After watching Federer dismantle Zverev in the final at Halle on Sunday 6/1 6/2 I can see Fed as the clear favourite for Wimbledon this year. He was/is simply awesome in almost every department and has even added a variety of drop shots for the grass. This was a shot he never used to believe in but at times he made Zverev look fairly ordinary (which he isn't!). This could be the new strategy that other top players might follow i.e. miss out a few months of tournaments and then come in fresh and blow everyone away? Apart from Murray and Nadal I can't see any of the others troubling Roger. Kyrgios is dangerous but doesn't look to be in great form after a bereavement in the family. Novak is at Eastbourne trying to find himself as much as his tennis and Agassi will at least help to console him when he loses! Thiem still can't volley and has big swings for grass courts so might struggle and Raonic doesn't seem to be in great shape either. Maybe Marcus Willis will battle through qualifying and become the dark horse? Doubt it but good luck to him as he certainly added to last year's event!
I should mention Feliciano Lopez who did so well to finally win Queens but Wimbledon's courts are a bit slower so his serve might come back too often for his liking? And as much as I like Cilic he is one of the mad ball bouncers before serving which is just too dull!
I'd be delighted if Murray gets a hat trick but equally pleased if Federer goes clear of the Sampras record of 7 titles. In the women's draw it will be interesting to see how Ostapenko does after her fantastic win at the French which gave the ladies game a much needed boost. Great to see Kvitova back again who could easily win the title again if she has fully recovered, but I would also put Venus Williams down as a great outside bet!
Konta looks to have found a bit of grass court form reaching the final at Nottingham and Heather Watson beat Cibulkova recently and loves the grass so might be an opportunity for her to get her career back on track?e to edit.
The wonderful grand slam in Paris is well underway with a few surprises already! Kerber loses 1st round to Makarova who then loses 2 & 2 to the 42nd ranked Tsurenko of the Ukraine! In the men's doubles 1st round both the no 1 & 2 seeds have lost giving Murray & Soares more chance of another grand slam win! However this event is so unpredictable these days that almost anyone could win it. Leander Paes is still winning at age 44!
It will be interesting to see what effect Agassi might have on Novak and also if Lendl can help sort out Murray's problems. I'm surprised that Agassi is willing to spend time on the tour but maybe the draw of being involved again in the tennis world is just too much of a temptation? In his book he said that he hated tennis which I had always doubted!
Fognini has to be one of the most disappointing players on the tour in terms of childlike behaviour which is such a shame as he is capable of playing incredible tennis. He should team up with Benoit Paire of France in the doubles - a real soulmate!
In terms of winning the men's singles it's difficult to see pass Nadal but in the slams I always rate Wawrinka, especially on clay. Murray and Djokovic are just so unpredictable at the moment and Thiem is looking dangerous on the clay. No absolute clear favourite this year in my view other than Nadal perhaps?
The quick answer is no in my opinion! If the main reason for giving Sharapova a wildcard is financial gain (in terms of tournament sponsors) then surely they are damaging the integrity of the sport.
I would like to see the WTA setting rules which would take these matters out of any individual tournament's control. Any player who has been banned for drug abuse should have to start at the bottom of the professional ladder and could even have titles/prize money removed from events they have won while cheating. The Olympics take away medals so why not tennis?
The idea that Sharapova can immediately return to the top level events is surely wrong. She has said that she loves the game and competing . If that is the case she could prove it by working her way through futures to challengers and so on. The smaller events at this level would all get a boost at the same time.
Only a few players have come out speaking openly against this decision like Andy Murray, Bouchard and Wozniacki and good for them! I wonder what Murray thinks of Head continuing to support Sharapova? Porshe and Nike have also stayed with her. Money talks and Nike have once again shown their true colours in much the same way they did with the sprinter Justin Gatlin (2 time drug cheat).
Andy Murray also commented on whether Wimbledon would give her a wild card. If she needs one that will be a very interesting decision.....
With women's tennis struggling to compete on a global level maybe the WTA are so desperate for attention that they will allow Maria to do what she wants? And with Serena now out of the game for a while do they really want a drug cheater to be their flag waver for the sport?
Tips for adapting to clay courts
With the clay court season in full swing and if you are lucky enough to access some clay courts here are some tips for how best to adapt your game.
1/ Make sure you wear a clay court shoe which will allow you to slide and grip the court at the same time.
