All Posts by Mehrban

Hard Courts vs Clay Courts Picture

Hard Courts vs Clay Courts: An Infograph

I have gotten a lot of questions lately from people about the difference between hard courts and clay courts.  Both surfaces differ, from the materials and appearance, to the effect on your game.

I decided it would be neat to create an infograph detailing the differences between hard courts vs clay courts, and how you can maximize your chances of winning on each surface.  Enjoy!

Hard Courts vs Clay Courts

Hard Courts vs Clay Courts Infograph

Hard Courts vs Clay Courts Infograph – tennisfiles.com

How do you play differently when switching from clay courts to hard courts and vice-versa?  Do you agree or disagree with the infograph?

Comment below!

Sweat While Playing Tennis

Sweat While Playing Tennis: How to Stay Dry

It’s 5 all in the third set of your local club tournament.  You step up to hit a second serve and….the racquet flies out of your hand.

Not only do you lose the point and the game, but your racquet is cracked.  Want to avoid this scenario?  Here are some tips to combat sweat while playing tennis:

Bring a Towel

Perhaps the most obvious solution which far too many people forget to bring to the court: a towel! Always bring a towel to your matches and place it on your side of the court.

Assuming the majority of my readers don’t play in tournaments with ballboys readily available, you can either put the towel through the fence of the court, or you can place it on the court at the back (the slightly less clean solution).

Without a towel, you’ll be left trying to dry your hands on your own clothes.  Trust me, trying to dry your hands on your clothes is a tough task, especially with dri-fit shirts or shorts. Whenever your hands are sweaty, wipe ’em dry with a handy dandy towel!

Bring Extra Grips

I recommend the non-tacky grip (i.e. tournagrip) if it is hot and you sweat a lot.  I’ve gone through 3-4 tacky grips (wilson pro overgrip) when it has been hot and humid.

My favorite grip to use in the heat is Yonex Super Grap Overgrip. It isn’t quite as tacky and thin as the Wilson Pro Overgrip Sensation (my second favorite overgrip) and seems to last pretty long, even in the heat.  If you like the feeling of a really secure grip that sticks to your hands, then the Wilson Pro Overgrip Sensation would be my first choice.

Just remember, everyone has different preferences.  Some people swear by Tournagrip, which I have used and think is another excellent option.  It has a smooth, almost velvety feel, and isn’t as sticky as the Wilson or Yonex grips above.  I recommend that you test a few grips out and see what works for you.

There is nothing worse than needing an overgrip and not having one. The sweat permeates the grip so even if you flip over your used overgrip and re-wrap it, it won’t last for long.  Be prepared!

Use Wrist Bands

Wrist bands are a great way to keep your hands dry, and I use them all the time.  The sweat from your arms and body stream down to your hands, which makes them very slippery.  By using wristbands, a majority of the sweat that would have gone to your hands and racquet grip is absorbed by the wristband.  And wristbands can be a cool look too.

Wrist bands also come in different shapes and sizes, so if wearing a long thick one bothers you, opt for the thin smaller ones.  When I sweat while playing tennis, I definitely throw a couple wrist bands (and a headband if I’m feeling feisty 😀 ) in the bag.  It keeps my hands dry and saves me money on grips too.

Change Your Shirt

Changing your shirt is one of the more obvious solutions on the list.  Bring a bunch of shirts, preferably sweat resistant ones (aka dri-fit, clima-lite, heat-geat, etc), to the court.  Wearing a sweaty shirt can really weigh you down and make for an uncomfortable couple hours of tennis.

So the next time your shirt feels more like a heavy towel, change your shirt, move like Flash from the Justice League, and crush your opponents.  Game, set, and match (your shorts and shoes with your dry shirt, that is).

Bring a Rosin Bag

Rosin is a powdery substance that helps keep your hands dry. You store the rosin in a rosin bag.  You may have seen a baseball pitcher with a rosin bag and white powder (the legal stuff) all over his hands.  The same stuff can be used by tennis players to dry their hands off.

If you sweat while playing tennis and the above solutions are not effective enough for you, try a rosin bag.  Here’s how to make one.  Alternatively, you can put some sawdust in your pocket.

After cracking a couple racquets in college because of a sweaty grip, I have used the above tips and am proud to say I am racquet slip free! Well, racket throws don’t count.

Is sweat while playing tennis causing you trouble? Give these tips a try.  Otherwise you’ll think of this article a split second after your racquet flies out of your hand and before the frame is cracked in half.

Full Disclosure: Some of the links in my posts are affiliate links, which means I get a commission if you click the link and make a purchase on the site.  I only recommend products that I have used and think are awesome.  If you do happen to make a purchase through my links, I really appreciate it, and if not, I appreciate you too 🙂

What is your favorite way to combat sweat while playing tennis? Tell us below!

