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 or an experienced player I hope you find the information and posts here, useful and interesting.

You can contact me by email at rob@racketrestringing.ie

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.

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

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Cork tennis arrives in Qatar!

Well my family and I are here just over a month now and I must say the tennis scene is very impressive here.

While Qatar wouldn't be a major player in world tennis, the facilities are second to none.  The QTF (Qatar Tennis Federation) bases itself in the capital of Qatar, Doha at its main stadium, Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex.
The centre has 21 courts and seem to be always in use.  On arriving I found that, had I brought my rackets with me, I could have entered the 8th QTF and Intercontinental Open.  This is an open tournament where the prize fund is 40,000 riyals plus membership to the exclusive Intercontinental hotel.  I have being over and back to watch it regularly and there are some very good players in the area.

This event is going to be followed up with 3 ITF Futures events running from the 28th of November to the 19th of December.  This promises to provide 3 very entertaining weeks of professional tennis.

These events will be followed, early in the new year, with 2 professional events.  There is an ATP event in January which always attracts the likes of Djokovic, Nadal and co.  This event will be followed in February with the arrival of the women.  The WTA event also attracts a top quality field.  Last years final was contested by Safrova and Azarenka.  So to say I'm looking forward to the coming months is a bit of an understatement.

I am also looking forward to my rackets arriving so I can start playing again.  The surface here is hard court, a surface I grew up on but I haven't played on it in a longtime so that will take a bit of getting used to.



Senior Interprovincial Champions 2015

Firstly I would like to apologise for not acknowledging this achievement earlier.  It's being a busy few months relocating to Qatar.

Huge Congratulations to Cian and his team.

I have played with and against Cian in the past so on hearing of his appointment to the position of Captain, I knew the team were in good hands.

Looking at the team, it had a good mix of experience and youth and this bodes well for the future.  Winning an Interpro is never an easy achievement so again I would just like to say congratulations to all in involved and let's hope this is the start of a run.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Cork Parks Tennis near you.

A note on the Cork Parks Tennis provided by Munster Regional Development Officer, Conor O Callaghan:

Hi All,

With the summer period in full swing I am sure you are looking to see what to do with the kids !!! As many of you will be aware not all children are inclined to enter the junior opens which are running through out the summer period. However if they are looking for some competition you can find all of the junior Open dates and entries at the following link: http://ti.tournamentsoftware.com/

However if your children are just looking to have some fun in a structured environment then there are many camps currently up and running that may be of interest to you. Parks Tennis programmes are not too far from you. The parks tennis programmes have been up and running for 36 years and are operational in a number of venues through out the province. Please visit the website : http://www.parkstennis.com/

This is a great and friendly way to introduce children into tennis and it has been the building blocks for players all over the country for a number of years.

If you are looking to see the nearest parks programme to you please visit the following links:

CORK:

Memorable Moments in Tennis provided by FBD Insurance.


The Most Memorable Moments in Tennis History

Since tennis first arrived on the sporting scene back in the late 1800s, there have been a wide array of memorable moments. Many of them will continue to be iconic moments that inspired a sporting generation, or created glorious memories for thoughts who witnessed them. It's difficult to make a small definitive list of the most memorable moments in the history of tennis, but here are just a few that will no doubt remain in people's minds for years to come.

First Ever Wimbledon Tournament in 1877

Wimbledon made its first appearance in 1877 with 22 male players competing for the inaugural championship. Spencer Gore became the first winner after a relatively straightforward 6-1 6-2 6-4 win in the final. Gore said that he thought the game of tennis was boring and decided to quit the game after losing his title defence the following year.

Ted Shroeder Winning Wimbledon 1949

American Ted Shroeder became known as 'Lucky Ted' after this championship and it is not hard to see why. He fought back in his first round match from two sets down to progress, and then followed that with a lucky miss-hit winner in the quarter finals. If that wasn't enough, his semi-final and final match all went to five sets. Remarkably, this was the only Wimbledon championship that Ted Shroeder competed in.

Arthur Ashe Winning Wimbledon 1975

Arthur Ashe made history in 1975 by becoming the first male African-American player to win at Wimbledon. He did so after beating Jimmy Connors in the final. It looked like Ashe was going to run away with it when he won the first two sets 6-1 6-1, but Connors fought back and forced a fourth set, where Ashe went on to make history.

Monica Seles Vs. Steffi Graf at French Open Final 1992

This truly was a clash of the titans game and it showed from start to finish. Even when it looked like Seles was about to take the title in the deciding set, Graff fought off four straight match points to keep the game going. Despite her strength, Graff eventually was worn down as she gave up the final set on an unforced error. It was a game that became an example for women's tennis, proving they could be just as athletic and as determined as the male players.

John Isner Vs. Nicholas Mahut at Wimbledon 2010

Even though this was only a first round game, the clash between John Isner and Nicholas Mahut become one of the longest and most infamous tennis games in history. Playing on court for a massive 11 hours and five minutes over the course of three days, Isner finally won the tie-break in the deciding set 70-68. It attracting the attention of the entire world and made news headlines everywhere. Never has a match in the first round of a tournament become so infamous.

