Cork Tennis Blog

Welcome to the Cork Tennis Blog.

This blog will, hopefully, keep you up to date on the tennis scene in Cork, both socially and competitively. Whether you are new to the game, and looking for a club in your area to join, or just new to the area and want to pay and play, I can help.
You can contact me by email at

As well as local tennis news, there are also some very good articles written by local players and I am always looking for people to contribute to the blog, so don't be shy.
You can find more articles on the website,
Please also feel free to comment on individual posts, or alternatively through the comment box on the right of the blog. I hope you enjoy reading through the blog and that it was of some use to you.

Enjoy your game, Rob

Rob's Racketrestringing

Friday, November 24, 2017

How to Prepare for Winter League - Conor Twomey

Here is the second article from our Resident Tennis Coach.

Having spent a long time working in a sports shop and trying to convince people of the importance of the right gear/equipment, I think this is a very important article for all players to read.

As we are now in winter league season, here are 5 simple tips to improve your game.

1. Your bag and more importantly what's in it!
Change of gear
Spare grips
Spare racket
Spare shock absorber
Wine gums / Jaffa cakes / banana
Water (minimum 2 litres)
Spare socks
Anti - inflammatory
Gel/ tablets
This should cover every eventuality on court. FAIL TO PREPARE, prepare to fail.

2. Your footwear.
The amount of times I see people with the incorrect footwear is frightening. Personally, for stability and durability I've always liked Babolat footwear. Wilson is my favourite for comfort. I recommend every player wear proper tennis shoes as grip, comfort and ankle stability are so important.

3. Clothing.
Clothing has come so far today that the days of cotton shirts and shorts are well gone.  I strongly recommend some form of material with cooling features, Climacool, in summer and a good baselayer in winter.
I recommend the Under Armour Baselayer range (Cold Gear) as it's very high quality and light but it is expensive.
Make sure you check that it's Cold Gear and not clima cool .

4. Hydration.
If you only drink when your thirsty it TOO LATE. Little and often is the best advise. Drink on every changeover and make it habitual. I've seen ties go on over 4 hours and that's a long time so keep hydrated. Dehydration has a dramatic effect on performance. Considering most matches are on Sundays and people have a glass of wine or 6 on a Saturday ...... hydration is important.

5. Finally and most importantly...... turn up on time and hopefully, at the right venue. I have seen teams turn up at different venues at the same time and people get the times wrong. Nothing worse for your performance than turning up late and stressed. Arrive early, chill out and look forward to the match ahead.
Of course there will be people out there who remember playing Winter league against me and they are saying.... I had no bag and dodgy runners and wearing a soccer shirt and army shorts and ham sandwiches for energy.
I wish someone had given me this advise.


Why Hybrid Stringing should be considered!

 Hybrid Stringing

Primal Hybrid Set.jpeg
Hybrid Stringing has been around a long time now and some brands, going back 20 or more years, even packaged two different strings in a set.  This is happening much more these days, with the likes of Head taking it a stage further with their new Primal string set up also been available on a mixed reel.
A hybrid string setup can be made up a number of different ways:
  • The most common of these is mixing two different materials, where the most popular on the professional tour is Polyester and Natural Gut.  Club players would generally mix Polyester and Multifilament, as this is a cheaper option to the expensive natural gut.
  • It can also be a mixture of any two strings, such as Poly and Nylon or Nylon and Multifilament.  Even mixing two polyester strings, where one is smooth and one textured for spin.
  • Mixing two different gauges (thicknesses) of a string is also classed as a hybrid set up.
So you can see Hybrid stringing can be made up a variety of different ways.
For now, let's deal with the most common ones, the Polyester/Gut combination or the Polyester/Multifilament combination.

You will find some Coaches, Players, and Stringers who are not fans of a Hybrid Setup and feel polyester is the only way to go.  They are entitled to that opinion, but if you are a Coach or a Stringer you have a responsibility to your player to explain all the options available to them.
Hybrid stringing has been referred to as 'The Best of Both Worlds'.  You get control from the Polyester string and power and comfort from the Gut or Multifilament.

Your choice of string placement also has a big influence on how the racket will play.  By putting the polyester in the main strings the emphasis is on control, as the main strings dictate the feel of the stringbed.
Alternatively, like Federer, by putting the Gut in the mains you increase the power level and comfort you feel.

There are many different reasons why Hybrid Stringing should be considered. 
For me, I use a hybrid setup because of the climate I currently live in.  I find it is a compromise of not been a big fan of the firm feel of a full poly bed, but understanding the need for control in the very hot conditions I play in.

