Monday, November 21, 2016


Season's Greetings (and footwork drills from the pros
                                                                  guaranteed to improve your game !)



                                 The Sitter
                   ( aka The "Oh sh#t !" shot)
The sitter is a frustrating shot if you don't follow some basic caveats
 Picture,if you will,this scenario: You hit a good serve or ground stroke and get a soft,short ball bouncing near the service line and begging to get put away for a winner. 
Pavlov's bell rings and you rush at the ball salivating with $$ signs glowing in your eyes. You attack the ball with a primitive scream only to see the ball hit the net or sail outside the lines.And that pitiful look from your opponent does not help matters either.
                                                   Most players have been in this situation-more than they would like to admit. 
                                     The sitter,like the volley is hit with the feet. You need to move to the ball and then walk through the ball. The sitter,despite what is seen on TV, is a one-two punch. If you get too aggressive then the error rate mounts.You should hit the ball to the open court and then put away the next ball with a volley. (If you have this attitude you will probably win it with the first shot).  The key is not to stop and hit the sitter. Rather move through the shot. Be aggressive but not punishing with your first shot.You will be surprised how easy the next shot is going to be
----and you can also avoid getting a code violation for audible obscenity.

                        Thanksgiving and Tennis
Image result for Tennis Thanksgiving

Due to the divisive election season we've had,there have been friends divided,families split,marriages ruined and Facebook friends unfriended. Therefore this year's Thanksgiving get togethers are predicted to have the ' 4Cs':  
contentious, confrontational,combative, and challenging .
(The fact that the day before Thanksgiving is said to be the day when more alcohol is consumed in the USA than any other day, will not help matters either.)

However  Tennis Players are going to be unfazed because they are used to the 4 Cs whenever they step on the tennis court ! 
Tennis Players also exhibit the 5th C ,congeniality, on the tennis court.That's why they shake hands after a competitive match and
that's what makes Tennis Players less likely to have a non-contentious,non-confrontational,non-combative and non-challenging Thanksgiving.
Have a good one,guys !       

  Time Management on the Tennis Court

Time, time, time, see what's become of me
While I looked around for my possibilities.
                                    Simon and Garfunkel
                                    'A Hazy Shade of Winter '
Image result for tennis time

Did you know that in a one hour match there is less than fifteen minutes of  actual rallies ? So there are at least 45 minutes spent on non playing activities like sitting at changeovers,drinking water,picking up balls,conversation etc; So this lends a lot of time to center yourself and calm your psyche down. Yet most players waste this opportunity to get more focused. Instead they spend the time musing on things that will not enhance their performance. In fact they spend time doing things that will hamper it.
So what should you be doing ? The short answer is 'Nothing'.
The long answer is 'Keep your mind uncluttered'.

Some of the things successful players do include:

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-Happy thoughts
- Focus on objects like the ball or your strings

Things NOT to do:
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-Worry about the score
-Think about technique
-Dwell on perceived momentum shifts in the match
-Brood on missed shots or opportunities

The key is to use your downtime on the court to get to a calm place and stay there.It will raise the level of your game.

   Depression and Tennis
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Recent studies have shown that there is a correlation between exercise and improvement of  anxiety and depression. Apparently exercise has a positive effect on brain chemistry which leads to improvement in mood and pleasure centers of the brain.
                                                     How does exercise help those with anxiety and depression? Scientists believe it works by releasing 'feel-good' brain chemicals (neurotransmitters and endorphins), reducing immune system chemicals that cause depression  and by increasing body temperature, which can provide a calming effect.     
Image result for depression tennis
 Tennis provides an unique exercise opportunity that is both fun and healthy. Tennis provides situational therapy. It puts a player in a stressful situation and then out of it win or lose. Thus it teaches the mind to handle the stress by chemically producing substances including epinephrine, cortisol, ( the fight or flight hormone), serotonin ( anti-depressant) and others.
Of course there are those who get depressed after a loss but most tennis players get over it and step back into the court. So tennis has a way to combat post-traumatic tennis stress disorder ( PTSD) as well.
                                                                     Overall tennis players happen to be less depressed than those who do not play tennis or exercise. So grab your racquets and play a set or two to chase away the winter blues !  

What to learn from 
Hillary 'Jana Novotna' Clinton's election loss
(Jana Novotna is a former top ten player who played matches where she lost after being way ahead )

1. Don't break open the champagne too soon: The Clinton camp had a champagne celebration on the plane ride home on the last day of campaigning : a pre-victory celebration.
The commonest mistake Tennis Players make is to celebrate in their minds before the match is over. This is perhaps the commonest cause for loss of focus and inability to close out a game or a set or a match. 

Image result for hillary champagne
2. Expect your opponent to do well : This was supposed to be a slam dunk for Clinton.
The game is not over till the last point is played. If your opponent senses defeat he/she will start swinging freely and all it takes is one or two shots or points to even the score.
Image result for hillary champagne

3.Always work around your flaws by playing to your strengths: Hillary had some skeletons in the closet but she also was one of the most qualified and experienced candidates in recent times.Yet she was always trying to hide her weaknesses rather than show people how qualified she was.
 Every player has weaknesses be it the back hand or the second serve. Running around your backhand or improving  the first serve will prevent your weaknesses from being a liability and also help you use your strengths to dictate play.
Image result for hillary champagne

4. Never depend on your opponent's weaknesses: In the final days of the campaign Hillary and her surrogates spent most of the time telling people what a poor candidate Trump was rather than focus on her strengths. Your opponent may have weaknesses but you still have to play to your strengths. Your opponent may have a lucky day and his/her weaknesses may start to temporarily vanish.
Image result for hillary  berating  trump

5. Play to win and not 'not to lose': Hillary tread very carefully and played it safe most of the time while her opponent aggressively pursued voters. Though we are always told that making less unforced errors helps you win matches,statistics on the pro tour have shown that the most important factors are hitting winners and forcing shots.
Image result for hillary  berating  trump