Andy Murray Winning Wimbledon 2013

After nearly 80 years since the last British winner of Wimbledon, the wait was finally over when Andy Murray defeated Novak Djokovic in the final. Despite winning the first two sets in the sweltering heat at SW19, Djokovic fought back and forced Murray to play another difficult set before the Scotsman won the title. Nothing will have inspired a generation more than watching Murray make history in the manner that he did.

Here's a link to the very impressive Timeline, enjoy

Sunday, June 28, 2015

New Racket Restringing Service available

I am offering a new Professional Racket Restringing Service in Munster, called racketrestringing.ie.

I offer a collection and drop back service and also an opportunity for clubs to avail of a stringing service within your own club.

I can provide stringing for your open tournaments along with re-gripping and racket customisation.

For more information on Restringing and other services available check out my site www.racketrestringing.ie.



For any regular customers I offer a loyalty card system where you get every fifth restring free.

Check out the site for all other services available.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Professional Stringers course returns to Cork




Rushbrooke LTC will be the venue once again for the Professional Stringer and Racket Technician course on Tuesday 30th of June and Wednesday the 1st of July. 

The Professional Stringer syllabus covers all racket servicing skills and is aimed at beginners and experienced stringers alike. It's an ideal way to start off a successful stringing business and established stringers will always find new skills and knowledge. 

The Racket Technician course covers the skills and knowledge associated with customising rackets for the professional player or those with specific racket needs. Racket balancing, matching, changing overall weight, balance and swingweight, handle resizing, catering for Tennis Elbow and so on.  Ideally to do this course you should have first done the Professional stringers course.

The tutor will be Liam Nolan, UKRSA Technical Director and former Wimbledon Stringing Team manager. 

Its a 9am start on both days. Liam is offering special reduced prices for these courses.  The Professional stringers course will be €200 and the Racket Technicians course will be €130.

To sign up for either or both courses please contact Liam in advance on the email below.For more information on what will be included and to arrange course fee payment, please email liam@ukrsa.com

Meet Liam!!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Date for your diary.

Ireland's next Davis Cup match is on the weekend of March 6th to the 8th in Castleknock Tennis Club.
  • Doubles, Sam and James

Ireland v Belarus in the 2015 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas

The Irish Davis Cup Team will play Belarus in Castleknock Lawn Tennis Club in the first round of the 2015 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Euro/Africa Zone Group II from the 6th- 8th March 2015.
The winners will  face either Turkey or South Africa  in the second round from the 17th-19th July 2015. 

Ireland maintained its status in Europe/Africa Group II after comfortably defeating Egypt in the relegation play-off in Castleknock Lawn Tennis Club in April of this year.

James McGee's two straight sets singles victories, alongside a doubles triumph for Sam Barry and James Cluskey, was enough to record a fourth win over Egypt in Davis Cup tennis. 

Ireland last played Belarus in the first round of the Davis Cup in January of this year when the team of James Cluskey, John Morrissey, David O'Hare and Daniel Glancy were defeated 4-1 at the tie which took place in the Olympic Training Centre in Minsk.

This match will also be Irish Tennis legend, Conor Niland's first match as Captain.  Come on out and support the boys!



Sunday, January 18, 2015

Rafa Nadal uses Babolat Play Connected

Nadal will be using the new Aeropro Drive Connected racket during the Australian Open.
Here's what he thinks about it.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

New Irish Davis Cup Captain


Let me start by saying, Congratulations to Conor, he is a great choice for captain.  
Not only will Conor have the respect of the players, because of what he has achieved, but more importantly he will know exactly what they are going through in the heat of battle and be able to offer words of wisdom on how best to deal with the situation.  This kind of experience is crucial.
Conor will also know what our travelling pros will have to deal with and the mental state some of them may arrive to matches with, following wins or losses.  Conor previously wrote a very informative piece for this blog and it is definitely worth a read again.  Click here to do so:

Below is a piece taken from RTE.ie today.
Conor Niland has been appointed as captain of the Irish Davis Cup team for a two-year period.
Niland succeeds Garry Cahill, who resigned from the position late last year after a very successful four-year stint in charge.
The 33-year-old is Ireland’s most successful professional tennis player, reaching a career high ATP ranking of 129.
In 2011 he was the first Irish player to play at Wimbledon in 31 years and he followed that up with a first round appearance at the US Open against Novak Djokovic.
Niland played Davis Cup tennis for ten years and as recently as 2012 under the stewardship of Garry Cahill.
He had a distinguished career for the Irish team, winning 17 of the 29 matches he played in since making his debut in 2000 at the age of 18.
He retired from professional tennis in 2012 and started as coach with the BNP Paribas National Tennis Academy in Dublin City University, a role which he will remain in.
Niland said: "I am honoured to have been named the Irish Davis Cup captain.
"Representing Ireland and being in the team environment of Davis Cup is something I always loved as a player and I am delighted to have the opportunity to coach this team."
Ireland play Belarus in the first round of the Euro/Africa Zone Group II Davis Cup by BNP Paribas in Castleknock Lawn Tennis Club on the 6-8 March. 
Depending on first round results, Ireland could face either Turkey or South Africa in a second round match in July.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pro Tennis - Davis Cup - Coaching in Ireland by John McGahon


