzanne Rachel Flore Lenglen was born on May 24, 1899 in Compiegne, France. While vacationing as a child on the French Riviera, her father became convinced she needed to take up tennis and he became her coach and instructor. He made the important decision that Suzanne needed to play less of a "girly" style of tennis, the only kind women played at that time, and needed to adopt a more aggressive style, similar to the way men played.

This one decision resulted in producing one of the best female tennis players of all time. Lenglen won Wimbledon and the French Open six times each (!!!) and from 1919 to 1926 she lost only one match!

But it wasn't just her incredible athleticism that made Lenglen stand out. While other women were playing in corsets, starched collars and ties, Lenglen hired fashion designed Jean Patou to come up with a sleeveless, loose dress she could play in that hit just below her knees. Meaning that, on occasion, with all of her leaping and diving, one might actually catch a glimpse of some skin when Lenglen played! To top this look off, Lenglen usually wrapped her hair in a bandeau fashioned with a jeweled pin, usually work make-up on court, was prone to emotional outbursts, and often sipped brandy between sets (I'm liking her more and more).

After retiring from tennis, Lenglen opened a tennis school and wrote several tennis books. In June of 1938, she was diagnosed with leukemia. She went blind just three weeks after her diagnosis was made public. She died on July 4, 1938 at the very young age of 39.

Do you think Suzanne Lenglen has been forgotten, her memory left in the red clay dust of Roland Garros? Désolé, mais pai mon chéri! (Meaning - Sorry, but no my darling!) (I hope.)

For example, for his Spring-Summer 2010 Hermes collection, no less a designer than Jean Paul Gaultier took inspiration from La Divine in sending looks like this out on the runway:

Not really anything you could play tennis in, but très chic nonetheless.

Now, just in case you're questioning my original Suzanne Lenglen/Joan Crawford comparison, here's a little photo collage showing you just how closely these two resemble each other:

Très effrayant, oui?

Final note - In case its not obvious, and I think it probably is, I don't speak French. I only hope that my attempts to use Google's free English to French translator will not result in some type of international tennis debacle.

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

May 26, 2012

Tennis Fashion Fix: French Open 2012 - Victoria Azarenka

Everyone will be watching this dress at the 2012 French Open because everyone will be watching its wearer - Victoria Azarenka. Since Vika is coming into Roland Garros as the WTA's No. 1 ranked tennis player and as the reigning Australian Open champ, she is expected to go deep into the French Open draw. So all eyes will be on this dress.

And its pretty cute. Vika will be wearing Nike's Summer Statement dress in Fruit Punch (pink) with Scarlet Fire (dark pink) piping at the neckline and a sweet little Orange Chalk (light orange) ruffle at the hem. Here's a closer look:

I'm betting this dress would be flattering to just about any figure because the empire waist design means it won't be too snug around the hips. Of course, it will look great on Vika since she is super-model tall at 6 feet. But it might look cute on me too even though I'm just 5' 4". I may go try it on just to see if its worth the $80 price tag.

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

May 24, 2012

Coffee Will Save Your Life - Really!

More great news for all of us coffee drinkers! The latest really big, really prestigious study on the health effects of coffee concluded that coffee drinkers are a little bit more likely to live longer. And a little bit more likely is good enough for me!

The study of 400,000 people is the largest ever done on this issue and was headed up by some pretty heavy hitters - the lead researcher is a scientist at the National Cancer Institute and the study was performed by the National Institutes of Health and AARP and reported in The New England Journal of Medicine.

So what was the most surprising conclusion of this huge study conducted by these prestigious scientists? No one knows what it is about coffee that's good for you! And don't say it must be the caffeine because caffeine wasn't the focus of the study.

The specific results? Compared to those who drank no coffee, men who had two or three cups a day were 10 percent less likely to die at any age. For women, it was 13 percent. And even a single cup a day seemed to lower risk a little: 6 percent in men and 5 percent in women. The strongest effect was in women who had four or five cups a day. They had a 16 percent lower risk of death!

And what kind of diseases can coffee protect you against? The study showed that coffee drinkers were less likely to die from heart or respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, injuries, accidents or infections. Yes - it even lowers the risk of accidental death!

Now before you get too coffee crazy, just be aware - the study didn't actually prove that coffee drinkers live longer. Just that there is a positive relationship between drinking coffee and living longer. Again, not too scientific but good enough for me.

