Checking in from Taiwan!

October 27, 2010

Taoyuan International Airport, Taipei, Taiwan

I’m sitting at an empty gate here in Taipei after a 14-hour flight from Los Angeles. I left LA at 1 am Tuesday morning, and now it’s 8:20 a.m. local time Wednesday, as we flew through the night, chasing the midnight moon around the globe. I’m now waiting until 1 p.m. when my flight to Bangkok leaves, which will then be followed by a quick flight this evening to the location of the first tournament, Vientiane, Laos. Overall, 27 hours of travel, not counting the time change in which I lose an additional 16 hours. But life is good at the vacant Gate A4, as I found the NBA season opener between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics streaming live online, allowing me to kill at least a couple of hours.

I spent my last couple days in Redondo Beach packing and running last minute errands before my Monday night/Tuesday morning flight. I have been running on the beach and doing lots of court sprints every day to get myself ready for the heat and humidity of Laos and Thailand. In addition, to keep improving my service game I’ve been serving baskets every day, working on power and placement, and using my legs to generate pace. Nutrition and hydration are also going to be extremely important, and I’ve started drinking lots of water and eating lots of carbohydrates to get my body feeling strong and energized.

I feel that I’m well prepared and am getting better with each match that I play. Whatever happens in Asia is going to happen, but I feel that I have given myself a great opportunity to do well over here. I’ll be arriving Wednesday night and am planning on spending a good amount of time on the court on Thursday, along with about an hour and a half on Friday to get used to the conditions (different balls, different courts, warm and humid weather). The qualifying for the first tournament will begin on Saturday, where I will have to win two rounds to reach the main draw. Stay tuned for updates from Laos! Thanks for reading…

-AG

Eye candy, racquet edition: Dunlop Biomimetic 300 Tour

The Dunlop Biomimetic 300 Tour

Oh, the agony. Have you ever wanted something so badly and been so close you could taste it? That’s me right now, sitting here, typing. Yeah, typing. Read: Not hitting. Not playing. Not swinging the new Dunop Biomimetic 300 Tour.

The racquet is sitting here on my desk. I feel like a kid who’s an inch too short to ride the roller coaster. I can see it, I can touch it. I’m oh so close! You’re probably thinking, “Stop your moaning and go hit!” Problem is that my pregnancy is now making tennis difficult for me. I’ve been playing throughout my pregnancy, but now eight months in, my efforts are fruitless and frustrating. I tire easily, I feel awkward swinging and as a hitting partner I feel woefully inadequate. We always want what we can’t have, I guess. (Plus Jason is working on that two-handed backhand … if I don’t watch out, he’ll no longer have a side to attack!)

In previous posts, I’ve talked a lot about the predecessor to this Biomimetic version, the Aerogel 4D 300 Tour. This had become my go-to stick in the recent past as the Yonex RDS 003 was discontinued. So back to this stick that’s sitting on my desk, glinting in the sunlight. Yes, it really is. That glint is coming off the sweet metallic finish of the Biomimetic 300 Tour. To round out the cosmetics, there’s the dimpled “skin” of the Aeroskin technology.

The Aeroskin technology adds dimples to key areas of the frame to improve aerodynamics.

When Dunlop came to visit, we heard about Aeroskin and the rest of the new technologies in the Biomimetic line. All the Biomimetic technologies are inspired by something found in nature.

Aeroskin is inspired by sharkskin and is intended to improve the aerodynamics of the racquet. The frame has dimples around the hoop, and if you run your fingers over them, you can feel them. To me it feels a little bit like a basketball, but not too rough. This idea of dimples and aerodynamics is not new. Just take a look at a golf ball; it’s the same concept. So in theory this should make the racquet swing faster with up to 25% less drag, according to Dunlop. A faster racquet should equal more power and more spin potential. If there’s one thing about the 4D 300 Tour I wish I could amp up, it’s power, so this idea of a more powerful version of the 300 Tour with the same level of control is enticing.

HM6 Carbon is incorporated into the frame to reduce shock and enhance feel, according to Dunlop.

Another new technology incorporated into the frame is HM6 Carbon. This time Dunlop looked at a hardworking bunch for inspiration: bees. Their honeycombs to be exact. The hexagonal shape of the honeycomb absorbs shock and disperses it very well. Dunlop created thin sheets of HM6 Carbon and added them to the layup of Aerogel in key areas of the frame, most predominantly in the shaft of the racquet. With fewer vibrations and less shock coming through the frame, feel should be enhanced. I’m all for that, too. Have you seen my drop volleys? They sometimes resemble Shaq’s free throw attempts. Yeah, they’re rocks.

Lastly, there is Gecko-Tac. Here they looked at gecko setae, and no that’s not the name of a certain insurance pitchman. Gecko setae are the hair-like structures on the feet of a gecko that allow it to cling to surfaces. Dunlop treated the surface of its Gecko-Tac grips to offer enhanced tack without being sticky. My favorite replacement grips are thin and balance moisture absorption and tackiness. This one feels good. My hands don’t stick to the grip, but it also doesn’t feel so dry that I might develop blisters. I also like that it doesn’t feel bulky in the hand so overgrips are not out of the question either.