John is one of Ireland's top coaches and has also represented Ireland at Davis Cup level.  Recently John brought one of his top juniors, Maria Perla Biansumba, to the Junior Orange Bowl in Florida.  I asked John to put a piece together for me on his experiences and what I got back was an exceptional read.

Here it is:
As soon as I qualified as a PE teacher (PGCE awarded by Exeter University) in 2004 I set about achieving my childhood dream of playing on the men's professional tennis circuit.

My first step was to contact Mike Walker who had taken over the international high performance tennis academy in Wrexham which was formerly operated by legendary coach John Hicks of Great Britain. My hope was to base myself in his centre for the foreseeable future. As you can imagine, securing finance on the pro tour can be a major struggle for a player. So, I was very grateful to Mike and head coach Dan Sanders because they helped subsidise my training by giving me the opportunity to coach at their prestigious academy. At times, this regime was tough on the body because after completing 5 hours training I would coach for 3 hours daily each day during the week at the academy. On Friday nights I would fly home to Dundalk to run a junior programme during Saturdays and Sundays. Sunday nights were spent on the ferry back to Holyhead and 8am start on Mondays came around very quickly.

Although this routine definitely wasn't easy, it did help me finance myself in order to travel the world in search of ATP world ranking points. To be honest, I loved every second of it!! A typical block would be 6-8 weeks of training and coaching in order to build up my funds which were sometimes supplemented by success at men's internal money events in Great Britain. Then, I would get away on planned trips to compete in Asia/Africa/Europe.

Working at Wrexham International Tennis Academy not only helped me develop as a professional tennis player but it also helped develop me as a tennis coach because I worked under the watchful eyes of Dan Sanders, Mike Walker and John Hicks. I got the opportunity to work with some of Britains best junior athletes who competed at the boys and girls junior Wimbledon championships as well as working with some top senior athletes in Britain including top ranked British player at the time Matthew Smith #295 ATP and David Brewer from Scotland who was a top 10 junior world ranked player and top 800 ATP world ranked athlete. On some occasions I would travel as a travelling coach to futures events which again helped my overall development as a player and a coach.
At Bisham Abbey (Wrexhams sister academy in London) I even got to spar with the infamous Tim Henman whose highest ranking was no.4 in the world. Tim was extremely welcoming and I am very grateful to Mike for giving me the opportunity to train with Tim. I was certainly learning two trades at once at my time in Great Britain.

During a trip to Africa in 2007, I qualified and reached the Quarter Finals of a $15,000 Futures event (in Sudan) for the first time before being defeated by Adam Vejmelka from Czech Republic(ATP# 247) on a score of 6-4 3-6 6-4. This netted me my first world ranking points at the age of 24 and I was on the board in the men's ATP race!

In the same year, after improving my ranking in both singles and doubles I was selected to play Davis Cup for Ireland. I played Davis Cup for the first time alongside Conor Niland- my childhood friend and Irelands best ever tennis player to date- and the Sorensen brothers, Kevin & Louk. With a ranking of No.3 in Ireland (behind Conor Niland and Louk Sorensen) and an ATP world ranking of #891 and No.#679 in doubles, I teamed up in doubles with Kevin Sorensen. Seán Sorensen was the captain of our team offering a wealth of knowledge having played in the world group of Davis Cup.
(From left -right: Louk Sorensen, Conor Niland, Sean Sorensen, Kevin Sorensen & John McGahon)


In 2007, Ireland was in Group 3 of the Davis Cup which meant that we had to compete throughout the week in a round robin against various different countries throughout Europe/ Africa. I was honoured and a bit overwhelmed at being selected to play for my country. I recorded a 4-2 win loss record in the week with my partner Kevin in doubles. I lost in singles against Turkeys  Ergun Zorlu  2-6 6-3 13-11. I was gutted at losing this match but went back out with Kevin to take the win in doubles and another point for the Irish team. As we topped our group and thereby gained promotion to Group 2 Davis Cup, we celebrated in style by all jumping on a team of horses and trekking out to view the pyramids in Cairo.  Paddy Hickey, the Irish journalist who travelled to cover for the trip, got the raw deal and ended up by having to ride a wild horse over the Egyptian sand dunes for over an hour!





