2012 Gift Guide: Andy’s Picks

This year we asked some of our knowledgeable staff to pick their holiday favorites. They picked racquet, string, shoes, apparel and one “wild card” they would like to get as gift this year. Check out the entire Staff Picks. Below, Andy explains his choices.

Racquet: Babolat AeroPro Drive GT Plus 2013

The AeroPro Drive has been the biggest surprise to me since I started working here. I’ve always been a fan of more traditional player’s racquets, but ever since I’ve picked up the AeroProDrive GT 2013 I realized it could be a perfect fit for me and for the modern game. It offers tons of power, spin and forgiveness for taking big cuts at the ball without sacrificing control. Furthermore, the new ones that are just coming out are in my opinion the best ones yet. The Active Cortex that Babolat introduced into the 2013 version makes it much more comfortable than previous versions with much better feel at contact. This is the perfect racquet for the player with a modern game!

String: Tourna Big Hitter Black 7 17g Reel

This is an absolute STEAL for a great polyester string! This is one of the best performing polyester strings on the market today. It’s soft enough to provide great comfort and feel, while also staying crisp enough for good ball grab and control. It’s also a spin monster with its seven-sided design that bites the ball like a hungry beast! And at $89.95 for a reel…are you kidding me?! Unbelievable value from the guys who bring you Tourna Grip.

Shoes: Asics Gel Resolution 4

These are my favorite shoes to wear on the tennis court, hands down. You put these puppies on, and it feels like you’re putting on a pair of slippers to wear around the house during the holidays. There’s plush cushioning all over the foot, a great fit and they’re on the lighter side (you’ll find some lighter shoes out there, but these are by no means heavy). Even with their low profile design, they have great support and stability, along with more than adequate durability (backed by a six-month outsole durability guarantee). And they look great, too, with a number of different colors to choose from! On sale at less than $100 for the holiday season, this is a must buy for the serious tennis player.

Apparel: Stick It Wear?! 2012 Men’s My Favorite Tsong T-Shirt

My boy and clothing designer Joe Durica keeps turning out stylish shirts, and this one is one of my favorites of the lot. The cotton tee is super soft and comfortable, and the design always gets comments from people when I wear it out and around. This one has a great blue/teal color and features one of my favorite pro players, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and his signature post-match celebration. Check this one out but be sure to check out all the other great designs from Stick It Wear?!.

Miscellaneous: Australian Open 2012 Final – Djokovic v. Nadal DVD

This may be the highest quality tennis I’ve ever seen played over the course of a match. More than six hours of incredible tennis, with a Grand Slam title on the line, going toe to toe in some of the most exciting baseline rallies I’ve ever witnessed. These two guys will go down as two of the greatest baseliners of all time, and their skills and hearts were on full display in this match.

Thanks for reading!

AG

Learning from the classics

77matchdvd-1

On the rare occasion I get the TV to myself at my house, I sometimes like to throw in a classic match DVD and watch tennis from the 1970s and ’80s.

On one such rare occasion, I was watching my copy of Borg vs. Gerulaitis, the Wimbledon 1977 semi-final, and I noticed Vitas Gerulaitis using a short, off pace slice backhand down the line. Being Wimbledon, Gerulaitis was following it into the net, forcing Bjorn Borg to dig out a tough forehand. Gerulaitis would then volley the ball cross court to Borg’s backhand corner. Often, his volley would go for a clean winner or force an error from Borg. In the early stages of the match, to win the point Borg had to come up with something spectacular. Being Borg, he did, of course, come up with a solution. Hey, you don’t win five straight Wimbledon Championships without figuring out a way past the volleyer.

Anywho, it was the slice backhand down the line that was setting up this play so well for Gerulaitis. If this one particular play gave Borg all kinds of issues, what would it do to my fellow TW playtesters? There was only one way to find out and I started to work this shot into my repertoire.

The short, off pace slice down the line has been serving me well for the last few months. Unlike the Gerulaitis vs. Borg match-up, I’m not playing on grass so I don’t always follow this shot to the net.

When staying at the baseline, I’ve found this short slice shot to really open up my opponent’s backhand corner. By bringing them in short, I can follow up with a deep ball to the backhand and force them to hit off the back foot. If I can hit that shot strong enough, I’ve found I can often draw and error then and there to win the point. If not, I usually get a short ball back, which I can attack and follow to the net.

I’ve found that if my opponent tries to approach the net after I’ve hit the short slice to the forehand, he/she has to dig the ball up and over the net, giving me ample opportunity to attack the approach shot with a passing shot or a lob.

Like Gerulaitis, I will follow this shot to the net as well. Most of the time my opponents will try to pass me down the line, allowing me to volley the ball cross court for a winner or to force an error. Because my opponent has to hit the ball up, rarely is the passing shot really tough to handle.

When it comes to the short slice backhand down the line, so far so good. I use this shot here and there during point play and have found it to be a very reliable tactic. When an opponent is really giving me trouble, I will let my demon side take over for a bit and hit two short backhand slices down the line in a row. However, I usually reserve such deviousness for when I’m feeling particularly mean.

Of course, there is a solution to this play. If you can’t figure it out like Borg did, then you’ll have to watch the match and see how he did it. We sell the Borg vs. Gerulaitis 1977 Wimbledon semi-final DVD for $12.99, and in my opinion it’s worth every penny. What a great match between two legendary players and what a great way to pick up a new tactic.

Thanks, Vitas!

Cheers,

Chris.