Pickleball at Mcc

Pickleball is a fun sport played on a paddle tennis court with a horizontal line 7 feet from the net called “The Kitchen.”  You may not volley when your feet are in the kitchen.  You serve underhanded with no bounce.  You only get one serve.  The serving team must let the ball bounce on the return, then after that everyone my hit groundies or volleys except in the kitchen.  You only win points on your team’s serve and it is played to eleven, win by two.  Pickleball uses a small paddle and a thick whiffle ball.

Pickleball Clinic at Marina City Club

Pickleball Clinic at Marina City Club

Jim Ach, from our neighboring California Yacht Club, volunteered to come over and introduce the sport to our members on Wednesday September third.  Seven of our members turned out and had a great time trying the new sport that is reputed to help your reaction time, coordination, and improve your volley for the next time you’re on the tennis court!  It is easy on the arm because the ball weighs so much less than a tennis ball and a match is very quick.  Keep an eye on your email inbox and get on Gene’s tennis email list if you want to be apprised of other upcoming tennis / paddle tennis / pickleball events.  We plan on having another Pickleball event in October!


Mcc Men’s Singles Tennis Tournament

Over the month of August the entrants in our 2014 Men’s Singles Championships played round robin matches with the other players in their group.  There was a Group A and a Group B.  The top two players from each group advanced to the semi-finals on September 6th and the winners in the semis advanced to the Sunday, September 7th men’s final.  Thirteen players entered, with seven in Group A and six in group B.

After over a month of competitive matches, Stephen Hall came out with an undefeated record from Group A and Don Steele emerged from Group B unscathed.  In second place out of Group A came the defending champ, Allan Bledstein and in Group B Carlos Dunkerly edged Mike Levitt for second place.  Thus, the semis were set with Carlos playing Stephen and Alan battling Don.

Carlos and Stephen had some excellent points, but Stephen’s big serve and forehand were a little much, even for the quick Carlos.  Stephen triumphed 6-2, 6-1.

In the second semi-final, Don used his drop-shot and lob to great effect, throwing the defending champ off his rhythm.  Many games went to deuce, with some excellent long points as both players anticipated well throughout, but with effecting defense and some well-timed offense, Don was able to prevail, 6-1, 6-0.

The finals were set, with Don’s consistency, placement, and tennis I.Q. going up against the power and confidence of Stephen’s big shots.  The match began with a long deuce game as both players felt out their opponent.  Three more deuce games followed, Stephen leveling the match at 2-2 after several prolonged rallies had the players moving side to side with great defense.  Don then began to mix up the pace, use the drop shot, lob, and first serve to control the points from the middle of the court.  Stephen hit big topspin forehands, but Don kept the ball in play, eventually forcing errors or moving Stephen out of position, then hitting into the open court.  The first set ended with a short forehand in the net, as Don took it 6-2.

The second set started with another long game, however, Don eased out that game, which set the tone for the second set being much like the first.  Stephen tried to dig into the match, but Don’s consistency was relentless.  Stephen kept his spirits up and the crowd cheered him on, wanting more tennis, but in the end, Don took the second set 6-1; claiming the 2014 Men’s Singles Championship.  Both athletes showed great poise and sportsmanship throughout.

The crowd of about 40 spectators enjoyed the beautiful Sunday tennis along with pizza, sodas, and beer.  We hope that all of you will come out to watch our Calcutta tournament the weekend of October 11 & 12, with the auction in the Galaxy Room on October 10th at 6:30pm.  Come buy a team and support the Boys & Girls Club of Venice!


Mcc 2014 Women’s Singles Championships

This year we got five entrants in the women’s singles championships:  Hillary Bibicoff, Karen Dixon, Maryella Pegnato, Karen Barry, and Madonna Billauer.  Many thanks to the participants, who engaged in round robin matches throughout the month of August.  In the end, Maryella and Karen Barry emerged as the top two players in the round robin.  In their head-to-head matchup Karen Barry prevailed 6-4, 6-4, in a tough match.  Both players showed fight and great sportswomanship throughout.



Gene’s Tennis Tips: Practice Pressure Makes Perfect

Many people practice their serves (hopefully) to make the stroke better, and that works.  As I said earlier in the year, if you can practice your serve 2-3 times per week, then you can see improvement over time.  However, the other problem I frequently hear is, “My serve has been great in practice, I’m nailing it!  But, whenever I go to play a match, I tighten up and it’s good-bye good serve, hello pusher serve.”  I makes me sad to hear that people cannot enjoy their new toy, a better serve, because they get so tensed up in a match.  There is a way to duplicate the pressure of a match when practicing your serve by yourself.  It’s a game you play against an amazing player named Mr. Nobody.

Mr. Nobody is tough, but fair.  When you play Mr. Nobody, you serve every point.  If you get your first serve in, you win the point and Mr. Nobody loses the point, every time.  If you miss your first serve, but get your second serve in, Mr. Nobody wins the point and you lose the point.  If you miss both serves, you lose the game.  Play sets.  First try to win a set (regular scoring) against Mr. Nobody.