6. The comeback: 
Hillary Clinton speaks at the Children's Defense Fund Beat the Odds Celebration at the Newseum in Washington on November 16, 2016. / AFP / YURI GRIPAS        (Photo credit should read YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images)

Hillary was very brave in coming back to attend  a charity function days after her hard loss.Some tennis players hang up their racquets after a stinging loss.  However we do not play tennis just to win. We play because we love the game. By inference, true tennis players go back on court regardless of previous results. The rest just deprive themselves of the joy.
                                                      *************************                                                                                                              Pressure and Pain  Part 2
Image result for angry tennis player

 Pressure is loosely defined as an accumulation within a space leading to excessive confined energy. Think of a boiling pot of water with the lid closed or an expanding balloon. The only way to relieve the pressure in both cases is to give it an outlet. 
Tennis Players combat pressure in many ways. The more docile just avoid a pressure situation i.e. play less matches or percolate to playing social doubles.Others release pressure by screaming or breaking racquets. The most successful ones actually embrace pressure and use it as an additional challenge. In other words they ENJOY the opportunity of playing under pressure.

Here are a few ways to withstand pressure on the tennis court :

1. Always make it a point to take long breaths between points. A 5 second in and a 10 second out breathing is ideal but you can form your own pattern.
2. The best breathing is diaphragmatic breathing where you place a hand on your abdomen and feel it expand or protrude your abdomen deliberately while breathing in.

Image result for tennis player breathing
3. At the change over relax and visualize your shots going in 
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4. Develop a CONSISTENT ritual that you can perform in between points like bouncing the ball 3 times before serving or humming your song of the day or adjusting your strings.
Image result for tennis player adjusting strings on court

5. DO NOT think of the impending results or its implications. Relish the fact that you are on court playing tennis and there's no other place you'd rather be even if things are not going your way.
Image result for angry tennis player


                                             Pressure and Pain
Image result for Stressed out tennis player

"The day I don't feel nervous,I will give up basketball"
                                                       - Michael Jordan

Pete Sampras once,when asked what he missed about not playing anymore on the pro tour,said," I miss throwing up before I walk on to center court at the Wimbledon finals".
 John McEnroe stated ," If someone says they don't have butterflies in their stomach before going out to play a match,they are either abnormal or lying".
 Even League Players feel pressure before a match.
The question is not whether there is pressure,the question is how you deal with it or if you want to.
People deal with pressure in different ways : avoidance,confrontation or enjoyment. The last category of people are the ones who thrive under pressure.
Almost everyone feels pressure building up because they are unsure about their ability to deal with it.
So some Tennis Players,thus,avoid playing matches or entering tournaments as a way to avoid this pressure.
The ones that view  pressure as a challenge,enjoy it and who are oblivious of the end result are the ones who come out victorious.
 ( They even don't think 'victorious' means 'winning'.)
Or as Billie Jean King said,"Pressure is a privilege".                
     Not my Grand Slam Champion.....
 Image result for trump and HillaryImage result for Murray nadal
Tennis Players have a way of dealing with winners. They may root for a favorite player or they may root for the underdog. In the end, they applaud both players as they go to the net to shake hands.
                                    It does not matter if they like Federer's sophistication, Djokovic's lightheartedness or Nadal's work horse mentality. Ultimately, if the serious faced Murray wins, they do not refuse to accept the fact that Murray played by the rules and won by the rules. Whether you like him or not, he still is the current Wimbledon champion and an Olympic gold medalist. Even the controversial Serena Williams has been given due recognition as a champion.

Very rarely,if at all, has the winner been booed at the podium even if it were John McEnroe or Ilie Nastase. That's because Tennis Players realize that there can only be one winner because he/she has defeated the player across the net and crossed the finish line.
'Crooked' Hillary
 and other monikers for Tennis Players

The 2016 Presidential election brought forth a host of monikers whether it was Bill Maher referring to  President Trump as 'Orangutan' Trump or the latter calling Secretary Clinton,
'Crooked' Hillary.
But now that 'Lying' Ted (Cruz), 'Crazy' Bernie (Sanders) and 'Little' Marco (Rubio) have all gone back to the Senate to presumably work for all of us,let's look at some of the monikers for a few famous tennis players.

1.'Big Bill' Tilden: Famous yesteryear player who could hold 4 balls in his hand and serve 4 aces.
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Big Bill Tilden

2. 'Rocket' Rod Laver: known for his athleticism and hard shots.Winner of 2 calendar year slams.
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Rocket Rod Laver

3.'Boom Boom' Becker: Boris Becker's hard serve and forehand won him Wimbledon at a young age.
4.'Swiss Miss' Martina Hingis : Switzerland's multi Grand Slam winner. Still #1 in doubles.
5. 'Fraulein Forehand': Steffi Graf who used the slice backhand all the time to wait for a forehand.
6. 'Gorgeous' Gussy Moran : Risque for her time but had a few titles to her name as well as husbands.
Image result for Gussy Moran
Gorgeous Gussy Moran

7.'Barcelona Bumblebee': Arantxa Vicario from Spain whose never say die attitude made her scramble for every shot.
8.'Ice Borg': Expressionless Bjorn Borg who was a non-stop winning machine.
9.'Pistol' Pete: Sampras had one of the best serve winning percentages and winning record.
10.'Nasty': Ilie Nastase was always getting under someone's skin especially his opponent's.

And,of course, We all refer to Rafael Nadal's uncle /coach as  'Uncle Toni' 
Image result for Uncle toni
Uncle Toni

Finally,our list would not be complete without including our very own 'Terminator' Greg Tellier and 'Terminator Part 2' David White !

The Terminator
The Terminator Part 2
    Lessons from the 2016 Presidential Elections

 1. There are lies,damn lies and statistics :
True that Trump and Clinton both misstated facts.  True that the pundits and the  polls said Clinton would win in a blowout.  
                                         In tennis, there has been a tendency to overemphasize facts and statistics:'Always hit cross court because the net is lower' 'The percentages favor the person who keeps getting the ball over the net' 'Never hit with an open stance' etc;
The fact is that what was considered as truths have been disproved in the modern game. Statistics of  winning percentages of various shots have also been proven false.

