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Archive for September, 2013

PostHeaderIcon It’s Racquet Review Wednesday with the Volkl Organix V1 Mid Plus and Organix 8 (300)


I have a long history with Volkl racquets!

Back in the day, I used the Volkl Tour 10 V-Engine. In fact, I think it was my racquet of choice for almost 8 years. It was what some call “a player’s racquet”, and was supposed to help improve my game as my technique got better. Two surgeries later, I gave up on that idea in favor of one that would better suit the changing needs of my body and game.


Though I’m pretty happy with my current racquets, I wish I would have had been able to demo either of these Volkl Organix line racquets. I’m an extremely brand loyal kind of guy, and have always enjoyed the balanced feel of Volkl racquets. After demo’ing these two Volkl sticks, I’m certain that I would have stayed in the Volkl racquet family if I’d gotten to these first!

On the suggestion of the good folks at City Racquet Shop, I took the Organix V1 Mid Plus and Organix 8 (300) out for a hit, and was pleasantly surprised. I spent a fair bit of time with them hitting baseline shots, and also played a competitive doubles set with each. The racquets were strung at mid-range, and both had a grip size was 4 3/8. Here are my impressions and purchase recommendations.

(Per usual, there are a few caveats to my racquet reviews, based on my own game. I’m a 4.0 player with a fast swing that generates more than enough power and topspin. I hit a slice backhand for tactical purposes, but generally use a two-handed backhand drive. Please gauge this racquet review accordingly to your own game and personal preferences.)

Click Here for the Volkl Organix V1 Mid Plus Racquet Review

Click Here for the Volkl Organix 8 Racquet Review

PostHeaderIcon Racquet Review: The Volkl Organix 8 (300)


The Volkl Organix 8 (300)

16 x 18 string pattern, 10.6 unstrung – 11.2 strung (55 lb. Volkl Power Fibre 16g), 100 in.2

The Basics: The Volkl Organix 8 can give your game a nice combination of balance AND power. Whereas the V1 Mid Plus is a comfortable racquet with low weight and a subsequent loss of power, the Organix 8 gives you the same comfortable feel, but with the added ability to create some heat.

volkl-8-4Forehand: My current racquet has an 18×20 string pattern that allows me to better control my natural ability to sometimes create more topspin than I can handle. 16×19 string patterns can be a challenging. The Organix 8’s 16×18 feels like a nice compromise to help control the spin.

Though this racquet provides for more pop on my forehand, it still performs best with an easy swing. Whenever I tried to “punish” the ball, my results were inconsistent shots that sometimes went long. If I gave it a strong hit with a relaxed arm, the results were solid shots with great depth and spin.

Backhand: My two-handed backhand shots were comfortable, and the racquet allowed for good spin. Again, relaxed shots were best so that the ball didn’t get away from me and go flying long. Slice shots were a little prone to pop up without a good forward motion. However, a good stroke produces a nice “knifed” effect.

Serve: The 16×18 string pattern allows for an easy ability to slice or kick the serve. The main challenge I had with this racquet was more in terms of keeping a relaxed swing so that the power wasn’t too much to handle. When I was successful at relaxing the arm, my serve was untouchable. When I wasn’t as successful, the double faults flowed freely.

Volleys: Volleys were fine, and the racquet’s dampening technology helped keep vibrations to a minimum for a nice solid feel.

volkl-8-1Overall: The Volkl Organix 8 (300) is a nice racquet that, if I had the spare cash, I’d buy to put into my bag for rotation with my HEAD sticks. One point that I played in a doubles set stands out memorably to illustrate the benefits of this racquet. While receiving a wide serve on the deuce court, I was able to get a forehand on the ball with some spin even though I was stretched way out.

The net man volleyed my return back into the deuce box for what would surely have been a winner if not for the lighter weight and substantial power of the Organix 8. I got back into the court in time to hit a solid slice. Though the ball was slightly behind me,  I was able to get the racquet on the ball and give it a good wrist flick for added “oomph”. The knifed slice stayed low, and was too tough for the net man. He missed the volley and we won the point for a break.

That type of shot wouldn’t have been possible without the maneuverability and power of this racquet! So if you’re looking for a lighter racquet that’s comfortable with good control AND power, give this baby a shot. I think you’ll be pretty happy with the results.