 

3 Rafael Nadal is my role model

Rafael Nadal is My Role Model: 7 Reasons Why

Rafael Nadal is my role model.  Sure, he has won 9 French Opens, 14 Grand Slams overall, and over 71 million dollars in prize money.  But Rafael Nadal also exhibits some of the top characteristics that I would like my child and those around me to emulate.  Below are 7 reasons why Rafael Nadal is my role model:

Reason #1: Humility

Every time you hear Rafa speak in an interview, what do you usually hear? “I’m sorry that he lost today” and “my opponent played very well” have become standard phrases from the King of Clay.

Contrary to the overconfident attitudes that dominate the airwaves, Nadal talks about how he has to play to his limit to defeat tough opponents and voices doubt about whether he can keep winning.  While Nadal may be full of confidence on the inside, even if he is crushing his opponents left and right, he is always a class act about it.

Reason #2: Tenacity

Watch Rafael Nadal play a match.  He will run down every ball, retrieve shots that people think are unretrievable, and make his opponent hit 5 shots that would be winners against 99% of the tour before whipping a running backhand cross court passing shot.

The Mallorcan has amazing wheels and you can tell by the squeaking of his shoes and his grunting that he is giving it everything he has.  Nadal does not have a huge serve but what he does have is the tenacity to grind out points and take the initiative when necessary.  Reason #2 why Rafael Nadal is my role model.

Reason #3: Family Values

Rafael Nadal is extremely close with his family.  His coach since he was 3 years old, Toni Nadal, is his uncle.  Nadal lives at home with his parents (he bought the house for them).  When his parents separated in 2009, he wrote that he was devastated, and that he had “lost all love for life.”

Nadal is also still dating the same girl that he had been seeing since he was a teenager.

In a world where about half of all marriages end in divorce, it is nice to see Nadal display love and affection for his family.  His family has helped him immensely in his career, and Nadal has stayed true to them.

Reason #4: He is a Winner

1 Australian Open title. 9 French Open titles.  2 Wimbledon titles.  2 U.S. Open titles.  1 Olympic Gold Medal.  4 Davis Cup titles.  Sound like a pretty decent resume, no?  Rafael Nadal is my role model, yes, in large part because he is a winner.

Most people pick role models who are very successful in their field of expertise, whether it be a mother who is great at cooking, a successful lawyer, or Michael Jordan.  Rafael Nadal has done amazing things throughout his career, and he has 66 titles to prove it. (Thanks Wikipedia!).

Reason #5: No Excuses

Do you ever hear Nadal whining about an injury?  Has he ever said that he lost because his knees hurt, or made an excuse when he lost to a much lower ranked opponent (which doesn’t happen very often anyway)?  Nope.

Go ahead and youtube any of his interviews and listen to him talk on television.  If Nadal loses, he talks about how well his opponent played, or about deficiencies in his own game. Nadal is a very admirable player in this regard.  There is a lot to learn from this.  Often times someone who fails will make an excuse.

What’s the big deal with this approach?  Someone who makes excuses does not analyze why they failed.  So instead of finding the real reason why you failed and taking steps to fix it, you ignore the problem and blame the outcome on something else.  Not very good. If you lose, you own up to it.  No excuses.

Reason #6: Perseverance Over Injury

Nadal is an inspiration because he has come back from injuries several times.  No one would have thought that after 7 months away from the tour with an inflamed knee he would have one of the best seasons of his career in 2013 and win both the French Open and U.S. Open.

Nadal was also sidelined with a wrist injury for 3 months in the later half of 2014, and had his appendix removed at the end of 2014.  Despite all the troubles, Nadal continues to train hard and battle for every point.

He had some setback in the early part of 2015 (loss to Fognini in semis of Rio and to Raonic in quarterfinals of Indian Wells), but I know he is going to battle back and go deep at the French Open.  Besides, the man has won the French Open 9 out of the last 10 years.  Who wants to bet against him?

Reason #7: He has the Best Fist Pump In Tennis

Well heck, who doesn’t like a strong fist pump?  I’ve seen Tsonga twirl around with his arms flexed in the air like he just won a doll at the county fair.  I’ve seen Agassi and Guga Kuerten draw hearts in the clay like they were sending a message to their significant others on Valentine’s Day.  And I’ve seen other players give fist pumps, but they pale in comparison to the vicious uppercut-vamos yell combo that would knock out Mayweather if he stuck his chin above Nadal’s fist (it would have made things easier for Pacquiao).

There’s nothing better than watching Nadal scramble all over the court, hit a ridiculous winner, and then give his signature fist pump for the crowd to enjoy.  This Nadal video will get you pumped up! (well, at least until the music changes to Nickelback at 2:41).

