USTA Junior Development Skill Cards

USTA Junior Development Skill Cards

10Uballs

We like to post the USTA skill cards that come every few months in the USTA Junior membership magazine.   It’s a good idea to save the cards if you have a kid with a Junior USTA membership because they’re great to come back to on a rainy day or to carry with you to use while waiting for a court.  Read them, learn them, practice them.  They may seem simple, but they’re all great little exercises.  Remember, you don’t need fancy drills to become a great player!  Oh, and while you’re at it, if you don’t have one already, get a USTA membership for yourself and/or your kids.  It’s worth it.

 

Self Rally Using Forehands

Jacks

Up On the Edge

Partner Ball Tossing and Catching

Partner Ball Drop

Step Back Rally

 

6 Skill Exercises for Building Ball Handling Confidence

6 Skill Exercises for Building Ball Handling Confidence

The USTA publishes a newspaper every few months (I should probably know how often I receive these things) with a bunch of useful information regarding what’s going on in Junior USTA tennis.  One of my favorite sections of this publication is the part with these handy little skill cards.  They always come in groups of six with three skills for doing solo and three more to be done with a friend.  I save them all because variety is what keeps tennis fun, and every so often I encounter a suggested exercise that I haven’t seen before!  For instance, I didn’t know about the game Spat (team exercise #1 this month). Sounds like fun!  Well, I scanned them for you so you can check them out for yourself.  And, if you don’t already have a USTA number, go get one!

6 Skill Exercises for Building Ball Handling Confidence | Splat

6 Skill Exercises for Building Ball Handling Confidence | Beanbag Pass

6 Skill Exercises for Building Ball Handling Confidence | Train Crash

6 Skill Exercises for Building Ball Handling Confidence | Ball Pick-Up

6 Skill Exercises for Building Ball Handling Confidence | Flip Flops

6 Skill Exercises for Building Ball Handling Confidence | Forehand & Backhand Switch

10 and Under Ball Handling Skills

Here’s one good reason to get your 10 and under player a USTA membership: the skill cards they give out in the Quick Start newsletters!  Every few months the USTA publishes a newsletter for the 10 and Under players and their parents.  It’s full of youth tennis news and helpful advice.  The inserted skill cards are especially helpful in my opinion.  Getting your kid a USTA number is good for several reasons.  Among them access to participate in youth tournaments, special offers on clinics and merchandise, and the sense, in general, that your kid feels in belonging to the US tennis community.  Anyway, I find this month’s batch of skill cards to be especially helpful considering most of them are exercises that can be done indoors (I’m sure you’ve noticed that the weather outside is borderline unbearable).  I’ve scanned them front and back.  Enjoy

RALLY OVER A LINE

 

BEANBAG BALL STEP BACK

 

TUNNEL BALL

 

SERVE AND OVERHEAD

 

HOPPING UP BALL DOWN

 

FIGURE EIGHT

Fall Ladder of Champions

Calling All Juniors (ages 10-18)!  Our USTA and CARA seasons have wrapped up, and now we introduce the Fall Ladder of Champions, presented and conducted by Gonzo Garcia and staff!  What is it?  Simply put, it’s a fun and friendly way for Junior players of all levels to compete against each other.  Each ladder (boys and girls) is arranged according to ability, age, and previous commitment to the ladder.  After placement withing the ladder, players will be able to “challenge” a player above him/her to a match for the chance to move up.   The goal is to participate in the spirit of fun and friendly competition.   Fun, after all, is always of paramount importance when it comes to fostering a lifelong love of sport!  Join us!

When: From August 26 to October 14

Time: Sunday’s from 2pm – 4pm

Where: Centennial Middle School (2205 Norwood Avenue, Boulder, CO  80304)

 

Check our page for more information and to keep up with the ladder updates: Boulder Smash – Ladder of Champions

Top 10 Items to Always Have in your Tennis bag

If you’re heading over to the public courts for a quick rally or match with a buddy then don’t worry about what you bring with you (apart from a racquet and shoes) as there is no consequence for quitting early due to equipment malfunction or injury. However, if you are going into battle, so to speak, where winning might actually matter to you, you should have your tennis bag packed with a few just-in-case items. Obviously, preparing for every eventuality is impossible so don’t bother trying. Keep the following basics in your bag and you can feel comfortable that you have taken reasonable measures.