(As with most of my equipment testing, demo racquet was graciously provided by City Racquet Shop. Please check them out if you’re in the San Francisco Bay area.)

PostHeaderIcon Racquet Review: The Volkl Organix V1 Mid Plus Offers Great Feel & Versatility In A Low Power Racquet


Volkl Organix V1 Mid Plus

16 x 19 string pattern, 10.1 unstrung – 10.6 strung (55 lb. Volkl Synthetic), 102 in.2


The Basics: The Volkl Organix V1 is an extremely well-balanced racquet that can work for virtually any type of player since it’s equally comfortable in baseline rallies or at the net while putting away volleys. The odd brown color was a little off-putting in an age of brightly-colored racquets, but that shouldn’t put anyone off from giving this one a try.

It’s a lightweight racquet, which means that it’s also a low-power racquet. For someone like me who often swings much faster than necessary, that’s a good thing. Instead of hitting the back fence, the ball has a chance of landing deep at the baseline.

Conversely, if you chop at the ball or attempt subtleties by flicking your wrist to guide the ball, you’re going to be lucky if it makes it to the net. So it needs a good full swing to produce the best shot, and that’s a good thing for most club players to remember anyway.

Forehand: I’ve sometimes found open string pattern racquets harder to control in terms of topspin, but not this one. It’s as solid on a topspin forehand as it is on a flatter shot. Also, the amount of effort needed to generate topspin is minimized because of the low weight. The only downside was a temptation to over-hit because of the low power.

Backhand: It feels good on two-handed backhand shots, but is equally as comfortable on one-handed slice shots. The low power necessitates a full swing and follow-through for maximum depth, especially on the slice. “Chopped” slice shots will get punished by your opponent.


Serve: It’s a good racquet for various serve types. The low power ensures the ability to, more often than not, get the serve in the box without hitting long. In order to get the best pop on your serve, it needs good technique and a full delivery.

Volleys: The low weight allows for easy maneuverability at the net, and the racquet technology provides for a stable feel with good vibration dampening. Volleys will rarely “get away” from you, but solid technique will help for good volley depth.

Overall: The Volkl Organix V1 is a comfortable racquet that can work for virtually any type of player. It’s also one of the most versatile racquets I’ve ever tried. If you’re looking for a lighter stick that still gives you control and an ability to swing freely, I’d head out to your nearest tennis shop for a demo.

(As with most of my equipment testing, demo racquet was graciously provided by City Racquet Shop. Please check them out if you’re in the San Francisco Bay area.)

PostHeaderIcon Lost Racquet Found: A Good Deed on a Public Court


I wanted to write a quick post on a good deed that happened at the Mission Playground courts here in San Francisco. In this day and age it’s too easy (and common) to share the bad stuff. I think it’s just as important to share the good; and this was pretty good!

About a week and a half ago, I shared on Twitter about the great week of tennis I had played with my doubles buddies. I should have known better than to say anything, but I was feeling too good about my game to keep it to myself. Lo and behold, last week was probably the worst I played in months. Absolutely no part of my game worked: not my trusty serve, my mighty forehand, or my improved backhand. Nothing.

It got so bad last Wednesday that I tossed a racquet to the side of the court after losing one of the three sets I lost that day. And this is where the story begins.  I forgot about that racquet until I got my gear together to play on Friday, two days later. It took little time to realize that if my buddies who were last to leave the court hadn’t picked up my racquet, it was probably gone for good.

Sure enough, nobody picked it up, and it wasn’t turned into the the SF Parks and Rec office at the park. I left my name and number, but figured it was a lost cause. Lesson learned: don’t toss racquets to the side on a public court then forget about it! Fast forward to today at the gym when I received a phone call from that office. A racquet matching mine had been turned in. I dropped by and sure enough, there she was. A string was broken, but it was on the verge when I tossed it. It also looked like someone had tried to take off the overgrip. Overall though, she was unscathed.

