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

One Size Fits Tall

Standing at about 5’11″, I am 7 inches taller than the average female, which in return makes finding clothes seven times harder. I am constantly struggling with the fit of tennis clothes.

My clothing size is somewhere in between a medium (often too short in length) and large (almost always too wide). I love wearing tennis dresses and cute tennis tops but often find them to be extremely short. With spring in the air, summer fast approaching and a plethora of new apparel at Tennis Warehouse, I thought I would pick a couple of my favorites that are flattering to female tennis players who are on the taller side.

My favorite dress right now is the adidas Spring/Summer adiZero Dress.  It is available in two bright colors of Fresh Pink/Orange and Collegiate Purple/Intense Green and includes matching compression shorts and sports bra. Though the dress is a little short on me (my long torso being a disadvantage), the cute contrast compression shorts make it easy to pull off the look. The upper back is made of mesh and has a cute keyhole to keep you cool on the court.  The side slits add for easy movement on the court whether playing a match or intense practice. In addition, WTA pros such as Daniela Hantuchova, Ana Ivanovic and Flavia Pennetta can currently be seen wearing this dress on tour.

adidas Summer adiZero Dress

Roxy’s fun new spring line combines a sporty beach style with tennis clothes. One of my favorite pieces is the Zero Period Tank. This tank is on the longer side, which is perfect for taller players or players with longer torsos. The two available colors have a solid color on one side and a striped print on the other. The lightweight top feels like cotton but is actually a performance fabric, great for training in hot days. The back has an interesting racer style with straps.

Roxy Zero Period Tank

Another dress on my radar is the Lija Summer Solace Dress. The dress is simple and understated but has details that make it unique. Available in both black and white, this dress is perfect for summer matches. My favorite part of the dress is the bow detail with cutout feature on the back showing just the right amount of skin. I find this dress extremely flattering on taller figures. Some additional details that I love are the ruching on the chest and pleats on the hem.

Lija Summer Solace Dress

When not playing matches, I still like to look respectable. A cute yet sporty top to work out in is the Puma Spring Lifestyle Graphic Tee. The fit is on the longer side and is loose fitting. You can match it with shorts or dress it up a little bit with a skort. You can kill two birds with one stone with this tee, as you can wear it off the court as well.

Puma Spring Lifestyle Graphic Tee

These are just some of the clothes that work well with taller figures. Check back next week with Kana to find tennis clothes that fit the more petite player.

Ad Out,

Brittany

It’s All in Your Head… band

Anyone tired of wearing the same old hats and visors to keep their hair out of their face when playing tennis?

A solution to this problem is a headband, which creates both a functional and fashionable look. Players like Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, and Victoria Azarenka have been seen rocking them during their matches.

Personally, for most of my tennis playing days, I am a fan of hats and visors. I think this reason stems from the fact that if I don’t wear something, my hair is constantly in my face. I have been skeptical about the headband because a lot of them tend to slide off my head when I do any sort of physical activity. However after seeing many pros pull off the look, I gave it another shot.

I can say now, after many trials and tribulations, that I am a headband expert. I have tried numerous headbands, and one of my favorites is the Roxy Train Hard headband. Roxy, mostly known for its surf and snow clothing, has recently entered into the tennis market and this headband is a piece in their line. Two of my favorite parts about this headband are the thicker width (3/4 of an inch) that give a sporty yet feminine vibe and the fact that there are ten colors options to pick from. With that many colors, I can match my headband to any of my outfits. I chose the bright blue because I thought it would add a pop of color to anything I wear. I was also impressed with how comfortable it is. Some headbands are too loose and don’t stay on my head and others are too tight and give me a headache. This one seems to be just the right combination of the two for my head size. Another perk I found is the tacky lining that Roxy placed on the inside of the headband. This feature helped keep it securely in place even when I was playing tennis and moving around.

Roxy Headband in blue

As much as I love this headband (I wore it three days straight with every outfit), it had just a few negatives. The first was the durability of the tacky lining. After several days playing tennis and sweating, the tackiness of the lining turned into having more of a smooth and rubbery feel. Even though the tackiness decreased, I still don’t have any problems with it staying on my head. However, like any headband that I wear, I do find myself adjusting it once or twice every now again due to it starting to fall (or pop) off my head. Another small downside was after a couple of competitive uses, a small part of the silk-screened logo came off. Even though the headband is now not cosmetically perfect, it doesn’t impact the playability and I will continue to wear it regardless.

Now that I am a self-proclaimed headband guru, I have come up with a couple tips with helping to avoid the inevitable slipping issues. For starters, I put a little hair spray in my hair before putting the headband on to give it a little extra grip. I also find wearing the headband close to my hairline helps to keep it in place.

Anyone else have any advice or tips?

Ad out,
Britt