The only cautions for coffee drinkers - easy on the sugar and cream as too much of these can negate the positive effects of coffee. And drink filtered coffee rather than boiled as filtering removes compounds that can raise bad cholesterol.

Having said all of that, I think I'll do something healthy for myself and go have some coffee!

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

May 21, 2012

Tennis Fashion Fix: French Open 2012 - Maria Sharapova

The red clay at Roland Garros can be sweltering hot. So I myself am a little surprised at the dress that Maria Sharapova will be wearing at the upcoming French Open.

This is her "Statement Set Dress" and yes, the main color is black. Black accented with Cargo Khaki and Metallic Gold. I'm not saying this is a bad look. Maria has pulled off the little black dress before. But black in the middle of the red clay with the sun beating down on her?

Look, I live in Houston and I know that black is not the best color to be wearing when you feel like you're playing tennis inside an oven. I'm pretty sure this is a fact known by people the world over, not just a discovery we've made here in Texas. And its something that should be known by the fashion advisors putting out tennis wear over at Nike.

Here's a better look at the LBD:

Besides being black, it's kind of boring. I mean when I buy a tennis dress, I'm looking for something colorful and fun, not something that goes well with the rest of my wardrobe.

Bottom line - I hope this dress isn't going to negatively impact her play at the French Open. Maybe she could just wear it at night? Or out for cocktails?

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

May 18, 2012

So Your Tennis Partner Missed The Poach

How do you feel when your doubles partner misses a poach? Angry? Confused? Exasperated?

And do you communicate these feelings to your partner?


Poaching in doubles is no easy proposition. Even the best players can misjudge a poach and end up blowing the point by mishitting the ball. Or, worse yet, lose the point by being burned by an opponent's down the line shot.

But nothing is worse than going for the poach, missing it and then being berated by your partner for even trying. I myself have blown a poach and had my partner tell me, "I could have had that" or "You don't need to go for those." I've also been the recipient of the exasperated eye roll which I interpret to mean: "I would appreciate it if you would just stand at the net and let me try to win this point in a prolonged ground stroke rally."

The reality is that when a poach works, its a truly beautiful thing and very often will end the point in your favor. And when it doesn't work, it can still be pretty effective in rattling your opponents.

Now, if your partner misses five or six poaches in quick succession, then sure, it might be time to advise her to back off. Otherwise, encourage her to keep it up.

Bottom line - support your poaching partner, even when she misses the poach.  It might just be the attacking style of tennis you need to win your match.

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

May 15, 2012

Tennis Fashion Fix: French Open 2012 - Serena Williams

The French Open is just over a week away and that means just one thing - time to take a look at what the pros will be wearing!

Once again, Serena Williams will be wearing a super cute dress and coordinating accessories from Nike. Her "Soar Statement Rally Dress" will look fresh and fabulous against the red clay in Mint Candy accented with Tropical Twist, New Green and White (Oh Nike, how I love your creative color names).

This dress is very fashion forward, featuring a faux band or wrap look.  Get a closer look here:

This reminds me of those bandage dresses that were popular not so long ago:

Well, maybe Serena's dress isn't quite that extreme. Still, it's a pretty one and I'm betting that we'll be seeing a lot of it at Roland Garros as Serena is hot again, tennis hot that is, these days.

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

May 13, 2012

Top 10 Reasons To Be A Tennis Mom

Happy Mother's Day to all of you Tennis Fixation moms! I myself am a Tennis Mom at least two times over - I am a mother who plays tennis obsessively and I have now convinced my son that he loves tennis too (whether he does or not).

If you're already playing tennis or your child is on their way to tennis stardom, congratulations! You're a Tennis Mom and I don't have to tell you all of the fabulous benefits you can get from this sport. If you or your child are not already hitting the courts, grab a racquet and get busy because there are tons of reasons to be playing this incredible sport. And just in case you can't think of any, here to convince you are my Tennis Fixation Top 10 Reasons To Be A Tennis Mom:

1. Tennis is a lifetime sport. How do I know? Because I have been beaten on more than one occasion by players 10, 15, even 20 years younger than me. Just visit your local tennis club or community courts and witness the wide range of ages out there slamming (or poking) at the ball. Granted, as you get older, your strokes and strategy may change, but you can always play good tennis.

