Monday, March 23, 2015

The full fledged tennis blog

I will be turning this into a full blog from here on in. This will be the place for every score from every ATP, challenger, and futures event. Also will have a ranking update each week.

This will also focus on tennis stories, training tips, diet, and everything else under the sun.

Since I do not have scores till tomorrow, here are the ranking updates after Indian Wells.

1. Novak Djokovic - 13,205
2. Roger Federer - 9,205
3. Rafael Nadal - 5,810
4. Andy Murray - 5,695
5. Kei Nishikori - 5,460
6. Milos Raonic - 5,160
7. David Ferrer - 4,580
8. Stan Wawrinka - 4,515
9. Tomas Berdych - 4,510
10. Marin Cilic - 3,370
11. Grigor Dimitrov - 3,055
12. Feliciano Lopez - 2,415
13. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 2,245
14. Gilles Simon - 2,130
15. Roberto Bautista-Agut - 1,975
16. Ernests Gulbis - 1,910
17. Kevin Anderson - 1,870
18. Tommy Robredo - 1,800
19. Gael Monfils - 1,735
20. David Goffin - 1,631
21. Pablo Cuevas - 1,512
22. Ivo Karlovic - 1,485
23. Fabio Fognini - 1,460
24. John Isner - 1,450
25. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez - 1,415
26. Richard Gasquet - 1,375
27. Leonardo Mayer - 1,364
28. Phillipp Kohlschreiber - 1,360
29. Bernard Tomic - 1,330
30. Lukas Rosol - 1,215
31. Santiago Giraldo - 1,195
32. Adrian Mannarino - 1,193
33. Andreas Seppi - 1,185
34. Fernando Verdasco - 1,180
35. Julien Benneteau - 1,165
36. Gilles Muller - 1,161
37. Nick Kyrgios - 1,160
38. Jeremy Chardy - 1,135
39. Viktor Troicki - 1,098
40. Benjamin Becker - 1,078
41. Martin Klizan - 1,065
42. Sam Querrey - 1,040
43. Steve Johnson - 986
44. Donald Young - 964
45. Jack Sock - 941
46. Juan Monaco - 940
47. Simone Bolelli - 926
48. Jiri Vesely - 923
49. Jerzy Janowicz - 905
50. Marcel Granollers - 905
51. Sergiy Stakhovsky -894
52. Dominic Thiem - 891
53. Joao Sousa - 887
54. Pablo Carreno Busta - 866
55. Victor Estrella Burgos - 859
56. Andreas Haider-Maurer - 858
57. Mikhail Kukushkin - 852
58. Marcos Baghdatis - 838
59. Borna Coric - 837
60. Vasek Pospisil - 800
61. Diego Schwartzman - 797
62. Yen-Hsun Lu - 785
63. Denis Istomin - 785
64. Mikhail Youzhny - 780
65. Alexandr Dolgopolov - 760
66. Pablo Andujar - 760
67. Albert Ramos-Vinolas - 755
68. Carlos Berlocq - 740
69. Sam Groth - 701
70. Joao Souza - 676
71. Jarkko Nieminen - 673
72. Jan-Lennard Struff - 671
73. Dusan Lajovic - 669
74. Nicolas Almagro - 665
75. Tim Smyczek - 663
76. Marinko Matosevic - 652
77. Federico Delbonis - 650
78. Ricardas Berankis - 630
79. Jurgen Melzer - 626
80. Teymuraz Gabashvili - 621
81. Thomaz Bellucci - 611
82. Malek Jaziri - 607
83. Aljaz Bedene - 607
84. Steve Darcis - 603
85. Benoit Paire - 602
86. Radek Stepanek - 600
87. Paolo Lorenzi - 595
88. Blaz Kavcic - 595
89. Andrey Golubev - 591
90. Daniel Gimeno-Traver - 588
91. Andrey Kuznetsov - 584
92. Damir Dzumhur - 580
93. Ivan Dodig - 575
94. Go Soeda - 574
95. Maximo Gonzalez - 573
96. Filip Krajinovic - 569
97. James Duckworth - 567
98. Robin Haase - 565
99. Lukas Lacko - 564
100. Alejandro Gonzalez - 557

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Four years, too many changes, and a crazy 47 year old friend.

It's been a long time since I wrote on this blog...nearly four years to be exact. I admit that I almost forgot that this existed, but I saw this when I was about to start a new blog. I remembered that I still have a good story here to tell, and it's time to get back to this one.

Four years ago, my last blog brought up a very embarrassing situation. I promised a video of one of my matches to a tennis message board, one whose members were already ready to lynch me(one of my biggest mistakes over the years was bringing people that only existed behind a keyboard into my real life, but this will be on another blog). Simply put, I faced a guy who sandbagged(that means a higher level player playing down so he can win a lot easier...I really hate people like that) and just put an absolute beating on me. Even worse, since I promised a video, and I wanted to keep to my promises, I threw that pile of crap up.