There you have it.  7 reasons why Rafael Nadal is my role model.

Do you think there is a better role model on the pro tour?  Disagree with my assessment of Rafael Nadal?  Comment below!

4

Top 5 Tennis Pet Peeves

As a tennis player, I take an immense amount of pride in the sport.  Unfortunately, there are people who disrespect the game out of plain ignorance or sheer stupidity.  The following is a list of tennis pet peeves that everyone should be aware of and take steps to correct:

Tennis Pet Peeve #1: Playing another sport on a tennis court

There is nothing more irritating than seeing a group of people kicking a soccer ball or playing lacrosse on a tennis court.  First of all, there is a reason why we have tennis courts: we can’t play tennis anywhere else.

You can go on any of the thousands of nearby fields or grassy areas and play baseball, soccer, lacrosse, or other sports.  Instead, by playing another sport on a tennis court, you are taking up one of the few courts available that are sought after by tennis players.

What’s worse, playing another sport on a tennis court can damage the court.  Tennis courts are expensive enough to build, but even harder to get repaired.  Tennis courts are made for soft tennis balls, not hard lacrosse balls, baseballs, or the like.

I see people ride their bikes (incredible) on tennis courts, which often leave black streak marks.  I have also seen lacrosse clinics held on tennis courts (seriously???).  Here’s an idea: why not practice on the same surface that you compete on? If you’re going to compete on a grassy field or on dirt for your sport, do us and yourself a favor; practice on it and leave the tennis courts for us.

Tennis Pet Peeve #2: Cheating

Certainly, we can all admire your will and sheer desire to win.  But by cheating, you are not only robbing a person who rightfully earned a point, game, set, or match, but you also show everyone that you lack integrity.

The downfall of most empires: cheating the people.  The downfall of marriages: cheating on your spouse. The reason that many kids get expelled from school: cheating on tests. You get the point (hopefully not because you cheated!).  When you form a habit, it becomes ingrained in your character.  And above all, it is really annoying and immoral to cheat.

If you see the ball hit any part of the line, it is IN.  By sticking to this simple yet often violated rule, you present yourself to the world as not only an honest and trustworthy tennis player, but also an honest and trustworthy person.  You don’t want to be referred to as “the cheater.”  It doesn’t do much good for your rep.  Cheating is undoubtedly one of my greatest tennis pet peeves.

Tennis Pet Peeve #3: Throwing your Racquet

Full disclosure: Yes, the author has thrown his racquet before.  Yes, the author has received a code violation for such behavior.  But has the author realized the error of his ways? Yes.  Will the author refrain from throwing his racquet in the future?  I’ll try my best 🙂

Regardless, throwing your racquet is a big mistake for many reasons.

(1) Racquets are expensive.  Playing tennis costs a lot of money (alright, the 1% can stop laughing now). Throwing a racquet, especially at certain angles, can crack a frame, leaving the racquet useless except to ward off house burglars and drunk people at tennis socials.  Racquet companies are not going to replace a racquet that has been voluntarily cracked (there is no crime of passion defense here).  Just because the pros throw their racquets doesn’t mean you should.

(2) Throwing your racquet can get you a code or point violation.  If you are playing in a tennis tournament and a referee sees you throw a racquet or smash it on the ground, you will get a point penalty or code violation.  If you accumulate enough point penalties, you can be defaulted from a match, or worse, banned from play competitively for a while.

(3) Abusing your racquet makes you look like a cry baby.  Yes, image is everything. And no, I am not trying to sell you a canon rebel from 1990.  What kind of grown man or woman needs to slam a 12 ounce piece of titanium to the ground to feel better?  Not you, that’s who.  Give meditation or breathing techniques a try if you have issues controlling your anger.

Tennis Pet Peeve #4: Unnecessary Grunting

It is one thing if you naturally expel air while hitting tennis balls, or the noises you make are a direct result of you working your tail off to get to a ball.  However, it is another thing when a tennis player shrieks like a hyena seconds after hitting a tennis ball. The latter is a well-known tennis pet peeve.  Personally, I am at my best when I expel air or grunt naturally when I hit a tennis ball.  However, I have heard shrieks that are surpassed only by the highest decibel levels often found at construction sites.  And I don’t think that type of grunting is necessary.

Grunting seems to put off a large number of tennis fans who come to watch tennis for its beauty and elegance, not to listen to shrieks and screams that would be better suited for the demise of a protagonist in a horror film.

If grunting helps your tennis game, and is a natural byproduct of your effort, then by all means go for it and grunt.  And if you are a loud grunter, but know in your heart that grunting allows you to play your best game, then I can’t blame you for your ear-busting habit.  But you won’t be the most popular chip off the old block for doing it.

