Meet the Playtesters- Brittany Blalock

Hi!

Next up is one of our favorite  Tennis Warehouse playtesters, me! After playing tennis in college, I started working at Tennis Warehouse as the New Products Coordinator. You can find me in lighter weight racquet reviews and women’s shoe reviews. Check out my interview with myself below.

Click to View Video of Brittany

Racquet of Choice: Yonex VCORE 100 S

String of Choice: undecided

Shoe of Choice: Asics Gel Solution Speed/ New Balance 851

Apparel of Choice: It is hard to choose just one- some of my favorites are Nike, adidas, Lija and Roxy.

When/Why did you start playing tennis?

I started hitting a tennis ball attached to a string in my garage at just 2 years old. It might not have been pretty, but it was my start. I then started taking lessons at 8 years old and started playing competitively in tournaments at 10 years old. My whole family plays tennis, from my grandma to my aunt to my mom and dad, so I pretty much grew up in a tennis family.

What is your favorite shot to hit and why?

Easily my favorite shot to hit is my backhand down the line. When I first started playing tennis I actually struggled hitting backhands. When I was 12, I broke my finger on my left hand and could not hit backhands for a couple months. I then relearned how to hit the backhand.  Today, I love hitting all my backhand shots, but the back down the line is my most valuable and consistent weapon.

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

Here is my list in chronological order: Prince Thunderlite OS, Prince Triple Threat Hornet, Babolat Pure Drive Team, Prince Speedport Black, Prince EXO3 Black and finally Yonex V CORE 100 S.

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

Growing up I was on the shorter side so I was always watching Amanda Coetzer play. But then I hit high school and grew over 10 inches. My game style started to change from a more consistent defensive game to an aggressive baseline style. Today, I would compare my game to Maria Sharapova’s.

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

My favorite match was the men’s final at Wimbledon in 2009 between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick. I remember that it was the Fourth of July morning, and the weather was really bad. Some friends and I were gathered around the TV with the fireplace going while we were watching the match. The tennis in the fifth set was absolutely crazy, and I was cheering for Roddick at the top of my lungs. He was so close but then Federer finally took the match.

Do you have any superstitions before playing a match?

My one and only superstition before playing any sort of tennis is I have to wear two different colored socks.  They are the exact same sock but just different colors. I have done this for over five years.

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

This is a tough to only pick one match, but I will try. My most memorable match ever was in my senior year of college playing doubles with my friend Suzie. We were playing the No. 1 team in the NCAA from Stanford on their home courts. Before the match, the announcer was highlighting their long list of accomplishments and end with the fact that they had never lost at home. Well, Suzie and I went into the 8-game pro set with nothing to lose. We started playing the best we had ever played and next thing we knew we were up 7-1. The team started to play tougher and brought back the score to 7-4. We played a really tough game, going back and forth. At the last deuce I decided to do a crazy poach for our ad. Suzie finished the pro set with a huge second serve to the girl’s backhand. The match was videotaped so you can see after the last point that both my partner and I were stunned that we won and ended up kind of jumping into each other and giving a hug.

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

I was playing a conference match in my freshman year in college, and it was down to me and my partner, Diane, to win the doubles point. We were playing a long point, and it ended with our opponents hitting a lob over my partner’s head. I started sprinting toward the ball and realized while I was going to make it to the ball, I probably wasn’t going to be able to stop my momentum. I had a split second to decide to either hit the ball and run into a small fence or stop and miss the ball and fence. I looked at the fence and saw a mesh panel and thought it wouldn’t hurt too badly. So I went for the ball and went crashing head first into the fence. Well, the mesh part of the fence ended up being metal and I bounced back off the fence. Well, the good thing was we won the point and all my teammates could not stop laughing. I, on the other hand, just laid on the court in shock.  I ended up being just fine after a good chuckle, and we won the match.

