Meet the Playtesters – Jason Huang

Hi!

Let’s take a second to introduce you to our newest weekly blog. Each week we will randomly select a Tennis Warehouse playtester and conduct an interview along with a short clip of his/her playing style. While we already have a Playtester page that tells about each playtester’s favorite racquets, strings, shoe, etc., this blog will go into a more detailed look at each playtester’s tennis career as well as give some insider info on being a TW playtester.

First up, we have Jason Huang.  Jason is the social media mastermind of our Facebook page and Twitter account.  You can see him on many racquet and shoe reviews in addition to a couple of surprise cameo appearances in a Liquidation Vlog.

Click to view Video Footage of Jason

Racquet of Choice: Boris Becker Delta Core London (customized)

String of Choice: Polyfibre TCS 16L

Shoe of Choice: Asics Gel Resolution 3

Apparel of Choice: Tennis Warehouse gear of course!

When/Why did you start playing tennis?

I started playing in junior high when my dad would take my sister and me to the courts. But I didn’t really get more serious about it until high school when I joined the tennis team. Made varsity doubles my freshman and sophomore years and varsity singles the last 2 years. Yea, we weren’t very good.

Who inspires you to play tennis?

Anyone better than me. Whether I’m watching tennis on TV or at the TW court, when I see players play and hit the shots that I can’t hit, it makes me want to play and practice more. What really inspires me is the idea of continuing to better myself on the court.

What is your favorite shot to hit and why?

High backhand down the line or reactionary volleys. Oh, sorry, it says “favorite,” not “despised.” My favorite shot to hit on a consistent basis would be my forehand down the line. But the shot that I love, but don’t hit often, is the drop shot. There’s something extremely satisfying about seeing your opponent running as hard as they can to a ball only to watch it double bounce before they can get to it. I think it’s probably due to the fact that it has happened to me so many times (thanks, Chris).

What racquets have you used  (not tested) during your tennis career?

I first started with a Wilson Sledge Hammer 2.3 or something like that. It had a fan sting pattern and a beam width of a 2×4. In high school I used a Wilson Hammer 5.0. Then I found the Radical family. I’ve owned the iRadical, Flexpoint Radical and Microgel Radical. Then I went onto the Wilson KFactor KBlade Tour for a year before I found the younger, sexier Head Youtek Speed Pro. After a 6 month stint, I then moved on to the Volkl Powerbridge 9 (customized) for another year. I was pretty happy with my relationship with the 9 ’til the Boris Becker Delta Core London came out. After one hit with it, I dropped the 9 like a bad habit. And here I am today. Sure, that might seem like a lot of racquets, but wait ’til you see Spencer’s list.

If you could compare your game style to a pro’s (past or present), who would it be and why?

Well, in my mind, I’d say my game is similar to Rafael Nadal, but slightly better and faster. But then reality kicks in, and I get sad. I think my game is probably most similar to James Blake. It was more apparent when I had a one-handed backhand, but I think the style is still the same. Try to hit big forehands, run around the backhand if possible, and only come up to net to shake hands. Yup, sounds about right.

What has been your favorite match you have ever watched (live or on TV)?

I have two. The first one was when I was in high school. Pete Sampras vs. Alex Corretja at the 1996 US Open Quarterfinals. All I really remember is Pete puking his guts out in the 5th set tie-break, stepping up to the line and dumping a slow first serve like he had nothing left then blasting a huge 2nd serve ace out of nowhere. And the other was much more recent. The 2008 Nadal vs Federer Wimbledon final. So much has already been said about it, just give it a quick Google search. That was the best tennis match I have ever watched. Ever.

Do you have any superstitions before playing a match?

No. Superstitions are for the weak.

What has been your most memorable tennis match (win or lose)?

