2011 Favorites: Wildcard edition

For our final installment of playtester favorites of 2011, we gave the testers a wildcard, allowing them to choose anything that didn’t fit into our previous categories. If you haven’t been following along, some of our playtesters picked their favorite products of 2011 and explained why in the spirit of year-end Best Of lists. So just who are these playtesters? Chris, Spencer, Jason, Brittany and Tiffani — we’re all familiar faces on the playtest team, and our jobs put us in contact with all of the newest products that go up on our web site. So far we’ve covered racquets, shoes, strings, accessories and socks.

We let them think outside the box this time around. Here are their random picks:

Wimbledon – 1977 Borg v. Gerulaitis DVD

Forget Bowl Games. Chris will be revisiting some tennis classics this New Year’s holiday.

Chris: “When released on DVD this year, this match went straight into my library. What a great match between the aggressive Gerulaitis style and the cool brilliance of Borg. Fantastic!”

Charged Cotton from Under Armour

Under Armour Women's Charged Cotton Tank

Tiffani also yearns a bit for the days of yesteryear. She is from the days of cotton, and though she does wear performance polys these days, she’s still thinks there’s nothing quite like cotton.

Tiffani: “I grew up in the days when we wore cotton t-shirts with our skirts or shorts. I do wear polyester-based apparel a lot for tennis, but I appreciate the feel of cotton, too. This cotton has some performance aspects, too, so it dries faster and doesn’t cling as much as your standard cotton tee.”

Nike Sport Hairbands 6-Pack

Nike Sport Hairbands 6-Pack

With long hair, Brittany is always looking for ways to her hair off her face and to do it with style.

Brittany: “When I play tennis, I always have a hard time keeping my hair out of my face. I have gone through loads of different headbands of all sorts of textures and thicknesses. I absolutely love the Nike Sport Hairbands 6- pack! They are sporty and fun! And they come in a six pack of different patterns so you will never get bored of the same boring color. My sister loved them so much she ‘borrowed’ some from me and has yet to return them.”

Jelfin Tennis Ball Mouse

Jelfin Tennis Ball Mouse

If Jason isn’t playing tennis, he’s probably on the computer. After all, we’re an online company!

Jason: “It’s a mouse shaped like a tennis ball! Or is it a tennis ball shaped mouse? Either way, pretty cool if you use these things called ‘computers.’ ”

adidas Men’s Summer Clima Ultimate Crew

adidas Men's Summer Clima Ultimate Crew

A lot of the testers seem to have similar tastes. When these tees came in, quite a few of them picked up a few to put in their closets. The look great and feel great, too.

Spencer says it best: “It’s soft, lightweight, breathable, doesn’t stick and doesn’t smell.”

Happy Hitting into 2012!
Tiffani, TW

3rd Annual T-Dubby’s – Year End Awards

Welcome to the 3rd annual T Dubby awards!

If we had to sum up 2011 in one word, it’d have to be “Djokovic.” Agreed? After all, he did have a 42 match win streak and he overtook Rafael Nadal as world #1. But 2011 provided us tennis fanatics with so much more than just Novak.

A lot of things changed. Novak finally broke the strangle hold that Roger and Rafa had on the #1 ranking. Federer was ranked outside the top 3 for the first time since 2003. Li Na, Petra Kvitova and Sam Stosur all won their first Grand Slams. Or how about Novak finally beating Nadal in finals.

But some things stayed the same, namely, Andy Murray and Caroline Wozniacki remaining Slam-less. Rafa still dominated the clay court season and Serena had an incident at the US Open.

The 2011 tennis season was quite a memorable one but enough with the recap, on with the show!

Best Supporting Player in a Loss (BSPL)
- Novak Djokovic @ French Open vs. Roger Federer. Someone had to stop Novak’s win streak, and that happened to be the man with 16 Grand Slam titles. The nearly 4 hour match ended with Federer’s 18th ace in the 4th set tie break.
- Roger Federer @ US Open vs. Novak Djokovic. Up 5-3 in the 5th set, and serving for the match, if we were allowed to bet on who would win this match at that point in time, how many of us would be broke right now? I know I would. I’d be writing this blog on a cardboard box. Federer had the match on his racquet, but Novak found a way to break, and win the next 3 games to take it 7-5 in the 5th.
Winner: Roger Federer. He had match points and still lost! Match points!

No Big Deal Award
- Esther Vergeer. By anyone elses standards, this would be a career year, but for Esther, just another regular ole, ho hum year in which she remains undefeated and won 3 Major titles (Australian Open, French Open, US Open). If there was a Wimbledon major, she would’ve dominated that too. Her winning streak is now at 434 matches. Yea, no big deal.

The “Wow, These Guys Are Good!” Award (Best Point)

Tsonga vs. Djokovic @ Wimbledon

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LspmUmthkPw

Djokovic. vs. Nadal @ US Open

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYBjeGKdbxs

Radwanska vs. Schiavone @ Miami

Djokovic vs. Nadal @ Miami

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lp2WFmH06fo

Djokovic vs. Nadal @ Madrid

Ferrer vs. Federer @ ATP Finals

Djokovic & Murray vs Stakhovsky & Youhzny @ BNP Paribas Open

Winner: Djokovic vs. Nadal @ Madrid

The Jaw Dropper (Best Shot)

Djokovic vs. Federer US Open

Blake vs. Galung @ US Open

Federer vs Gasquet @ Rome

Roddick vs. Raonic @ Memphis

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5XdJFlcdNc

Winner: Federer vs. Gasquet. Come on, I had to give this one to Fed. He needed to win something this year.