Yes, I took the obligatory pounding you would expect to get from keyboard warriors, but it actually helped change my life, which helps explain the "too many changes" part of this blog.

First off, on the physical side, I found out I wasn't really playing tennis. Yes, I was on a court, and yes, I had a stick in my hand, but I wasn't really PLAYING. All I was doing, without realizing it till later, was noticing how little patience the general population has overall. All my wins, and all my accomplishments came because most people do not have the patience to play the push and lob game that I was playing, and the ones that did would kick my ass like that. It's been said that winning brings momentum, but losing brings character. I gained a lot of character that day, and I started over from scratch by learning all of the strokes I should have learned at a younger age. I did lose a lot more, and lost to people I beat regularly in the past with my old style, but it was a change that was necessary.

Second, among other things, it helped me grow up quite a bit. My style of tennis was everything from the past, brought upon by hours and hours and hours of hitting against a garage door, but zero hours of training with a reputable teacher. That was my life in a with a ton of potential, but all the wrong training or ideas how to enhance that potential. That was my fault and I have been working the past four years to rectify that, not without the difficulties that come with having a lifetime of bad habits. Growing up helped me realize I actually had bad habits. So with all of that, you would think I have had my tens of thousands of hours that it takes to improve by now, right?

Nope. It is true that I am far better than I was four years ago, but something else happened along the way.

At 35 years old, my back gave out.

After eight years of martial arts, three years of hockey, and years and years of diving and flopping on tennis courts like Boris Becker(completely forgetting he dove on GRASS), my back was absolutely trashed. I had to back into my car every morning instead of stepping into my car, I lost feeling in my legs if I stood for too long, and I had to force myself out of bed every morning. It was a disaster and I was thinking I'd be having surgery at 40. LUCKILY, an old stretching routine I used to do in my martial arts days brought my back around(not without still having difficult days), but that brought about another issue.

I was in FAR worse shape than I anticipated, with no leg strength, and little core strength.

Through a mutual friend, I met a personal trainer, and would be friend, Sam Feldman. Once my back was starting to heal, I decided I wanted to have a trainer and become a true athlete for the first time in my life. The problem was that I had no clue of the obstacles that would get in my way, all of my own doing.

On my very first night, after having the absolute worst time doing a simple lunge, we literally had to take two hours learning to walk...yes, WALK. I spent twenty some odd years trying to be like my father, who was a 230 pound force of nature with large arms and a large personality. However, for a tall 150-160 pound beanpole to try to be like that, I had to stand up in a ridiculously rigid and stiff posture, hold my arms way too far out, and tighten every single muscle in my body. It didn't make me look any better, obviously, but it made things worse for Sam, who literally had to create a blueprint to reconstruct my body. The final straw was when he stretched me for the first time, let go of one of my legs, and it stayed there like I was a cadaver.

Long story short, I am a lot better now(with a lot more work to go), and I will go over every bit of the reconstruction in my next blog, but this is my first blog back, so there's other things to bring up.

Through all of the changes over the years, both physical and mental, I've had one constant...a friend named Christoph Vogt. He has the same personality that I do, which is making sure we live every single second of life to the fullest, and doing things that drive the closest around us absolutely crazy. Among those things is attempting a pro tennis career at 45 years old(47 now). It sounds positively ridiculous, no question, but that's what Christoph and I do...the things that no one else will try. Through all the back issues and other things, I've been playing coach and motivator through it all because I know I'm the one person that does know the game that believes in what he's doing(and it doesn't hurt that he's a physical freak). Since I study the game in an obsessive nature, I know who just about every player in the ATP and ITF are. I watch every major, every 1000, every 250 and 500, every challenger, and every future that I can. I study shot selection, playing styles, surfaces, and psychology of the game, and I give him the tips needed for most of his big matches. It's all working because he moves up a level every year, is now an open level player(five years ago, he was 3.5), and actually won a pro level qualifier match before winning an open level match. Yes, the odds are long, but what is living if you can't take a few chances?

So that's my story right now. It might be a crazier climb than it was four years ago considering I'll be 37 in August, but I can't wait for the next months. It feels good to know that I actually move with some fluidity now, and even better that I have more work to do. Even though I feel 21, the idea that I'll be 37 actually gives me a sense of urgency to keep working so hard to get that much better every day.

And it starts...again.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

After today, my last blog without a video behind it.

Any of you ever had an event that just humbled the hell out of you?

This did it today.

I took a double bagel from a guy that had the exact same skills as I did. Flat out sucked up the joint. I didn't belong on the court.