2/ Reduce the tension of your restrings a little as the slower ball will allow you more time to prepare( helping control) and you will need to generate more spin/speed with the ball coming slower off the surface.
3/ Try to use the drop shot more often as any backspin is much more effective on this surface.
4/ If you have a kick serve use it more often for the same reason ie the court is more responsive and the ball will jump up higher!
5/ Learn how to slide - especially for singles play - but be careful when trying for the first time and get some expert advice as it could go wrong!
6/ Be prepared to run a lot and be patient as much more difficult to win points if used to playing on a wet artificial grass court!
7/ For doubles play you may have to rethink your normal strategy especially if you are a serve & volley player with 2nd serve returns much easier with the slow surface.It really becomes much more of a chess match in doubles on clay and you really need to understand how and when to attack & defend effectively.
Why not join us in Trapani and we can develop your doubles strategiy? Click HERE for more info....
Roger said this after his match with Wawrinka.
"Stan missed a first serve and then it was a second serve, step in and stay aggressive, come to the net and finish. You vision it, and you do it. And it's so simple, and when you can't play that way. everything becomes so complex. I know I am riding a wave right."
He added: "I think as long as the body is this way and I can remind myself, don't play with fear and don't play with too much pressure and don't try to do well, I'll be able to play like this. But the body needs to be there so the mind will follow."
The first part of this quotation shows the importance of having a strategy, visualising it and sticking to it! It may sound a bit simplistic but it’s so important to make a definite plan and stick with it. The added aspect of visualisation reminds me of Jack Nicklaus who once said that he never hit a shot that he hadn’t first gone through in his mind.
He then goes on to say, “and don’t try to do well”. In my opinion, this is a key factor in achieving effective mental performance. Of course Roger wants to win but even at this late stage of his incredible career he has managed to discover another level of mental abilities. Playing without “fear” and “too much pressure” has allowed him to express himself to a higher level than ever before. What a change he has made to his backhand return of serve and the general use of coming over the ball more in rallies with this shot. It has now become a new weapon for him! He could always do this but the mental looseness to go from someone who generally blocks the ball back to a player who looks to attack at any opportunity is a massive change and requires awareness of how to control your emotions and be willing to lose.
I’ve heard Roger talk about how he accepts the possibility of losing. This is all tied up in the new, even more relaxed Roger. By allowing himself to accept the possibility of losing the match in his own mind gives him the freedom to focus on the emotional control of the “here and now”. Staying in the moment, being in the zone are expressions we are all familiar with hearing but how do you get there?
Roger appears to have found a way of finding that magical state of mind on a regular basis but doesn’t take for granted the importance of the body which must be there in the first place. You can be as mentally relaxed as you like but if the body can’t get you to the ball it ain’t going to happen!
So what do we need to do to emulate Roger?
Federer v Nadal Final?
Roger Federer - Quite incredible how well he is moving around the court, showing how hard he must have been working over the past 6 months.
It's great to have Rafa back in the mix as well, which only helps to keep tennis high on the agenda as one of the world's most popular sports.
In my opinion Federer and Nadal have contributed more than any other players in the past 15 years to the popularity of tennis.
They could meet in the final, but I don't think they will unfortunately, as I can't see Nadal getting there (would love to be wrong!).
I hope Federer wins overall, but expect Raonic to take it with these light balls. Not my favourite player (Raonic), but this is his time to win.
Do lighter tennis balls & faster courts improve tennis for the spectator?
If the tournament is anything to go by then I would say yes! Zverev beating Murray and Istomin winning v Djokovic, plus Federer able to play more aggressively than normal all contributes to less predictable results and more entertaining tennis. Roger in his post match interview v Zverev said as much commenting on the speed of the courts and balls. He feels that it allows for more styles of play to succeed and not just the usual baseline "slugfests" as he put it.
Will other tournaments follow the Oz Open lead and speed up the courts/balls? I hope so....
Update on our Special Hosted Weeks
There is still time to book your place on one of our Special Hosted Weeks, but not in Lucca as both of those weeks are now full! So sorry if you've missed out but as you can see we still have spaces in Sicily or Sardinia.