This hurts me to recall, but it was my loss last year at the Santa Maria Open. It was the first round, and I was up against the #1 seed. Mind you, this was my first tournament in 9 years, so I was nervous. The match started, and we traded breaks back and forth, next thing I know, I won the first set 7-6. Second set starts, and I get a break early. Fast forward a bit, I’m serving at 5-4, 40-30. Yes, I had match point. I walked up to the baseline, bounced the ball three times and told myself to just get it in. It didn’t have to be a big serve, just spin it in. First serve, just long. OK, no biggie, got one more serve. Bottom of the net. It wasn’t even close. I just double faulted on match point! I ended up losing that game, and losing that set in another tie breaker. Then it was all downhill from there. My lower back was starting to hurt; actually, everything started to hurt. Third set started with me serving, I held serve, 1-0. 15 minutes later, I lost 6-1. It was a 3 and a half hour match that left me both mentally and physically exhausted. And to make matters worse, it was video taped for the world to see.

Have you had any injuries? For how long?  How did you deal with them?

Yea, it’s called my entire right arm. In high school it was tennis elbow. And since working at TW, I’ve had golfers elbow, wrist pain and shoulder pain. But nothing that was serious enough to keep me off the court for more than a week. I just need lots of ibuprofen, Kinesio Tape, compression sleeves, cold packs and Icy Hot.

What is your favorite part of being a TW playtester?

Well, there are many perks of being a playtester. But my favorite part is, obviously, getting to try out all the tennis gear. But not only that, I generally get to try out all the new tennis gear BEFORE 99.9% of people even have a chance to look at it. Makes me feel special. I need to feel special from time to time.

Who is your favorite TW playtester to hit/play with?

For this particular question, I like to associate “favorite” along with “challenging.” Because I am a glutton for pain. Being one of the more, how you say, “suckier” testers on the team, almost everyone I hit with is fun and challenging. I love hitting with Brittany and Carol because they literally blow me off the court with their shots, so it’s fun just trying to keep up with them. I love playing against Mark Boone because that man is a wall! We’d rally and have 20-30 ball rallies where, at the end of it, we’re both gasping for air. Each playtester presents a unique set of challenges, and I like that. I know, I know, how very PC of me. Just call me Switzerland.

Who is the TW playtester that gives you the most trouble?

OK, well, this goes back to the question above. Most of the playtesters give me more than I can handle but if I had to choose just one, it’d have to be Brittany. Typically, my strength is hitting my heavy forehand deep and high to my opponent’s backhand. It usually results in a weak, short return where I can hit another forehand. Well, with Brittany, her favorite shot is a high backhand that she takes early, and pelts down the line. What a jerk.

What has been your favorite review and why?

Even though it was for Aprils Fools, it has got to be the Junior Racquet Review. It was hilarious watching us try to play out points with 19-25 inch racquets. Trust me, it’s much harder than we make it look. Remember, we’re professionals. That, and the power of editing.

Do you have any nicknames from the TW playtest squad?

Who made you ask this question? Chris? Spencer? I see what you’re trying to accomplish here. I have two. One is The Forehand, because I like to rip my forehand. Simple. The other is, no, was, Wheels. Let’s just say I wasn’t the fastest and quickest person getting to shots. But that was back in the day! I like to think that I’ve made strides (pun intended) in my footwork speed and anticipation.

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Please check back next week when we highlight another playtester in another installment of, “Meet the Playtesters.”

Brittany, TW

Too cool for school

Maybe it’s because I’m now a mom, or possibly just because every piece of new apparel we get comes through my office, but I just couldn’t help noticing the increased options for junior players. For boys, our newest addition is ATP World Tour apparel. For girls, we’ve just added Tail and Bolle to the apparel options. We’ve also added buttons to the top of each of the pages, so you can see the brand line-ups more easily as well as quickly jump around the page by clicking on any brand’s button.

I’ve also become a big fan of anything that can make my days, mornings in particular, run more smoothly. With summer vacation a distant memory, most kids now have to balance time on the court with their time in the classroom. That often means an outfit change between school and tennis time. Remembering to pack extra clothes in the morning or before going to pick up the kiddos is one extra thing that could easily be lost in the shuffle, so I thought it might be fun to pick out some pieces for junior tennis fans that will go from schoolroom to after-school practice court.