Sean Sorensen (left) & Paddy Hickey (Right)

Over the next two years, I continued this pattern of blocks of training/coaching followed by weeks on the road when I competed in the Davis Cup, the Four Nations and on the men's professional tour. (To the right: Winning Nigeria $15,000+H doubles with Ed Seator from Great Britain)


 As with all athletes, some incredible highs in my tennis career were followed by some lows. I remember one tough month in 2008 in Morocco after getting food poisoning in week 2 where I played a talented Australian (John Millman) and I decided to go to Elche Futures in Alicante, Spain on the way back before Ireland faced Ukraine in the Davis Cup. In Elche, I faced Inigo Cervantes, then one of Spain's top junior tennis players and a recent top 130 ATP player . After losing the first set which lasted 1hr 20mins in a tie break in 40 degree heat on the red clay of Spain, I snapped my ankle and had a full body cramp on court. I not only ended up on a drip at the hospital in Alicante but also lost my place for the following week on the Davis Cup team. Playing for Ireland was always a lifelong goal for me and I am very proud to say I have over 18 senior tennis caps between Davis Cup & Four Nations.

At the latter stages of my professional career, Garry Cahill (National Coach) invited me and Barry King- ex-pro and Davis Cup player- to start off an Irish senior squad at DCU National Tennis Centre. This was a great venture and helped me to base myself at home in Ireland. I also believe that it also helped develop younger up and coming players such as Ciarán Fitzgerald (currently based at San Diego University) and Sam Barry (currently Ireland's no.3 ranked player today behind James McGee and Louk Sorensen).

 In 2009, I decided to go full time into tennis coaching at my home club at Dundalk.  In addition, I planned to complete my Tennis Ireland coaching qualifications, levels 1 ,2 & 3, as well as the Director of Tennis course. As the manager and Director of Tennis at Dundalk Tennis Club, my priority was to put Dundalk Tennis on the map of Irish tennis. This ambition required considerable planning and work as we had no juniors featuring at the top end of Irish tennis and few players competing in tournaments throughout Ireland. Moreover, tennis in schools was non-existent. There were no leagues for junior or senior tennis players to play externally. Straight away, I set up a team of coaches to liaise with local schools to help boost tennis participation and to establish up a North/South league. Former Tennis Ireland President Lyn Jameson, from Portadown helped to create more inter club relations and competition, of course. This league is still running thanks to a dedicated committee and continues to grow in team numbers. Also I hosted Open Days at my club and invited Conor Niland as well as the late Elena Baltacha from Great Britain to boost local attention and press coverage. My aim was to attract new members for our increasingly active club. On St Patricks Day, I and our academy join the colourful march through the streets of Dundalk. This is an ongoing annual event when we celebrate both our club and the day. (Conor Niland near left & Elena Baltacha right)


 With a lot of encouragement and help from Rosa Stevens at Leinster Tennis I took on the job as referee of the junior Louth Open which is now known as the Fyffes Junior Louth Open. I have organised this tournament for the past five years in order to raise the profile of our club and attract increasing numbers of players to our tournament. Becoming a tournament referee certainly was a strange feeling at the beginning and has given me a deeper appreciation of effort required of people who run tournaments. Honestly, it's not the one week of the tournament that hurts. It is managing the weeks leading up to it! Massive effort required!


Marching through dundalk
St Patricks Day parade 2014

 In my five years of being head coach and Director of Tennis at Dundalk our team has developed over 40 players who have competed at national junior match plays/ Indoor Nationals at Riverview and in Fitzwilliam Open.Over the course of very few years, our performance academy has developed two home grown national No.1s, a Tennis Europe U-14 champion, seven internationally ranked juniors, nine interpro players, two national champions, two Leinster grandprix winners, three national matchplay runner ups, a Fed Cup panel player, Fed Cup playoff finalist, a junior U-14 Orange Bowl World Championship main draw player, and several aspiring professional and US scholarship college players. MacXtennisAcademy attracts juniors players from the four provinces of Ireland and abroad. Thats not bad for a club that works outdoors on astro courts for 12 months of the year.

I have been extremely fortunate to have benefitted from some great coaches and inspiring people from the beginning of my tennis experience. In addition to my extremely supportive mum, Jim Pringle- my coach in Dundalk- gave me great grounding as a tennis player and has always helped me on and off court to do this day (we work together at the dundalk tennis academy).  Michael Nugent, from Malahide, took me under his wing as I developed and gave me the belief in becoming a pro tennis player. Paul Casey was the national coach when I was growing up and he helped me develop as a junior player and a pro tennis athlete when he took Irelands top juniors abroad under the auspices of Tennis Ireland. He has helped me as a player and as a coach. I am very happy and proud that we work together today in my performance academy at Dundalk and together we arrange international and national trips with our top juniors. Paul isn't just a great coach, he is a great friend. His energy, passion for the game and wealth of knowledge is invaluable. I can't describe how grateful I am to have met Paul, and everything he has done for me as a player and a coach.                                                    
(Picture to right: Paul Casey with players from Dundalk & Glenageary)


 I also head up Leinster Tennis coaching and interpro teams with another great Irish coach and ex-pro Davis Cup athlete, Stephen Nugent. Stephen was Ireland's best junior when we were growing up and he competed at junior Wimbledon and the US Open. These days, we work together with some of Irelands top junior tennis athletes and we head up the junior Irish Tri-Nations teams. In 2014, we won the Junior Tri Nations on home soil at Lansdowne, in Dublin. Stephen led the U-18s, Lynsey McCullough was in charge of the U-12s and the U-14s were my team.  That win was an extremely proud moment for us, as coaches.


