TW Playtester Jason’s Pick of the Week – Nike USA apparel

I don’t know about you, but I love me some America. That’s right, I said it. People who know me know that if there’s one thing I love…… it’s fried chicken. But that’s followed very closely by America. And if I could eat fried chicken while being in America? Well, that’s just the gift that keeps on giving. I also love the Olympics. It’s not too often you can watch grown men and women slide across ice while frantically moving a broom in front of a large stone on prime time TV. Riveting.

Every two years, when the Olympics come around, I turn my patriotism up a notch. On a scale of 1-10, I’m a bald eagle with McDonald’s in one claw and a Coke in the other. Point is, I love the Olympics! And I love cheering on Team USA! Back in 2008, I made it out to Beijing, China to root on the United States in person. How cool is that right?! I know.

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The Raging Bull charges again

Rafael Nadal returns to the ATP tour with a bang after winning 3 of his first 4 tournaments back.

Rafael Nadal returns to the ATP tour with a bang after winning 3 of his first 4 tournaments back.  Photo courtesy of Cynthia Lum.

It’s the first week of August, and the professional tennis tour has returned to the hallowed grounds of the All England Club for the second time in a month. A month ago, Roger Federer once again reigned supreme taking his 7th Wimbledon title, and now the battle for Olympic gold has begun. Many of the top players had their eyes on the Olympics for a while, like Roger Federer seeking his first Olympic gold in singles or Andy Murray playing in his home nation of Great Britain.  The Grand Slams are always important, but the Olympics only come around every four years and present a unique opportunity to represent your country and be remembered forever as a national hero.

Another player looking forward to the Olympics was Spaniard Rafael Nadal, who up until just a few days before the event was not only Spain’s best chance at a tennis gold medal, but was slated to have the honor of being Spain’s flag-bearer in the Opening Ceremony. An incredible honor, and one that Rafa did not take lightly.
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WTA Blog: 2012 Year End Power Rankings

Serena Williams dominated the WTA Tour in 2012.

With the 2012 WTA campaign coming to an end, I wanted to post my end of the year Power Rankings. Just like in football and basketball, these don’t exactly follow the official rankings, but are reflective of who I feel is playing the best tennis to close the year and head into 2013. Without further ado, I give you…

2012 Year End WTA Power Rankings
Power Ranking. Name (WTA Ranking)

1. Serena Williams (3)
When she’s at her best, there’s no woman in the world that can beat her, and for the last half of the year she’s been on fire! Since her first round loss at the French Open, she’s 32-1, winning Wimbledon, the Olympics, the US Open, and the year end WTA Championships (among other titles). There’s no question she’s the best in the world as the year comes to a close.

Victoria Azarenka finishes 2012 with 69 match wins, the highest total on tour this year.

2. Victoria Azarenka (1)
There’s no debate who the second best player in the world is. Vika has dominated the rest of the tour, with a 69-5 record on the year against players that aren’t named Serena. The feisty 23-year-old from Belarus reached two Grand Slam finals this year and won one of them (Australian). Look for her to build on her best year as a pro in 2013.

3. Maria Sharapova (2)
Maria has quietly put together a very nice year, with a 60-11 record and a French Open title to complete her career Grand Slam. She also reached the finals at 7 other major tournaments this year and beat Vika Azarenka twice, the only player other than Serena to do that this year.

4. Na Li (7)
She didn’t perform well at the majors this year, but Na Li has had a nice second half of the year and given the rest of the Top 10 fits. Since the start of the summer hard court season, she’s 6-2 against the rest of the Top 10 outside of the Top 3, and took the title in Cincinnati.

5. Agnieszka Radwanska (4)
The young Pole had an excellent start of the year, and after all is said and done, is finishing the year with 59 match wins, good for 4th best on tour. She’d be higher on the list if Na Li hadn’t beat her three times since August.

6. Sara Errani (6)
The 5’4″ Italian built on her surprise French Open finals appearance and turned in an even bigger surprise semifinal appearance at the US Open. She also took home 4 singles titles and 8 doubles titles this year, along with $3 million in prize money. Not a bad 2012!

7. Angelique Kerber (5)
She’s one of three players to reach the 60 win mark this year, and the only person to beat Serena in the second half of the year. However, she’s struggled for the most part against the best, with a 3-10 against the rest of the Top 10 since the start of Wimbledon. On the bright side, this is the first year the big hitting lefty will finish inside the Top 30.