I recommend hybrid stringing to players who are currently using polyester strings as a full bed but shouldn't be.  I say this because they do not have enough power in their strokes to compensate for the loss of power that comes from polyester.  Or they are using lightweight rackets that are stiff and with the addition of polyester strings, they increase the risk of injury through shock and vibration.

I find this is either a way to transition them to a full bed of Multifilament or Nylon or worst case a way to help them add some needed power to their game while still servicing their desire to play with polyester.

I also recommend a hybrid setup to developing juniors (those old enough to consider poly), as a way to add control to their games without jumping straight to polyester.

The downside to hybrid stringing is, generally, the softer string breaks off the firmer string.  Although, unless it breaks in the first few games, I don't consider it a big problem to those who are serious about their games.  These players should already know that for their rackets to perform at their best, regular stringing is required.

Due to the high number of injuries to some of the Top professional players this year, the stats have changed slightly, but for most of the last couple of years, a good majority of the Top male players were using hybrid setup (Murray, Djokovic, Federer, Thiem, Nishkori, Tsonga, Cilic).

For this reason alone, it makes sense to consider a Hybrid setup or at very least do a bit more research into it!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tips for Parents of Performance Players - Conor Twomey

This is the first article from our resident coach Conor Twomey.  
It's a very interesting read and if you want to leave any comments below for Conor or you want to ask him any questions you can email the blog and I will get them answered for you.
Thanks Conor.

Here are my 5 tips for any parent of a performance player from Cork / Munster.

1- Players mature physically / mentally / emotionally at different stages.  Their results and performances can change as they move up through the age groups.  Usually post puberty players begin to find their true level and with the right coach reach their potential.  Don't be too caught up in results up to under 14 as it all changes as they get bigger and stronger and emotionally mature.

2 - Good technique is great but not the be all and end all.  Style over function.  Games literacy is the one Criticism I would have of all our juniors at the moment.  Why?  Simply put our players just don't play enough matches and build up match experience.  The one thing that was constant from attending the national and world conference recently was how lots of the top players played loads of matches. Furthermore , they played all levels which gave them experience of playing different spins and tactics. Some kids do so much coaching that they don't have time to play ..... nuts.

3- Slightly related to the last point. Make sure the cognitive load is not too much for your child.  If they are told one thing on a Monday and another on a Wednesday and something else in a private on Thursday and then another coach again on Saturday or Sunday giving information has one outcome ... overload.  Keep it simple and relevant and hopefully everyone is working off a plan. LTDP is a good guide for parents and coaches.

4- Don't follow the crowd.  If you want to stand out and be different and excel.  Sometimes you have to travel a different path. This is not easy but can be very rewarding if the player has the talent /drive and you have the means / time.  Never before have options been so available to parents and players as now. Provincial squads, private squads, club squads, national squads, international academies.  If you look at the Munster players who won in Fitzwilliam this year,  they all travelled and developed their game in very different areas.  From Dundalk to Dublin to France.  The last 10 years have taught me that there is no one formula.  Success can be achieved in many ways.  Find the right road and you will reap the rewards.
NOTE OF CAUTION, time and time again I've seen very good players not achieve their potential because of the poor decisions made by parents who felt they were doing the best.  A bit more research and conversation and this can easily be avoided.

5- This, I feel is the most important.  Who is driving the whole thing?  If your child is not bugging you constantly to play games and go training and wanting to do more then he/she is not a performance player but a very good recreational player.  I've seen countless talented players not succeed because they liked tennis but didn't love it.  When I was young, the first thing I did in the morning was open the window to see if it was raining and if it was I'd be gutted, as that meant no tennis .  Ask yourself the same question and if your child is not gutted then accept performance is not the path.

Please read my article next month when I will address the 5 things we need to fix to improve the tennis experience for everyone in the province.

Conor Twomey

Level 2 Performance coach and Provincial coach of the year.

Winter Tennis - Are you ready for it?

Winter Tennis

Are you ready for it?

As everyone gets ready for the dreaded winter league, we all look for an extra edge.
Some will look to base layer clothing, others to new shoes for better grip but the one area that will have the biggest impact on your game is your strings.

As the weather gets colder and wetter, the ball doesn't warm up as much and won't travel as fast.  When it gets wet it becomes heavier.  Therefore your power level drops.

There are a few options to help combat this.