2. You CAN fool all the people all of the time:
 Image result for trump and clinton
It does not matter what your level or game style is and whether or not you are expected to win. Hard work,practice  and the will to win can produce results regardless of whether your shots are technically correct or follow the norm. You can fool all your 
naysayers with a strong work ethic and love of the game..

3. Never underestimate the underdog:
Image result for under dog tennis player
Justin Brown beat Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon

 Even the # 1 player in the world has been upset by a qualifier in a Grand Slam. As long as you show up to the court with a positive game plan,all bets are off. From the local level to the pros,you always should have the desire to win.
4. Every opponent has tiny flaws that can accumulate:
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Donna Brazile ,working for CNN,leaked debate questions to Clinton
Image result for debbie wasserman
Debbie Wasserman as DNC chair tilted the scales in Clinton's favor and sabotaged Bernie Sanders whose supporters retaliated by not voting for Clinton

Even though Hillary was the better player,she had tiny chinks in her armor that over time took a life of their own : Emails/ Debbie Wasserman railroading Bernie/ Donna Brazile leaking to her debate questions etc; Individually these flaws were not egregious but cumulatively they slowed her momentum.
Everyone has flaws in their tennis game or flaws that appear on a particular day : forehand not working, serves in the net,feet not moving. An astute tennis player can read their opponents' flaws and play accordingly.

5.It does not matter what you have but what you bring :
 Image result for tennis outfits
Clinton had more money,more contacts and a well oiled machinery.Yet she lost.
You might have the latest shoes,outfit,racquet bag and Roger Federer's latest racquet. Ultimately, you are not playing your opponent,you are playing the ball. As long as you focus on your task at hand everything else does not matter.

6. Never head to the shower as you are trying to close out a match
(AKA: 'It ain't over till it's over'):Image result for hillary clinton

Last month, Clinton was already looking beyond the elections and assembling her cabinet members because she 'wanted to be ready for the Presidency'.

Many of us think of shaking hands and getting back to the locker room as a match is nearing the end. Big mistake. In fact many matches -even on the pro level- have been lost due to this. You just have to keep focused till you cross the line.
7. And as the Circle of Life T-Shirt says : "There is no finish line....."
 Perceived Control Part 2
There are moments in a match where perceived control can be a detriment and you have let real control take over.

1. Warm up:
Perceived control: This should be an easy win for me.
Real control: What are my opponents strengths and weaknesses ? 
How is his/her footwork ? 
Where does he/she like to serve to ?
2. When leading in a set:
Perceived control: I am going to win this set.
Real control: All I need is to hold my serve or try hard to break my opponent's serve by going for my returns.
3. After winning the first set easily:
Perceived control : This is going to be a slam dunk.
Real control: Did I play well or did my opponent miss a lot ?
What should I do to maintain my level or if my opponent stops missing ?
4. When you are leading and getting to the end of the match:
Perceived control: Where should I go for dinner today ?
Real control: First serves in. Keep the ball in play. Keep the pressure on the opponent. Don't paint the lines. Move the opponent around.
5. When your opponent's partner is the  weak link :
Perceived control: Let's hit all the balls to him/her.
Real control: First serves in. First volleys in. Returns in.Play the center of the court. 

By replacing perceived control with real control you will not only have more match winning moments but,most importantly, develop a match winning mentality. 
Perceived Control 
Ever wonder why elevator doors do not close as soon as you
 press the 'Close Door' button?  Most new elevators are programmed to
deactivate the ability to close doors by pressing the button. (It has to do with the Americans with Disabilities Act where the doors are programmed to remain open longer.Of
course,emergency workers can override this by punching in a code). 
Image result for elevator door close button
Most modern elevators have a deactivated 'door close' button
Did you also wonder why it takes so long for the light to turn green when you press the button at a  pedestrian intersection ? Same reason. In fact nearly every traffic light in New York City is programmed this way. 
Image result for traffic light pedestrian crossing button
Many pedestrian traffic lights are programmed not to work
So why do they still make elevators and traffic lights with these buttons ? It is a phenomenon that psychologists term 'perceived control'. The perception of being in control greatly reduces anger,fear and frustration. You feel that you have started the process to close the door of the elevator or make the traffic stop so you can cross the street-or in control of the 
door /light.

In tennis 'perceived control' happens at various stages of the match.
1. At  the warm up when you are sizing up your opponent.
2. When you are in the lead in a match.
3. When you have won the first set very easily.
4. When you are coasting to victory in the deciding set.
5. When you feel one of your doubles opponents is the weak link.

In all cases there is a sense of complacency that builds up. As the match progresses,this leads to slowness of the feet,loss of focus and decreased swing patterns. All of a sudden you find yourself in a situation when the elevator door is not closing or the traffic light has not turned green. As the lead shrinks,now you are nervously tapping on the button to no avail.....  (Next: What you can do to avoid falling prey to 'perceived control')

Fool me once..........

Image result for frustrated tennis player
How many times has your opponent won the point by playing the same pattern ? For example serving to your backhand and then volleying your cross court return to the open court and winning the point. Patterns are easy to read and predictable.
Hence it makes sense to be unpredictable and change your pattern . Here are some tips:
1.Go down the line on your returns once in a while. It is a tougher shot but it will keep your opponent guessing.
2.Hit a soft shot and take pace off . Your opponent who has been feeding off your pace will need to generate it and might overhit.
3.Conversely slam the ball hard. Your opponent will be taken aback by the sudden increase in pace and may not prepare in time.
4. Go for a service ace. You always have a second serve and who knows the ace might land in !
5. Hit a drop shot and draw your opponent in and then lob.
6.Next time hit a drop shot and since your opponent will be expecting a lob,drill the ball for a passing shot.
There are multiple variations on the theme but the key is not to let your opponent predict what you will do in reply to his/her shot. This degree of unpredictability will pay dividends as the set wears on and your opponent wears down.
Best Tennis Deal in the World !
Coach Vic Ricci's Legendary Tennis Parties are now in full swing !
Initially, he will only be doing Mondays and Fridays  until the weather gets worse. He will then add Thursdays .
Also, on certain Saturdays, he will be doing a tennis party, from 7pm to 10pm.      
If there are any questions as to whether or not he will have a party, please contact him on his cell: 917 449 8296 or by
The parties start at 7pm and at least go to 930 or 10 pm and listen to this eyeball popping fact: 
ONLY $20 per person for unlimited play !
(Court availability based,of course)
Even Wal-Mart shoppers will find this deal irresistible !


