Posts Tagged ‘GLTF’

PostHeaderIcon USGO 2013 Player Interview – Adrian Chang (VIDEO)

imageThis final release from this year’s Player Interview series features Adrian Chang: a fellow GLTF’er and resident Canuck. I initially grabbed Adrian for a bag check but realized quickly that he would also be a great choice for a longer sit-down.

I wish could re-shoot this video. From my first to my final shoot, I got better at exploring my subjects, and more comfortable with letting the interviews go off the beaten path. Now that I’m privy to Adrian’s inner workings on Facebook, I see that there’s a lot to explore!

Alas, there are no “do-overs”; but I’m sure I’ll be able to coax him into a video update later this year. 😉

Until then, I hope you enjoy my chat with Adrian.

PostHeaderIcon My 2013 USTA Chronicles: (Final) Match #7 versus Golden Gate Park D

San Francisco State University tennis courts

Date: 6/15/2013

Location: San Francisco State

Conditions: Outdoors, cold, misty

Doubles or Singles Played: Doubles

Match Result: 6-3 7-5 Loss

Season Record: 2-5

Match Notes: We played our last match of the season in what most of us felt was also some of the worst weather of the season. It was cold, gray, and misty: a typical San Francisco summer day. Fortunately there was little wind, so conditions were plausible for decent play.

I’d hoped to end the season on a winning high note, but it didn’t work out that way. There was much to learn from this match for the off-season, positive takeaways of good play as well as a handful of points that will replay in my mind, (begging for a different outcome that will never happen.)

Qui, one of our co-captains, was my partner for this match. We hadn’t played together this season, but I’ve known Qui long enough to know how solid he is. He’s a lefty with solid technique and timing on his strokes. He’s got an excellent lob and great hands at the net. He’s also one of the best competitors I’ve seen.

I knew we’d be fine, and we were for the most part. We played well, and fought hard when our back was up against it.  But we ultimately lost the match because we didn’t win the points that mattered.

For my part, I played well when nothing was on the line. (Not counting my one Sharapova service game of 3 double faults and an unforced error). When I needed to come up with the goods on crucial game/break points, I played tentative tennis that really cost us.

The moment I won’t forget occurred at 5 games all, 30-all in the second set on Qui’s serve. We’d battled back from 3-5 and were in position to take the lead. I had a chance to end the point on one of two back-to-back overheads. I hit the first and almost missed the outside of the sideline. They didn’t call it out, but the call could easily have gone against us.

The guy closest to the first shot scrambled and sent up a high defensive lob. With the close call on the first overhead still in my head, I got tentative. Instead of letting the lob bounce for an easier shot, I took it out of the air and hit an overly safe shot that the “good” guy hit for a strong groundie to win the point.

Now facing break point, I had a chance to put away a volley winner on a service return. Instead of staying calm to hit the shot with a clear head, I thought “Don’t blow this one too” – and I sent the ball into the net.  After the break, our opponents went on to serve out the next game for the win. We were sent packing from a match that should have gone to a match tiebreak because I’d missed two huge opportunities with tentative ball-striking.

It sucked, but I’m not alone in this regard. The challenge of every sport, not just tennis, is to rise to the occasion by staying calm and relaxed so that there’s no tightness in the execution of your technique.

As Rafa said after his victory over Fabio Fognini at this year’s French Open, “If I can calm down I will play better; otherwise I can go back to Majorca and go fishing.” I’m not out fishing, but you get the point.

Now it’s time to share the positives. The first is that I played within myself didn’t overplay my forehand and/or serve. That’s a good thing for someone like me who often feels the pressure to go for big shots that I don’t need when the situation gets tense.

Another positive was my ability to shake off a horrendous call. I got hooked badly on a second serve that should have been an ace. My opponent looked at his partner, and said “I think it was out. What do you think?” The partner had turned away from us, but I later found out from our captain that he said it looked in to him. I looked at my opponent again and he said “I think I saw it wide.”

Okay. If you’re gonna make a bad call, at least do it with a semblance of conviction! Also, rule of thumb is that if you can’t agree with your partner then you concede the point…which he didn’t. I got steamed, and was ripe for a service break, but steadied the ship, I held serve to prove the point that you can’t beat me even if you cheat.

On another note, there were two moments that caught the attention of my inner “Roving Umpire”

The first occurred as I went to hit a second serve to the “bad call” opponent. After I started my motion, he ran to grab a ball at the side of the court. After putting it into his pocket, he set up to receive serve as though nothing happened. I said “First serve, right?” He started to protest but his partner agreed. A deliberately interrupted motion in the middle of a second serve clearly warranted a first serve.

The second was something I didn’t call, but could have. This same guy would toss the second ball from his pocket toward the back fence after making first serve. It never adversely affected a point, so I never called him out for what it was: a hindrance. It would be the same if the ball accidentally fell out of his pocket. First time a warning, second time the loss of a point, etc. Ask Andy Murray!

Finally, I had one last “Bonehead” moment at the end of the first set after missing a shot. I swiped the ground in anger with my racquet, and struck my leg with the butt of the grip. I hit the top of the shin muscle so hard that it bruised the surrounding area, also hurting the muscle to the point of pain when walking (after I cooled down). I gotta stop hurting myself …

Thoughts on the 2013 Season

Even though my final record was 2-5, I consider this season a success. My primary concern for the season was avoiding injuries; and I succeeded. The changes I made in terms of supplements and pre-/post-match gym work made a discernible difference. I’d still hurt for a day or so after matches, but was never incapacitated. The only injuries I had were self-inflicted, and completely avoidable. I guess that’s my work for next season.