If doubles is your thing, then our Special Hosted Weeks in Trapani (Sicily) would be just perfect for you where we will be doing a more intensive version of our normal special hosted weeks focusing on improving your doubles strategy. These weeks are aimed at aspiring club team players and upwards. For more information CLICK here
If you love being near the sea in the most beautiful waters in Italy then Sardinia could be for you?
These are our classic hosted weeks where we work on all aspects of your technique and doubles strategy but also with enough free time to explore the amazing turquoise waters and local islands......
Please check out the LINK.....
For full details please contact Laura on email@example.com
Should you wish to travel outwith the Special Hosted Week dates please do not hesitate to get in touch with your requirements and we will tailor a tennis holiday to suit....
Going for 2 days at the start of the World Tour Finals at the O2 gives you the opportunity to see all the players compete.
Seeing it live allows you to focus in on players in a way watching on the telly doesn’t. So without going into too much statistical analysis just what I did see/observe that may be of interest?
Murray and Soares to win but Kontinen and Peers outsiders if Peers can stay cool at crucial points.
Serena Williams winning 22 grand slam titles would surely have an impact on participation levels in the states?
African-Americans (Venus too) from Compton, California, winning Grand Slam titles. Who would have thought? Anything's possible? I'm not so sure as I just don't think black people see tennis as an option in the USA as it's just not part of their sporting culture. It's still predominantly a middle class white sport plus of course basketball and pro football are just too dominant on many levels.
A young Scottish lad from Dunblane winning Wimbledon. Who would have thought?......
Will Andy Murray have any level of success in terms of inspiring young players from all sections of society to take up tennis as a sport for life?
Yes, we all watch Wimbledon and get pretty excited when Andy wins (twice now in case you missed that!), but participation levels are not rising.
I'm in no way criticising Murray as he is an incredible tennis player and the ultimate professional. It's just a comment on the sad reality his lack of influence on the nation's willingness to take up tennis. Murray has had an effect on the current crop of British tennis players as they are already committed to the game and have been able to learn from him at close hand. But how can we spread this enthusiasm to the general public and affect a culture change in our sport?
I was listening to a phone in on the radio post Andy's heroic win (did I mention that?) which was attempting to explore ways of capitalising on Andy's success. One of my fellow Scottish tennis pros spoke of the need for tennis facilities at schools (good idea) while another Scottish tennis guru who works with Judy Murray spoke of their "Tennis on the Road" project which is attempting to develop a workforce throughout Scotland who can promote and encourage lots of new young players to enjoy the game. One of the key elements here is the possibility to play tennis within a short walk or cycle distance from your house. So, if we had courts everywhere with quality instructors/teachers would this make a difference? In the working class scheme where I grew up there were tennis courts in the local public park and many people had the chance to play tennis perhaps more so than in recent times and these courts must be reinstated! (One of Judy's dreams).
Interestingly I discovered recently that in Iceland they invested heavily in building indoor football centres with great coaches for kids and this has been attributed as one of the main reasons for their success at the Euros. Facilities might not be everything but the opportunity to play combined with good coaching sure helps!The two most consistent tennis nations of the last decade have been France and Spain.
In these countries, and in Germany too, most tennis clubs are social hubs where families will go every weekend to hang out, have lunch, drink at the bar, and maybe play some tennis. But perhaps more importantly there is the possibility of accessing courts at most local levels which is fundamental to participation.
These countries also have many thriving domestic leagues and local tournaments: indeed, a lot of Great Britain’s mid-range players, who are not making money on the professional tours, earn extra money in the French and German leagues.
None of these things are true in the United Kingdom. Tennis is just not fundamental to many people's existence and as much as I love the game and have a enjoyed a wonderful life experience as a result, it's just not on many people's radar. A cultural change is required and I would employ Judy Murray and give her all the resources she requires to get it all going. The LTA have a track record of failure and continue to disappoint so it's time to let Judy take over and make it happen. What most people don't realise is that Judy doesn't need to do all the work she does in trying to develop tennis. Many people in her position would not be spending all their time thinking of how to promote tennis and build a legacy on the back of her 2 amazing sons. They would be off sunning themselves around the world at this time of year!
I only hope that the Scottish government come to their senses and allow her permission to build the her tennis centre near Dunblane. The success of the Murrays has happened despite the system and not because of it so don't let the LTA convince you that all is rosy in British tennis. A cultural change is required asap!!