Player of the Year
Petra Kvitova. Or as some people on the interwebs call her, “Del Petra”. She won a total of 6 titles in 2011, which includes a major win at Wimbledon. She also won the Fed Cup and the WTA Championships. She hits the bleep out of the ball, is fun to watch, and most importantly, wins. She won’t be world #2 much longer.
Novak Djokovic. 2011 wasn’t just a great year for Novak, it was one of greatest years for anyone in tennis history. All he did was: win 42 matches in a row, win the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open, show that Rafa is in fact, human on clay, go 10-1 against Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, compile a 82-3 season, and win $12.6 million in prize money. Forget what happened toward the end of the year, lifting all those trophies and counting all those dolla dolla bills can wear out even the best of us.
Winner: Novak Djokovic. And the rich get richer.

Now that we’ve reflected back, it’s time to look forward to the 2012 season. Here are some of our fearless predications for this upcoming year. Key word being “fearless.”

Tiffani:
“Andy Roddick will retire in 2012, Rafa and Roger will team up for doubles, Andrea Petkovic will win a Slam and Kim Clijsters will win Gold at the Olympics.”

Brittany:
“Victoria Azarenka and Jo Wilfred Tsonga are going to win a slam, Roger Feder is going to sweep the Olympics in single, in doubles with (Wawrinka) and mixed with (Hingis) and Serena and Venus Williams will win a doubles Slam.”

Jason:
“Andy Murray will fall out of the top 4 for the first time since 2008, Maria Kirilenko will make the top 10 for the first time in her career, Petra Kvitova will win 2 Grand Slams and take over the #1 seeding, and Nadal will win a title on clay. OK, so maybe not so fearless on that last prediction.”

Spencer:
“Jo Wilfried Tsonga will win his first GS Title, Kei Nishikori will crack the top 10 in rankings, Julia Goerges will crack the top 10 in rankings, and Dolgopolov will take out Nadal at the French.”

Chris:
“Grigor Dimitrov will break into the top 20, Jo Wilfried Tsonga will a Grand Slam (Australian Open or US Open).”

Do you agree with our predicitions? What are some of your own? We’d love to hear about them. Here’s to an amazing 2012!

Happy New Year,

Jason, TW

2011 Favorites: Socks

It’s all about socks for the fifth installment of playtester favorites of 2011. In the spirit of year-end Best Of lists, some of our playtesters picked their favorite products of 2011 and explained why. So just who are these playtesters? Chris, Spencer, Jason, Brittany and Tiffani — we’re all familiar faces on the playtest team, and our jobs put us in contact with all of the newest products that go up on our web site.

“Socks?” you might proclaim. As tennis player The wrong socks can rub your feet the wrong way, please pardon the pun. Without further ado, here are our favorite court socks:

Under Armour Heatgear 3 Crew socks

Under Armour Heat Gear 3 Sock (2 pack)

Chris loves his socks. Back in 2009, he wrote a blog entry on his love for his feet coverings. As a lad, he once threatened to run away from home. He packed only what was important: socks. His adoration for socks continues.

Chris on the Under Armour socks: “I love these socks. They come in black, and most of the colorful shoes out this year look way better with black socks. My socks have to be crews, these are. They come in a 2-pack and I always play in two pairs of socks for blister protection. They feel great. This is sock nirvana for me!”

adidas 3-stripe Crew Sock

adidas Men's New 3-Stripe Crew Sock, 3 pack

Somewhere along the line, Jason has gone from a no-show sock guy to a crew sock guy. Actually, he probably just wears what’s clean. But times are a changin’ as evidenced by his pick of an adidas crew sock.

Jason simply puts it: “They sexy!”

Feetures No Show Tab Socks

Feetures No Show Tab Socks in black

Tiffani, like Chris, has a fascination with socks. She, too, wrote a blog entry about socks, covering her requirements for good socks. Also like Chris, she is happy about having socks in a black color option.

Tiffani on her favorite socks: “Feetures No Show with tab, now available in black in 2011! This is hands down my favorite sock for several reasons: available in sizes that actually fit, tab to protect the heel, thin but with cushioning in the right places and no show cut. Now it comes in black, which is great for the colorful shoes we’re now finally seeing for women. I hope in 2012, Feetures rolls out even more colors.”

Nike Women’s Logo No Show Socks

Nike Women's Logo No Show Socks (3 Pack)

Brittany is a fan of color. Period. Forget boring classic cosmetics on shoes. Bring on the color! And that goes for socks, too.

Brittany on the Nike socks: “If you are tired of the same old boring white socks, check out the Nike Logo No Show socks! We just got these socks at TW and Tiffani and I absolutely love them! These socks are perfect for me. They are no shows to start with which is typically the sock I like to wear! And they are so colorful and just plain fun!”

EuroSocks Slam DryStat Silver and Jox Sox

EuroSocks Slam DryStat Silver Socks

JoxSox

Spencer is another playtester who pays extra attention to socks. Every time a new pair comes through the office, he wants to check them out to see if they will meet his needs. If he were in charge, he’d blend two socks: EuroSocks and Jox Sox.

Spencer on his dream combo: “EuroSocks for performance and comfort only. For an overall sock, I need more cotton! That’s where Jox Sox come in. Jox Sox for better breathability and no stink!”

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Check back in tomorrow for our final installment of playtester favorites.

Happy Hitting!
Tiffani, TW