Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Battered Ego

Well first came the USTA year end ratings and I am not bumped up to 3.5... bummer and then I lose 4 matches in a row....
they were not matches that I had no chance at winning.... In one of the matches I had 2 matchpoints and lost from there and in the following match I had a set point... leading 5-2 in that set and then lost 5 games in a row!.. lost the set and then finally the match.
You get the picture!
I was not sure that the USTA would finally smile upon me and say ...okay so you are a 3.5 now but you know this was the year I had a winning streak of 13 matches! ..went to Mixed doubles districts and then to Sectionals(My team didnt make it to the nationals but I had won all my matches) won some great matches in the Women's league etc etc
but yes I did have some bad matches as well especially after I returned from India, jetlagged et al I lost the first few matches with scores like (6-1,6-2) (6-0,6-2) (phew :()
secondlyMixed doubes winnings are considered only with you play mixed doubles exclusively!
and plus my net game still sucks
so all in all I guess I still have lots to do before I get there!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The new face of 2008

I love watching Dinara Safina(Right now she is firing away against a Venus Williams in the Doha Year end Championships)

She has that tomboyish, brazen serve of Marat Safin and also has a hunch just like her Elder bro.

For me Dinara is the best thing to have happened to women's tennis in a year where one of the best ..Justine Henin retired.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Buddy running with Sam

Sampada my friend invited me to join her cheerleading squad in WashingtonDC on october 26th where she was planning to run the DC Marine Corp Marathon ...her first ever Marathon.

I had never witnessed a Marathon much less experienced running one so I didnt know what to expect but I was thrilled nevertheless.

Running 26.2 miles...can you imagine?

Her other friends had meticulously read the marathon route, figured which mile marker Sam would cross at what time...I just knew my time 11.30AM at the 18 mile mark.

When I reached the decided place I was immediately swept into the frenzy that was the marathon; I saw a river of human traffic, some running some walking and I so immediately wanted to be part of it(I later learnt there were 30 thousand participants!). I saw bystanders calling out names of the runners and cheering them...realized they were just calling out to unknown people by the names written on their cool is that..the true human spirit.

I was so happy to spot Sam and chugged along with her. There were people holding out water, powerade, placards, infact when crossing the potomac river saw a bunch of people on a boat waiting just to cheer the runners.
By the time I had met Sam, she had run most of the marathon.. 18 miles! and I could feel how every step was becoming more difficult for her...she was at a point where she was fatigued and her mind was throwing out irrational arguments and questioning the point of running the marathon....
But run she did..finish she did... and in her own words "I was able to overcome my injuries and my demons and run to the finish line smiling. I can now call myself a marathoner. "

Congrats Marathoner.. I am so proud of you...indeed in finishing this one you proved that there is no limit or boundaries to the human spirit... if we want... we can!
and thanks so much for letting me be a part of it!

p.s. you can read Sampada's experience here

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It ain't that easy

image courtesy: University of Sussex
Line calls thats what I am talking about.

The professional players have it so easy...they have linesman and many a times if they think a linesman faltered then the "hawkeye"

In the tennis matches that I play you have to make your own calls that is... you depend on your opponents to call the ball that you hit as in or out and you have the same responsibility.

Now now now

sometimes when the point is crucial and the call close...and your opponents think you made the wrong call, it could lead to grumpy faces... unhappy matches,unhappy endings and not to mention the dead fish handshake to seal the deal!

but what can one do? there is this split second to decipher the distance between the ball and the line..did I see any green?(or blue depending on the color of the court)

Like I said it ain't that easy!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Muscle What?

Not until recently had I heard the term Muscle memory. I found it fascinating to begin with... what!! muscles have memory? But as time went by it did make a lot of sense thanks to on court experience...literally :)
It explained why if I hadn't practised in a while and went straight into a match.. I felt rusty, lacked the confidence to hit my shots.. you may have the shot in your repertoire but the brain has a tough time recollecting the logic or the neural path.... but you know what...hang in there long the end of the match... your muscles will be up and running :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Nothing like tennis to bring you down!

just like Nothing like tennis to put you on the top!
Last Friday I played a women's doubles match at the 4.0 level( Yes I am 3.0 but since this is off season my 3.5 women's team is playing at 4.0 level)
I was telling V..this was the match of my life.. I played well at the net..played very well from the Baseline... and won the match...
Riding on that high I went in confidently into a 3.5 doubles match last Monday(My 3.0 team is playing at 3.5 level)... to be put well in place...we lost the match.
Reminded me that I still have a lot of work to put in before I can be officially a 3.5!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ball Kidding

that's me Ball Kidding at the 2007 Legg Mason Classic...

center court :)

what an experience it was!
The best seats in the court I say!
the only flip side? ....Well now I do notice the ball kids during a tennis match! they are no longer part of the court paraphernalia :(

The Awesome Sisters

Personally I am not a big fan of the Williamses(Is the American media responsible? they show too much of them)
but 1) I love their fighting spirit 2) I love their hunger to win 3) I love their on-court rivalry
but most of all... I love the support they give each other.
If it was me probably after having lost to my sister I would be sitting and sulking and not sitting in the stands and cheering for her...way to go Williamses

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Roger Federer in the USOpen Finals..again!