Tennis 101 with Saif
In this 2 part video touring tennis teaching pro, Saif Ali, explains about strategy as it pertains to the topspin and slice shots.


                     Make Tennis Great Again !

We have no one to blame but ourselves for letting tennis dwindle in our region.

1. Forsyth Courts : 4 years later,the courts are 'an absolute disaster'. The Town Authorities have been less than exuberant to get the courts done. The Town politicians have been a worse disaster.

2. Grassroots tennis:  No good junior tennis player has emerged from the area in years. Lacrosse and soccer -both user friendly games-have absorbed any talented athlete who might have taken up tennis.
 The National Junior Tennis League in Kingston has been more of a babysitting service than an avenue to groom budding tennis players.

3. Empty tennis courts: The number of active recreational players registered record lows in 2016. Witness the empty courts in the summer.
Though facilities like HVIT fill up during the winter, they serve an area where there are enough players to fill up their two tennis courts.Meanwhile clubs with 4 or more courts have reported a dip in their census and junior enrollment.

4. Lessons: Teaching pros have reported less people taking lessons which might indicate people do not have the motivation to improve,excel and keep climbing up the tennis ladder. Statistically,people who improve their game tend to play tennis longer.
And tennis is,after all, a game of a lifetime.

What does this all mean ?

It means tennis is losing steam,tennis players (with some exceptions) are playing less and there is no junior development- all of which will result in less maintenance/upkeep of courts and a gradual extinction of the sport to be replaced with pickle ball and other similar tennis wannabe sports.

So let's get out and make a statement. Let us fill the courts and the indoor facilities. Let us regain the joy of playing tennis.

         ( And don't forget to vote on November 8th-either to make America great again or to make America Clinton again. Not that it matters since neither of them is a tennis player ! )                          

                      The Wanderer Part 2
                         After a long point.........         


Use the changeover wisely
There are several key moments in a match and one of those is after a long point. Fall League players are used to being engaged in long games and long rallies. 10 or 15 rally points. Tie-break sets. Deuce games.
There are moments in these extended situations when the right strategy can give you a point or two and even an extra game. And sometimes that little extra can be the difference between a win and a loss.
                                      At the end of a long point,both players are in a state of excitement: the winner is exalted and the loser is frustrated.You may lose the NEXT point if you do not exploit the situation. 
After a long point, both players are tired,flustered and not interested in another long point. 
1. Get your first serve in. Don't go for an ace. Just hit a nice high percentage spin serve to start the point.
2.If you are receiving,hit your return cross court . Again don't go for a winner.
3. Try to keep the ball in play. Chances are your opponent will want to rush the point and hence make errors.
4. Take your time in between points to catch your breath and relax.
Calming down and breathing will help you with the next point
5.  This is where having a ritual will help you center yourself and forget about the previous long point.

So turn the tables against your opponent by using the point after a long point to your advantage !

                       THE WANDERER
                                               "I with my two fists of iron and I'm going nowhere
                                                I'm the type of guy that likes to roam around
                                                I'm never in one place" 

                                                                    Dion-The Wanderer 
                                Image result for wanderer
How many times have you lost the next point :
1. After a long point with ten or more rallies ?
2.After you break serve ?
3.After your serve gets broken ?
4. After a long set ?
Not to worry. Even on the pro tour, these have been shown to be the common scenarios where the mind gets cluttered and wanders from the present....
In order to combat this wandering mind you need to focus on percentages.
So on the next point after an arduous rally or game, make sure you:
1. Return serve cross court.
2. Take pace off your serve and just get it in.
3. Shorten the court i.e. aim the ball 6 feet inside the lines.
By taking fewer risks you will be able to turn tables against an equally tired opponent.
                    TEQUILA AND TENNIS

                                         Image result for tequila and lime
After reading the article on ' Chocolate and Tennis' ( scroll down for article ), a reader had inquired about whether wine had  benefits for tennis players. During our research we came across important information about Tequila,the famous drink from Mexico. 
                                Tequila is harvested from a special plant called the Blue Agave. The ingredients of Blue Agave are reported to be a 'bone booster'. These substances are capable of improving the absorption of calcium and magnesium, essential minerals to maintain bone health.  
                                             Tequila also has a sugar called 'fructans' which  increases the protein osteocalcin which in turn causes bones to get stronger-even in the presence of osteoporosis. "It was found that mice that consumed  fructans, synthesized nearly 50 percent more of  osteocalcin and  the diameter of their bones was higher compared with mice which were not supplied with derivatives of the agave" , said the report in Science News .
What does this all mean to us as tennis players ?
First of all strong bones mean stronger anchor points for muscles and stronger mobility. Stronger bones also reduce the risk of breakage and other injuries.And this could mean longer days on the tennis court and tennis longevity for older players.
                                                                       Our job is to give you the information you need and your job is to interpret it to your liking ! 
                       ( And please do not drink and drive your forehand.)

