This year’s Mcc Mixed Doubles Championships were an exciting blend of exhaustion and competition. The air was charged from the very beginning of the morning on April 11th as 32 players gathered outside the tennis desk in anticipation of a good tournament. The silver division featured four good teams who played a round robin format with a regular set in each round on courts 3 & 4. Ted and Yoko immediately distinguished themselves by playing well on the no-ad points and pulling out close sets to maintain a 3-0 round robin record. The second place team turned out to be Hillary & Jim, who fought off Hank & Ellen to come in second. The first and second place teams met in the final to fight it out in a pro-set format (first to 8-games). The teams went back and forth, but in the end, Ted & Yoko held on to squeak out an 8-6 win and take home the blue trophies! The gold division was very competitive, with twelve teams playing round-robin matches over 5 rounds of tennis. The top two teams from each section played in the semi-finals. Nancy & Mike moved through the A section of the draw with determination, only losing two games. Second place came down to the last match with Danielle & Brandon playing Bill & Maryella to a standstill. Bill & Maryella edged out the victory with a tiebreaker win 4-3. That victory caused it to come down to the head-to-head record that Bill & Maryella had just won. In the semi-finals, Bill & Maryella made the games competitive with several close games, but Mike & Nancy were clutch, putting away all opportunities and taking the set 6-1 to reach the finals. Linda & Paul came out of the B section as the number 2 team to meet Joan & Stephen in the second semi-final. This was a see-saw battle, with the women playing aggressively and the men trying to place the ball. In the end, Stephen & Joan survived with a tie-breaker victory 7-6 to secure their place in the finals. The finals started out with Mike & Nancy cold from waiting. They fell behind 4-0 in the 8-game pro-set and it looked for all the world like they were going to be run off the court by Joan & Stephen. Then, Mike & Nancy held serve and broke to make the score 4-2. Stephen & Joan won the next game on a tough deuce point to increase their lead to 5-2. Nancy & Mike stormed back to 5-4, then Stephen held his serve to 6-4. The games continued to go to deuce on no-ad points, with Joan being very aggressive and Stephen, Mike, and Nancy being extremely consistent. The points were very tense as no one wanted to blink. In the end, at 7-6, Stephen hit three huge serves to set up match point. Finally, Nancy netted a low ball from Stephen to give Joan & Stephen revenge for the finals lost last year. Congrats to all the participants who had the guts to get out on the court and test their metal against Mcc’s best!
On April 4th Mcc hosted our first round-robin doubles tiebreaker social from 11am-1pm. For $5 / player, people got beer, wine, or soft drinks and all the tennis they could play in 2 hours with 20 different players, each match being the popular 10-point tiebreaker, now used by the pros in almost all doubles matches to decide the third set.
This format gave the participants the opportunity to meet many other members and form new friendships while playing tennis and then having some snacks and drinks at the tennis desk afterwards. The format allowed for both genders to participate and all levels intermingled with great sportsmanship being observed throughout. Please keep your inboxes open for the next email notifying you that we are having another tiebreaker social and be sure to sign up for this fast, fun event!
“Aim Small, Miss Small…”
“…Aim big, miss big.” It’s from Clint Eastwood’s latest film, American Sniper, referring to the main character aiming at a button on his target’s jacket, rather than aiming for the entire body.
In tennis, when people warm up, they are just happy to get some balls in and loosen up their joints and muscles. When a practice match begins or you engage in a heated practice session, the stakes should rise. You want to get better, then demand more from your matches and your practice by aiming small.
When you practice, you can do many things to create the mentality “aim small.” Divide up the tennis court, either literally or in your mind. First split the court into halves, then into quarters. This creates urgency and purpose to your shots. I’m not hitting anything to his forehand side is one strategy. A more profound strategy is, I’m not hitting anything to his forehand or in front of the service line on his backhand side. To take it even further, you can place throw-down lines between the service line and the baseline and demand that you hit past that line on the backhand side.
Forcing yourself to improve your placement by limiting your space on the court makes it feel like you have acres to work with when you return to a full-sized court in a regular match. Your placement will improve, as will your ability to carry out any strategy.
If you are on a ball machine and have cones set up, don’t just aim for the cone. Aim for the left side, top corner of the cone, then if you hit the bottom right, it still means that your placement once in a match will be amazing and will very likely create havoc for your opponent.