(TriNations:Stephen Nugent /John McGahon far left & Lynsey McCullough Far right)

 Recently I travelled to the junior Orange bowl 2014 which was an amazing experience for both Maria Perla Biansumba as a player and me as a coach. This was the first time for both of us to be apart of an event like this.
More than 1,450 players from more than 74 countries & the U.S.,  travel to South Florida to compete in one of the most prestigious world-recognized junior tournaments on the amateur tennis circuit. 
The list of champions could comprise its own Hall of Fame and includes Bjorn Borg, Jim Courier, Elena Dementieva, Chris Evert, Roger Federer, Mary Joe Fernandez, Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe, Andy Roddick and Gabriela Sabatini. Other participants include Arthur Ashe, Boris Becker, Jennifer Capriati, Jimmy Connors and Yannick Noah.
The purpose of this trip was to show Maria the best athletes in the world. More importantly it was for Maria to watch these players. Watch their body language, how they composed themselves and how much they immersed themselves in tennis.
Everyday we immersed ourselves in tennis and spent everyday practicing. We travelled to warm up events around Florida and evaluated matches on a daily basis to see how we could improve for the next day. The trip gave Maria a taste of how a full time tennis athlete lives.

In the main draw of the Orange bowl, Maria faced top 20 US U-14 girl Mackenzie Clarke. Maria lost the match 6-1 6-4, but she didn't lose her fight or her heart. Maria fought like a warrior and represented the Irish with pride. I was very proud of Maria for our whole trip. She wanted to learn more and more everyday, and as a coach I feel this is the best quality you can ask for from a student. When a player gives all out effort, they are a champion in my eyes.


(John McGahon & Marie Perla Biansumba)

I feel very privileged to work in the tennis sector in Ireland. I honestly love working with players who have dreams and who aspire to improve daily. Our team ethos is very simple when we coach it is work hard, maximise effort and act professionally. These are the fundament elements that form the cornerstones of my work at Leinster Tennis and in MacXTennisAcademy in Dundalk.

www.MacXTennisAcademy.com

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Federer 1000!!

I don't usually put up posts from the men's or women's tours, unless it is about an Irish player, as there are plenty of sites and blogs doing that, but it would be wrong of any tennis site not to acknowledge this amazing achievement.

Today, in Brisbane,  Roger Federer won his 1000 professional singles match, that is some record!
Below are a few highlights from the match, enjoy.

Ireland's Number 1 player gets ready for the Australian Open





Ireland's Number 1 player, James McGee, gets ready for the Australian Open with qualifying beginning on Monday the 12th.

Score.ie have just released a very interesting piece and you can read it by clicking the link below.

Best of luck to James, it would be great to see him in the main draw.

http://thescore.thejournal.ie/james-mcgee-2015-australian-open-1875357-Jan2015/?utm_source=shortlink



Saturday, January 10, 2015

Champions of the Past!


Munster U-14 Interprovincial Champions - 2001 - Limerick Lawn Tennis Club

Back Row (left to right):
Amy Hayes, Emma Tierney, David O Brien, Paul Fitzgerald, Ger Flynn(Captain), Bryan Halpin, Tracey Phelan.
Front Row: 
Andrea Maughan, Wayne O Grady, Robert Mawe, Erica Maughan.

Photo supplied by Richard McCarthy, St.Annes.

A legend in the making - Paul Fitzgerald


Here's a young Paul Fitzgerald, pictured at the Irish Open U-14 doubles final with his doubles partner David O Brien and their opponents, Tristan Farran Mahon and James Magee.

Thanks to Richard McCarthy, St.Annes for supplying the photo.

Preparing Yourself to Play Competitive Tennis

Preparing Yourself to Play Competitive Tennis - Helen Curtis (Freelance Writer)

Making the switch from simply hitting a few balls with your friends for fun to playing competitive tennis is a big leap, both physically and psychologically. Many people dream of becoming a professional tennis player and playing the sport they love at a competitive level, but that dream is very difficult to achieve. Ready to try and turn it into a reality? Here are just a few hints and tips for preparing yourself to play competitive tennis.