Sometimes I don’t have the best attitude about SF’s public courts… and sometimes I’m also completely wrong and look like an a’hole when something good like this happens.  Thanks to whoever turned my racquet in without doing any damage after the strings broke. Some pretty good karma is about to come your way… 😉

PostHeaderIcon A Little Drizzle A Lot of Fun at NJTL Regional Rally

NJTL Regional Rally at Golden Gate Park

NJTL Regional Rally at Golden Gate Park

Arthur Ashe Kid’s Day is a high-profile example of the USTA’s efforts to encourage kids of all ages/levels to play and enjoy the game of tennis. But if the trip to NYC is out of your reach, your local USTA chapter also runs events designed to help kids learn and love the game.


The courts dried quickly once the sun came out.


Fun and games with new Regional Rally t-shirts


USTA NorCal exec. dir. Steve Leube leads the lunch charge


Sports Basement provided snacks and water for the kids


Free tennis-related items for the participants


Carl Mendoza of Youth Tennis Advantage running the kids through drills

I had the pleasure of attending an NJTL Regional Rally at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Though the courts were wet from overnight rain, you would never have known it by the smiles on the kids’ faces. (Thankfully, sunny skies dried the courts within hours for a beautiful afternoon of tennis!)

The NJTL (National Junior Tennis and Learning) network was co-founded by Ashe in 1969 “as a way to gain and hold the attention of young people in the inner cities and other poor environments so that we can teach them about matters more important than tennis.” [From arthurashekidsday.com]

Back in those days, the NJTL provided free tennis racquets to the participants. But though it’s more costly to provide free racquets these days, the NJTL still provides opportunities for kids to play the game who might not otherwise have the means to do so. It’s one of the most important aspects of the USTA’s youth outreach efforts.

On this day, roughly 300 kids showed up to participate in games designed to help improve their footwork and hone their racquet skills. Courts were divided by age and skill levels, allowing everyone a chance to participate at the appropriate level for them to hit and have fun with others.

It was an impressive achievement by USTA NorCal staff, led by executive director Steve Leube. They were aided in their efforts by a dedicated group of volunteers from the participating NJTL groups.

Steve has coordinated the Regional Rally for several years, and was completely undaunted by the elements. After water was squeegeed off the courts, he had the volunteer instructors put the kids safely through their paces in short court games until the backcourt areas dried out sufficiently for play.

“Undaunted” is a perfect word to describe Steve, who clearly loves the game as well as working with the kids. When asked about the wet courts at the start of the day, he remarked: “I had a feeling we’d be pretty wet, judging by the fog over the city and the wet roads even before I crossed the (Bay) bridge. But it’s not like we haven’t had that happen before in San Francisco. It’ll be fine.”

Though he had to keep a watchful eye on the proceedings, Steve and I chatted for quite a while about the USTA’s commitment to youth tennis. Steve is less concerned about churning out pros than he is in helping kids become productive adults.

As with many sports, tennis helps kids become more active and, hopefully, live healthier lifestyles in the long run. More important to Steve, it can also be a valuable source of life lessons, teaching kids about problem-solving, fair play, and being a gracious winner or loser.

“The chance of any kid coming out of our program and turning pro is very small. Though it’s great when we hear about one of our juniors doing well, I’m most happy when someone comes up to me to say that participating in our program made a difference in their life.”

Financial challenges abound, however. “Back in the day, the national office could afford to do the free racquet program. Nowadays it costs too much. We can sometimes partner with companies for discounted racquets, but then there’s the cost of shoes. That can be an obstacle too.”

Sports Basement, a sporting-goods retailer, was a Regional Rally partner; providing snacks for the competitors. Participants also received lunch from Subway. This may not seem like much, but every donation has a huge impact on kids who wouldn’t normally have access to this type of activity.

My start with the NJTL of Cleveland gave me not only my first racquet, but a love of the game that’s going strong almost forty years later. So the work that Steve and his staff are doing is significant. And with that work, one can only hope that these kids are inspired to do great things, regardless of whether or not it’s on a tennis court.

(For more on the USTA’s NJTL Regional Rally at Golden Gate Park, visit http://www.norcal.usta.com/Juniors/2013_njtl_regional_rally_at_golden_gate_park/. For more information on the NJTL in NorCal and to find an NJTL chapter in your area, visit http://www.norcal.usta.com/juniors/njtl/ .)

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