If any of this sounds crazy, try it. What have you got to lose, except your temper? Just be prepared to be unhappy with anything less than perfection ahead of time. You might never hit the cone, but you will create a vastly more accurate shot.
Once in a match, you should be happy with getting the ball within a foot of the line and should not demand the same exacting placement or your errors might mount because of the advent of pressure that does not exist in practice sessions. But, when you practice, demand more exacting aim and you will see that the space you have in a match feels like an entire universe.
Following some of these fundamental doubles teammate strategies will help you achieve more as a doubles player and team. Here are 4 of the most basic rules in doubles that teams and players violate regularly:
- Never, never, never, blame your partner for ANYTHING that happens on the court, before or after the match. Encourage and support your partner, especially when she makes a mistake. Trust that your partner wants to win as much as you do, so any mistakes she makes are inadvertent. Scolding or correcting (unless asked) will only make her more nervous, resulting in further errors.
- CALL FOR THE BALL!!! Yes, you’ve heard a pro yell it a thousand times, but when the ball goes down the middle, call for the ball. I was cured of this when I played in the Virgin Islands Championships. In the middle of the first set, my racket collided with my partner’s lip. We had to default the match and his mother was very unhappy with me. From then on I got pretty good at calling for the ball. If it helps, remember my story as a cautionary tale and CALL FOR THE BALL!!!
- Aim deep and down the middle. This shot is effective for several reasons: You eliminate 1 of the 3 ways you can miss, therefore immediately decreasing your chances of making an error by 33%. The net is lower in the middle of the court. Finally, people get confused because they don’t follow Rule #2: CALL FOR THE BALL!!!
- Follow the ball. Keep the same distance between you and your partner at all times while moving as a team to whichever side of the court the ball is on. Pretend there is a rod between you and your partner so you move as a team. If the ball goes to the deuce court, shift to the ad side, if it goes ad, shift to the deuce court. This cuts the angles, so your opponents will have a harder time getting the ball away from your team.
Follow these fundamental doubles rules and you’ll be hoisting the club championship trophy in 2015!
Couples came out this year for our annual mixed doubles valentine’s day tournament social. We had all six courts rocking with fun players mixing it up in our Hugs (7.0+) and Kisses (7.0-) divisions.
Teams played four rounds of round robin tennis, with six no-ad games per round. In the end, there was a three-way tie (get your mind out of the gutter) in the Kisses division. The players were so excited that they set up matches for the following weekend to decide the winner. In the Hugs category, Sheelagh and Marv edged out Brandon and Danielle for the “title.” In the end, the scores mattered little and most players did not even ask who won as this was a fun, social event with many players making new Mcc friends on the tennis court.
The Marina City Club has now run junior play days for four years running with three to four of these low cost events that allow our junior tennis players to meet other juniors and learn the benefits of the sport of a lifetime. The latest junior play day had all three of our resident pros coaching different levels and ages.
In the Under 8 group, we only had one student, Maddie. For $5, Maddie enjoyed an hour long introduction to tennis by the wonderful Georgie Dinham. Using the red balls, which are designed for a 36′ court and bounces at 25% of a regular tennis ball, Maddie was able to start making contact in her strike zone on her very first trip to the tennis courts!
In the 9-11 age group, we had 6 players on court 5 using the orange balls. These balls are for a 60′ court and bounce at 50% of a regular ball. We played various doubles and triples games to ten points, with the kids working on strokes and sportsmanship throughout.
In addition, Gene brought some of the 9-11 players onto court 6 to play singles against each other. They learned how to keep score and the basic rules of a regular tennis match. Getting the serves in and learning that love means nothing to a tennis player were the biggest challenges of the day, but eventually everyone understood how a singles match works.
We will have more Junior Play Days throughout the year, so keep your eyes open or get on the tennis email list to make sure you know about these events in advance. To get on the list, email Gene at email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is the zig-zag shape we associate with lightening in drawings and it is the key to powerful reaction on the tennis court. Watch the best returners in tennis get ready and they are low, usually shifting their weight from side to side to prepare their core muscles to engage and produce a winning return. They continue to keep this wide stance going throughout the point as you recover from shots and prepare to move again. The lower center of gravity will create amazing, explosive movement and an intense feeling of balance. If done consistently, you will see improvement in the pace and depth of your shots with less effort from your arms and shoulders because you are now engaging the larger core muscles to hit the ball from the ground up.
Good luck, and remember: look like lightening, play like thunder!