I will continue this blog, no question about it. I am not a quitter. But this time it will be different.

The past is the past. I had a great childhood, and I had a great time talking about how I learned this game by myself, and how I played with nothing but hustle. But, as I just said, the past is the past.

No more stories, no more past accomplishments. They mean nothing now. I just went up a division and got whacked. I now have three straight sets with exactly ZERO games. That's never happened to me before, and it never will again.

My first video comes tonight. I will take the beatdown of a lifetime here, but I promised this to you guys, and it's on video. For the snide remark people? I expect that, and I probably deserve it thinking it'd be easy to go up a division. But for anyone that wants to critique, I would appreciate it.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Update from Conyers: Tough loss, but a lot to learn from it.

I thought I'd be writing this in the morning, before the consolation. Turns out I can't sleep, so I'll write this now.

The match with Anthony Cao was a real good match, and he did deserve the win tonight. 4-6 7-6 6-0 was the score. The third set is very telling, but I'll get into that in a sec.

First, the good things I got out of the match.

#1. 11 aces and 34 winners. I never get those kind of numbers, and I'm adding more of those numbers each and every match. Very happy with that.

#2. When I fell behind 4-1 in the first set, I was starting to get frustrated. Serve wasn't going in at all, and my backhand was failing me. Then I said to myself that I flat out wasn't going to get frustrated anymore. I'd literally try out my Bjorn Borg face and let the mistakes be as they may. After that, I took five straight games from Anthony, and took the first set. That was telling for me because I have a tendency to go Ryan Harrison on myself at times, without the racket throwing of course. This time, I just kept my calm the rest of the match.

#3. I saved two service games at love to force the tiebreak. This NEVER happens. I felt great about my serve at points, and not so much at others, but that really felt clutch.

Now the bad things.

#1. I started reverting back to the old game a little more in the second set. My strategy in this tournament was to kind of have a mix of my old hustle game, and a more all around game so that I could phase my way into this new game I'm working on. Second set, I found myself forcing everything and pushing a little more, which doesn't make me happy at all. Even with all that, he took the second set, and it frustrated me, which will lead into why the bagel in the third(that in a sec)

#2. Went three straight games without a first serve going in at all. That's the other part of the service game I'm not proud of whatsoever. No consistency.

Now the bagel.

After losing that second set, I had an inner frustration. I don't lose those too often, and he got me this time. It was a reminder that this is a higher level now, and I can't play like that anymore. I just decided that I was either going to win big or lose big for the third set, and see what happened. I started going for more second serves(which is normally a tap over), went for every smash(which sometimes I'm skittish on), torqued every forehand and backhand, everything. I was trying to construct points, and basically playing a game that I'm nowhere near accustomed to at all.

WAY too many errors. I had a couple winners out of it, and a couple more aces, but that didn't make up for the errors at all. 6-0 in 18 minutes. I knew one of us was going to bagel. I either play lights out this way, and he doesn't get a point, or I bomb miserably. You know what happened.

I did this because I have to get it in my head to quit playing the old way. Losing that second set reminded me that this wasn't Kansas anymore. I can't just wear people into submission and hustle my way to wins. It's time to make this work, whether I bomb or succeed. Some people won't believe me, but who cares. I knew what I had to do, and what I have to do in the future.

So tomorrow morning, 9 AM, is consolation. Hopefully Sunday too. I hated losing, but I'd still love to go home with some hardware for some more momentum. I know the wins will come as time goes on. I just have to have patience.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ready for Conyers tournament

Yesterday was ALL tennis for me.

It started at 7 AM with a three mile run(beautiful morning too). The only frustration I have is that I feel like I'm stuck at three miles. I realize that in high school, I would suck wind at a couple blocks(running with the tennis team took every bit of mental will because I had to keep up and not quit), but I'm ready to keep moving up and building my stamina. If anyone has ideas, I'm open to them. After a few minutes rest, I worked on a stretching routine and abs. This routine is not easy to get used to because I always trained for pure strength and power, and now I have to train for quickness, stamina, speed, and fast twitch movements.

After breakfast(Robeks fit shake and wheat grass shot. Greatest place to go for all your training foods and drinks), I go on TT for a while, then get some business done with the trailer for "One Chance". After seeing the footage, I asked to redo the voiceover(With all the footage we have, the original VO doesn't fit it at all). Producer agreed, so I'll be meeting him at 3:00 today. Soon, it'll be finished, and a contact is going to set me up with a Comcast TV exec, so that's fun.

With all that finished, it was tennis time.

First, I went to my tennis center and used the ball machine for a while. The other night, on volley drills, I was airmailing a few of them, and it was all coming back to my old bad habits of simply using my wingspan to my advantage(No knee bend, racket head all out of wack). So I had a new method to work on(in other words, the correct one), and it was very unfamiliar for me. All of those years I did the wrong thing, it was still very successful for me. Problem was that there was only one place to direct the volley, which allows the opponent to set up his shot.