2. Tennis is a sport for the whole family. While every family member can play at their own level, tennis is also something you can all do together. If your child can drag a racquet around and chase a bouncy ball, they're old enough to take to the tennis court.  Sure, your family can play tennis straight up and Mom (or Dad) can always be the family champ. But you can also change up the game (how about some mini-court tennis?) and/or the equipment (have you seen all of the coloful Quickstart tennis balls that are now available?) so that little ones can be involved and everyone can have some fun.

3. Tennis is a great physical workout. Need to get your arms in shape? How about your legs? How about all of the large and small muscle groups in your body? Tennis works all of these. Whether you're running down lobs, or hitting controlled finesse volleys, tennis can give you the full-body workout you so desperately need. Want to know how many calories you can burn playing tennis? Check out this post: Let's Get Real: How Many Calories Can I Burn Playing Tennis?)

4. Tennis is a great mental workout. When I first came to tennis, I figured it was a fun way to get some exercise while hanging out with my friends. Now, having played for several years, I feel like the true benefit I get from tennis is the sharpening of my mental skills. In every tennis match I play, I have to problem solve, manage mistakes, control my emotions and live in the moment (one point at a time). And those are the mental tasks required when everything's going right! The benefits of this mental workout in my tennis life definitely carry over into my everyday off-court life.

5. Tennis is an awesome way to socialize and make friends.  While you can theoretically spend your tennis life hitting against a wall and never meeting another player, I hope you won't miss out on all of the fun to be had and friends to be made by joining a team or playing against a rotating set of opponents on a regular basis.  And your tennis friends will probably become some of your best friends since the game gives you so much to obsess about. This will hold just as true for your kids - taking up tennis will expose them to a whole new set of buddies.

6. Tennis relieves stress.  Oh my goodness, is this true! Because it is such a mental game, the physical exertion and concentration required to get through a match can definitely help you put your stress aside and live in the moment for at least a short amount of time. No matter how stressed out I get, a good tennis match takes my mind off everything but the game I'm playing right then.

7. Tennis teaches teamwork and communication. And no where is this more true than in your doubles match. No matter how bad the score gets, no matter how horrible your partner may be, unless you can clearly and positively communicate to your partner that you support her, your team is going down. I'm happy to say that even my tennis-playing son seems to be picking up on this lesson. In his most recent doubles match, I told him during the changeover (when coaching was allowed, by the way) that his partner was obviously getting upset that they were losing and it was his (my son's) job to get back there and tell his partner to relax and just play his game. When they headed back out on the court, he went and talked to his partner and their play seemed to really improve. After the match, I asked him what he said to his partner and he said, "I told him that you said I needed to tell him to need to relax and play his game. That's what you told me to say, right?" While I didn't intend his communication to be quite that literal, lesson learned (sort of).

8. Tennis is a wonderful competitive outlet. Before I started playing tennis, I would have told you that I was not a very competitive person. I didn't need to "beat" anyone at anything. Boy, was I wrong! It turns out I'm very competitive and I really, truly enjoy winning. And the great thing about tennis is that it gives me an outlet for this need to win, an outlet that is socially acceptable, happens in a very controlled environment, and keeps me from getting too crazy when I lose. And I love the fact that, because tennis is offered for kids of all ages and all abilities, any child can get out, play and feel competitive.

9. Tennis is a great way to learn sportsmanship, etiquette and rules. Maybe we adults don't need to learn these things - although after some of the experiences I've had on court, I would beg to differ - but our kids definitely do. And tennis is a sport that not only can teach these life lessons, but I think actually rewards those who learn them. Sure, the kid who makes bad line calls may win this match. But eventually, either an official will catch up with him or he'll find that no one wants to play with him anymore. And the more I think about it, the more I think this applies equally to adults.

10. Play tennis - acquire a cute wardrobe! While this may not be the best reason to play tennis, it is certainly one of my top reasons. I spend most of my day in workout clothes anyway so I love having a good excuse to buy anything cool, colorful, comfortable and, usually, short. And if its pink or purple - even better!   

For 10 reasons to love tennis moms, check out this Tennis Fixation post: I Love Tennis Moms.

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

May 9, 2012

"Home Court Rules" In Tennis? Don't Fall For This (Like I Did)

Sometimes I think that the entire focus of this blog is to show you, by my continual blunders, how NOT to do things.