8. Nadia Petrova (12)
Ever since losing close to Maria Sharapova at the US Open (6-4 in the third), she’s been on a tear, winning two titles and posting a 12-2 record to finish the year. She’s hot and one to watch for at the beginning of 2013.

Caroline Wozniacki looks to get back into the Top 5 in 2013.

9. Caroline Wozniacki (10)
She might be better known for being the First Lady of the PGA Tour this year rather than her on-court results, but Woz has quietly closed 2012 with a flurry. Since the US Open, she’s won two titles and reached the finals of the third tournament, and is gaining momentum going into 2013.

10. Marion Bartoli (11)
The French veteran has been streaky all year, but she had two of her best tournaments at the US Open and in Beijing to finish the year. She’s been hovering around the top 10 for years, and continues to be a threat if the best aren’t at the top of their games.

Thanks for reading!

-AG

WTA Blog: The domination combination

I thought I’d start off my WTA blog this week by saying that it’s a well-known fact that good things come in pairs. Socks, chopsticks, peanut butter and jelly, salt and pepper, Tom and Jerry, Bonnie and Clyde, Batman and Robin.. I could keep going, actually, but I won’t because my point is that there is an unstoppable pair doing good, great, amazing things in tennis right now (that’s right, I didn’t just say women’s tennis).

I have learned, the longer I work at Tennis Warehouse, that sometimes there is no arguing with a diehard tennis fan. It’s easier to nod and smile than get into a never-ending argument. Me? Federer is king, but don’t get in the way of Carol (she is the biggest Fed fan you’ll ever meet!) Jason? Kirilenko and Rafa fan all the way home, and shame on you for ever suggesting otherwise. Karly? Gasquet is always the best, regardless. Spencer? He’s gained the reputation to always put Murray as winning the Slam brackets we do (your day will come Spen!) We all love tennis, yet we all have our (logical and illogical) favorites. There is no arguing or justifying most of this, particularly when things are, to put it simply, arguable and unjustifiable. This said, every once in a while someone, or some people, come along who silence the critics.

OK, fine, I’ll let the cat out of the bag.

Sister Act: Serena and Venus playing doubles and dominating.

Serena and Venus Williams are re-exploring what it means to dominate. They literally define the word. I have been writing a lot about Serena lately – and rightly so, she is playing the best tennis of her life and doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. Individually she is impressive, but pair her with her sister and these two are just, well, extraordinary. I’m not saying that they are GOAT, but there is no denying the statistics.

Let me explain. From the ages of 14, these girls hit the tennis world like two tornados, and nearly a decade and a half later things are still a whirlwind. Yes, things have slowed down, Venus got her autoimmune disease and they floated around as time passed, but after about 16 years on tour they are coming back out on top. Not only have they taken charge of the WTA with a combined 21 Grand Slam titles, but every four years we also consistently see success at the Olympics.

Venus is the perfect doubles partner for her sister

This year at the 2012 London Olympics, Serena’s singles victory against Sharapova (6-0 6-1, phew! That was demolishing) made her the first player (aside from Venus) to win both the singles and doubles gold medals in the same Olympics. They also both have four gold medals each, which trumps any other tennis player in history. These two girls are the greatest Olympic tennis players. Ever. No one, man or woman, can even match them with any medals, let alone golds.

Serena actually has also done something called the Golden Slam, and considering the Olympics only come around every four years, this is noteworthy. A Golden Slam is winning all four Grand Slam titles and Olympic gold, AND Serena’s also done it in, wait for it, both singles AND doubles. The only other person to achieve a Golden Slam (in singles only) was Steffi Graf. When it comes to Serena, love her or hate her, you have to applaud her.

Serena is a force to be reckoned with

You thought I was done, ha. Nope. That’s just singles. Doubles is yet another tale of Olympic success. Together playing doubles they are the only pairing to ever win gold, three times. That’s right. There aren’t even any men who have done as well as these two. And the cherry on top? In the 15 Olympic matches they have played, they haven’t lost a SINGLE set.