It was also a success in terms of my mental game. In past years, I’ve struggled mightily to sustain a good positive mental state throughout the match.  This season, I felt calmer overall, and more in control. I still need to do a better job of controlling my mental game on big points, but that’s something that even the pros find difficult to manage. So I’m in good company.

The most important aspect of this season, as always, was to have a good time. And I did. I was a part of a great group of guys who had fun and supported one another. For me, that’s the point of the USTA season. That and the post-season party. J

See you next year.

PostHeaderIcon USGO 2013 Player Interview – Paolo De Angelis (VIDEO)

I have a few Italian friends (i.e. Italian from Italy) and have always loved their expressiveness. So when I heard that there were USGO participants from Italy, I did my best to grab one of them for my player interview series.

Today’s player Interview features Paolo De Angelis from Rome.  Paolo made the decision to play in the USGO because it was voted the GLTA’s Best Large Tournament  for 2012. Timing is everything, however, and mine wasn’t the best since our interview came on the heels of a first-round loss in singles.  Even so, he was gracious in defeat and was glad he made the trip.

This translation is courtesy of Bing Translator, and I hope it’s correct: È stato un piacere incontrare e parlare con voi, Paolo. Grazie per il vostro tempo e la generosità. 🙂 (It was a pleasure meeting and talking with you, Paolo. Thanks for your time and generosity.)

Note: The off-camera voice is a friend of Paolo’s who was on hand for any necessary translations. Paolo was worried about his English, but he was great. It’d be a very different story, however, if the interview shoe was on the other foot and I had to speak Italian…

PostHeaderIcon USGO 2013 Player Interview – Jonathan South and Patrick Holzen (VIDEO)

Now that the king and queen of clay have been crowned in Paris, the tennis world turns its’ attention to the famed grass courts of London.

London is also the home of Jonathan South and Patrick Holzen, tournament directors for the Tennis London International Championships, and the featured players in today’s USGO player interview video.

Partners in crime for the past 15 years, Jonathan and Patrick were extremely gracious with their time as we discussed topics ranging from the USGO and their own GLTA tournament to the gay marriage debate going on right now in Parliament.

I had a wonderful time with them, and hope that comes across in the video. (Hopefully they had a great time with the interview too.)
Enjoy!

(For more information on the Tennis London International Championships, here’s a link to the their tournament website: http://tennislondon.com/tournament/)

PostHeaderIcon My 2013 USTA Chronicles: Match #6 versus Golden Gate Park A

golden-gate-park-tennis

Date: 6/8/2013

Location: Golden Gate Park

Conditions: Outdoors, windy

Doubles or Singles Played: Doubles

Match Result: 7-5 6-2 Loss

Season Record: 2-4

Match Notes: WIND! That was the word of the day, and the deciding factor in the match. The winds at Golden Gate Park were swirling in all directions across the back courts. If you moved well to handle the wind, you did okay.  If you didn’t move well, you didn’t do okay. It was as simple as that.

My partner for today’s match was Casey, a teammate I’ve known for years (and I do mean years!) He hits a great ball that is fairly flat and stays low. He suggested taking the ad court, so I took deuce.

Our opponents were a mixed-level pairing. One was extremely strong with great strokes on both sides, heavy topspin, excellent volleys, and a decently-paced serve that rarely missed. (Had an excellent body serve too!) The other hit two hands on both sides and was a little inconsistent. But he could also send balls back awkwardly by virtue of sticking his racquet out and making minimal contact. I got caught flatfooted a couple of times by those frustrating shots.

Breaks of serve will kill you in dubs, and we lost by a break in the first set, and two in the second set. What’s worse is that we were up 4-1 in the first before going down 7-5. For my part, and was disappointed in my lack of footwork in the wind. I didn’t keep my feet moving, and often found myself out of position and reaching for shots. That’s not a recipe for clean tennis under these conditions.

It’s always good to focus on the positives afterward too, so here is a bright spot from today’s loss. Sometimes when I face an opponent that I know is very good, I try too hard to hit great serves/shots and end up giving away free points. I kept that in check today and didn’t overplay my serves or shots. I only wish I could have handled the wind as well I did with my internal expectations.

Still, it was a good match. And it’s always good to hang with my team. If I can’t win, I can at least have fun. 🙂

Bonehead move of the day? Holding a tough service game with a well-placed chipped lob, then hitting my hand with my racquet in excitement — thereby injuring the pinky on my left hand. *facepalm*
Still, it’s not as bad as what Mikhail Youzhny did to himself…

PostHeaderIcon USGO 2013 Player Interview – Ember Harker (VIDEO)

ember-harker-image

With this year’s USGO boasting, perhaps, its’ first lone female tournament director*, it seemed only fitting to grab Ember Harker, the Gay and Lesbian Tennis Federation’s first female president, for a player interview.

I remember when Ember first came on the scene.  In fact, she was on my winning WTT “Team Meerkats” at the 2007 USGO. (Look for the Team Meerkat photo below the video.) What I remember most about Ember back then, besides cute matching outfits, was a great smile and gracious personality.  Those same traits followed her onto the GLTF Board of Directors and, ultimately, the presidency.

These days she’s no longer on the GLTF Board, and enjoying her time as a private tennis citizen. But she’s still appreciative of her time on the board, and proud of the contributions she was able to make to the organization. (I second that pride!)

So sit back and enjoy my chat with Ember.

* – There’s a good chance that there has been a previous female director for the USGO. Will research this item for a future update.)

team_meerkat

Team Meerkat

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