The List (in no particular order of importance — and, yes, I recognize that I can’t count.  There are, depending on how you categorize these, 11, 9 or more items here):

At Least Two Racquets: What are you going to do if your break a string?  Whip out your spare of course!

Food and Water:  It’s a pretty simple concept but one that people inexplicably fail to act on.  Plain water and a banana (potassium) is good enough.  But don’t forget water!  If you’re really working hard then consider an electrolyte mixture (electrolytes are salts that help prevent cramping).

A Towel: Gilles Simon must have, specifically, a white towel with him on court.  But, that’s weird as the point of a towel is to absorb moisture.

Over Grips: It is very easy to gunk up or otherwise ruin an over grip which, in turn, makes it harder to hold onto your racquet. Wouldn’t it be nice to simply change the grip so you don’t accidentally chuck your racquet over the fence (possibly striking and killing a small dog)?

Medical Kit: Especially aspirin and blister repair stuff (Band-Aids, scissors, tape and powder).

Socks and an Extra Shirt: Your feet are important, and if you start to get a blister or your socks are too wet, you’ll want to change them out.  A dry shirt is also one of those items that wouldn’t seem too important unless you’ve changed into one in the middle of a tough match. It feels soooo much better!

Sunscreen: Yeah, don’t look like a cooked lobster.  Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours if you aren’t sweating. If you are sweating then you need to reapply it every hour or so.  Not that you’re going to play a 5 set match or anything, but consider that each set will take 1 hour.

A Hat and Sunglasses: If it’s cloudy and there is no glare you can take off the hat.  If it’s sunny, you can put it back on — easy.  Janko Tipseravic wears frames in which are transition lenses. When he plays indoors or in cloudy weather the glasses are clear, but if it’s sunny they become sunglasses. Now, if Tipseravic can wear sunglasses then so can you! Protect yourself out there.

Flip Flops: When your match is over and your feet are killing you, it feels great to take them immediately off and walk around in some sandals.

If I’ve forgotten something obvious, let me know in the comment section!

Preparing for your First Tennis Lesson: Things to Bring

Anybody who has worn actual tennis shoes while playing tennis knows why they are a must-have clothing item – the must have item. However, if you’ve never played before, you might not know why it’s a bad idea to show up to your first lesson in, say, flip-flops, Crocs, or even running shoes. After all, a person is perfectly capable of running barefooted; why not play tennis in whatever is comfortable? When you schedule your first lesson you want to show up ready to play.  Lessons aren’t cheap, right?  Spend more time playing and less time fighting with your equipment and clothing.  Here’s what you should have:

A Racquet: Duh, right? Hold on though because it’s not that simple. There are many kinds of racquets for many kinds of players. If, for instance, you are a parent who has signed her new-to-the-sport kid up for a first lesson you might not want to invest hundreds of dollars in a new racquet right away. At Gonzo Tennis we can help. Let us know ahead of time and we can equip your kid with a racquet that is the proper length and weight. If he likes the sport then you can go make the investment and we can give you pointers on what to look for when purchasing a new racquet. Tennis racquets come in different lengths and grip sizes (not to mention weights and stiffness). A child needs a shorter racquet with a smaller grip. Therefore, don’t lend your small child your own racquet for his first class as he won’t be able to swing it and grip it correctly.  Again, let us know and we can help size your kid for a racquet.

If you are an adult looking for a new racquet for a first lesson we can help you, too.  Again, call or e-mail us before your first lesson and we’ll bring some demos for you to try of various weights and stiffness.

Shoes: Tennis shoes are an absolute must on the tennis court. It isn’t a matter of fashion either. You’ve seen those signs on courts that tell you to wear non-scuffing shoes. This might lead you to the false conclusion that tennis shoes are simply a fashion statement or a way for clubs to keep courts scuff-mark free. The real reason that there are shoes specifically designed for tennis is the same reason you shouldn’t wear running shoes onto a basketball court unless you really want to twist your ankle. Running shoes, you’ll notice, are designed to rock back to forward; the soles are not flat, and they are narrow. Tennis shoes are very low profile, flat shoes providing more contact with the ground. They are designed for stop and go movements side to side. If you’ve ever tried running in a straight line for a mile wearing tennis shoes you will see how uncomfortable they are in that capacity. But, the same goes for wearing running shoes while playing tennis – very uncomfortable.