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

Most of injuries have been pretty minor from a rolled ankle to some minor tears in my back and chest. I did have one injury where I tore all the muscles that connect my ribs to my sternum and dislocated a rib while lifting weights. That was definitely a crazy injury that lasted a couple months. For the most part, as much as I hated to do it, I took time off the injuries and made sure I iced and took ibuprofen.

What is your favorite part of being a TW playtester?

Growing up, I had no idea what tennis products were available except for the ones I used. Working at Tennis Warehouse has opened my eyes to everything that is available.  I now have the ability to grab any racquet and go out and play without any adjustment period.  I also was able to figure out the exact specs I like and can use that to my advantage when I play.

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

I would have to say Spencer. For some reason, I absolutely love the ball he hits. It just sits perfectly in my strike zone and I am able to attack all day.

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

I would have to say Chris. He has the absolute opposite game as me. Playing him takes a lot of patience.  Adjusting to his slice and dropshots definitely took some time to get used to.

What has been your favorite review and why?

My favorite review was the Yonex V CORE 100 S.  I may be biased, but I found my new racquet doing that review. It didn’t hurt that I was playing really well.

Do you have any nicknames from the TW playtest squad?

A couple nicknames- Beast, B Squared and Coach. Beast might not be the most flatterning nickname for a female but I will take it. B Squared came from one of my college teammates. And Coach comes from the lucky person whom I give lessons to.

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

Brittany, TW

Treat yourself to a warm winter with the Nike Women’s Basic Pro Capri II

I hate being cold. It’s probably the one thing 100% guaranteed to make me play badly or put me in a bad mood. To combat this, I obviously have to put on more clothes but that brings with it another variety of problems. It’s sometimes hard to find truly functional winter tennis gear because of how we move — playing in bulky gear like track pants, sweats or sweatshirts often doesn’t cut it. I normally choose to wear long sleeves, but I just feel restricted, and the sleeves get in the way of holding onto my grip.  There’s a fine line between beating the cold and getting too hot, uncomfortable and sweaty. It’s an uphill battle!

There’s definitely plenty of apparel out there that is great for playing in, feeling comfortable, keeping warm or wicking away sweat, etc. but I have one in particular that caught my eye. Ladies, this one is for you! The Nike Women’s Spring Pro Capri II is the answer to our temperature problems. Firstly, I need to note that I love the color! The turquoise is vibrant and unique, and will look sharp with a black or white shirt. For lesser impact there is a black capri (definitely the staple color of my wardrobe) that serves the same purpose, and the bonus? Aside from looking awesome, you will stay warm.

Nike Women's Spring Pro Capri II - Front

There are many options for wearing the Nike Spring Pro Capris. They can be worn alone, beneath a skort or skirt, or my personal favorite when it’s extra cold, underneath some comfy sweats for that little kick of warmth. Take the sweats off and you’re looking smart without losing the warmth that you would in shorts. The capris keep my legs warm and in turn keep my entire body temperature that much higher — without any restrictions on movement. I don’t get into that uncomfortable, too cold (can’t hold the racquet because I feel like my fingers are going to snap off), too hot (sweating uncomfortably under my sweatshirt) cycle that I know too well. They come to about mid-calf length, which not only looks great, but also functions to keep me cooler than sweatpants and warmer than shorts. It’s really about finding that perfect medium, and these Nike capris help with it perfectly.

Nike Women's Spring Pro Capri II - Back

They’re made of polyester with a mix of spandex, so they’re stretchy and fitting. They feature a Nike Pro elastic waistband and customary Nike Swoosh that once again represents a product that steps up to the mark. They’re tight enough to fit a ball under the waistband, stretchy enough to wear comfortably and bright enough to get everyone jealous. Wear them on the court, in the gym, out on a run or on the track doing sprints. Versatile and functional? I think, yes. Vamp up your winter wardrobe with these capris and be the talk of the court with the added treat of staying 100% warm.

Yours,

Siobhan

Meet the Playtesters- Karly Hoffman

Hi Hi!

Next up is one of our newest Tennis Warehouse Playtesters, Karly. She previously played for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s club team and currently works as a Customer Service Representative who answers product question emails as well as women’s apparel fit descriptions.  She playtests both racquets and shoes. Check out her interview below.