When I was watching the USOpen semifinal match between Rafa and Andy Murray I realised how tired Rafa looked; his shots had a lot of spin but no firepower and Andy did a beautiful job of putting them away and so--- Andy Murray is the one who made it to the finals--- to meet :) Roger Federer.
On the same lines it occurred to me....campared to Rafa(the current world No 1) or for that matter any other player Roger Federer was/is so much more consistent.
-> He not only plays well but plays smart(keeping himself injury free and fresh enough for all the tournaments he plays in)
-> I really appreciate his attitude towards tennis -- he knows tennis fans don't just want to see him win--more than that they want to see some good tennis-- which was evident when he was asked about his feelings after his five setter agains Igor Andreev.
-> Even though he lost his No 1 ranking he didn't seem to be down and out or unnerved or anything... we know now why he is there--- because he enjoys tennis that's why!
Hats Off to you Roger and Good Luck in the Finals!

Monday, August 25, 2008

I love running

I love running. For me it is the quick and the most easy form of excercise. Want some excercise but not enough time to go to the gym.... put on your shoes and start running, Need to clear your muddled head....start running, Want to brighten up an otherwise dull day? start running.

or simply start running..all else will be fine by the end of the trail :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

The New King
The fact that Rafael Nadal is now the new No. 1 is finally sinking in. But kudos to Nadal he was so patient .. with himself with the challenges thrown at him ..
Roger kept Nadal at bay for so long ; he probably created a monster in that process..a monster strong enough to finally devor the No. 1 ranking.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Night Date

Just finished playing an hour and half of solid singles tennis with V. I love such evenings when the tennis is just perfect ---a mixture of long rallies, a few satisfying approach shots followed by solid volleys, a few good backhand slice returns, a good measure of lobs and a few rounds of applause for each other. Not to mention gulping down a bottle of just plain water after a workout----- there are very few things that can be give so much contentment :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

District Diaries -II

Campared to all our practise sessions, the District Championship weekend itself went by swiftly, albeit with a lot of Drama. The 2008 Districts was held in Reston this year which is just about 10 minutes from where I live which gave a kind of home ground feeling. The Districts comprised of 3 round robin(RR) matches on Saturday and early morning Sunday followed by a midafternoon final on Sunday.

Our team as a whole lost 1 and won 2 of the RR which put us in the finals.... which we ... yes we won!

My partner Vi and I played 2 of the 3 RR matches and we won the first of it 6-0 6-0...unbelievable. The 2nd one we won 6-1 6-1. We were also scheduled to play in the finals by virtue of having done so well in the RR. We faced a little challenge in the final but we won it 6-4 6-1.

The finals was followed by a good cheer, photos session and winners awards.

In all it makes us the Best 3.0 Mixed Doubles team in Virginia. A picture of our team will appear in the USTA magazine..yay.

Next we play at the Sectionals which will be in Maryland on 25th and 26th of July against Maryland, WashingtonDC, West Virginia.

Good luck to us :)

Monday, June 23, 2008

District Diaries-1

When I booked my tickets for my India Vacation in April little did I realize that I would be missing our Mixed Doubles playoffs... I was extremely disappointed when my captain emailed me saying we lost at the play offs and thus not making it to the Districts this year(We did make it to 2007 Districts but that calls for another post!)
2 months later when our team got busy with the USTA women's season ... we suddenly get an email saying "we have a wildcard entry to the Districts are you still available?" ofcourse I am!
then began our 2 weeks of practice, now something has to be said about this practice you see USTA has spoiled us by having all our tennis matches indoors and then they say Districts will be outdoors...haha...... well practice we realized it is not just our opponents but also the elements we have play against. The side effects of which can be sweat blurring your vision with its burning saltiness, the sun making your eyes squint; you have to start strategizing such that your better server gets to the serve on the shadier side...... but all in all it was a solid 2 weeks... which now exists in my sweet memories!
more to come...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The days are just Packed!

er I mean tennis wise and otherwise. I am always happy when on Sunday I looked ahead at the week and see 2-3 for-sure tennis sessions bobbing their head in the weekday evenings.
Yesterday I had a match(which we won yay!) and tonight I have our mixed doubles practice session followed by a tennis match on thrusday which gives me time for a running session on Wednesday and a guilt free off from the gym on Friday, what a week!