Tennis Pet Peeve #5: Not Calling Out the Score

While this pet peeve is forgivable, this one still makes the list for a couple reasons.

(1) The audience won’t know the score.  For those of you who have supporters in the crowd, it keeps them in the dark.  Not everyone trained under the tutelage of Ms. Cleo in predicting the future.  If you call out the score (or update the scorecards) then people will follow and be more engaged in your match.

Otherwise, people spend half the time spreading rumors about what they think the score could be based on the last two points you just lost and the death stare you gave your opponent, even if they were the only two points you lost in the last hour (what a perfectionist!).

(2) It opens the door to cheating and/or forgetting the score.  We’re not robots, so we may forget the score if we do not call it out loud each time.  A savvy opponent may pick up on this and try to weasel the score in his favor.

(3) It slows down the match.  If the score is called out every point, as it should be, then there won’t be a need to recount past points in an effort to remember whether the score is 40-15 or 30-30.

That’s all I have for now.  I’m sure I’ll think of additional tennis pet peeves after playing some more tournaments in a couple months.

Let me know your biggest tennis pet peeves: comment below!

How to Become a Tennis Ball Boy in 3 Easy Steps

Several people have asked me how they or their child can become a tennis ball boy. And with good reason.  Tennis ball boys (or girls) enjoy their share of perks: free clothes, free shoes, access to the tennis venue, and the best seat (stand?) in the house.

But before you can become a tennis ball boy, you need to know how to become one. And contrary to belief, its actually pretty easy.  Below are three simple steps on how to become a tennis ball boy and set foot on court with your favorite tennis pros.

Step #1: Watch Ball Boys Do Their Job

While becoming a ball boy may not seem that difficult, you still need to know what to do. The best way to learn is to watch other ball boys at work.  The next time you watch a tennis match on television, pay attention to what the ball boys are doing.

There are two basic positions: the net, and the back court.  The ball boys at the net retrieve balls that are hit into the net or which are closer to them than the ball boys at the back of the court.  The ball boys at the back of the court also retrieve balls close to them, and they hold and throw tennis balls to the pros when the pro needs them.

Ball boys send the balls to their colleagues on the other side of the court when the other player has to serve.  Ball boys will also retrieve a towel for the pro when asked, or hold an umbrella on changeovers to shield the pro from the sun.  If a pro asks you to do something (within reason), do it!

If you ever happen to meet a tennis ball boy, ask him or her about the job and the things they find most difficult so that you can be prepared for them.

Step #2: Find a Professional Tennis Tournament and Sign Up for Tryouts

How do you ball boy for a tournament?  Well, first you have to find a tournament!  Once you do that, you can either call the tournament number and ask about the process, or the tournament website will have a ball boy information page with an application and/or waiver.  Here is an example of a ball boy application from the Winston-Salem Open.  And the information page for ball boys at the U.S. Open.

The tournament staff will review your application, and if they like it, you will be invited to the tournament site.  However, unless you are a veteran, there usually are tryouts held for ball boys.

The tournament staff will have you attend the tryouts anywhere from one week to a couple months prior to the event.  They will analyze your speed, accuracy, and proficiency at the duties required of a ball boy.  If you are lucky enough to be selected, you are in!

Step #3: Enjoy Being a Ball Boy, and Survive The Cuts!

As the tournament progresses, there will be less and less matches.  What does this mean? It means that the tournament will need less ball boys.  The best performing or veteran ball boys will be kept, and the more novice or underperforming ball boys will be cut.

If you are cut early, do not be disappointed.  Be happy that you got the opportunity of a lifetime to ball boy professional tennis matches and enjoyed the amenities and free access to matches that few others can enjoy.

Funny Story: I was a ball boy for a professional tennis tournament years ago and ended up lasting until the round of sixteen.  Although I was cut, I learned that I would be a ball boy for the Bryan Brothers (#1 doubles team in the world!) during a night match.  This meant I got extra clothing and shoes! Sweet!

However, the shorts they gave me were too big. Ruh roh!

During the match I was a net ball boy.  I ran with one hand holding up my shorts and the other picking up tennis balls.  After one of the Bryan Brother twins saw me pick up a ball, to my surprise, he looked at me, hiked up his shorts to his belly button, and the crowd laughed.  I was stunned.  One of the Bryan Brothers had just made fun of  me!!!  I was a bit embarrassed (damn you Fila and your oversized shorts!), but it makes for a great story.

I had a wonderful time living the life of a ball boy, and if you follow the three simple steps above, you can become a tennis ball boy too.

One last piece of advice: don’t forget to pay attention while you’re out there…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5dx-oCupC0

 

Have you ever been a tennis ball boy?  Tell us about it: Comment below!