Meet the Playtesters- Sean Hemmer

Howdy!

Our next featured Tennis Warehouse Playtester is Sean.  Sean can be seen on  playtests of all different racquets and shoes. He is a certified Master Racquet Technician and is a supervisor for our Customer Service department. Check out his interview below.

Click to view Video Footage of Sean

Racquet of Choice: Head Youtek Prestige Pro
String of Choice: Kirschbaum Pro Line II Black
Shoe of Choice: Nike Court Ballistec 2.3
Apparel of Choice: Preferably no shirt in the California sun but more  often than not I gravitate towards Nike

When/Why did you start playing tennis?

I started getting into tennis as soon as I moved out to California in 7th grade about 12 years ago.  My dad got me into tennis after my little league baseball career in Texas ended in failure.  I’m also not much of a team sports person so tennis worked out in that regard as well.  My theory is if I win I want all the glory and if I lose I want all the blame which is why I much prefer singles over doubles.

Who inspires you to play tennis?

Everyone who I play against inspires me to continue to improve.  My competitive nature on the tennis court drives me to constantly want to become a better player and when I don’t play well or are straight up outplayed, it makes me want to come back stronger the next time.

What is your favorite shot to hit and why?

I love hitting my forehand when I’m on the run and can barely get to the shot.  Because my forehand is so wristy, I’m able to come up with some pretty amazing passing shots from that side both down the line and cross court.  That look of disbelief on my opponent’s face brings a smile to mine.

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

My first racquet was definitely a Head Titanium Ti.S6 (wonder where I developed a power oriented game).  In high school I moved on to using the Wilson Hammer 5.2 frame with the sweet orange paint job.  After that my local pro shop hopped on the Babolat band wagon and my coach convinced me to try one out.  I ended up with the Babolat Drive Z-Tour which I still have a few frames of to this day.  In an effort to replace those racquets I was using a customized Babolat AeroPro Drive for a while until I settled on the Head Youtek Prestige Pro about 6 months ago.

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

It’s too difficult pick just one player that I like to tailor my game after.  It’s more of a combination between Michael Chang speed, some Rafa buggy whip forehand, some Fed slice backhand in there, and a serious case of Safin temper.

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

One of my favorite matches off all time to watch on TV was the 2000 U.S. Open final when Safin completely outplayed Sampras to take the title.  By far the most incredible match I’ve seen in person was last year at the BNP Paribas Open tournament where Agassi / Sampras / Federer / and Nadal threw down on some epic doubles.

Do you have any superstitions before playing a match?

I actually hate the whole superstitions thing so much that I make a point to break all of the superstitious rules that I can just to prove to myself that they have no bearing on the outcome of the match.  I enjoy walking under ladders, breaking mirrors, not knocking on wood, throwing the entire salt shaker forward, and stepping on every line on the court.

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

I try to make sure to eat a huge meal the night before I have a match, usually some kind of pasta.  Of course now that I think about it, a huge meal of pasta is something I enjoy a couple nights a week, so nothing new there.

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

I typically remember the matches in which I become the most angry, at my opponent or myself.  I was playing an important doubles match in my high school playoffs and I had gotten on the other team’s case about sketchy line calls.  They took offense to this and decided to call a line judge over because he claimed our calls on his big first serve were complete crap.  I had a little bit of a Sampras vs. Courier in ’95 flashback and when I get angry I can play some fantastic tennis.  I took over and we dominated them for the rest of the match.  Definitely a gratifying feeling.

I also got to attend a charity even before the BNP tournament a couple years ago where I got the opportunity to play with some of the pros.  I played a few games with Ivan Ljubicic, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Shahar Peer,  Jensen Murphy and Fernando Verdasco which turned out to be one of the more memorable tennis experiences of my career.

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

Unfortunately I’m fairly injury prone when it comes to any activity outside of tennis but I’ve only had one real tennis injury that’s affected my ability to play.  A couple years ago I severely sprained my ankle to the point where I needed crutches to walk around normally, not that I actually used the crutches like the doctor recommended.  The injury kept me off the tennis court for 6 to 8 weeks which was just about the most frustrating part of the injury.

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

I know this is the politian answer to the question but I like hitting with everyone who playtests with me.  Tennis is a game where no two players have exactly the same style.  The challenge is to make myself such a complete player that I’m able to deal with all sorts of shots and styles.

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

My toughest matchup is definitely against Chris.  He uses all of these stupid drop shots that I can get to without problem but then he’s too good around the net for me to win the point without coming up with multiple great shots.  Plus, I’m used to getting some free points off my serve and Chris hasn’t missed a return against me in what seems like years.  I’m coming for ya Vlogman…

What has been your favorite review and why?

The Yonex V Core 100 S has been one of my favorite playtests to date simply because of how I was playing that day, not necessarily because of the racquet itself.  It just happened to be one of those days where I couldn’t miss a shot and every forehand I hit found a line.  If you check out the playtest, Brittany and I have some great points.

Do you have any nicknames from the TW playtest squad?

The Hammer, Hemmer Time, Sean “2nd Gear” Hemmer, that guy with the forehand

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

Ad out,

Brittany

Meet the Playtesters- Tiffani Ayers

Hello again!

Our next featured Tennis Warehouse Playtester is Tiffani.  Tiffani can be seen on various playtests of lighter racquets as well as a staple in women’s shoes.  She can also be seen every week on her Vlog.  Check out her interview below.

Click to view Video Footage of Tiffani

Racquet of Choice: In between the Tecnifibre Rebound Pro and Yonex RDS 003 2008 version

String of Choice: Yonex Tour Super 850 for the RDS 003. No favorites yet for the Rebound Pro.