Nearly forgot to mention Gordon Reid another Scottish legend who won the wheelchair singles and doubles! A huge congratulations to him and his great coach Karen Ross.
Can Lendl help Murray to beat Djokovic at Wimbledon?
The French Open final provided yet another example of the challenges Murray has in winning against Novak in a Grand Slam final! The Rome Masters win gave us all hope but once again "the machine" proved to be too good when it came to the crunch in a best of 5 set final.
So, can Lendl help Andy beat Novak? I'm not sure it's possible for any player to beat him in a Grand Slam final as by then he is totally ready and when performing at anywhere near his best he doesn't have any obvious weaknesses.
However, I'm sure Andy/Lendl will be thinking otherwise (obviously) and planning their strategy even at this early stage. Yes, Murray would need to make the final but any changes he makes to his game would have to be worked on both on the practice court and more importantly in matches. Queens will give us a chance to see if any changes are being made.
So, what might be the solution? In recent Grand Slam finals with Novak I felt that Andy wasn't able to maintain the necessary fitness levels but why should this be? Andy is considered to be one of the fittest players in the world so why should he get tired?
Do his emotional outbursts at himself, and in recent times towards his box, have a tiring effect on his physiological output? When playing everyone except Novak his constant rants don't seem to have such a negative impact on his energy levels? It seems that since Becker appeared on the scene Novak is much better at handling his emotions in the critical stages. The results speak for themselves.
To have any chance of beating Djokovic, Andy's concentration needs to be at the highest possible level especially in the clutch moments and I will be interested to see if his ranting continues under Lendl. I would imagine that abuse of his team box will be out of the question as it was when Lendl was there previously. The emotional calm Andy displayed when winning Wimbledon and during the final set of his US open win remain in my mind as his ideal performance state. So, can Lendl help him get into that state once again?
I'm certainly looking forward to watching Murray's wonderful tennis abilities without the boring negative self talk. Okay Mr Lendl over to you.........
What can we learn from Lopez & Lopez winning the French Open doubles?
Feliciano and Marc Lopez are not brothers but play together as if they were and compliment each others style of play.
They have different strengths with Feliciano a great serve/volley player and Marc a wonderful shot maker from the back of the court. Club players can learn so much about strategy and court coverage from them as they play one up one back often just like many club players.
During our Special Hosted Weeks we always do a doubles clinic and focus mainly on the one up & one back format. I find myself speaking about Marc Lopez as one of my favourite exponents of this particular style as the predominantly baseline player. Who says you can't win from the back in doubles especially on a clay court?
So just what can we learn from the Lopez boys?
1/ Being good friends both on & off the court helps a lot!
2/ Try to find a partner who compliments your game style i.e. a strong serve/volleyer plus a good baseliner with great court craft utilising all areas of the court can be a powerful combination.
3/ This is their first season together and they won the first event they entered and now a grand slam! So this tells us that if you can learn the basic strategies of doubles (re your game style) and combine this with someone who compliments your style, winning can happen fairly quickly.
The great thing about doubles is that you can try loads of tactics in order to win a match but always play to your individual strengths and find someone you get on well with who will support you no matter what happens!
Trapani Hosted Week
May 22nd to 29th
Our recent hosted week in Trapani , Sicily was a huge success - so much so that we had 2 famous players attend. Can you guess which 2 famous Grand Slam winners the above 2 ladies are thought to be?
Ian & Laura Special Hosted Weeks for 2016
Here is a list of what's left on our Special Hosted Weeks & for more information please click HERE
String Tension in Cold/Warm Weather
Great news in Glasgow that we have had some warm weather for the first time in years but how does this affect the playability of our racquets? The French open posed not only fixture problems but tension dilemmas for all the players with the unusually cold damp conditions.
So what tension should you have in your racquet for varying conditions? In a bid to keep it simple I would advise going up or down tensions by 2-4lbs eg
Normal tension -50lbs
Cold conditions - less 2-4lbs
Warm conditions - up 2-4lbs
This is a very simple guide and please remember your racquet will lose tension just sitting there but even more so in cooler temperatures. Pros have their racquets strung for every match and then change them every 8 games! Perhaps too costly for most of us, but if the ball is flying or it feels dead then get a restring suitable for the air temperature. The type of string also plays a part but if you have a string you like then stick to it and alter the tension.Always better a bit loose than tight as you will get more power and less shock to the arm.