Clothing: This is where you get to be a fashionista if you so choose. You can subscribe to the Venus Williams or Andre Agassi approach to fashion which is to look crazy while being awesome. Or you may choose to be more traditional about it, white being the approved color of the Newport and Wimbledon clubs. Any way you want to dress is fine as long as you can move freely and not overheat on a hot day. Get creative! All this being said there is one design that your clothing must have. Men, wear shorts with pockets! Women, you are a complete mystery. I saw a lady last week who had nowhere to put the second tennis ball and her solution was to shove it down her sports bra! It was borderline comedy. Every time she needed a second serve, she reached down her bra and produced the ferreted away tennis ball! Why? Why not just wear shorts or a tennis skirt with an extra ball holding function!?

A Hat: For years Ivan Lendl wore a legionnaire’s hat when he played in the Australian Open. Sun protection is no joke on the tennis court. Have sun screen and a nice hat ready in your bag. I lament the fact that men tend to think a baseball hat is enough sun protection. I see women out on the courts practicing all the time in wide visors and proper, athletic sun hats. Why not men, too?

Water: Bring water, people! If you’re taking a private class with Gonzo or one of his instructors, you will most definitely need water. Running around for an hour, stopping and starting, turning, sprinting and twisting can be much more tiring than running a 5k (I would know as I’ve done a lot of both).

To schedule your first lesson:

USTA Junior Team Tennis 2012: Schedules & Match Results

STATE CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULES

TEAM BPR B10 IA
Location: Lone Tree Park (9808 Sunningdale Blvd, Littleton CO 80124)
1st Match: Friday August 10, 9:00 am
2nd Match: Saturday August 11, 8:00 am
3rd Match: Saturday August 11, 11:30 am

TEAM BPR B12 IA
Location: Colorado Athletic Club – Inverness (374 Inverness Parkway, Englewood CO 80112)
1st Match: Friday August 10, 9:15 am
2nd Match: Friday August 10, 1:15 pm
3rd Match: Saturday August 11, 9:15 am

TEAM BPR B 18 IA Orange
Location: Colorado Athletic Club – Monaco (2695 S. Monaco Parkway, Denver CO 80222)
1st Match: Friday August 10, 8:00 am
2nd Match: Friday August 10, 1:15 pm
3rd Match: Saturday August 11, 10:30 am

TEAM BPR B 18 IA Blue
Location: Colorado Athletic Club – Monaco (2695 S. Monaco Parkway, Denver CO 80222)
1st Match: Friday August 10, 8:00 am
2nd Match: Friday August 10 1:15 pm
3rd Match: Saturday August 11, 10:30 am

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– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Below you will find the USTA Jr. Team Tennis schedules for each Team by age category.

The images show the complete schedule for the season (click on each to enlarge). If you follow the link for your team, you will be taken to your USTA official Team page. The USTA official team pages contain team information, match results, team standings and more.

10 & UNDER
BPR B 10 IA ORANGE
8:30 am
6/18 vs. Meadows @ Meadows Club, 5555 Racquet Lane, Boulder CO 80303
6/25 vs. Westminster @ Centennial Middle School, 2205 Norwood Ave, Boulder CO 80304
7/2 vs. Broomfield @ Broomfield Swim and Tennis, 250 Main Street, Broomfield CO 80020
7/9 vs. Meadows @ Centennial Middle School, 2205 Norwood Ave, Boulder CO 80304
7/16 vs. Westminster @ Ranch Country Club, 11887 Tejon St, Westminster CO 80234
7/23 vs. Broomfield @ Centennial Middle School, 2205 Norwood Ave, Boulder CO 80304

12 & UNDER
BPR B 12 IB
8:30 am
6/18 vs. Superior @ Superior North Pool Courts, Rock Creek and Indiana, Superior CO 80027
6/25 vs. Westminster @ Centennial Middle School, 2205 Norwood Ave, Boulder CO 80304
7/2 vs. Meadows @ Meadows Club, 5555 Racquet Lane, Boulder CO 80303
7/9 vs. Louisville @ Devil’s Thumb Homeowners’ Association, Louisville CO 80027
7/16 vs. Broomfield @ Centennial Middle School, 2205 Norwood Ave, Boulder CO 80304
7/23 vs. Meadows @ Centennial Middle School, 2205 Norwood Ave, Boulder CO 80304
7/30 BYE