Mental Preparation
Ask any professional tennis player what makes a good tennis player, and how even the most mediocre of tennis player can immediately improve his or her game, and it’s likely that they will tell you that mental preparation and the psychological part of your game is the most important part of any tennis tournament. [1] Your brain is the most powerful tool at your disposal, and if you can harness it properly you will quickly see your performance improve. Watch back your matches, if you can and analyze your own game objectively, looking for signs of weakness. [2] You have to be able to handle the pressures of the competition, focus single mindedly on the goals you wish to achieve (i.e. winning) without distraction, and be able to immediately bounce back from any missed shots, double bounces or other minor or major failures. It isn’t easy. But with a determination to succeed and a commitment to getting yourself as mentally prepared as possible before each match, you can find yourself thinking like a pro in no time.

Build Up Your Fitness Levels

Competitive tennis players are in the peak of their physical fitness: this is no coincidence. They pay painstaking attention and care to their physical condition and they train hard. Whilst some pros may seem very laid back and appear to take a laissez fair attitude towards their training, in truth, if you want to play competitive tennis then you have to be as fit as possible and that means you have to train regularly, train hard, and train smart. [3] Every player has weaknesses in their game; the best players know what those weaknesses are and work on improving them.[4] Accuracy, for example, is so important in tennis and can be the difference between the best player and the worst. Spend time working on the specific skills that you feel you are weakest at, as well as overall fine tuning and conditioning of your game. Sharpen your reaction times, hone your accuracy by doing plenty of target hitting, push your body to its limit and build up your fitness levels. In a long game, stamina will become key, and you don’t want to be let down by your ability to play the long game.

Extra Things to Consider

Of course, mental and physical preparation aren’t the only preparations you must do in order to ready yourself for a competitive game of tennis: it’s also important to ensure that you have all of the practical material aspects of your game plan in place: this includes ensuring that you have the right kit. A racket that you’ve played with before and are perfectly comfortable with, tennis whites and trainers that have been similarly broken in, and the right kind of insurance are all essential. Having insurance that will cover you for any injuries that you sustain whilst you’re playing (particularly if you’re planning on travelling abroad to take part in competitive tennis competitions) is especially important if you have any preexisting medical conditions or have already sustained a sporting injury that you may be concerned about aggravating again. [5] Having all of this admin-type preparation organized as early as possible before your game will leave you with plenty of time to focus on the all-important mental and physical preparation and enable you to clear your mind completely of everything superfluous to playing the very best game of your life.

Additional Reading

[1] “Tennis player and peak performance”, Competitive Edge, https://www.competitivedge.com/catalog/tennis
[2] “Preparing yourself for competitive play”, Brian Mac: Sports Coach, http://www.brianmac.co.uk/articles/scni25a2.htm
[3] “Andy Murray’s Strength Workout”, Men’s Health, http://www.menshealth.co.uk/building-muscle/get-big/andy-murrays-strength-session
[4] “Mentally tough tennis tips”, United States Tennis Association, http://www.norcal.usta.com/T-I-P/mentally_tough_tennis/
[5] “Pre existing medical condition travel insurance”, Compare NI, http://www.compareni.com/insurance/pre-existing-medical-conditions.htm

Many thanks to Helen Curtis for her second contribution to the blog, another enjoyable read.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Interview with Wimbledon Doubles Champion - Freddy Nielsen

Ireland's top doubles player, James Cluskey, interviews Wimbledon doubles champion Freddy Nielsen. This is a very good interview, simple and informative and full of common sense. Thanks to James for sending this onto me to use.

Ball boys available!!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Promoting Irish Tennis

After reading David Wilson's recent article, Six wishes for Irish Tennis,  I have decided to try and do my bit to promote tennis in Ireland and those who have something beneficial to offer.  
One such person with plenty to offer is, coach, Rob Cherry.  If you haven't come across Rob before, you can learn a bit more about him below, but two things you must do.  The first is sign him up as a friend on Facebook, the updates and videos he posts regularly are very informative even for those of us who aren't coaches.  The second is check out his website, www.robcherrytennis.com.  It's a very impressive website (designed by himself too), with fabulous video sessions and plenty of information that he is willing to share with anyone interested enough to read it.
I hope you enjoy his site and updates as much as I do.



Rob Cherry Tennis was set up to provide a wide variety of FREE content for Tennis Coaches, Clubs, Players and Parents such as Group Coaching Videos, Mini Tennis Videos, Irish Tennis News, Video Analysis, On-Court Exercises and Admin.
Rob has 20 years coaching experience, qualifying as a Tennis Ireland Level 2 Performance Coach in ’07 and has been head coach in Sandycove Tennis Club, Dublin since then. With a previous career in IT, he has a keen interest in using Video Analysis to assist him in coaching players of all levels. Rob has helped coach several players to Junior National Titles in various age groups and has recently achieved the status of “ITF Expert Coach” in Dec 2014. 
As a player, Rob was ranked in the top 10 juniors in Ireland in 1996 and top 10 seniors in 1999. He also represented Leinster at Interprovincial level in ’06 and ’07.
Qualifications:
Level 2 Tennis Ireland Performance Coach
Level 1 Tennis Ireland Coach
Balanced Action Footech Level 1
Balanced Action ABC’s Level 1
Computer Programmer
Website Designer

Coaches and Equipment

Coaches and Equipment



I spend a lot of time on Facebook and the internet looking through tennis related articles and it is great to see the amount of coaches updating their pages with some very interesting articles.  I think tennis is moving onto a new level in Ireland.  We have more players than ever playing on pro tours and this too can only help raise the profile of the game here.