If you do that, then make the game a little more difficult by requiring that you hit your first serve harder.  You can do this by saying, that the second bounce must be past the baseline or it does not qualify as a first serve, so I either do it over or it’s a fault and I’m on to the second serve.  If you want to make both serves stronger, then put requirements on your second serve as well:  It must also go over the baseline before the second bounce or it must have slice on it.  Each time, you can add things to make the game harder, while under the pressure of trying to beat Mr. Nobody in a set or three.  There are other ways to modify the basic format if the harshness of losing games for double faults is too much at first, but eventually, you should make every effort to play the game as laid out here to create the pressure of a real match.

If you are able to conquer Mr. Nobody 6-0,  6-0, week after week, then you should be on your way to having a match ready serve that is immune, or at least less susceptible to the whims of match nerves!

Federer / Djokovic Wimbledon Final 2014 Prediction

Grigor was shaky and so was Djok. Djok will have to take more gluten to win. Grigor double faulted 3 times in a row to get broken then broke back and still made a set of it. Djok was falling too much, gonna need better movement / balance to take out the 7-time champ. Finally, Novak has NEVER won a slam final over Fed, he usually gets him in semis, so that does not bode well for him, he also looks like pressing too hard and coming up short because of self-imposed pressure. My prediction: Fed in 5 (7-5, 4-6, 6-3, 6-7(5), 8-6).

Mcc Bring-a-Ringer 2014

The Ringer tournament was a great success!!! Thanks for coming out and supporting our players as they worked very hard to entertain you and win this prestigious event.  Below are some action shots from our photographer extraordinaire Dennis Liss.  If you didn’t make it out for the matches and bbq, this is a taste of our wonderful day.

Special thanks to the players: Steve, Joan, Georgie, Mike, Jacek, Nancy, Karen, Ziga, Lucy, Robert, Barb, Stu, Karen, Renard, Madonna, Don, Tomoko, Chris, Brandon, & Diane, who all had to guts to mix it up on the courts with fellow big-hitters.

Thanks to Don Mantarro for barbequing and to the members who came out and supported our event.  It means nothing without the people of Mcc to share these exciting moments with.  If you haven’t stopped by the tennis desk, please walk by and take a look at the competitive matches that took place all over one grueling Saturday.  If you played, you lost weight and dealt with the nerves of tournament tennis.  If you watched, you saw some fantastic points and nail-biting shots, as well as wonderful sportsmanship by all the players.

In the end, Jacek & Nancy triumphed over Karen & Ziga 6-1, 6-0, however, the match was closer than the score implies.  Many games went to deuce, but Jacek and Nancy were very steady and resolute on the big points.  Ziga & Karen had to come through the back draw of our double elimination event, so were also understandably tired after playing five tight sets of tennis to arrive in the final.  For their part, Jacek suffered a slight ankle sprain, but adjusted his movement accordingly and played very solid tennis with only three errors in the final.  Nancy handled Ziga’s big serve with solid returns that kept the big man bending for low volleys.  Karen hit some hard, flat winners, but in the end, Nancy and Jacek just got too many balls in play to be denied the trophy.

Mcc Tennis Players in Ringer 2014

Mcc Tennis Players in Ringer 2014

RingerChamps&Runnersup 2014

All the matches were fun and played in the best of sporting spirits.  Thanks again for another wonderful Bring-a-Ringer Tournament and please have your ringer for 2015 picked out in advance so you too can participate next season!

Gene’s Tip of the Month July 2014

Don’t have a partner?  Don’t despair!  Use the ball machine or find a wall to hit on to improve your game.  Here at Mcc we have a ball machine you can rent for $10 / hour at the fitness center.  It has simple controls that adjust elevation, speed, spin, interval, and oscillation.  The ball machine is on court 4, so first call the fitness center (ext. 224) and reserve court 4 at an available time, then request the ball machine.  When you arrive to play, go to the fitness center, pick up the keys and the remote control.  Then head over to court 4 by the oval pool.

You can use the ball machine for several purposes.  The most common is having the ball come to one or two spots on the court so you can groove your strokes.  What does this mean?  Well, tennis requires some rhythm before a player can be fluid in his / her strokes.  By having the ball machine feed you a steady and even paced ball, you can get your stroke into a repeatable pattern which leads to more consistency, the most important quality a tennis player can possess.

Another great use of the ball machine is to work on placement from different positions on a tennis court.  For example, if you want to counter your opponents deep, down-the-line approach shots, set the machine to feed a slice ball deep into your forehand corner, then practice moving from the middle of the court and slamming low, forehands crosscourt.  Set the interval to give you ample time to recover to the middle after each shot so you also develop good footwork habits.  After you make 10 shots in a row, switch to another pattern that mirrors a match situation you encounter frequently.

Of course you may also have the machine feed various balls and you count how many in a row you can get in, this is the ultimate test of consistency.  When you get over 50 in a row, call me, I want to play!