BPR B 12 IA
8:30 am
6/18 vs. Broomfield @ Centennial Middle School, 2205 Norwood Ave, Boulder CO 80304
6/25 vs. Harvest House @ Millennium Harvest House Tennis, 1345 28th St, Boulder CO 80302
7/2 BYE
7/9 vs. Broomfield @ Centennial Middle School, 2205 Norwood Ave, Boulder CO 80304
7/16 vs. Meadows @ Meadows Club, 5555 Racquet Lane, Boulder CO 80303
7/23 vs. Boulder Country Club @ Boulder Country Club, 7350 Clubhouse Rd, Boulder CO 80301
7/30 vs. Broomfield @ Centennial Middle School, 2205 Norwood Ave, Boulder CO 80304

14 & UNDER
BPR B 14 IA ORANGE
12:30 pm
6/18 BYE
6/25 vs. Westminster @ Centennial Middle School, 2205 Norwood Ave, Boulder CO 80304
7/2 vs. Meadows @ Meadows Club, 5555 Racquet Lane, Boulder CO 80303
7/9 vs. Golden @ Rolling Hills Country Club, 15707 W 26th Ave, Golden CO 80401
7/16 vs. Broomfield @ Centennial Middle School, 2205 Norwood Ave, Boulder CO 80304
7/23 vs. Meadows @ Centennial Middle School, 2205 Norwood Ave, Boulder CO 80304
7/30 vs. Golden @ Rolling Hills Country Club, 15707 W 26th Ave, Golden CO 80401

18 & UNDER
BPR B 18 IA ORANGE
10:30 am
6/18 vs. Boulder Country Club @ Centennial Middle School, 2205 Norwood Ave, Boulder CO 80304
6/25 vs. Harvest House @ Millennium Harvest House Tennis, 1345 28th St, Boulder CO 80302
7/2 vs. Broomfield @ Centennial Middle School, 2205 Norwood Ave, Boulder CO 80304
7/9 vs. Boulder Country Club @ Boulder Country Club, 7350 Clubhouse Rd, Boulder CO 80301
7/16 vs. Millennium Harvest @ Centennial Middle School, 2205 Norwood Ave, Boulder CO 80304
7/23 vs. Broomfield @ Broomfield Swim and Tennis, 250 Main Street, Broomfield CO 80020

BPR B IA BLUE
10:30 am
6/18 vs. Broomfield @ Broomfield Swim and Tennis, 250 Main Street, Broomfield CO 80020
6/25 vs. Meadows @ Centennial Middle School, 2205 Norwood Ave, Boulder CO 80304
7/2 vs. Louisville @ Centennial Middle School, 2205 Norwood Ave, Boulder CO 80304
7/9 BYE
7/16 vs. Westminster @ Ranch Country Club, 11887 Tejon St, Westminster CO 80234
7/23 vs. Millennium Harvest @ Centennial Middle School, 2205 Norwood Ave, Boulder CO 80304
7/30 vs. Boulder Country Club @ Boulder Country Club, 7350 Clubhouse Rd, Boulder CO 80301

STATE CHAMPIONSHIP:
August 10-12: JTT (Junior Team Tennis) State Championships (if the team qualifies) – schedule to be posted.

MATCH TIMES:
10 & under: 8:30 am
12 & under: 8:30 am
14 & under: 12:30 pm
18 & under: 10:30 am

Tennis Strings: So Many Choices!

I would love to make this simple for us all, and I will try my best to do just that.  To begin, your racquet was expensive, and you want to get the most out of it.  That means, obviously, that you’ll need nothing but the best in strings.  However, I dare you to find out for yourself what the best string is.  There are quite literally dozens of brands and hundreds of strings to choose from and none of them dominate the marketplace.  Good luck trying them all out.  And, if there are 16 courts at your club and everyone there is playing singles, you will undoubtedly, if you were to ask, find 32 players with 32 different string configurations – all insisting that they have done all the necessary investigations and found that their choice in strings is fantastic.  The stringing of your racquet and what string you use is, above all, a perception game, folks. Yes, there are differences, but let’s be honest for a moment.  You aren’t Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer, and neither am I.  Finding a string that falls roughly into our playing parameters is going to work out just fine. With such a huge selection of materials and options, I am going to narrow it down to the bare bones of what works and what you need to know.  If you’re the sort of person who wants to torture yourself with tedious research and investigation of every possible angle I suggest visiting stringforum.net.

