Meet the Playtesters- Chris Edwards

Cheers!

Our next featured Tennis Warehouse Playtester is Chris. Chris has a record of over two hundred playtest reviews on racquets and shoes as well as his always informative weekly Vlogs. He is the Web Editor of Tennis Warehouse. Check out his interview below.

Click to view Video Footage of Chris

Racquet of Choice: Whatever I grab from the office
String of Choice: Kirschbaum Pro Line Evolution 17 and Volkl Cyclone 16
Shoe of Choice: Nike Zoom Breathe 2K11
Apparel of Choice: I’m a sucker for a stylish polo.

When/Why did you start playing tennis?

I played my first tournament when I was 15, made the semi-final and took my first lesson the week after. I played soccer mostly through high school.

Who inspires you to play tennis?

My dad. He used to play on the weekends and I started to tag along for a hit.

What is your favorite shot to hit and why?

My backhand slice is my favorite shot. The whys are many: It tends to go in more than my other shots, I like to hit drop shots with it, a lot of people don’t like to return slice and I’m equally comfortable going cross court or down the line.

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

I can’t list them all, but here’s my best shot at it. Slazenger Club (wood), Head Graphite Master, Browning Aluminum, Browning VTP (Variable Taper Profile and back to graphite), Dunlop Max 400i (injection molded wonder stick and more buttery than butter itself), Wilson Pro Staff 85 St. Vincent (gave them away to a mate’s younger brother, hindsight has made that an obvious and painful mistake), Head Prestige Pro, Head Prestige Classic 600, Donnay Pro One Mid, Donnay Pro One Oversize (got shipped the wrong headsize so just switched from the mid, ha ha), Head Twintube Radical Oversize (that wrong shipment got me on an oversize kick), Rossignol F250 (back to mids, what flex, what feel! I was in love there for awhile), Wilson Pro Staff 6.0 95, Head Prestige Classic 600 (again!), Yonex MP Tour 1 Mid, Yonex RDX 500 Mid, Babolat Pure Drive Roddick, Volkl Power Bridge 10 Mid and that brings me to now. I know I’m missing some in there.

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

Steffi Graf and it’s not just because we both have great legs! Steffi has a dynamite backhand slice and I can appreciate that.

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

It was really a day of watching tennis seeing the men’s quarters at Wimbledon in 1993 on Centre Court. I was sitting right behind the baseline with my very good friend and doubles partner, and we saw Sampras vs. Agassi with Pete winning in 5 sets. Next match was Becker vs. Stich with Boris winning in 5 sets. It was an exhausting day of watching epic tennis. Several hours were spent in the pub to help us recover from that one.

Do you have pre-match meals you like to eat before a tournament?

I do not have a go-to meal but have made some seriously bad food mistakes before playing. The worst was after a first round doubles win and I went to a diner with my partner. I had the world’s largest portion of biscuits and gravy, and he had an equally large portion of eggs benedict. The food was superb and we tucked in. Needless to say, we couldn’t move afterward and lost to a team we had a good chance of beating. I later found out one of our opponents had told my partner it was a great place to eat. Fill in your own conspiracy theory here.

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

It was in the Santa Maria Open in the 5.0 singles semi-final. I was down something like 6-2, 4-2 and thought, what the hell, I’m going out swinging. I hit three return winners to get my first break of the match. Held off several match points at 5-6 and forced a tiebreak. I saved a total of 8 match points in the second set, finally winning the breaker 16-14. I got a great start in the third set going up 3-0. At that point my opponent mentally folded and I closed out the set 6-0. The next day I received a walk over in the final. A bit of an anti-climactic end, but that semi was my best comeback win.

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened while you were playing tennis?

I was teaching tennis in England on one of the rare, rare occasions it actually gets foggy there. It was at night and the fog got so bad you couldn’t see the net from the baseline. There were three of us teaching and we sent all of the students home as the conditions were just unplayable. While picking up the loose tennis balls scattered around the courts, one of the other pros smacked a ball in my direction. Not knowing who had hit it at me, I fired off two shots guessing roughly where the other two pros were. That started a full on ball war and the three of us just started smacking balls into the fog trying to hit each other. I could hear the crack of a fiercely struck tennis ball and had know idea if it was heading my direction. We continued to try to take each other’s heads off for about 40 minutes, with two of us eventually pinning the third coach down inside the ball shed at the end of the three courts. Each time we got hit or heard another yell out in pain, it was hilarious. We could rarely see each other and used the sounds of each other’s laughter to zero in on our targets.