Click to View Video of Karly

Racquet of Choice: Wilson nTour Two nCode
String of Choice: Wilson NXT 17
Shoe of Choice: Nike Mirabella III
Apparel of Choice: I love wearing tank tops. Growing up playing in the California sun, I’ve always preferred sleeveless shirts to soak up as many rays as I can (and also to avoid farmer’s tan on my shoulders).

When/Why did you start playing tennis?

I’ve been playing tennis since I was 5 years old, though intermittently. I grew up attending summer and after-school tennis camps and was lucky enough to have several coaches who played on the professional tour. When I was 12 I decided to focus on other sports, though eventually picked tennis back up again in high school and played for the varsity team. Later in college I played for Cal Poly’s Club Tennis Team. I’ve always loved the individual aspect and competitiveness of the sport.

Who inspires you to play tennis?

I don’t think I can pinpoint just one person in particular; many of my peers inspire me to play the great sport. From my co-workers, who are so knowledgeable about tennis and make me want to play every day I work there, to my family who have always been big fans. Also watching players at the professional level never fails to make me want to go hit the courts after seeing a match.

What is your favorite shot to hit and why?

The inside-out forehand. No question about it. I’ve always had more confidence in my forehand than my backhand. I love running around the ball to try to hit the sharp angles.

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

The list fairly is short, but the racquets that I’ve played with are the Wilson Hyper Hammer H5 and the Wilson nTour Two nCode. I started playing with the Wilson nTour Two  nCode and still prefer to play with it today.

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

I would probably say Lindsay Davenport because of her full, loopy forehand groundstroke. Though sometimes I wish it was because of her height! My short legs and arms are somewhat of a disadvantage at times.

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

One memorable match that comes to mind is the Australian Open 2009 Semifinal with Verdasco and Nadal. The match started late at night and I remember being unsure if I’d be able to stay up that late to watch it live. But as the five-set match went on, it became so exciting that it was hard to fall asleep even after it was over.

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

When I was playing on the Cal Poly Tennis Club Team, my doubles partner and I beat USC’s club team. Our team had a pretty big rivalry with their club team and managed to squeak out a win against them. I remember the entire match match was so close and every point being nerve-racking.

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

One night at a summer tennis camp I was playing with a friend and during the middle of a baseline rally she just stopped hitting the ball. I asked her why she stopped playing and she pointed toward the service line and said, “You hit a bat.” It took a minute for me to register what she said, but sure enough lying in the middle of the court was a bat. And as if I didn’t already feel bad enough for hitting it, on the court next to us was a group of younger kids who heard what happened and ran over to see the bat. Once they saw it, they then started started yelling, “You killed it! You killed it!” Thankfully it was only stunned and flew away after a few minutes. Afterward the kids at the camp started calling me ‘Bat Woman.’

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

Last spring I sprained my wrist while hitting a forehand groundstroke. I’m still not really sure how it happened or how I hit the ball so that it injured my wrist, but I had to take four months off before I was able to play without any pain. The DFX Gyro Ball really helped to strengthen my wrist.

What is your favorite part of being a TW playtester?

The motivation it gives me to become a better player. I’m surrounded by extremely talented tennis players and am so grateful to have the opportunity to try different products.

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

I love hitting with anyone who would like to hit with me! I’ll take all the practice I can get.

What has been your favorite review and why?

I’ve only just started doing reviews, however, so far I think my favorite has been the Barricade 7.0 shoes. When I was in high school, I played with the Barricade 4′s and I think it’s neat to be able to see the changes that have been made to the shoe over the different generations.

Do you have any nicknames from the TW playtest squad?

“The Most Awesome, Best-Looking Playtester Ever” or “The Chosen One,” just to name a few. Kidding! No, I’m fairly new to the playtesting team and I don’t have any nicknames yet. Though I wouldn’t be opposed to any of the ones listed previously.

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

Ad out,

Brittany