From left, ATP World Tour Youth Play T-Shirt, adidas Boy's Logo Pullover Hoodie, ATP World Tour Youth Logo Hoody, Nike Boy's Winter Striker Track Jacket

T-shirts are an easy pick in the morning rush. We’ve just added ATP World Tour tees in youth sizes. They’re 100% cotton and are tagless at the neck for added comfort. My personal favorite would be the Play T-Shirt, but they’re all easy to pull on during time-crunched mornings and are easily paired with jeans. We’re lucky here to have highs in the mid-70s right now, so if you have weather like we do here on California’s Central Coast, these tees easily match with some shorts. If that’s the case there’s one less thing that has to be packed for the after-school lesson. The Fila Reversible Short has some extra style for school with one plaid side. The adidas adiPure Plaid Short, too, has the performance of a court short, but the plaid pattern gives it some personality for wearing off the court. Girls are not to be left out. For the younger set, there’s the Bolle Fall Tennis Tee with its fun, girly design. For girls who want a sportier look there are Nike and adidas tees done in fun, trendy colors. The Nike Girls Legend LS Top is a favorite as well as the adidas Fall Tennis Logo Tee.

From left, the Nike Girl's Winter YA76 Full Zip Hoody, adidas Girl's Fall Tennis Logo Tee, Bolle Girl's Fall Tennis Tee, Nike Girl's Winter Legend LS Top

Jackets and sweatshirts are another easy go-to. Once again, ATP World Tour has a great offering for the young tennis fan with the hoody. Along those same sporty lines is the adidas Logo Pullover Hoody. The Striker Track Jacket is a Nike classic and carries some retro flair, and it’s available for both boys and girls. The girls have some nice outerwear options in addition to the Nike jacket. For hoodies, we have the Nike YA76 Full Zip Hoody and adidas Logo Full Zip Hoody.

And that brings us to socks. So my daughter may not even be 1 yet, but she goes through socks faster than she can stick the nearest toy into her mouth. Trust me, that’s fast. If there’s anything I’ve learned in my short time as a mom it’s this: Buy socks in multiples. We carry Nike and adidas socks for kids, all in 3 packs. They’re available in different ankle heights as well as both black and white. For those of you on laundry duty, some of the adidas socks come with a coding system that makes it easy to match up pairs. There’s a colored stripe on the inside cuff so if you have kids who wear different sizes, you don’t have to hold up every sock to see if they’re the same length. Genius! Anything that makes life easier on the parents is a bonus in my book.

So there you go, those are just a few ideas I had to try to simplify life. I know there are parents out there who know the ropes better than I, so please share!

Happy hitting!
Tiffani, TW

Ice Down, so you can Fire Up

With all the tennis I play weekly, I’ve developed a mild case of tendinitis in my knees over the past year. One thing I’ve found to help alleviate the next day stiffness and pain is that age old remedy of icing. Makes sense and sounds easy enough, right? Just get some ice and put it on your knees. But when icing at home, using ice from your freezer can be more trouble than you think. The ice cubes can be too big or uncomfortable, not creating even distribution of cold, not to mention the bags that hold the ice can leak, causing a mess. Yes, these things have happened to me, and it’s a real drag.

Enter Ice Down.

Re-freezable cold packs with neoprene wraps. No ice cubes or possible leaky bags to deal with. Simple, yet convenient. Just pull the cold packs out of the freezer, insert them into the neoprene wraps and wrap them around your problem areas while securing them with that old versatile Velcro enclosure.

I, along with my avid running wife, use them all the time and find them not only soothing on our aches, but highly convenient as well. With a year of regular use under our belts, they’re still in great shape, and when we Ice Down, it helps us get ready to fire up for our next workout!

Order yours today!

Spencer, TW.