After taking some time off this fall, I was getting back into playing and training hard. Unfortunately, I have not had good luck as for the last 3 weeks as I have had pretty bad plantar fasciitis. I had a mild case several years ago, but this is really uncomfortable and limits my movement. I’m trying to do different things to heal it, but I am always on my feet coaching. Hopefully, something will work to get me back doing what I love. In the mean time, I tried a few of the new racquets and have feedback on that as I’m sure many of you are looking at some of the newer racquets out there.
As some of you know, I have been using Head Radical racquets since I was in middle school. The first racquet I playtested this fall was the Prince Tour 98 ESP. I chose this racquet as it was a similar weight to my Radical and is also pretty flexy. I tend to like racquets that are not too stiff. I could definitely tell a difference in spin on my shots from the 16×16 string pattern! I had nice control in a very comfortable package, but felt I was just not quite getting enough sting on my serves and forehands that I am used to.
It has been nice to have a bit of a break in the last few months. I have just had the one tournament in Texas and otherwise life has been very busy, but good at the same time! At this time of year with fewer tournaments, I like to get back onto a schedule of doing more off-court workouts, and harder practices. I try to do an upper-body workout every other day or so, and lots of sprinting and anaerobic type work throughout the week on the track or various machines. For the last few years, I have been fortunate enough to have a coach who works with me once or twice a week in the winter. We do some of these off-court sessions together, as well as drilling on the court at the club I work at. In return for his help, his 14 year old daughter hits with me during most of these sessions. That might sound like a weak partner for me, but as I mentioned a few times last summer, she is in the top 10 nationally for her age and has a bright future. She is very capable of hitting a good ball and giving me a good practice in the drill setting. I was lucky enough to have my girlfriend come to watch a recent practice, and she took some interesting videos of some of the types of training that we do on the court:
Saturday was a long day! When I woke up to get ready for my 9 am match, it was in the 40s and windy. This definitely was not the ideal match conditions I was expecting or wanted, but I was ready to battle. My opponent was a very good college player and spent some time on the futures circuit. Last year, we met in the semi-final and within the first 2 or 3 games I hurt my ankle really bad and somehow managed to take the second set, but lost 6-3 in the third. I figured if I played well this time around, I should be able to win in 2 relatively close sets unless I was not playing well.
I started off very energized and playing very well. I was taking control of the points and moving him around a lot, and found myself up 4-0, cruising. I was very confident that it was going to be my day, and gain some revenge for my loss and his antics after last year. But, after I won the first set 6-2, I was starting to miss a little more and was down 0-1 serving and down in the game. He made a bad call and though I don’t believe it affected me, it seemed from that very moment on, I was never quite the same as I was in the first set.