Gotta Want It

“Gotta Want It” is a catch phrase that came up when we were shooting a product video review some time ago. If one of the players seemed a bit lacking in effort or concentration, someone would shout out, “C’mon! Ya gotta want it!” (Often times from the camera crew members needing to get to their next project).  This was quickly shortened and modified to “Gotta want it!” Though it usually got a few chuckles, it did hit home, reminding the player to focus. If you follow our product reviews, you’ve probably seen the “Gotta Want It” tees that have been worn here and there.

Using that catch phrase, Chris had come up the with idea of doing an ongoing video series, following a player’s training for a tournament and culminating with the results of that tournament. I was asked to be that player. Chris and I had talked about him getting me ready to play doubles with him. Me, being the weaker player as the video would showcase my skills, or lack thereof. Chris being the master. Me being the student. From there it would show my improvement (hopefully), and then being tested in tournament play. A poor man’s Karate Kid if you will. Do you think I look like Ralph Macchio? I guess that would make Chris Mr. Miyagi. Same hair style anyway.

Unfortunately, plantar fasciitis became my nemesis (maybe I should refer to my nemesis as the Cobra Kai since I’m comparing myself to “Daniel-san”) and had me somewhat sidelined to the degree of not being able to play/train at 100%, nor be able to practice with an acceptable frequency. So, Miyagi’s cars remained unwaxed, the floor unsanded and the fence unpainted for some time.

Many months later, with another birthday under my belt (or should I say under my obi), I am much healthier. With that health comes hunger and motivation. I want it. I “Gotta Want It”!

Keep your eyes peeled in early 2010 for this segment on our website. And no, I won’t be using the “Crane” technique. Miyagi won’t allow it this time! I may need a shoulder to cry on. Elisabeth Shue, where are you?

From the Dojo,


Racquet demo: Yonex RDiS 300

The Yonex RDS 003

The Yonex RDS 003

It’s time to check the mile marker on my tennis racquet journey. When I last paused to ponder, I was considering a switch from my Yonex RDS 003 to either the Dunlop Aerogel 4D 300 Tour or the ProKennex Black Ace 98. I’ve since put down the Black Ace. I still love it for baseline games, but for match play, it’s a bit much for me to wield for two or three sets.

The Dunlop Aerogel 4D 300 Tour is still getting a lot of play, though. I haven’t officially made a switch, but I love it and have been hitting with it most days. As a request from Talk Tennis, I took the Yonex RDiS 300 out for a spin. It’s remarkably similar to the RDS 003 in specs with the most noticeable change being length. The RDiS 300 is a standard length racquet, and the RDS 003 is 27.25 inches long.

I have to admit even though the racquets spec out so similarly, it took me a while to dial in the RDiS 300, and it didn’t have to do with the change in length. For me, the adjustment came down to feel. Otherwise, the characteristics were the same. I got great pop, outstanding maneuverability, and easy access to spin, etc., but when it came to feel, I was bewildered. Strung at two pounds above mid with a synthetic gut, the RDiS 300 felt much crisper than my RDS 003, which I string at 60 pounds for softer co-polys and 64 for multis or synthetic guts. I know the higher tension I use on the RDS 003 and the stiffness rating comparison tell another story (62 RA for the RDiS 300 vs 65 RA), but I enjoyed what I sensed as the slightly plusher feel of the RDS 003.

I decided to cut out the strings in the RDiS 300. This time I strung the synthetic gut at one pound below mid, which I felt was a total departure for me. I was stringing my RDS 003s at 64 pounds for some added control. With this new string setup, I enjoyed the feel of the RDiS 300 much more. There were some issues with control as expected, and I couldn’t just swing away with abandon. (What, am I expected to think on the court? Just kidding.) After finding the feel I was looking for, though, I was comfortable and the RDiS 300 felt like an old friend on the court. I don’t think I’ll be making the switch because I’m still very comfortable with the RDS 003, and, to be vain, I just like the cosmetic of the RDS 003 better. Perhaps when the 003s are out of stock, I’ll give the RDiS 300 another look. Until then, it’s still the RDS 003.

Happy Hitting!

The greatest racquet breaker of them all hangs it up

Being a tennis racquet just got a whole lot safer: Marat Safin has retired from professional tennis.

Safin, along with having a reputation as one of the world’s most talented players, also possessed a penchant for smashing racquets. Earlier this year when TW’s Spencer interviewed Safin’s racquet customization and stringing team, Priority 1, P1’s Nate Ferguson confessed to us that they always packed extra racquets for Safin — just in case his current batch didn’t survive practice.

Safin hits a backhand in this 2005 adidas promotional image

Safin hits a backhand in this 2005 adidas promotional image

Some people look upon racquet smashing as a terrible thing — a blight on an otherwise graceful sport. But I always held a certain respect for the way Safin tormented his racquets. The man from Moscow made breaking a racquet an art form.

Safin always played with his heart on his sleeve, and that was never more evident than when he turned his frustrations towards his racquet. Most players, myself included, will look like an idiot when breaking a racquet. For Safin, breaking a racquet was just part of what he did. Seeing Safin snap a racquet in two was as common as seeing a player stop to tie his shoe. Most impressively, those outbursts never seemed to be too detrimental to his play.

So, as Safin moves into retirement, the racquet population can breathe easy. The great racquet crusher from Russia is gone.

Yep, racquets are safe once more, until the next prolific breaker comes along. Now, who will that be?