When it comes to specs on the Biomimetic version, they’re very similar to the 4D 300 Tour. When it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Dunlop kept it pretty much the same. Though we don’t have our stock here to spec, I put our hitters on our Babolat RDC machine and compared them to Dunlop’s provided specs.

Our hitters………………………………Dunlop’s specs
11.3 ounces strung………………….11.3 ounces strung
64 RA……………………………………..64 RA
5 points head light ………………….Head light balance (320 mm)
304 swingweight

The racquet is also the standard 27″ length with an 18×20 string pattern in a 97 square inch head size. The head size on the 4D 300 Tour was 98 square inches. I put the 4D 300 Tour up against the Biomimetic version, and the headsizes are pretty close so I’m not worried about the slight change.

So there it is. That’s the Biomimetic 300 Tour in a nutshell. You’ll probably hit this racquet before I do. The 300 Tour is in the first batch of Biomimetics that will be released. Look for it as well as the 200 Plus, 300, 600 and 600 Lite on our site for demo and purchase in early November. Or if you happen to know Jurgen Melzer, ask him for a loaner Biomimetic 300 Tour. He’ll be swinging it on Tour.

Happy hitting!
Tiffani, TW

Bargain Hunting

If you’re like me, then you probably love hunting for deals and bargains. If you’re like me, then you’d probably also love bacon, sunsets, and puppies. But I digress. Luckily, you don’t have to look too far to find some great deals here at Tennis Warehouse. Not only do we guarantee the lowest prices anywhere in the nation, but we also feature an extensive liquidation section of racquets, shoes and apparel.

Still not totally picking up what I’m putting down? Five words for you: Up. To. 70. Percent. Off. Do I have your attention now?

I’ve selected a few items that I thought would pique your interest. These are racquets and shoes that stand out in my mind. You can find many of these items highlighted by Spencer in the liquidation vlogs. Found here and here.

Racquets

Babolat AeroPro Drive Cortex. $129.00
Why? Why not?! This versatile racquet was the racquet of choice for Rafael Nadal! He’s made some news in the tennis world, don’t know if you’ve heard. Considered a ‘tweener racquet, it’s great for almost all levels of players. Generous head size, easy to swing, and has plenty of power and spin. Great stick for adding weight too, so as your skills progress, so can your racquet. For those wanting just a bit more reach and power, don’t forget about the extended version, the AeroPro Drive Plus Cortex is also at $129.00

Dunlop Aerogel 4D 200 $99.00
Why? For the advanced player with skills to burn. I can go on and on about how great of a player’s stick it is, but I’ll let our TW playtest team do that. Read it by clicking here. The best part about this racquet is the price! For under $100, you really can’t find a better quality to price ratio.  Also known as the QPR.

Prince EXO3 Ignite/Ignite Team $129.00
Why? Do you remember the old Prince Precision Response racquets? These Ignites are designed to play and feel like those classic sticks. For players looking for more control and spin, the EXO Ignites will light your game on fire! You see what I did there?! Ignite? Fire? Get it? Anyways, if the Ignite’s are just a bit too heavy for you, then the Ignite Team can help make your shots explode off the court. I hope our in depth reviews will spark your interest.

Wilson K Factor K Strike $59.95
Why? Don’t be fooled by the price, the K Strike has plenty to offer. Maneuverable and powerful, this is a good choice for intermediate adult players or advanced juniors. The 103 square inch head size provides a generous sweetspot.

Men’s Shoes

Nike Air Court Ballistec 2.3 Wh/Lime $79.00
Why? My favorite shoe of the year. Comfort, performance, traction, durability, it has it all. And to top it all off, it’s also Rafael Nadal’s shoe of choice. Comes with a 6-month durability guarantee. Vamos!

Asics Gel Resolution II $79.95
Why? My favorite shoe of the year. Déjà vu? Felt like you just read this somewhere? Let me explain. If I were to rank my favorite shoes of 2010, it’d go 1)Nike A.C Ballistec 2.3 and 1a)Asics Gel Resolution II. All that I said about the 2.3’s, goes for the Gel Resolution II’s as well. Including the durability guarantee. I know what you’re thinking, “Why spring for the Gel Resolution II when I can get the Ballistic 2.3 for $.95 less?!” A valid concern. But they’re both under $80.00, so why not give both a try?

Prince Rebel $59.95
Why? A high end, performance oriented shoe at under $60.00! Comes with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a flagship shoe as well as that all important 6 month durability guarantee. Did I mention that it’s under $60.00?!

Women’s Shoes

Nike Air Court Ballistec 2.3 $89.00
Why? From what the female playtesters tell me, this is one amazing tennis shoe! If it performs anywhere close to the male version, then it’s a steal at $89.00. This shoe includes a 6-month durability guarantee. If Rafa has a sister, this would be her shoe of choice.

Wilson Trance II Clay $49.00
Why? Because when you’re trying to be the Queen of Clay, a hard court shoe just won’t do. Bonus: proceeds from this shoe go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

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So there you have it, a few of my picks from our liquidation section. Each of these items gets Jason’s stamp of approval so you know that it’s 100% guaranteed. From what? I’m not sure. If you need more options, go to our entire Liquidation Section to see all the deals we have here at Tennis Warehouse.