  • Lower your tension
  • Change to a thinner string
  • Change to a different string set up.

Lower your tension:

If you are happy with your strings and the feel they give you then the obvious choice is to lower your tension.  This is will increase your power and increase the sweet spot, which in turn will help with the shock of hitting the wet ball.
Control isn't as much of an issue in the winter season.

Change to thinner string:

A second option to consider is to change to a thinner version of the string you are using.  Again the feel that you like won't change too much but the thinner string is more elastic and therefore will throw the ball back out faster, again helping to increase the power.

Change to a different string set up:

This can be done in a few ways.  For one those players playing with a full bed of polyester string, winter tennis can affect your game the most.  Your strings aren't the most powerful to start with and also create the most shock and vibration, so playing in cold wet weather this shock and vibration becomes amplified and the lack of power from the strings is now greater.
You have the 2 options above that will help but also changing your string set up will help.

To keep some of the feel of your polyester string you could consider a hybrid set up (polyester and multifilament/nylon) or if you really wanted to up the power level you could choose a multifilament or nylon set up.

By choosing the hybrid you get the best of both worlds.  You get the control of the polyester and the power of the softer string.  There are a few options within hybrid set up and there is also tension to consider.  Speak to your racket stringer about these, or if you want to contact me directly ( I will be delighted to help you.

By choosing the full bed of Multifilament or Nylon the first thing you will do is really reduce the shock and vibration levels.  Bare in mind, not only are the conditions cold and, possibly, wet but your body is also cold and therefore more susceptible to shock on impact.
The softer string offers a larger sweet spot which makes your racket more forgiving and more powerful.

For me this is the first thing you should be looking at if you are playing winter league, the fancy hat or long-johns can be sorted then.

Enjoy our matches, i know I will.  

Winter tennis in Qatar (20-30')

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Cork Tennis Blog resident tennis Coach

Cork Tennis Blog would like to welcome Conor Twomey as our resident tennis coach.  Conor will be supplying articles to the blog and will also answer any of your questions.
I would like to thank Conor and look forward to reading his first article.

Conor, along with Kevin Murray, is also responsible for some serious footwork videos under the name Coaching Movement.  Currently these are available on one of Ireland's leading tennis websites, (  Thanks to Rob you can now link to these videos here.

"My name is Conor Twomey and I am presently Head coach of Bishopstown junior tennis academy and co/ founder of coachingmovement. 

Along with my colleague Mick Hurley we run the 'On the rise' high performance squads which provide high performance coaching to some of the best players in the province. 

I have also been awarded the provincial coach of the year for 2017 by TennĂ­s coach Ireland đŸ‡®đŸ‡ª as voted for by my peers. 

My qualifications are as follows,
TennĂ­s Ireland level 1 and level 2 performance coach
PTR Qualified instructor
SAQ trainer
Qualified Director of Tennis with TennĂ­s Ireland
Dip UCC youth work
Skills acquisition specialist.

I am delighted to have been asked to become the resident tennis expert for the CORK TENNIS BLOG, I hope that I can help everyone in Tennis when it comes to improving your game. 

Please watch this space as my first article will be of interest to all parents of aspiring TennĂ­s athletes".

Conor Twomey

Monday, October 23, 2017

Tennis Workshop coming to Lower Aghada TC

Don’t MISS your last Chance to Sign Up for This Saturday’s Tennis at Lower Aghada Tennis Club.  

PARTNERS are NOT NECESSARILY NEEDED as The Doubles Course is All About What YOU ARE DOING.

When In One Of Four Positions,  Server, Servers Partner,  Receiver or Receivers Partner.  

If You Take Care Of Your Responsibilities that’s as Much as You Can Contribute in A Doubles Match.  

So Even if You Have No Partner, this Course will help you get a BETTER One in The Future.


 Sign Up Now Please Share With Your Tennis Friends.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Its been a while!!

Well its been a while since I lasted posted something in here, so apologies about that.  It is difficult to keep up to date with what's happening at home on the tennis scene but thankfully this year I am getting to play more tennis.

With an amazing tennis facility here in Doha, 19 hard courts, 10 mini/midi courts,  it was surprisingly difficult to find people to play against.  There is no club structure like we are used to, so it wasn't a matter of joining a club and meeting people.
Shortly after we arrived there was one of the big local tournaments on.  This is sponsored by the QTF (Qatar Tennis Federation) and a big hotel here called The Intercontinental.  Really good prizes, so the best players the country has to offer were playing.  The standard was good, I would say on a par with the big events in Dublin.