PS: I loved using the title, it is the title of a Calvin and Hobbes collection which summarizes Calvin's summer vacation!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Safina in French Open final

I think Safina was sort of "discovered" during 2008 Roland Garros, she did spark an interest in her when she defeated Henin and Serena williams not too long ago.
It is amazing that she made a come back against a player like Sharapova who is such a -I wont give up till the end-- player. During quaterfinals I switched off the TV when Dementieva was almost going to win it, I reach office and after about 1/2 hour when I logon to check the status, lo the scoreboard showed the match "In progress" turns out Safina not only made an unbelievable(again!) comeback, she also sweeped the 3rd set 6-0 hats off.
The script of the Semifinal match between Safina and Kuznetsova went like many other kuzty's final appearances; she almost always loses them because she is too tight and has lost all belief in herself. Oh Kuzty when when will you learn hold your own?
On the other hand the Ivanovic vs Jankovic semifinal is still going on well into the 3rd set.
You know people want good matches not just one better player; ultimately they are here to see a battle not just of talent but of wits, belief, comeons and a good helping of magical shots. So by all means whether Safina wins or not she has definitely won my heart and made me smile, thank you!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Federer and his Fans

Well I am one of them for sure :)
Just wanted to write about this lingering thought.
Usually a tennis fan is happy when his "guy" is doing great out there on the court and disappointed when he is losing.
But being a Federer fan is different -- even if he isn't doing great at the moment
1) You know never know when he will move on to a different gear and dig himself out so no sweat there... you are riveted till the end.
2) Even if he loses you realise that Federer himself has not Fallen apart, his expressions, his post match talk usually say that he is happy that he reached to this point(usually semifinals or finals)
3) Finally I think a Federer fan is happy to just see him play
win or lose we all know --- you are God of tennis himself--

Monday, May 19, 2008

Oh Justine

There is a small newspaper cutout neatly stuck on one of my kitchen walls which says "A backhand made in Heaven" and illustrates Justine's backhand step by step. John Mcnroe describes her backhand as the most beautiful shot in Tennis. I had that paper cut out in hope someday my one handed back hand will resemble her. When I had stuck that cutout last year, little did anyone know she would gone from the tennis court so soon!

Oh Justine I will indeed miss that backhand and the fire in your eyes during all those tennis matches.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Justine retires at 25

It is indeed a sad day for tennis; Justine suddenly announcing her retirement!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

What am I missing?

The other day I was watching the exhibition match featuring Roger Federer and Pete Sampras;
I was impressed with the frequency of Sampras attacking at the net and the beauty of his volleys. Although I knew Sampras was a serve and volley player this was the first time I was really watching him.

Usually beginners and amateur players like myself tend to imitate their favorite players.
There are great servers on the tour to learn from, great one handed backhands to watch, great baseline sluggers but perhaps we are missing a great volleyer to learn from.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The joys of club hopping :)

It has been sometime since V and I started playing on USTA leagues, in sometime we figured that our tennis matches could be in any of the sports club in the Northern Virginia, I am not sure about the 'any' part but my drive to a tennis match has been anywhere between 10 minutes to 45 minutes.
And I have to say I like this club hopping! It is like travelling; people travel to different places, different countries, to see a new place, experience a new culture. Trust me each club has its own way of working, each club has it own set of quirks when it comes to the tennis courts, some are blue, some are green, some are purely indoor while some have a bubble drapped over them during winter. Driving to a club for a match is like traveling for work, for a meeting, you feel important!
My club hopping experience talk wouldn't be complete without the mention of shopping, many clubs have their own little sports/tennis shop which can be a paradise for a tennis lover.
I may or may not visit a lot of countries but to umpteen sports club I will!

This was a first

Recently I had a chance to play a doubles match as a partner with a good teammate of mine 'C'. I like playing with her because she has a nice game, is fast and I love her punishing backhand which is so beautiful to watch when she hits a "down the line" .
But last time I played with her, at times her timing seemed off and she kept making double faults which was unusual of her. Although we managed to win the match, still there wasn't a punch in the winning. What I learned later not only stunned me but also put somethings about the match in place... she was in her 4th month of a pregnancy...
I was always under the impression (may be for lack of experience) that once a woman becomes pregnant she gives up all risky and strenuous physical activity until sometime after the pregnancy and tennis was definitely in the no-no list.
I still do not know what you can and what you cannot during the precious few months but definitely playing with a pregnant that was a first to me!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Balance is the Key