I have to say, I haven’t always been the biggest Serena fan, but I take my hat off to her and Venus. At this point, it moves past about liking or disliking, and right to acknowledging their place in the history books. The most impressive pair in tennis right now (as a singles and doubles domination combination)? Goes to the sisters. Good work keeping it in the family.

Siobhan

 

 

ATP Blog: Has Murray joined the big boys?

Great Britain's Andy Murray has been in the zone in recent weeks!

It was “the biggest the win of my life,” Andy Murray said after completely dismantling Roger Federer to win the gold medal at the 2012 Olympics. With his recent Wimbledon run and Olympic gold, Murray has taken his game to new heights, and now has people wondering how much better can he get? Granted, he didn’t have to face any of the top 3 until the finals at Wimbledon, and Great Britain was riding a huge wave of success on their home turf during the Olympics. Has Andy simply been a recipient of some recent good fortune, or with his recent results is he establishing himself amongst the game’s elite? Has the “Top 3″ turned into the “Top 4″, and has he moved past Rafael Nadal, given his health, on the list of favorites for the US Open?

For the last four years, Andy Murray has definitively been the fourth best player in the world behind the top 3 of Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal. The top 3 have won 29 of the last 30 Grand Slam titles, with Murray yet to win one. However, in that time Murray has reached four Grand Slam finals, and has won 20 ATP titles since 2008. He’s consistently been better than the next tier of top players, like Tsonga, Ferrer, Berdych, Del Potro, who have all had great results but haven’t been able to sustain the high level like Murray has. So, what’s different now? After winning Olympic gold, why would people think that he’s finally over the hump and should be considered in the same echelon as the Big 3?

Andy's taking his game to another level and joining the big 3 at the top of the men's game!

When it’s crunch time in the big matches against the best players, Andy has buckled under the pressure. Along with some glimpses of excellence, he’s shown more bouts of immaturity and negativity on the court. He was even seen yelling at his mother in his player’s box during the 2011 Australian Open! With arguably some of the greatest players of all time playing right now, those mental lapses have cost him in big matches, when there is not very much margin for error. However, recently Murray is finally showing personal growth, and above anything else he’s been much more positive and mentally tough on court. For a guy with so much natural talent and athleticism, he’s now finally maturing and his mental game is improving as well. Who knows if it’s age, or his new coach Ivan Lendl, but he’s becoming a man on court and handling the pressure better than ever. “I’m able to deal with the situations better now. I felt much more comfortable on the court,” Murray said following the Olympic final.

Don’t be concerned about the early withdrawal from Rogers Cup this week. He’s being smart and managing his body so that he can make a run at the US Open title, and you better believe he’ll be in the running. Physically, Murray’s been fit enough and striking the ball well enough to win a major, but the mental game hasn’t been at the same level. Now, he’s mature, being more positive, and is handling the pressure. Watch out…with added confidence from his recent success, Murray’s best tennis is coming!

-AG

ATP Tour Blog: July 2012 in review

We get to visit the All England Club twice this month...what a treat!

It’s been a historic month of July on the men’s tour!  Wimbledon was epic, and set the stage of Roger Federer to climb back to the top of the men’s game.  We’ve seen a couple players reach personal milestones this month, and others climbing the rankings again trying to resurrect their careers.  And to top it off, the Olympics are underway at the hallowed grounds of the All-England Club.  Let’s take a look at the top storylines from July 2012.

On the ATP side…

-This month, King Fed has reclaimed his throne as the top ranked player in the world after winning his 7th Wimbledon singles title and record 17th major singles title.  He then proceeded to break Pete Sampras‘ record of 286 total weeks as the top ranked player in the world.  Just another historic month for the Swiss all-time great.  As the #1 player in the world and the defending champion of Wimbledon, he has to be the favorite going into the Olympics.

34 year old Tommy Haas has re-established himself in the ATP top 50 this month.

-We’ve seen yet another incredible resurgence from the 34 year old Tommy Haas.  Once again, he’s recovered from injury and come back as strong as ever!  In June of 2011, his ranking had plummeted into the 800s.  A little more than a year later, he’s back up to #35 in the world.  He’s had 2 top 5 wins this year, including a win over Federer in the finals of Halle for his first title since 2009.  This month, he had two top 20 wins and reached the final in Hamburg before losing to red hot Juan Monaco.  Can the veteran German continue his climb or will he get bit by the injury bug once again??