Knowing that I needed to get familiar with the correct method, all I worked on with the machine was volleys. Two hours straight. Backhand and forehand, which turned into mainly backhands because that's my weakness right now. It is so easy to revert back to the bad habits when they worked for you, but when I want to do that, I think about the chapter in Pete Sampras' book where his coach wanted him to do a one handed backhand, and he was getting crushed at first before he smoothed it out. I know it's going to take me a while to get used to a few things, but it'll be worth it in the end.

After that, I went back to drills again. This time, I was getting serious torque on my forehand, and was very happy with the results. The backhand? Not so much. My forehand wasn't too hard to correct, but my backhand had all kinds of issues, so it's easy at times to go back to bad habits. All in all, I improved on the backhand, but this is going to take a while. Better that I deal with my weaknesses now in a lower ranking than when I start moving up the ranks.

Overall, I'm very ready for the Conyers tournament. Getting second in the Kennworth tournament still eats me alive because that was a winnable final, and I'm ready to move ahead. I believe I can win this one and move forward to the next tournament.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Starting from scratch.

In my last match, I really noticed some bad habits that I have accumulated for so many years. They were hard to notice when I was winning matches, and I was satisfied with my game. After playing higher level players, I noticed the flaws.

And I decided to start from scratch to improve those flaws.

I learned about a guy who has tennis drills for everyone from beginners to advanced players about four days a week, so at 11 AM today(Sunday), I went there for the first time.

There was six people in total, including the trainer. Three beginners and three advanced players. The three beginners were all female, and all had contrasting personalities. One dressed like she took Chris Evert's 1975 Wimbledon dress collection, one just put a pair of shorts and a T-Shirt on, and one was a good looking brazilian who made sure you noticed what she wore. I've seen many of those type of girls come and go, but at least this one took an interest in the game.

The trainer starts with volleys, and I was happy because I have accumulated so many bad habits on my volleys over the years. I know all of the techniques necessary for a good volley, but I always used my height and wingspan, and little to no knee bending. Well, I found out how NOT used to the correct method I was. First two times the trainer hit the ball to me, I volleyed in my old style out of instinct and placed them perfectly. Then when I realized what I was doing, I go for the proper technique and airmail the sucker to the back fence. I swung the racket too far in front of me.

After a couple more opportunities, it started to gel and I was even placing the ball where I wanted, which is something my old technique never allowed me to do. I was still coming up short on a couple, and even airmailed a couple more, but at least I had an idea what to work on.

Next was forehands and backhands. On the forehands, I didn't think I had too many problems. The majority of my winners are always crosscourt forehands. I knew that I sometimes have too many UEs on the forehand side, but that's part of the game, right?

Nope. I had some real good forehands, and a couple good rallies with the trainer, but I still hit a couple out. My mistake? I never follow through on the shot 100%, and I start the shot at way too high of an arc, which makes the shot low percentage. Once again, it was never perfect because it takes time to get out of bad habits, but I noticed more torque on my forehands, which was awesome.

Backhand? Other than a few winners I've had lately, that's been my weakest shot. It always feels like I'm playing desperation tennis when I hit the backhand, like I just want to keep it in play. My problem there(and I never realized this at all)? The grip. It almost looked like I had a western grip on my backhands, and the shot would go all over the place.

Finally, we start playing points, and I finally understood, for the first time, how even the best pros in the world can make mistakes against lesser opponents. I had a lot of errors, but also a lot more winners. I was what I hate the I played way too damned safe, and waited for others' mistakes. Easy when you play lesser opponents, but not good when you play great technical players.

As I get used to doing things correctly, I'll cut down on my errors. Right now though, I'm enjoying attacking instead of being on the defensive all the time. That's more of my real life personality anyway.

Now if only I can get a consistent second serve...

Addendum: The pilot is almost finished, and I should be able to link it in 7-10 days. Things are looking really good with this project.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Proof is in the pudding.

Yeah, I'm a masochist. I'm a glutton for punishment. I've heard it all.

So I'm going to prove this one more time. I decided that, besides the coaching and training, I am going to start recording myself on the court for all of you to see, one groundstroke, one serve, one smash, one volley at a time.

That means I do want your help also. I see people putting their videos up from time to time, and getting advice, and I want the same thing. Tell me what I'm doing wrong, tell me what I'm doing right, tell me what flaws you see, and how you'd fix them. If I'm going to continue to improve like I have, and not stall, I'm going to want all the help I can get.

The first one will be in a couple of days. I'll start out with the forehand and go from there.

Early thank you to all that will help.