You know what is the key to a good tennis shot? do you know what is the difference between a newbie tennis player and a tennis pro?
Run, get in balance, hit the shot, get back in balance.
Just like it is important to be in balance in life, balanced pose is the key in tennis as well.
The difference between a clean shot and a awkwardly hit shot.
Balance not only helps your shots but also helps one avoid injuries of all sorts
Now balance is not everyone's cup of tea, I am talking from experience, it is not even understood by beginners and even when after you start getting the concept it is not easy, because before hitting a shot, you need a little time to get in balance, you need to have that stamina, quickness.
and this comes only from enough practice, physical training like running or swimming and not the mention core strengthing excercises. Talking about core, a stronger core means a well balanced body. There are lots of exercises for a strong core plus yoga, tai chi naturally make you a well balanced person.
Go get in shape, be a well balanced person, play better tennis!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Happy me

What more could a tennis fan ask for, splendid tennis whenever you switch on TV and if it is a Grandslam then even better!
The first grandslam is going on and what a ride it has been, some upsets, some surprises, some discoveries
My train of thoughts about Australian Open 2008
1)Although I was never a fan of the William , I always liked their fighting spirit, it was such a shame that Serena went down without as much as a whimper in the quarterfinals against Jankovic.
2)The last time I saw Ivanovic, it was at the USOpen where she went down to VenusW, she almost looked like though she is a great player she is not grand slam material who would inevitably go down in tough situations but looks like ...she is got mentally tougher, her match against Venus and a terrific comeback in Semifinals says it all.
3)Although there were some good matches on the women's side I still think there isn't much depth in the current women's pool. Other than the top5-6 players, they seem to easily buckle under pressure
4) Coming back to men's Roger Federer and Fabrice Santoro match was fun to watch, felt sorry for Andy Roddick, Federer Tipsarevic match was terrific, Tipsarevic gave it all, he outplayed Federer in almost all areas, the one thing he couldn't do was break Roger's belief in himself. It was a tight rope match and Roger came out with flying colors(His serve was outstanding, haven't seen him serve so well)
5) Looking forward to Roger, Djokovic match, planning to wake up at 3.30am tonight to watch them :)
6) It was unbelievable that Nadal lost to Tsonga, If roger wins today it will be interesting to see him come up with answers for Tsonga, too bad if Tsonga buckles under pressure.
Before this loss, it looked like Nadal and Djokovic were on this giant crushing crusade, the players they were playing seemed like little hurdles on the way and they were all preparing for the one match, the Roger match. Nadal hadn't even lost a set before the semifinals... that's what they mean when they say Roger Federer has raised the level of tennis!
7) Every year AO seems to bring forth a fresh new face 2006- Marcos Bagtatis, 2007- Fernando Gonzalez 2008- Tsonga
7) Too bad Nalbandian went down so quickly... was his outstanding performance in 2007 just a flash in the pan?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I am with you Sania

Currently Sania Mirza is through to the 2nd round in the Australian open and might potentially face Venus Williams in the 3rd round. I read an article about her on
She is just a 21 year old who is not only dealing with stardom, tons of money, pressures on court but she is also forced to deal with a ton of controversies and thanks to us-- Indians.
I do not understand why do we have to make big deal out of everything. If she had her bare feet very close to the Indian Flag, write an article about that and please forget that, don't go ahead and launch a full force legal case against her.
I agree she might not be one of the players on the top, she might meander around the 30-40s ranking and might eventually dwindle out but what is worth noticing here are the ranks that she has reached inspite of having grown up in India.
Why do I say this: last year I was in India for a vacation. My brother in law was a member of the international sports club(or something of that sort) which boasted of tennis courts.
Getting to play "an hour of tennis" itself and that too in one of most so called progressive cities in India, Banglore took us all day. The drive to place which was in the outskirts took us almost 2 and 1/2 hours. When we reached there we didn't even get good tennis rackets to rent, he first thought we were there to play badminton, anyways finally the court we played in was in pretty bad shape as well as way too expensive.
Compare that to playing in USA? you could literally find a tennis court every 5 mins of drive, joining a social league is just a phone call away or an email away.
Inspite of all this Sania is there and perhaps thanks to her we may soon see more youngsters playing tennis, frankly speaking I dont know how Sania did it.
and what do we give her in return? Controversies.
I think it is high time we stopped minding Sania's businesses and instead did something about infrastructure, something about affordability, something about instilling a love for sports in young children and truly salute the ones with the beacon...go Sania!

Friday, January 4, 2008

What is the sweetest sound?

Well if you asked that to a tennis player the answer will definitely be the sound of ---- opening a new can tennis balls which is only heightened by the anticipation of playing with the fantastically bright and perfectly firm tennis balls :)

On the flip side what is that that you don't want to hear? ... The Snap! the snap of your racket string. The first time it happened I didn't event recognize it and when I did I felt a wee bit proud of myself for having broken my first string and for having played enough to have broken one!

The fancy sure wore off the second time around especially since it was Christmas holidays and I was looking forward to playing tennis with tennis courts available round that the clock and to add to that none of the tennis pros were available to restring my racket. Fortunately for me a kind soul who was still in town agreed to restring my racket if I could bring the racket to his home.