                                      The Lob Part 2 
                    (How to hit an effective lob)
Image result for tennis lob
The defensive lob

1. A lob is a FULL ground stroke.
2. The only difference is that you are hitting the ground stroke  VERTICALLY as if the opposite baseline is above you,
3. The vertical take-off point for the lob is a few feet IN FRONT of you.  
4. So IMAGINE THE BACK FENCE is a few feet in front of you. You have to clear the fence to hit the shot.
5. Remember you are trying to HIT DEEP and OVER your opponent's outstretched arm.
6 With a lob, the HIGHER THE BETTER.  
Image result for tennis lob
If you don't  'clear the wall'  in front of you, it will be an easy overhead for your opponent

The most important thing to rememeber for hitting an effective lob is to clear the imaginary high wall a few feet in front of you and drive the ball as high as you can.
                       Image result for tennis lob
                 The Lob Part 1

The lob is the least practiced shot in the game-even less than  the return of serve. The only time it is 'practiced' is when you give your opponent some overheads to hit during the warm up. But you are doing exactly that: helping your opponent practice overheads-you are not practicing how to hit a effective lob. Consequently when the match begins you continue to feed your opponent lobs to smash rather than lobs to win you the point.

A good  lob needs to be high enough to go over the head of your opponent and land deep enough in the court. Adding topspin to the lob is an advanced shot but very effective as the ball runs away even further. The higher you hit the lob the deeper it is going to land and the higher it is going to bounce. So go for height on the lob rather than trying to hit it over your opponents head.

Here are 2 videos to illustrate the efficacy of the lob

First the defense specialist Andy Murray:

And, of course, how can we forget Jimmy Connors' famous lobs ?
          Tennis- Have the time of your life
One of the best things about tennis is that it can be played at various levels and for an indefinite period of time. It can either be a family outing or something more fiercely competitive. You decide what you want to do with it. Along the way you learn a lot about success,failure,wins,losses and most importantly how to deal with them. The more accomplished tennis lovers treat 'both imposters alike'. There are some who drop out of the game after a heartbreaking loss ( it's also happened on the pro level) while there are others who become  better players due to the loss. The object of the game is not just to win but to enjoy being on the court and having the time of your life for a couple of hours-a concept that eludes many tennis players.
And to those who have lost the reason to enjoy tennis and have a time of their lives on the tennis court, we dedicate this short duet that has gone viral post-Presidential debate:


                    Chocolate and Tennis
Image result for chocolate squares
 A recent NY Times article talked about cyclists and chocolates. Apparently in this study,cyclists who substituted one of their daily snacks with 2 dark chocolate squares 
( 80% cocoa ) were found to perform 10-20% better in their cycling time.
                                             No question this also translates favorably to tennis players. In another article (see below),the use of chocolate milk as a recovery food after playing tennis is discussed.
Cocoa contains a substance called epicatechin. Epicatechin is known to make cells that line blood vessels release extra nitric oxide which widens blood vessels, increasing blood flow and oxygen supply to cells and also improving cardiac function. It also results in muscle cells taking in more blood sugar, thus providing them with more energy.
                             So pack a chocolate bar in your tennis bag but make sure it doesn't melt in your bag. You don't want sticky line calls !                
The complete NY Times article can be found here: 

                   Got (chocolate) Milk ?
More tennis players are drinking chocolate milk after a strenuous work out

 Chocolate milk is now considered a great recovery drink if taken within 30 minutes after playing a long and tiring match.When you play a long match,the tissues get parched and depleted. Chocolate milk has the right blend of protein,carbs and calcium. It also gets absorbed quickly. Muscle proteins get replenished and recovery is faster. The tissues essentially absorb chocolate milk nutrients like a sponge and process them quickly. Thus carbs and proteins used in a match are replaced and the muscles recover quicker preventing subsequent injury.
Older players tend to benefit more from calcium and protein replacement

World tennis champions and sponsored Nesquik-athletes Bob and Mike Bryan, along with the Nesquik Bunny, enjoy the great taste of chocolate milk and have since they were kids
One of the world's top doubles team,the Bryan Brothers, use and endorse chocolate milk for recovery
Chocolate milk containers also have the advantage of  being compact enough to fit in your tennis bag. 

Finally (and our favorite reason),after a tough tennis match loss: what better way to deal with your depression than reaching for something chocolatey ?



  The Windshield Wiper Forehand
The windshield wiper forehand is now standard operating procedure on the men's tour and among many women pros who play 'big babe tennis'. It generates loads of top spin and can be hit very hard. The ball has a lot of action on it and takes off after it bounces.
The following steps are needed to hit this shot:
1. Grip has to be at least an Eastern forehand  where the index knuckle is behind the racquet or even a semi-western grip.
2. You have to get well below the ball before you start the wipe.
3. The racquet face faces the opponent's court THROUGHOUT the stroke.
4. The finish is at the opposite shoulder or below it.

             Tips for Senior Tennis Players                                        Image result for senior citizen tennis

Sad but true fact: There are less younger players taking up tennis than ever before. Consequently there are more seniors playing tennis on any given day.  Tennis is a physical sport unlike other activities like golf or bowling. In fact  tennis is the only competitive sport that is regularly played by seniors. ( That is if you exclude golf -though someone said "any activity that can be performed while drinking beer or smoking is not a sport ! ")

Seniors can increase their longevity in tennis by following certain routines:

1. Always stretch before and after play:
                                         Image result for senior citizen stretching
Muscles tend to lose elasticity as you get older. Therefore stretching helps them get 'softer' and thus muscle fibers are less likely to get 'snapped off'.

2.Strengthen your muscles :
 Image result for senior citizen weight training
As you get older lean matter gets depleted and there is more fat. Keeping the muscles toned and/or strengthened increases their function and reduces inflammation.

3. Change your style of play:
Image result for senior citizen volleys
Be more adept at finishing points early by running your opponents around or by coming to the net more.You don't want to get bogged down by long rallies.

4. Increase your endurance:
                                   Image result for senior citizen exercises
 Participate in aerobic exercise like running,walking or swimming and anaerobic exercises like short spurts of high intensity work outs. A 10 minute walking regimen with 3-4 20 second bursts of high intensity exercise is all you need.

5. Improve your serve:

                    Image result for senior citizen tennis serving
The serve is one stroke entirely under your control. Getting your first serves in conserves energy. Winning easy points on your serve further conserves it.