Shoe of Choice: Original Asics Gel Resolution was my favorite. My current favorite shoe is the Nike Zoom Breathe 2K11.

Apparel of Choice: I don’t have one favorite brand, but I tend to wear Nike and adidas, though I like  Lija a lot, too.

When/Why did you start playing tennis?

I started to play tennis at age 15. I had just quit competitive gymnastics after nearly 10 years of being in that sport. I needed something to do. I trained several hours a week for gymnastics. I couldn’t go from four hours of gym practice a day to sitting on my backside. My brother was a competitive tennis player, so it was an easy choice for me. I played varsity singles through high school, winning league team and individual titles. My biggest regret in tennis is not trying to play competitively in college.

Who inspires you to play tennis?

I love the game and play because that drive to be better never stops. Though I don’t look to pros as role models anymore, I do think often about a tennis coach of mine as a teen. He was a cancer survivor who had battled the disease in his late teens and then went on to play tennis at the collegiate level. Then in his 30s, he fell ill one day and died suddenly. I think often about the way he motivated me to play, but I also think about how he lived his life and how he loved tennis. That, too, is an inspiration.

What is your favorite shot to hit and why?

That’s easy: Down-the-line backhand. I hit a two-handed backhand, and there’s nothing more satisfying than lining up and giving it a whack. I find it especially satisfying if I can hit it behind someone.

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

Ha! I can’t compare my game to any pro, but I wish I had the game of Kim Clijsters. I like to think that I’m pretty quick around the court, and I try to use my quickness for a counterpunching style. I’m not going to blow anything by you, but I will make you work. Plus, Kim is a mom, too. I love that she came back to play professional tennis after having her daughter.

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

It was on TV: Goran Ivanisevic’s 2001 Wimbledon victory over Pat Rafter. I always found him entertaining for his personality (Good Goran, Bad Goran, who is going to show up?) and was amazed by his serving. He had been denied the Wimbledon title before, and it was a fairytale with him being a wildcard in 2001.

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

One that comes to mind is a high school match. We were playing our high school rivals. My opponent also played at the same racquet club as I did, so we knew each other well. We played every team twice in our league. The first half of the season I lost to her after going up with an early 3-0 lead in the first set. This time she went up 3-0 early, but I bounced back to take the first set 6-3. I was the final singles match left on court with one of the doubles matches still going on (our format was four single matches, two doubles matches). It was a tight match, but we were leading. The doubles match split sets, and if our team was to win, I needed to win in straight sets. I can’t remember how the second set went until the tie breaker. I did not play well initially and went down set points with the score 1-6. I slapped my thigh, took off my hat and threw it against the back fence. Next thing I remember is heading up to shake hands at the net. Victory! 6-3, 7-6 (8-6). We won league that year, too.

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

Most of the funny things happened away from the courts on the trips we took to tennis tournaments, but there was the time I played a tournament at a small club that backed up to some housing. Someone threw a broken lawn chair over the back fence, and we had to stop play. That was one heck of a reason to call a let.

What is your favorite part of being a TW playtester?

Is there something not to love? Let’s see, I get to play with just about every racquet, wear the latest shoes and use a variety of different strings. I have become much more educated about how the right equipment can be an asset and the wrong equipment a detriment to my game.

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

Jason is a good match-up for me. We joined the playtest team around the same time, and I feel like we have improved a lot together. I don’t generate a lot of my own pace, but Jason’s shots are often in my strike zone and I can feed off his power. We have had some long points of running from side to side. He’s also a great sport and always up for a hit.

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

It has to be Troy. I have never played with anyone who hits with so much topspin. His shots generally come up above my shoulder at their peak. I have to really concentrate on taking the ball early. His lefty serve also gives me trouble. And, yes there’s more. Troy’s really quick around the court, and my usual strategies are not very effective against him.

What has been your favorite review and why?

I’ll go with the Yonex RDS 003. All of the playtests are fun, but this was the first playtest where I really just clicked with the racquet being tested. Up until that point, I had liked racquets but not found one I wanted to stock up on. Because I play with so many racquets, the temptation to switch can be strong, but so far I’ve always come back to this one.

Do you have any nicknames from the TW playtest squad?

Yahoo. It all started with the men’s vlog with the poker storyline. I am the dealer for the card game, and he calls me “Yahoo Yamamoto, the fastest server, the fastest dealer, the fastest talker west of Nevada.” He is the mastermind behind it. I’m not sure how he came up with it.

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

I started with the Prince CTS Lightning 110, and I played with that for the first couple of years of playing tennis. I tried the Prince Synergy 28 for about six months and switched back to the Lightning (I still have one!) until I found the Pro Kennex Silver Ace, Heritage edition. I played with the Pro Kennex my last year in high school and then regrettably hung up my sticks for college, when I only played occasionally. I got back into the game post-college with  the Babolat Pure Drive Team Plus, the “swirly” cosmetic. I loved it, but I was hitting my forehand late too often, so I went with the standard length Pure Drive. It was Babolat Pure Drive Team, before Cortex, until I started working at TW. I started playtesting, and the first racquet I wanted to switch to was the Tecnifibre TFlash 310 XL — until I found it was not going to be made for the US market. So it was back to the Pure Drive until I playtested the Yonex RDS 003. I still love this racquet and have been playing with it again recently while working on getting back into the game after having my daughter. Before I became a mommy, it was the Dunlop Aerogel 4D 300 Tour for me. I loved the crisp, clean feel and the awesome control. The Tecnifibre Rebound Pro has pulled me away from the RDS 003 again. Love the looks, love the feel and love the blend of power and control.

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

Ad out,

Brittany