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

My worst injury came when my triceps tendon pulled a piece of the bone off my elbow – an overuse injury. I played lefty for about six-months while I rehabbed my right arm. I still have issues with it till this day and switch to a two-handed backhand when it starts to get sore. I go right back to hitting one-handed backhands once my arm feels better.

What is your favorite part of being a TW playtester?

We have the best jobs in the building, of that I have no doubt. We get to test products while they are still in development as well as test finished products before they hit the market. I’m pretty confident we have the world’s largest selection of racquets, shoes and string ready to hit at any given time — considering our stock, demo program and all of the racquets we have stockpiled in our private racquet room and strings in our string vault. There are times when we can barely walk across our office because of all of the products we are testing. I’m serious, hurdling boxes is an everyday occurrence for us. All in all, we work hard at what we do and we just have a great time doing it.

Who is your favorite TW playtester to hit/play with? How’s this for political correctness?

I like to hit with everyone as it gives me a chance to hit against many varied styles of play. I know, what a cop out!

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

Britt’s laser-like groundstrokes, Gran’s deft volleys, Mark’s ability to get everything back and Spennie’s continued improvement all push me to play well. It’s fun going in to a hit knowing I have to play well to come out ahead.

What has been your favorite review and why?

Not reviews per se, but being a part of the Gotta Want It series has been lots of fun. The fact that I’ve been able to run my mates into the ground all in the guise of getting them better has brought me hours of amusement.

Do you have any nicknames from the TW playtest squad?

Vlogman is the only one I’m aware of, but there are probably a few I’m not aware of. Ignorance is golden, so if you know of any, don’t tell me!

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

Ad out,

Brittany

Nike & Tennis Warehouse Exclusive: Air Court Ballistec 3.3 Black/Orange

If you “like” Tennis Warehouse on facebook or follow us on Twitter, then you’ve probably seen the many posts/tweets about the TW exclusive Nike Air Court Ballistec 3.3 shoe leading up to the 11-1-11 launch.

So what makes this shoe so special? Well, not only is this the shoe of choice for Rafael Nadal, but it also features a tonal swoosh, a rarity in the Nike tennis shoe world. It’s a great shoe with all the bells and whistles like: Air Max and Lunarlon cushioning, DragOn 2X outsole and a 6 month durability guarantee.

We were so pumped up about this exclusive colorway that we created sneak peek videos and graphics just for the launch of this one shoe.

Check them out below:

Video 1 (Teaser)

Video 2 (Sneak Peek)

Video 3 (Reveal):

Be sure to pick up your pair of these limited edition shoes before they are gone forever! Only at Tennis Warehouse!

Jason, TW

Meet the Playtesters – Troy Lara

Aloha!

Our next featured Tennis Warehouse Playtester is Troy.  Troy can be seen on many playtests of heavier racquets and is a fan of racquet customization. He is the Information Product Coordinator at Tennis Warehouse and a certified Master Racquet Technician. Check out his interview below.

Click to View Video of Troy

Racquet of Choice: In the process of switching from the Wilson K Factor KBlade 98
String of Choice: Volkl Cyclone 17
Shoe of Choice: Nike Air Court Ballistec 2.3 / Asics Gel Resolution 3
Apparel of Choice: Quiksilver

When/Why did you start playing tennis?

I started playing tennis when I was about 19, which was about 6 years ago. I found tennis after finishing my football career, during which I played one season at a Div. 3 college in the Los Angeles area. I had been playing football since I was 8, baseball since I was 4 and basketball since I was 10. I had competed year-round in these three sports throughout my childhood and high school years. After my glory days had past in these sports, I needed something to compete in, something that was foreign and challenging. One of my buddies from high school who was the varsity tennis captain and a pretty solid player took me out to the courts with him one day about 6 years ago.  Since that day tennis has become something that I am somewhat addicted to.

Who inspires you to play tennis?

The tennis players who make it look easy and natural. Watching tennis at the highest level, especially live, has been inspirational to me. I loved hanging out at the practice courts at Indian Wells a few years ago, where I was able to watch all of the top pros up close. I have a fond memory of watching Federer practice, and I got to sit about 20 feet from the baseline; for a second I felt like I was dreaming. I enjoy watching the Cal Poly players up close; analyzing their good habits and tendencies helps me play better. Watching the local Santa Maria Open and getting to talk to the top players, such as Roman Borvanov, helped me to see tennis from their perspective and realize that at the professional level, the smallest adaptations make the world of a difference. More than anything else I am inspired by watching those who play with class and respect for the game, and in my opinion no one does that better than Nadal. He never makes excuses when he loses a match and seems to me as a very humble person.