6.Choose your racquets/strings wisely.
                          Image result for senior citizen tennis
The modern day space age material racquets are lighter and more versatile compared to older racquets. They are also easier on the body.
A softer string like gut or high end synthetic is softer on the arm. Lowering your string tension by 3-5 lbs also is kinder on the arm.

7. Play more singles:
 Image result for senior citizen tennis
'Old man/woman doubles' is a thing of the past. Playing more singles increases your endurance,strength and also your agility which will make you a stronger 'old man/woman doubles' player !

8. Watch your diet :
                              Image result for senior citizen eating
 Middle age spread is also due to a more relaxed dietary life style.Increase your protein and moderate your sugars/carbs and fats.And if you drink, 4 oz of wine or  2 oz hard liquor or 1 can of beer is the daily limit !

9. Be more active:
                                        Image result for senior citizen hiking
Retirement causes a major decrease in physical and mental activity. This will affect you on the tennis court. Try to remain as physically active as you can during the day and exercise your brain as well.

10. Enjoy the joy :
 Image result for senior citizen tennis
As one gets older, losses on the tennis court are a little harder to bear as you look back on your non-tennis related achievements.

 The backhand slice has undergone an evolution to keep up with the evolution of racquet technology and polyester strings. Even though it is still possible to hit the old fashioned way,the modern slice is vastly different. Here is an apples-to-apples comparison. Please re-play the videos multiple times and note the different aspects of the technique outlined below. 


Things to observe above: 
1. The racquet is taken back at SHOULDER LEVEL.
 2. The racquet face FACES THE SKY on the take back. 
3.The racquet face STRAIGHTENS OUT and faces the opponent as it strikes the ball. 
4. The racquet goes 'ACROSS THE TABLETOP' in a straight line. 
5. The racquet travels PERPENDICULAR to the baseline towards the target. 


Things to observe above: 
1.The racquet is taken back BEHIND THE HEAD.
2.The racquet face FACES THE OPPONENT on the take back. 
3.The racquet CONTINUES TO FACE THE OPPONENT as it strikes the ball. 
4.The racquet goes ACROSS THE BODY in an arc. 
5.The racquet travels PARALLEL to the baseline away from the target. 
                The 'Penultimate Shot'  strategy
Image result for Forehand senior playerImage result for Forehand senior player
 The 'Penultimate Shot' strategy can be incorporated successfully by League Players and it can have a positive impact on the match.
It can reduce errors,avoid rash shots and tire out your opponent. 
                            A good time to use this strategy is on important points like 30-40 or 30-30 or the first point in a game or as you are trying to close out the set or you are trying to save the set.
                                                   The premise is very simple : keep the ball in play and make each shot set you up for the next one. In other words you keep postponing hitting a winner by one rally. So if your opponent gives you an easy opening for a cross court winner,you hit a firm cross court shot but not a put away shot. When your opponent replies with a short ball you hit it to the open court but postpone hitting a winner off that. In other words you keep telling yourself : "I will hit a winner off the next the next the next ball" .
                                               Thus each ball is the penultimate ball until you finally decide to go for it. Chances are your opponent would have lost the point long before that. 

      3 Best FREE Online Tennis Instruction Sites
There is a plethora of online tennis sites on the internet from the grainy videos to sophisticated special effects filled ones. A lot of these sites try to sell you a course or other products. However,there are a few FREE sites where the pros exhibit a passion to teach with less emphasis on selling products-though they do have subscription lessons as well 
( they still have to make a living).

Below are the 3 of the best free sites.
They have been chosen because :
1. They are free
2.The pros are congenial but passionate about teaching tennis.
3. The videos are well made.
4. The videos give tips that are easy to understand and incorporate in your game.
5. Videos are produced at regular intervals and come to your inbox.

Not listed in any particular order of merit, are the following 
3 'must-view' sites:  
1. Daily Tennis Lesson :

Coach Brady is a tall lanky pro,based in Los Angeles, whose 5 minute videos teach essentials of the game. He talks with clarity and gets to the point without any long lectures. His tips are golden pearls that will help your game.Here is an example:

2. Top Speed Tennis:

Coach Clay tackles tennis issues with a friendly Southern drawl. It's usually just him and maybe a ball machine. His tips are simple yet very effective. He comes across as genuine and wanting to help you with your game. As an example :

3. Feel Tennis:
Coach Tomaz runs this web site from Slovenia. With his voice bearing an uncanny resemblance to Novak Djokovic, his videos are, surprisingly for a free site, well produced and detailed . Most of his lessons run 15-20 minutes and he dissects his topic so that players of every level get the gist. As the title of his site implies,he bases his teaching on 'feel for the ball' which is an important but rarely mentioned component in tennis.
Here he is:

  And as a prelude to tonight's debate........
............3 Trumpisms for Tennis Players 

Whether you like him or not, these stated principles apply to Tennis Players.

 Here are some words of wisdom from President Trump himself !!

" I try to learn from the past, but I plan for the future by focusing exclusively on the present."
 In tennis you have to always try to be in the present. Forget about the shot you flubbed at break point. Don't think of winning or losing. Focus on the task at hand-which is keeping the ball in the court.

"Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war."
Almost every experienced player will tell you they learn from their losses more than their wins. In fact losing teaches you more than winning and you are wiser for the next time.

"Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score-the real excitement is playing the game."

 Analogous to  
" It does not matter if you win or lose-it's all about the joy of playing tennis" !