Here I met a Spanish coach, who works for the QTF.  He was a former ATP tour player and he filled me in on how things worked out here.  I got to play him once at a different venue but because he works for the QTF he cannot play with anyone other than another coach at their facility, so I spent the next few months trying to organise games and not really finding people of a decent standard.

I did play in a very well organised event, run by the Filipinos.  It is a team event, which takes place every Friday night for 2 months.  There is a very big Filipino community in Qatar and they set up teams based on the area they live in.  It's taken very serious.  Each team is only allowed one non Filipino and I was it.
Played some very good matches and really enjoyed it and I was asked to play again this year.  So I am now an honorary member of the Filipino league.
The standard in the league can be varied, but the standard of the Filipino players here is quite good.  Most of their top players come here to coach.  The guy in this picture with the glasses, no not me! he was ranked as high as 5 in the Philippines and has some amazing touches.

While there is a very big tennis community in Qatar there is no structure to it.  The federation here only runs things for Qatari's apart from maybe 4 open tournaments in the year.  Trying to find out when these are on is the best kept secret in the Middle East.

If you want to get your racket strung here you can go to one of the big sports stores and wait 4 days for the privilege.  There are some individuals stringing but the quality of work isn't great and the strings are cheap imports.

So after going home for the summer to Cork I decided to bring back my own machine this time around.  I have now set up my own stringing room on the third floor of our house and happy to say I am very busy.

I now work with the brand Kirschbaum, as their official stringer for the Middle East and have a large selection of their strings to offer.

On arriving back in Doha in September I was contacted by a few other players about playing some matches.  Between my contacts and their contacts I set up a singles league which we call The Doha International Tennis League (DITL).  It really is international with players from South Africa, France, Spain, Pakistan, Turkey and more.  This went off very well and we are now a couple of weeks into DITL 2 where we have added another 8 players and increased the standard.  This has definitely helped with getting some more matches and also helped with my stringing :)

During my time in Cork during the summer I decided to upgrade my stringing skills and so I went to England to do 2 exams with the 2 largest stringing associations, the US Racket Stringers Associations (USRSA) and the European Racket Stringers Associations (ERSA).  They have a level called Pro Stringer or the next level up which is a Master Racket Technician (MRT).  I'm happy to say I qualified as an MRT with both organisations.  
Stringing really has become a passion/obsession of mine and the more I learn about it, the more I realise how an important part of the game it is and how important it is to give the right advice.
There are plenty of people around the world who string rackets but a very small percentage do it properly.

At the end of this month I head to Dusseldorf for the European Symposium and no doubt I will learn a lot more here from some of the best stringers in the World.  A lot of the guys here string at the Grand Slam events, maybe someday!

So all in all Qatar hasn't been a bad move. and to top it all off they host an ATP and WTA event every year with some of the best players in the world in attendance.  Last years final was between Djokovic and Nadal, this year Djokovic and Murray, how bad!

I would like to keep this blog as active as I can so if anyone has news, information on anything tennis related in Cork please feel free to contact me.

Thank you and see you all in the summer.

Understanding Polyester Strings!

Understanding Polyester Strings
The arrival of polyester strings has been one of the major developments in tennis in recent years.  It took a while for all professionals to change over from natural gut, but now nearly every professional player uses polyester in their string setup.
This may be as a full bed of polyester or in hybrid with natural gut.
To a professional player, a person who is training everyday and who hits the ball with incredible power, the benefit of polyester has been increased control and greater potential for spin.  It has helped bring their game to a new level.
For the club/social player the benefits are not the same.  The majority of club players do not understand how polyester performs and are generally using it for the wrong reason or through bad advice or lack of advice.
Polyester strings are advertised and sold as a string that gives you more control, more spin and excellent durability.  All of these things are true, if the player is capable of playing at the level required to achieve these benefits.
What we don't hear, too often, is that polyester is powerless, that you are more prone to injury, that it can be expensive and that its performance level (loss of tension) drops the quickest of all strings.
I definitely see the benefit of polyester, but what this piece is about is to help players 'Understand Polyester'.  To weigh up the Pro's and Con's of the string and then decide if it is the best choice for you or not!
Here are some points to consider:
  • Why do the pro's use it?
  • How does it perform?
  • What happens at impact and afterwards?
  • Durability versus Playability
To read the full article follow this link:

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Signs of Overtraining by Helen Curtis

"Helen (Curtis) is a freelance writer specialising in healthcare, nutrition and fitness. After starting a family Helen decided to leave her job in the health sector and embark on a career in writing, something that she'd always been passionate about."