As these progressions are made I think it is important that our coaches and the Coaches Association make sure our coaches are equipped to give the best advice and not just on strokes and tactics but also on equipment.

I am not a coach and am in no way criticising coaches, but from my experience (20 years in the racket retail industry) there are a lot of coaches who don’t give the right advice to their students when it comes to rackets or stringing.

Shop staff, especially those in specialist sections, should know what they are talking about but we aren’t the ones who are on the court regularly with the players so we can only advise them on the features of the racket, not whether it would suit their game or not.

Coaches, either as part of their training or off their own back, should spend a lot more time studying up on the types of frames available, how they perform and the latest technologies.
They should know the difference between Head light and Head heavy and how the overall weight of the racket changes how it plays.  They should then be able to advise their pupils on the category of racket most suited to them.
All the top brands change some rackets in their range every year, offering new technologies, so you can never stop learning.
My suggestion would be that, at one or two of the coaches conferences during the year, there should be a section on equipment where the latest rackets and strings are reviewed.  I have no doubt plenty of retailers or distributors would be more than happy to speak at these events.

When it comes to strings and stringing, the same applies, but there is a bigger problem here.  At least with rackets you are generally dealing with a shop, with stringing, you can be dealing with someone who has bought a machine and strings from home to make an extra few quid.  Don’t get me wrong there are some very good machines and some very knowledgeable stringers but from my experience they are in the minority.
There are a few problems with home stringers, lack of knowledge when recommending string, cheap quality string to make as big a profit as possible and a poor quality machine that provides inconsistent tension.

I have being stringing rackets for a long time now and recently did a Professional Restringing Course.  I learned more in the first half an hour than I had in the last number of years.  There are right and wrong ways to string rackets, both will get the job done but the difference is quality.

Now if you as a coach aren’t monitoring how and where your students are getting their rackets strung, you are allowing their performance to be affected.
The most important thing to remember when advising anyone about stringing is that they are not professional players so therefore should not be, automatically, using the same string as the pros.

Polyester is the fashionable string at the minute and the amount of juniors using this type of string is frightening.  It is a powerless string which emits a lot of vibration.  A professional players body, who trains daly, can absorb this vibration but unfortunately our aspiring juniors, whose bodies are still only developing, can’t.  This leads to shoulder and elbow injuries and can end up in time being the reason the child gives up because of recurring problems.

The chance of this happening could be greatly reduced if coaches were up to date on the various types of string and how they perform.  I know you will always have that one child or the pushy parent who wants what Nadal uses,, but in general players listen to their coaches advice.

So I suppose to sum up, I would love to see two things happen, the coaches Governing body taking responsibility for their part in being up to date with equipment and ,coaches playing their part in staying up to date with advances in technology and how it should be advised upon.

If anyone would like to contact me about rackets or stringing I would be glad to help out in anyway I can.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Six Wishes For Irish Tennis In 2015 by David Wilson.


David Wilson is a Performance Tennis Coach and Educator from Ireland. He is a Ph.D graduate in the field of Education from Trinity College Dublin and is qualified to the highest level as a coach with Tennis Ireland.  He takes up-to-date educational research and applies it to tennis teaching.
David has spoken at several international events, including the ITF Woldwide Conference and the Tennis Europe Annual Conference.  His articles have appeared in publications such as the ITF Coaching and Sport Science Review.  
Below is a piece written recently by David and is definitely worth a read.  He is also very keen to hear your feedback and you can contact him on his twitter link, @davidwilsoninfo, enjoy the read!


Six Wishes For Irish Tennis In 2015.
Ok, time to stop talking about and to put it down on paper. Here's my wish-list for Irish Tennis in 2015. In no particular order…

Time To Take A Serious Look At The Junior Fitz Event.
As the premier event on the junior calendar and the annual showcase for our best young players, there's a few clouds hanging over the week. Asking players to start at 7am? Rushing competitors through 3-minute knock-ups when they've been waiting around hours for extremely delayed matches? Lack of promotion on social media and on the Tennis Ireland website?
There's definite ways to run the event more efficiently without unduly disrupting the great history and tradition – reducing the number of events, extending the tournament by a few days, or even considering a second venue for the youngest players.  This should (and could be) the most enjoyable and best run tournament of the year but we are sometimes guilty of letting ourselves and our top juniors down with the current approach to organisation and scheduling.