Don't forget to watch the debate tonight at 9 pm ,unless you'd rather be playing tennis-in which case you will look more Presidential to us than the candidates !!
           Shoulder over shoulder serve

                                                   Image result for shoulder over shoulder tennis serve
The shoulder over shoulder serve is the most accepted method of  consistent powerful serving. Think of it as doing a cartwheel towards  your opponent's service box. The serving shoulder kind of cartwheels over the tossing shoulder during the act of hitting the ball. Your shoulders should be lined up vertically.If your shoulders are horizontal when you hit the ball then you are serving improperly.
Image result for shoulder over shoulder tennis serve
Shoulders should be aligned vertically (Left) and NOT horizontally (Right)
    One way of doing this is to tilt your head to the left while serving as shown below:Image result for shoulder over shoulder tennis serve
       This aligns the shoulders vertically and you can achieve the shoulder over shoulder motion.            
                        Image result for shoulder over shoulder tennis serve                
                   COACH OF THE YEAR
                              Shawn Holzmann

The one question students should always ask their potential tennis coach  :
 " How much tennis do you play ?"
Many coaches just teach tennis. The more effective coaches PLAY serious tennis either at the recreational level or in tournaments.            
                Why is this important ?  
Tennis is a sport where you always hit AGAINST opponents who meddle/muddle with your game. If you can figure out what to do with your opponent, you can elevate your game to challenge your opponent. An effective coach has had his/her talents tested in the battlefield. If he/she can figure out what to do in the heat of battle,it is much easier for him/her to help your game in a more sedate situation-as on the practice court.
           That is one of the reasons Shawn Holzmann is the 2016
                   Mid Hudson Tennis Coach of the Year                                    
                            There is a difference in having book knowledge (theory) and practical knowledge ( field experience). 
Coach of the Year Shawn Holzmann has both. He graduated with a degree in Sports Management (theory) and  holds an USPTA certification ( theory), but has turned out to be a winning tournament player ( field experience). 

Among the many matches he has been victorious in
He has won the Ulster County titles three times including a triple crown twice and this year he also won the Woodstock Open. 

This is the 9th year that Coach of the Year Shawn Holzmann has been a certified United States Professional Tennis Association pro. He is also certified by the United States Racquet Stringers' Association and is a certified physical trainer by the International Sports Sciences Association.

So contact Coach of the Year Shawn Holzmann and schedule a lesson. You will realize what a coach's match play experience can do to take your game to new heights !

Shawn's Phone:  845-389-3924

Shawn's Email:

Shawn's web site:
                      It's time to party !!
Coach Vic Ricci's Legendary Tennis Parties are not to be missed
With the outdoor season slowly but surely disappearing, it's time for League Players to move indoors. With limited indoor courts and even more limited availability, here is the most cost effective option:
Coach Vic Ricci's Legendary Tennis Parties ! 
Held at Total Tennis in Saugerties,this is perhaps the most inexpensive indoor tennis option in the country.
 In an exclusive statement to us Vic said the following:
 I run the following tennis parties... Mondays,Thursdays and Fridays starting at 7 pm and going till 10 pm  or even 11pm on Fridays.
I run a Tuesday party for intermediate and advanced player also starting at 7pm. This will be singles and doubles depending on court availability.  
Finally, I am exploring interest in some Saturday night parties from 7 pm to 10 pm.

All of the parties are only $20/player per session. No need to reserve in advance. Walk -ins welcome.  Please email Vic with any questions at
or text /call him at 917-449-8296 
 Or just show up* and announce : 
" I am here to attend Coach Vic Ricci's Legendary Tennis Party" !!
 (* Please call Vic to verify when the start date is)
 This is one deal not to be missed especially when you have a last minute desire to play tennis. 
And this is one deal that will keep your spirits soaring- even if 
'Art of the Deal'  Donald Trump becomes President !!

                   Woodstock Open Results
Multiple finals took place during the window of weather opportunity at the picturesque Woodstock Tennis Club
        For a few hours ( though it felt longer), the Woodstock Open was transformed into the 'Woofstock' Open as 2 retrievers battled for glory in the Men's Finals. 
L-R:  Jacek Wojtowicz,chair umpire Rich Kaufman,Shawn Holzmann

Reminiscent more of a WTA women's singles match ( no offense-but tennis players understand this analogy) the match between Shawn Holzmann and Jacek Wojtowicz was a series of endless who'll-blink-first rallies peppered with unforced errors,and grueling how-many-balls-can-I get-over-the net exchanges.Overall this prolonged match was low on strategy but high on stamina draining perseverance. In fact,there was more time spent by the players waiting for an error rather than forcing one.

Wojtowicz grinding away at the baseline

The occasional foray to the net by Holzmann

In the end, it  turned out to be the longest finals in the history of this tournament, with as much excitement or tediousness (based on your point of view) as the infamous John Isner-Nicolas Mahut marathon Wimbledon match from 2010.
In the end, Ironman Holzmann prevailed 6-4,6-7 (15-17), 7-5. 

One of the longest time on the throne for chair umpire Rich Kaufman 
    Winners of other equally important and  faster moving matches:
Women's Singles: Sara Satkowski
Women's Doubles: Vivian Hodges/Elisa Staub
Mixed Doubles : Karen Gill/Matt Canzonetti
Men's Doubles: Vern Chrisjohn/Rob Sohm

 More pics:

"I am too nervous to watch my dad miss his first serve" Chris Metz' daughter with her mom at the  Doubles semis

All matches had spectator support who in turn received entertaining tennis

Despite the USTA's definition of a 'permanent fixture', at the Woodstock Tennis Club       'permanent  fixture' refers to Marshal Lipton (L) seen here with a co-member and John Zerbo
Doubles finalists Rob Sohm,Vern Chrisjohn,Jesse Chalfin and Ravi Ramaswami

Overall it was a well run tournament with a large draw. The players and the overflowing crowd were well looked after
Kudos to Karen  Gill and Steve Josephs the tournament co-directors !         **************************************************************
                       The shoulder slice
Image result for Slice backhand
Hitting a slice with a straight shoulder
                                            One of the common mistakes League Players make is to have too much bend in their elbows when they slice a backhand. This leads to 2 problems : you get too close to the ball and the ball tends to sit up too much.
Image result for Slice backhand
Sorry,Roger-that's the wrong way to hit a slice !!
       Of course it is possible to bend the elbow,like Roger Federer is doing above and straighten it as you hit the ball but that takes a lot of coordination,skill and timing. When you are moving towards the ball , the ball is moving towards you and your opponent is moving, it gets difficult to slice the ball well every time.                                               

'Spacing' yourself from the ball keeps you at a consistent distance from the ball,straightens your shoulder and lets you hit a smoother slice and even a more powerful slice since you are using your shoulders and not your elbows.
                                                Image result for Slice backhand
                                            The Shoulder Volley

We have always been taught to hit a volley by 'hinging' and 'unhinging' our elbow or by 'punching' the volley.
Image result for tennis volley
Wrong way to hit a volley consistently

 Though this might have some merit,most of the time it ends up with the player spooning up the ball resulting in either chopping the ball into the net or spooning up the ball beyond the lines.