What is your favorite shot to hit and why?

My favorite shot to hit is the two-handed backhand cross court. My forehand is my most natural shot and I can get a lot of variety from it, but I have worked a lot in the past couple years on making my two-handed backhand stronger and more consistent. In the past most opponents would try to break down my backhand, but I feel I am able to hold my ground off that side more often, and even hit a few winners with it.

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

My very first racquet was a Head that was really lightweight and stiff. I don’t remember the name of it, but I bought it from a sporting goods store and I don’t think it was a model that was ever carried here at Tennis Warehouse; hence it wasn’t high-quality. When I discovered Tennis Warehouse and I decided to get serious about my tennis, I bought the Dunlop M-fil 200. I used the M-fil 200 for a couple years before I decided to switch to the Dunlop M-fil 300, looking for a little more pop out of the racquet. I was using the M-fil 300 for about a year and then I started working at Tennis Warehouse. Once here, I became fond of the Wilson K Factor KBlade 98 after testing it out and messing around with lead tape customization. I used the KBlade 98 for roughly the past 2 years. Now that the KBlade is being discontinued I have been looking at switching.  I have been playing with a few racquets that play similar to my KBlade and I am customizing them to my liking to find what will be a good transition for me.

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

Rafael Nadal, of course! No, actually I would say that I play more like his fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco for the simple fact that we can both be pretty sporadic with our shot selection and overall results. I have been working on becoming more offensive in the past year or so, which has made my play quite a bit more inconsistent. I feel that is something that I am going to have to experience to get to my ultimate goal. I would like to make my transition game more like Mardy Fish’s in that he really owns the net when he comes in off a good approach or serve.

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

Blake and Agassi in the Quarterfinals of the 2005 U.S. Open (on TV).  This match was inspiring to me because it was right when I started playing tennis and it possessed the magic of playing late into the night under the lights in Flushing Meadows. Tied with this match was the 2009 Australian Open semifinal between Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco. I still love watching the highlights from this match. Two lefty Spaniards battling it out for five sets was amazing, that was until Verdasco double-faulted on match point.

Do you have pre-match meals you like to eat before a tournament?

My go-to is peanut butter, banana and honey on wheat toast.

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

It was a match I played in junior college against our rival school, Santa Barbara City College. I had to play in the three spot of our singles line-up because we had a player sit out due to injury. I was usually playing in the four or five spot, so I knew playing up would be tough. On the other hand I felt I had nothing to lose because I was the underdog anyway. We had the longest match from all six singles matches, and for the third set everyone was watching us. I pushed the third set to a tiebreak and ended up winning the match 11-9 in the third set tiebreaker.  The guy I played was a much better player than I was at the time, but I played tough and luckily found a way to get the win.

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

While playing in junior college I suffered a pretty severe ankle sprain during a dual match in the beginning of the season. It took about two weeks of rehab, which consisted of icing it a few times a day, doing ultrasound therapy, and sticking my ankle in a hydrotherapy whirlpool.  Besides that I had an inflamed tendon in my right forearm, that was likely caused by bad technique on my two-handed backhand. This happened about a year ago and it bothered me a lot at the time because I was working hard at making my backhand stronger and by overusing my right arm, which is my non-dominant hand, I injured it.  In a sense it was a blessing in disguise because after all it helped me to learn better technique when hitting my two-handed backhand by transferring my weight and hitting the ball out in front.

What is your favorite part of being a TW playtester?

Obviously it is pretty cool to be able to try out new equipment that hasn’t been released yet.  But more than just using the fresh gear, I enjoy being on the playtest team with such fun and downright good people. We usually have a blast while shooting videos and I have some great memories amongst us testers, in and outside of work.

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

It was Danny Castro before he parted ways, being that he was kind of like a mentor that I tried to shape my game after. I would have to say Jose is my main practice partner because we have spent many hours together on the court battling it out. As his serve has become bigger, my return has become a little better!

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

Chris Edwards always keeps me on my toes. He displays his many years of experience over me as he anticipates my shots well and takes control of the net with authority. Mark Boone is always tough as well, in the sense that he plays human backboard pretty well. Also my forehand cross court doesn’t bother him as much since his forehand is on that side as well (he’s a lefty too).

What has been your favorite review and why?

I have a special place in my memory for the Gamma Tour 340x. I felt I was playing well at the time, but also it was the first racquet that I was able to start hitting my two-handed backhand coming back from injury.  Overall I miss some of the old reviews where we filmed in the great outdoors under the California sun.

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

Ad out,

Brittany