Time To Appreciate Our Travelling Players.
There's a hugely impressive group of players representing us in all four corners of the world.  From those on the Futures tour, to ITF junior events, to several in the U.S on various forms of scholarships. Anyone who has experienced any of these things will know that the reality is often far from the glamour that many people might imagine is the case.  Making it to the elite level might be a fantastic ambition, but lonely nights, brutal playing conditions and severe financial burdens are often the price that must be paid. 
Surely there are ways we can support these players and in doing so, encourage others to follow in their paths? How about a constantly updated page on the Tennis Ireland website with the weekly locations of our travelling players, links to their drawsheets for the week etc (so it's easy for everyone to keep up to date). Or what about tapping into the vast number of Irish people around the world, by reaching out to our emigrants to go and support the players when they arrive at a tournament. There can't be a city in the world that doesn't have a few Irish people in it and surely there's a way of leveraging that. When it comes to our top touring players, there's always going to be limits in terms of cost, but that shouldn't restrict us when it comes to caring.

Time To Re-Design Our Coaches Training.
As a coach myself I completely include myself when I say that the standard of coaching in Ireland needs to improve.  We are highly unlikely to ever have a base of world-class players until we first have a base of world-class coaches.  This isn't about being critical or having a go at anyone, it's just about understanding that other countries are successfully producing large amounts of elite players and that quality of coaching is one (not the only one) critical element of the puzzle. Of course, coaches themselves have to take some responsibility for this, but improvements are definitely possible in terms of the quality and quantity of training received and also the extent to which coaches are supported, encouraged and trusted by the governing body. 
How about linking this with the previous point for example and offering a distance coaching service for travelling players (where they have an option to be paired with a coach who they can email, skype etc during their travels)? Or why is it that the vast majority of Irish coaches have never coached at the National Tennis Centre – Wouldn't coaches feel valued and motivated to develop their skills if they knew they were taking a specialist session once every few months with one of our national squads?
Coaches are the key to our progress as a tennis nation and we need to come up with imaginative and innovative solutions to get them involved, engaged and learning.

Time To Make Tournaments More Meaningful.
When was the last time you went to watch an open tournament and saw one of the best players in the country playing? If we don't have our Davis Cup and Federation Cup players appearing at any stage in open events, the whole tournament structure is devalued. Tennis development in any country is a 'trickle-down' process – The top players compete against the next tier, thereby improving their standard, who then compete with the next tier, etc. As long as our second tier never get a chance to compete against the top level, we'll find ourselves in this continuous state of flux. 
I completely understand that it might seem like I'm contradicting my earlier point about supporting our travelling players, but actually I think the two go hand in hand. Ultimately of course these top players have to chase ranking points abroad and are often not at home to play national events. So while we certainly should be supporting them as much as possible (and more so than we are currently doing), there has to also be a nod towards the growth of the domestic game and the nurturing of the next generation. Surely it would be possible to increase top-level participation in open tournaments (thereby giving other players a chance to compete against the best), by making this a condition of the extra support we should be providing to those who spend much of the year travelling.

Time For More Local Squads.
There's so much to gain for clubs from working together on loads of different initiatives.  We already see great ideas like friendly leagues for social players or shared courts between clubs during open tournaments, but how about looking a step further than this. Why can't we get the best young players from 4/5 local clubs and merge them into one training squad for example? I know this happens already on a small scale but maybe it's time to grow it even more.  The training could rotate between the different clubs, the different coaches could collaborate on a training plan and each take a session roughly once a month. Surely this would help the players improve significantly, would get coaches working together on a joint enterprise and would encourage other juniors in each of the clubs to train for a place on this squad. Tennis is a solitary sport at the best of times and we need to do more to give our ambitious juniors a team identity, a reason to train and a wider circle of people to practice and compete with.  

Time To Sell Our Sport.
Finally (and this is one we're all guilty of), there is absolutely nothing to be lost and everything to be gained by getting more people interested in our sport.  Using every opportunity to share Irish Tennis successes on social media, holding open days in our clubs, bringing friends and family to tournaments and events, etc. Every time we get an extra person involved or interested in tennis we gain a potential club member, sponsor, supporter, volunteer. It's our job to make people feel welcome in the tennis community. The possibilities for how they might participate after that are huge.
Even on a bigger scale, we seem to be lacking an enthused and interesting voice to appear on radio sports shows when big tennis events approach, we don't seem to capitalise on the fact that lots of celebrities play tennis in Ireland (how are we not promoting the tennis backgrounds of Niall Horan and Johnny Sexton for example? – Two of the most famous and positive role models in the country at the moment), and despite lots of previous attempts we're not even making things attractive to people from within the tennis community (with low attendance at even the highest level events in the country). Selling the sport is not the job of one person.  Everyone who picks up a racquet is a potential ambassador and there are simple things we could all be doing to grow the game and expand the support base.
I know it's really easy to be cynical and to blame someone else for everything (and lots of times it possibly is their fault), but there are definitely things that are within our control to tackle. If nothing else then, maybe everyone might consider making 2015 a year when we're all a little more open to the idea of working together on this.
Feel free to argue, disagree or jump on the bandwagon! I'm at the links below.

twitter link: @davidwilsoninfo