THE MATERIAL: It Makes a Big Difference (These are generalizations.  Some multi-filaments are tougher than others; some polys are less stiff, etc… .)

COMFORT: Say you’re a person who has elbow problems.  You want something comfortable, right? A multi-filament string is for you!  You want something that absorbs shock, and multi-filaments are designed to approximate (as much as is possible) the feel of natural gut string (which, while quite comfortable, most people don’t buy because it is ridiculously expensive).  A couple choices for very good, arm friendly multi-filaments are Babolat Xcel and Technifibre NRG2.

   

DURABILITY: Perhaps you’re the sort of person who hits with heavy topspin and you find yourself breaking lots of strings. A durable mono-filament string is for you!  These days most mono-filaments are polyester.  Even the thinnest gauges (1.10mm) of these strings last much longer than the toughest multi-filaments.  In addition to being durable these strings offer a unique feel that many players actually prefer to other materials.  The trade-off with a polyester string, though, is that they are stiff – very stiff, and they don’t absorb shock well.  If you have arm problems you should use caution with a polyester string.  A much lower tension would be in order.  Some good choices in polyester strings are MSV Focus Hex and Prince Beast.

  

CHEAP: Now, to the truth of the matter. Synthetic gut string is cheap, and it is a perfectly acceptable string choice. Sure, your friends might turn up their noses at your pedestrian string job, but how would they know if you don’t tell them?  In any case, a synthetic gut might be just the thing for you regardless of cost.  They aren’t the sorts of strings that are particularly arm friendly, or durable, or spin friendly.  They are simultaneously everything – and nothing.  They are designed to be solid, all-round strings.  They do the job, and sometimes that’s all we want.  I’ve used Gosen OG-Sheep 16 and I liked it.

HYBRID: This is what I do to my racquets. I use a polyester string in the mains (the strings that run the length of your racquet) and multi-filament in the crosses.  In this way I can get a bit of comfort and just a little more durability.  It has become a popular configuration among players, and I can see why.  You can ask your stringer for some suggestions on cross and main choices.  A competent stringer will be happy to spend the time answering these questions for you and helping you to choose.

  

TENSION: The tension of the strings refers to how tight the strings in the string-bed have been threaded. Each string, upon being fed through a grommet and wound around a tensioner in the stringing machine, gets tensioned individually. Tension can range, depending on the racquet, between 50 lbs and 65 lbs. Bjorn Borg used to string his wooden racquet at 85 lbs — which often resulted in spontaneously imploding wooden frames.  He had some peculiar ways about him.  I suggest sticking to the manufacturer suggestions. The more tension you use, the less time the ball stays on the string bed at contact. This means less power but more control.  The opposite is true for lower tension, more power and less control (generally speaking).

I have tried dozens of combinations of strings and tensions and I have arrived at the conclusion that, on my racquet, 55 lbs in the mains (polyester) and 58 lbs for the crosses (multi-filament) works fine. But, is this the only tension that would work for me?  If I’m going to be honest, I have to admit that I could make do with anything that falls into a certain range.  I am not Rafa Nadal or Roger Federer.  I don’t need perfection, I need approximations.  I suspect you are the same.

Now, I have to take a breath and issue myself a reality check.  Tennis players like to think of their racquets in the same way a soldier thinks of his weapons.  If you only had one implement to take into battle with you, and success or failure depended on the reliability of said weapon, wouldn’t you obsess about it a little, too? That’s the bottom line about string tension and string brands.  One brand might be just as good as another, one multi-filament might work just as well as any other multi-filament, but when we find something that works reliably for us we will naturally insist it’s the best and that no other could possibly measure up.  It isn’t true but, when consistency is the name of the game, that mentality follows in every facet of the game, on and off the court. Try a few configurations. When you stumble upon something that works I suggest sticking with it. It will save you the aggravation of paining yourself with indecision the next time you are asked by your stringer “So, what can I do for you today?”