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WTA Tennis




Cummings and Goings XIV by Jim Cummings

May 21, 2008 06:02 PM

Reviewing the indoor experience

Another indoor season has come to a close and with it, the shift to the great outdoors where we once again have to deal with sun, wind, heat  and varied backgrounds versus the constant conditions afforded by indoor tennis. If you are like me, you are already sporting a tan, enjoying the fresh air and soaking in scads of vitamin D. But while looking ahead to a whole summer of outdoor play, take a moment to look back at your indoor experience. You may want to make some changes.

First and foremost, how compatible was your group? Did everybody fit in? It's no fun playing with a sore loser or someone who is so serious about their play that they can't crack a smile now and then. It's also not much fun playing with someone who picks on their partner or is forever questioning calls or giving you "the look" when you make a close call. You know what I mean.

And was everybody in your group reliable and at an acceptable par play-wise; not only level of play, but also style. I remember one group which played next to us that had a miserable season because it included a fellow who was a banger. There wasn't much play when he was on the court. His shots were hit without compromise and if they were in, they were often winners. But too often, they were out or in the net. Not much fun having some one like that in your group.

Many groups have 5 or 6 players so that they can maintain an acceptable compatibility level. But be sure you have an understanding about substitutes. I know a group who didn't and  there was consternation when one member felt that it was his time and he could get whomever he felt like. Usually, the members of a group who are sitting out that week get first call, but there is no rule that says so. Even with extra players, there will be times during the course of a season when you will have to go outside the group to get a sub. When that happens, make a good effort to get a player who fits in.

Another factor to consider is the surface you play on. If you are starting to feel the pounding a hard surface can give you, it might be time to switch to clay if you have that option. Clay is a lot easier on the body, especially the knees. It also slows the ball down, thus giving you a little more range and more time to get your racket on the ball. Something to think about. Don't be afraid to admit you are getting older . It happens to everyone - hopefully.

Seniorhood has its advantages. For one thing, you may be able to play during the day when the rates are lower. And you may be able to avoid the curse of crushhour. There is nothing worse than slow-go traffic when you are fighting the clock or, worse yet, sitting in stalled traffic. If this has happened too often, consider playing at a different time. It's not worth the aggravation.

Now, want some bonus minutes (as much as 5-10) to your indoor play (outdoor, too, for that matter)? Take all practice serves during the warm-up before starting your match. The rules call for it and if you don't, your just wasting time waiting around for each server to take practice serves in turn. It also helps to return retrieved balls directly to the server or his partner. How often do you see players retrieve balls in their backcourt and then hit them back to their opponents backcourt where the balls have to be retrieved once again? When you retrieve a ball, hit it back directly to your opponents and be sure they know its coming.

Officiating Can Be VERY Rewarding

Officiating tennis has its rewards and over the years, I thought I had experienced all of them. But I was flabbergasted last year while serving as Referee for the National  Category II Senior Championships at Oglebay Park in Wheeling, West Virginia. Bill Weathers, a prominent 75 player, while playing a match called me over to the fence and poked a $2,000 bill in my hand. Gee, wasn't that swell of Bill? I haven't spent it yet - saving it for a rainy day.

By:  Jim Cummings 5/21/2008

Jim Cummings Bio:
   Born in Marinette, WI
   Boyhood friend of the Cook family
   Played varsity tennis for UW-Madison in the 50s
   Officiated at over 25 US Opens as a chair and line umpire
   Served on USTA's Rules Committee when Jack Stahr and Nick Powel were Chairs
   Active senior player and Referee
   Presently helps edit the Friend At Court