For example, don't do what I recently did and agree to play by special "home court" rules that are directly against the ITF Rules of Tennis. This is a truly bad idea. Listen and learn . . .

Not too long ago, I played an away doubles match and was assigned to play on the court with low-hanging overhead power lines. How low were they? Well, while I wasn't worried that I might touch them during my leaping scissor kick overhead, I was worried that I might hit them while lobbing. And, frankly, they were a wee bit visually distracting.

But the other two courts were already occupied. And it was already getting late. And the line that had played just before us had somehow survived without being electrocuted. And our opponents swore they had only seen anyone EVER hit those lines except maybe once or twice EVER. And since this was a "friendly" league where we were really all just playing for fun, I would kind of be a jerk if I insisted that we wait until one of the two non-electrocution courts opened up. Wouldn't I?

Let me make very clear, I actually asked my opponents if these low-hanging power lines didn't qualify as "permanent fixtures" which they most certainly did. Per ITF Rule 2, permanent fixtures are all "fixtures around and above the court." And Rule 13 explains the consequence of hitting a permanent fixture: "If the ball in play touches a permanent fixture after it has hit the correct court, the player who hit the ball wins the point. If the ball in play touches a permanent fixture before it hits the ground, the player who hit the ball loses the point." So if I send up a lob and it touches a power line and then lands in the correct court, I lose the point no matter what my opponents do with the ball because the ball touched a permanent fixture.

So what was the reply to my question? "Well, if a ball touches the power lines, we just play a let and re-do it because it hardly ever happens." So what did I do? I naturally AGREED to throw out the permanent fixture rule and play by my opponents' special "home court" rule. What an idiot I am!

Of course, my opponents lobbed the ball throughout the match. And of course, they managed to hit the power lines not once but TWICE, despite this being a supposedly rare occurrence on par with the sighting of Elvis. And of course, I couldn't get those stupid power lines out of my head. My lobs were tentative because I was thinking about NOT hitting them. My service toss was wonky because I could see them from the corner of my eye, beckoning to me. When my opponents lobbed the ball, it was all I could do to not stand there and just stare at them. I was a mess. And we lost.

The lesson, ladies and gentlemen? NEVER agree to throw out the rules of tennis for some kind of crazy home court rules. Not even if it means you come off looking like a stuck-up tennis witch. You will live to regret it.

And yes, you're welcome for me once again teaching you an obvious tennis lesson that I had to learn the hard way!

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

May 5, 2012

It's Official - I'm An Official!

At last - I am officially a USTA official! The proof arrived in the mail yesterday - my USTA Official shirt. Now, I can go to tournaments, spout off tennis rules and the consequences for their violation AND get paid for doing it!

Just in case you're getting very excited about my future as a USTA official, calm down. I am only qualified to be a roving official - the lowest of the low. I'll have to work at several tournaments and probably go to another school to move up. But I'm on my way!

And how will you benefit from all of this? I plan on letting you know every weird tennis rule violation, every strange match situation, every horrifying player etiquette blunder I come across. Should be fun!


© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved

May 1, 2012

Will Eating Berries Improve My Tennis Game?

I'm loving berries right now. They're in season here in Houston so they're super tasty and super cheap. And apparently eating berries can help fend off the mental decline of aging. Since I need all of the mental acuity I can come up with, both on and off court, eating berries seems like a "no-brainer" (brainy pun intended but not sure if I pulled it off).

Anyway, I just saw an article in the newspaper saying that recent research has shown that women who eat one or more 1/2 cup servings of blueberries or two or more 1/2 cup servings of strawberries per week over two decades tested 2.5 years younger on memory tests than their non-berry-eating peers. It turns out that berries are rich in "anthocyanidins" which can cross from the blood into the brain and affect the parts of the brain involved in learning and memory. While I'm not 100% sure what it all means and that seems like an awful lot of berries to eat, it sounds so scientific that I'm buying it.

Will eating berries improve your tennis game? Well, We all know tennis is a mental game so it seems to me that eating berries certainly can't hurt. Therefore, my personal conclusion - totally unsupported by scientific research is - yes! berries will improve your tennis!

Got some good berry recipes? Let me know and I'll be sure to try them out!  

© Kim Selzman 2012 All Rights Reserved