Philipp Kohlschreiber reached a career high ranking of #16 in the world this week

-Two guys reached personal milestones in their careers this month.  Juan Monaco has had a career year, and after winning the ATP 500 title in Hamburg he’s climbed into the top 10 for the first time.  Hot on his heels is German Philipp Kohlschreiber, who has climbed into the top 20 for the first time after reaching the final in Kitzbuhel last week and reaching the quarterfinals of Wimbledon.  He’s currently at a career high ranking of #16.  And, do you know who had the most aces in the men’s draw at Wimbledon?  That’s right…5’10″ Philipp Kohlschreiber, with 98 aces in five matches.

Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci has been playing some high level tennis of late

-Watch out for Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci!  He’s only lost two matches this month, and both to top 10 players (Tipsarevic and Tsonga).  However, he avenged his loss to Tipsarevic the very next week in the final of Gstaad to take the title, and his first round match against Tsonga at the Olympics might have been the best match of the first round.  Tsonga served unbelievable and proved why he’s one of the best grass court players in the world, but Bellucci gave him a run for his money, losing 6-7 6-4 6-4.   The lanky lefty clay-courter got a rough draw this week, but in the last month he’s gone from #80 in the world to #42.  Look for the big hitting Brazilian to continue his hot play into the summer.

Olympic Preview:

With only three weeks to recover between Wimbledon and the Olympic Games, the grass at the All-England Club is playing more like a classic grass court than the slower courts seen at Wimbledon in the past few years.  The courts are playing lightning fast, balls are staying low and taking strange bounces, and footing is a struggle.  Look for the veterans to handle the adversity the best over the next couple weeks, and look for some of the top players to get driven crazy with the tough conditions and get upset.  My predictions? I expect to see a Roger Federer / Andy Murray rematch in the final.

Stay tuned for more pro blogs in the coming weeks!  Thanks for reading!

-AG

What’s new: Patriotic gear and more

Wimbledon may be coming to a close, but the lawns won’t get much of a break this year. The All England Club will soon gear up for the Olympics and host some more great tennis. All of this brings me to some of the new items arriving at Tennis Warehouse.

Puma Men's Country Cat T-Shirt USA ($18.99)

Just in are three Puma men’s tees that are perfect for the patriotic tennis fan. The cotton tee has a large Puma Cat done in flag colors. We currently have in stock tees for USA, Mexico and the United Kingdom. And don’t forget the Stars and Stripes Tennis Warehouse tee! If you’ve visited our site in the past week, you know Nike just released its Fall Collection for men and women. Fed fans should check out his Olympic polo. It might just feel a little weird seeing the players on the All England lawns wearing something other than white! Polo cost: $85.

One last mention of Wimbledon. When Andy Murray walks onto the court on Sunday, he just might be toting his Radical Pro racquets in a special edition bag from HEAD. The Head White Ltd. Bag has a kick stand! Yup, no grass stains for this bag. It can carry a lot of gear, up to 12 racquets if need be, and also features a climate control compartment. Cost: $129.95.

There is also some new apparel for women in addition to the latest Nike collection. Lija is back with its sophisticated designs and superb fabrics. The lace accents are so stylish they’d work off court, too. The style is best showcased in the Shades Virtue Savvy Tank. Cost: $75.

 

Lija Women's Shades Virtue Savvy Tank

Sofibella is a great brand to check out as we head into summer, too. The  fabric not only feels great, but it offers excellent sun protection, too. With its latest Devoted collection, there’s a definite fun vibe with a safari print. If you’re more into solids, the Devoted Twiggy Dress is a piece you just have to check out. It has fun colorblocking with a retro twist.

Devoted Twiggy Dress ($90) and the Devoted Harmonious Skort ($68)

We also have a new replacement grip from Pacific. The X Duo Comfort Replacement Grip is designed to wick sweat and offer a tacky feel. The top layer is PU material, while the baselayer is foam to wick away sweat and moisture.

For those who have some aches and pains, we’ve added KT Tape Pro to our therapy tape options. The therapeutic tape isn’t your average athletic tape. It’s designed to support muscles to help prevent injuries and speed recovery when you do. A single roll features 20 precut strips and comes in a variety of colors. Cost: $19.99.

Happy Hitting!
Tiffani, TW