Lesson with a Master

June 23, 2011

During my time off this week, I took advantage of a local tennis expert for some helpful tips on my serve. I was able to take a lesson with Frank Inn Jr., a multiple-time winner of the USTA National Coach of the Year award and coach of Medford natives Jonathan Starke (former #1 player in the world in doubles) and Nate Schnugg (recent University of Georgia standout). I have been struggling with my serve in recent weeks and felt the technique guru could give me some helpful hints for improving.

Lately, I’ve been struggling snapping the ball down into the court on my serve. Sometimes it would be working, but more often than not it felt like I was pushing my serve, missing almost all of the time long. I wasn’t sure whether it had to do with my contact point, my wrist snap, my ball toss, my leg usage…as you can tell I really couldn’t figure it out myself. So I let Frank take a look, and I think we fixed what was the problem.

He noticed that my right shoulder was not getting over the top on my motion, and thus the snapping action of my wrist was a push when I made contact with the ball, instead of snapping the ball down into the court. I wasn’t getting the classic back shoulder dip like all the great servers have before contact (picture Pete Sampras, or even just the old ATP logo, where the back shoulder is below the front shoulder before impact). I wasn’t loading my back side, and thus had no explosiveness in my right shoulder to get it up over the ball. Instead, my shoulders were more or less flat through my service motion, and I couldn’t get that slam dunk feeling on my serve where I was snapping it down into the court.

Roddick's serve.

Roddick's serve.

We worked for the entire hour on this, hitting an entire basket full of serves. We focused on getting a good coil and loading my back hip (kind of how you picture Roddick before contact), dropping my back shoulder, and really being explosive up to the ball with a high contact point. It took me a few minutes to really get the feel for what Frank was saying, but I think it’s fixing the problem! My serve now has more pop on it because of the added coil and loading of my back hip, and I’m snapping the ball down into the court, erasing a lot of the “long” misses I’ve been having. I’m continuing to work on it through the course of this week, and it’s feeling a lot more natural and comfortable. I’m anxious to see how the serve holds up this weekend.

I’m driving up today for an afternoon practice up in Roseburg, and then play starts tomorrow morning at 9 am for me. I’m pumped and eager! Stay tuned for Roseburg results, and thanks for reading!

-AG

Stand out in White- Men’s Edition

Staying in the spirit of fashion at Wimbledon this week, the men have been looking sharp in white wearing such brands as Nike and adidas.

While some people may think an all white ensemble is a dull or boring look, these tennis outfits have small pops of color and little details that make them anything but dull or boring. Some of my favorites include those worn by tennis stars Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray.

Starting off on the right foot is the No. 1 seed at Wimbledon, Rafael Nadal. Wearing the Nike Fall Rafa Ace Lawn Crew and Nike Fall Woven Short, Rafa proves why he is on top of the tennis and fashion world. The shirt has an engineered jacquard mesh design and a blue detail on the underarms so Rafa will stay cool and collected on the court. The shorts are kept simple with a matching blue Swoosh logo on the all white short.

Rafael Nadal in the Nike Fall Rafa Ace Lawn Crew and Fall Woven Short

A fan favorite at Wimbledon, Andy Murray shines on the court in the adidas Fall Barricade Crew and Short. With two hits of color, blue and green, the crew gives a basic top a sophisticated look. The shorts stay understated with just a pop of green on the logo.

Andy Murray in adidas Fall Barricade Crew and Shorts

Taking on the competition in the Nike Fall RF Trophy Lawn Polo and Nike Fall Challenger Woven Short, Roger Federer continues his classic and timeless style. The polo features green accents and a subtle embossed Swiss cross pattern. The shorts follow suit with an understated contrast green stripe down the sides of the short.

Roger Federer in Nike Fall RF Trophy Lawn Polo and Fall Challenger Woven Short

Who do you think looks the best? Keep watching the 2011 Championships at Wimbledon to see these players and their outfits in action!

Ad Out,

Britt

Crater Lake

Crater Lake

Crater Lake

June 22, 2011

On my days off, I enjoy being a tourist. I like getting out, experiencing where I am, taking my mind off of tennis and making the most of my traveling. On Tuesday, I woke up bright and early and made the two-hour drive east to Crater Lake in central Oregon. At almost 2,000 feet deep, it is the deepest lake in the US and one of the deepest in the world. And it was definitely one of the most beautiful things in nature I have ever seen.

Like I said, I woke up early, hit the McDonald’s drive-thru for one of my favorite breakfast excursions (Egg McMuffin, Fruit & Yogurt Parfait, and a coffee…delicious!), and set out for the drive east from Medford. The road follows the snaking Rogue River, through towering green forests and rich river valleys. Every 20 minutes or so, a small river town would pop up, with a couple of gas stations, a local grocery store, and a couple of places to rent rafts and kayaks for the river. A minute goes by, and your through the town and back right next to the rushing river and green trees cascading up on either side.

As the road slowly begins to climb, the ground becomes covered in snow and the rich greens and blue are contrasted against the gleaming white snow. Scattered breaks in the trees allowed me to see that I was now in the mountains, with the looming green trees climbing up thousands of feet above me. I entered Crater Lake National Park, kept climbing the winding mountain road, made a left turn, and my jaw dropped as I took in one of the most incredible things I have ever seen.

Because of how deep it is, Crater Lake has the deepest, darkest blue water I’ve ever seen. The pool of royal blue water sits in the middle of a snow-covered crater, with mountains lurking off in the distance, but in clear view. The sides of the crater cascade up so high and steep and barely anything disturbs the surface of the lake, creating this unreal, glass-like feature to the water. The clouds in the sky, the mountains in the distance, and the walls of the crater all reflect off the surface of the lake almost perfectly, as if the water was a giant mirror. The lake was formed from violent volcanic activity almost 8,000 years ago, and subsequent volcanic activity has caused an odd-shaped rock to jut out of the surface of the lake, known as Wizard Island.

There was still quite a bit of snow in the area, and thus the majority of the road around the rim of the lake was closed. I ended up parking my car at the end of the open road, packed a bag with my camera, a bagel with peanut butter and banana, some beef jerky, and water, and walked along the closed portion of the road for half the day. I rarely ran into any people, and around every bend in the road I had a new, awe-inspiring look at the pristine lake’s beauty. I found a nice rock to sit and look out on, took in the beauty of my surroundings, and got lost for hours in my thoughts, reflecting on life, tennis, and whatever else struck my interest.

As much as it pained me to do so, I headed back west in the afternoon to my buddy’s house in Medford. The peace and quiet was just what I needed, as I prepare for my next tournament in Roseburg, Oregon, beginning this coming Friday. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

-AG