Signs Of Overtraining
Let’s be fair, now. The majority of us can’t really be accused of ‘overtraining’. We do our best, and we do very well, but often we’re forcing ourselves to exercise rather than forcing ourselves not to. The concept of ‘overtraining’, therefore, may seem like a strange one. Surely more is better? Well, not always. It all depends upon your attitude, and upon how much importance you afford the concept of resting in training. Overtraining can actually be very bad indeed for you. It can wear down your muscles, stress you out, make you obsessive, wreck your sporting form, and even make you fat. Sounds counter-intuitive, right? But it’s true. If you don’t give your body time to process and work through the exercise you’ve done, all that happens is that you stress your body out and wear it down without ever feeling the benefit. Overtraining is a bad thing. Many of us, however, don’t know we’re doing it. Here are some signs of overtraining to watch out for:
One of the strongest signs of overtraining is not physical, but psychological. Nobody is quite sure if obsession prefigures overtraining or vice versa. Over-exercising causes cortisol to be released, which makes us stressed, which could bring on exercise-related anxieties in a kind of vicious circle. On the other hand, those kinds of anxieties could have brought on the over-exercising in the first place. Whatever the cause, many people who over-exercise display obsessive behaviour around their training. They train compulsively, and get very anxious indeed when they find themselves unable to exercise. Some experts speak of ‘exercise addiction’. The validity of this term is debated, but it is notable that some overtrainers let exercise take over their lives to the extent that it’s damaging things like their relationships, their careers, and their mental health. If you find yourself worrying unduly when you can’t exercise, or notice that friends and family are commenting on the amount of time you spend training, it’s perhaps time to take stock of your attitude towards training and exercise.
Muscle Weakness
You’d think that working out would make you stronger, and improve your muscle tone. If you do too much of it, however, you can actually end up making your muscles weaker. When we exercise, we cause micro-tears in our muscles. These are later fixed by the body, which adds more muscle tissue on in order to prevent the same thing from happening again. This is how our muscles grow. However, this process generally occurs while we are asleep or resting. If you don’t give your body enough time to rest and repair the damage, all that happens is that you pile micro-tear on micro-tear, and ultimately degrade your muscles. It’s not ideal.
Fairly obviously, if you don’t allow yourself enough rest time, you’re going to be exhausted. Physical and mental fatigue are strong signs of overtraining. Often, we put this down to stress and time pressures elsewhere in our lives - but if you are finding yourself constantly tired, try taking a day off training and see how you feel afterwards.
Frequent Minor Illness
You’re supposedly making yourself stronger with frequent training sessions, yet you’re constantly coming down with colds and infections. What’s going on? Basically, you’re wearing your body out, leaving it less energy and resources to devote to your immune system. If you overtrain, your body has to work flat-out to try and keep your muscles going. Ultimately, it ends up diverting resources from your organs and your other systems into your muscles to try to fulfil the demands you’re putting on your body. If you prolong this over a long period of time, your immune system ends up getting depleted, which means that you end up getting sick more often.

The damage to your muscles and your general depleted state can manifest in tremors. We’ve all experienced minor tremors after a tough training session. If you find these persisting throughout your daily life, it’s probably time to start interspersing some rest with your training. Resting and recovering is just as important an aspect of your training regime as practising serves and strengthening your muscles. Without rest and recovery, all of your hard work might as well be for nothing!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Here's some advice for parents!

There seems to be a big focus on parents involvement in their childrens' sports lately, and unfortunately it's not all positive.

I came across this video recently, and while it is based on tennis the same principles can apply to any sport.

A note to sports parents!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

New Racket Restringing blog

Racket restringing is probably the most overlooked part of anyone's equipment.  

Players spend a lot of time researching a new racket to find the ideal one, they change their grips often (sometimes forced to because of weather), buy the latest clothing, update their shoes when they find themselves slipping but a lot of the time overlook the importance of new strings.

When I started out playing the mentality was strings should last at the very least a year, but as times change and research improves we find that leaving your racket too long between stringing can really affect your performance level.

There are so many reasons to restring and so many things to know about restringing, such as:

  • Tension 
  • String construction
  • String thickness
  • Hybrid stringing
And much more.  Below is a link to a blog that covers all aspects of stringing, that will hopefully help you when choosing your next strings and convince the non-regular stringers that it will be worth their while to string more often.