One way to avoid this is by hitting the volley with your shoulder. 

Image result for tennis volleyImage result for shoulder use in tennis volleyImage result for tennis volley
Let the pendulum swing from your shoulder and hit with a straight shoulder. 
 Image result for shoulder use in tennis volley
Not only  will your volley be crisper and firmer but it will also prevent you from making errors that occur by using the elbow as the primary source of power.
Here is a good example of the shoulder volley:

            Results from the 2016 Woodstock Open
Seeds advanced in the tournament with semifinals/finals action to be held next weekend.
Top seed Shawn Holzmann cruised through his earlier rounds for a change while his nemesis at the bottom half ,Jacek Wojtowicz, cruised even more smoothly with a 6-0,6-0 victory in both his matches.
In men's doubles, club pro Jesse Chalfin hit some amazing shots and carried his partner,Ravi Ramaswami to the semi-finals where they will meet top seeds Bill Blake and Chris Metz.
In the other half Vern Chrisjohn and Rob Sohm will meet John Zerbo and partner.
Woodstock pro Karen Gill and partner Matt Canzonetti of HVIT are expected to shine in the mixed doubles.
          Scenes from the 2016 Woodstock Open
Karen Gill(r) and Steve Josephs co-tournament directors
The 2016 Woodstock Open,in contrast to its cousin the Ulster County Open,is a very audience friendly and players' choice event. The directors Karen Gill and Steve Josephs make it a very cordial tournament as well as a very competitive one. In fact there were more entries this year in this tournament compared to the Ulster Open. The club members support this tournament and many of them attend to watch the matches as they and the players feast on the free snacks,beverages and food laid out in the club house shack. 

Jessica Walther(l) with Vern Chrisjohn and Jesse Chalfin
This year Ulster County champ Shawn Holzmann leads the seeds. Top players in the area including Jihyuk Han,Bill Blake,Greg Tellier,Vern Chrisjohn are participating alnon with a big draw of doubles,mixed and ladies events.
Club pro Jesse Chalfin(r) with his doubles partner

Jihyuk Han(l) with Lisa Cutten and Bill Blake

Jesse Chalfin with Franz 'Joe' Kaisik(r)

                         Doubles Play  
Doubles is supposed to be a game of movement and coordination of partners as opposed to shot making skills. But is that really so ?
Good doubles players do all of the above. The key is to support your partner and expect him to support you always moving in tandem-and don't forget to cover the middle !
Here are some examples of good doubles play  :

              When not to double fault
                Image result for serena serve
 In the semi-final match at the 2016 US Open,Serena Williams was on the verge of coming back and there was a long acrobatic point she won that undoubtedly demoralized her opponent. The next point would have changed the complexion of the match had Serena won the point. She did not. She lost it in the worst way possible-by double faulting. In fact she also double faulted at match point ending her quest for glory this year.
                                               When you are serving and finish a long rally you should not follow Serena's footsteps. This is the time when both you and your opponent are winded and tired. This is an excellent opportunity to win the next point by just getting the serve in. Your opponent is still weary from the previous point and chances are he/she has not regained focus. Why throw the point away with a double fault ? Even taking something off the serve and spinning it in may be all you need.
So remember: after a long drawn out rally, re-group quickly and get that first serve in !

          A look at Serena's unusual backhand           

                   One missed shot..... 
Image result for nadal shot at 6-6 2016 us open
   2016 US Open: 6-6 in the 5th set tie-break. Nadal gets a put away forehand. He hesitates for a micro-second and then drills it...into the net. This has happened to many a League Player and has even turned the tide of a match. The problem is that little hesitation and a glimmer of thought before hitting the shot. The trick is to hit that shot with intuition rather than mechanics and not be result oriented. More importantly consider that shot as a one-two punch rather than as a point ending shot. When you are tight a lot things can go wrong especially with stroke mechanics. Couple that with the thought of winning/losing the point and all of a sudden the court becomes smaller and the net higher. So relax and let your reflexes take over and focus on seeing the ball. 
Above all: r-e-l-a-x.                         

It may not be the commonest word used by League Players when they miss an easy shot but it is as distressing. Yes, the word 'Fall' conjures up images of  breezy days,leaves on the court,cooling temperatures,shorter days and of course,the upcoming winter which makes Fall actually feel like tropical.
Anyway, here are the court locators for those of you who want to navigate the Fall season and dodge the scholastic tennis  games:                 
Tennis Court finder:
Block Red: No courts available after 3 pm
Red: Courts available all day
Other days : No courts from 3-5 pm

Note: Kingston High School may have JV practice/games on some days
          No games at UCCC/Forsythe but that might change if they field teams.
Kingston High School














No scholastic games scheduled
Courts available all day

Forsythe Park
 No scholastic games scheduled
Courts available all day

 Saugerties Cantine Field











                    THANK YOU ALL !!!

Thank you for participating in the Summer Ladder League.
Hope you had a great time hooking up with new players as well as old friends. Please continue to play in the winter at HVIT where they are having a winter ladder as well as contract time. 
For an  a la carte time schedule you can go to their web site and plan your tennis.
Vic Ricci will be holding his tennis parties at Total Tennis.
At $20.00 a person for unlimited playing based on court availability-and usually there is plenty of court availability-this is is one of the best tennis deals in the country !!

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