Definition of success…

Andy Gerst is seen here training in San Luis Obispo at the Cal Poly courts.

Andy Gerst is seen here training in San Luis Obispo at the Cal Poly courts.

Week of July 5th…

San Luis Obispo, CA

It’s been a great week of training here in SLO this past week. I have been getting in one or two practices a day, with drilling and practice matches, combined with a good lift, quickness and agility training, and conditioning drills. A special thanks to Hugh Bream and Mike Napoli who have taken the time and energy to work with me over these past two weeks, along with the months prior. They are great men and great coaches who pour their heart and soul into tennis and working with others…Thank you!

As I put more time and energy into my training and preparing for my upcoming tournaments, I have to define what success is. What does it mean to have success? Is it winning every tournament I play? I have goals that I want to achieve, for instance winning a Futures tournament in the next year, or ultimately playing in a grand slam, but am I only successful if I achieve these things?

It’s important when you set out to try and achieve something to define what success means to you, because success to one person does not necessarily mean the same thing to the next person. For example, in the recent soccer World Cup, they were interviewing a former German World Cup player and coach, and asked what the expectations were for Germany’s relatively young and inexperienced World Cup squad. The former coach responded by saying that anything less than a semifinal appearance would be viewed as a failure for the German squad. He said that this is the definition for success for Germans in the World Cup every year. In contrast, it was the US World Cup squad’s goal to reach the knockout stages of the tournament, or the round of 16. By simply reaching the round of 16, the US had a successful World Cup. Two different countries, two different definitions of success.

However, success does not always have to deal with outcome goals, or goals concerning winning and losing. In fact, by focusing all your energy on these types of goals, it can end up being destructive for your game. You cannot always have full control over the outcome of a match. We all have played matches where you play seemingly as well as you possibly can, and either due to your opponent playing extremely well too, or maybe some unlucky calls or conditions you still lose the match. Even when you do everything in your power to arrive at the outcome that you desire, it is still possible to come up short. You want to be able to have full control over your success.

Gerst is seen here hitting a backhand volley while training in San Luis Obispo at the Cal Poly courts.

Gerst is seen here hitting a backhand volley while training in San Luis Obispo at the Cal Poly courts.

This is why it is important to let success be based on your performance goals, or goals that you have total control over achieving, regardless of your opponent or practice partner, conditions, or anything else that can externally affect you. For example, our Cal Poly team last year focused on our A.C.E. (attitude, concentration, and effort) every time we went out on the court. These three things are always entirely in your control, and you can make the decision whether or not to allow outside influences to get the way of your attitude, concentration, and effort.

It can be very stressful and destructive when success is defined in terms of your outcome goals. You want to be able to have total control over your success, otherwise when you do everything in your power and the outcome still doesn’t go your way, your confidence and mind struggles to stay sharp and in tact. As I set out playing tournaments in the coming months, it’s important for me not to have my definition of success tied up in whether I win or lose. Instead, success to me is competing my best every match, giving myself the best chance to win by preparing my absolute best, and getting the most out of each new city and each and every day. These are things I have complete control over, and though my outcome goals are what drive me everyday and give me something to work towards, they do not define my idea of success. So when I step out on the court, either in competition or in practice, my focus stays internal on the things that I can control, and not on external distractions like the result, the opponent, the conditions, or anything else that I do not have control over.

I leave San Luis Obispo this Friday morning (July 9) for the Tracy Austin Doubles Tournament in Palos Verdes, CA. Check back for updates from the tournament!


Isospeed Energetic 17 String Review


In the mood for something a little different than I would normally play with, I tried a set of the Isospeed Energetic 17 gauge string.  Word has spread that Isospeed makes a great-playing string, and the Energetic did not disappoint.  With similar appearance to an aramid string, the Energetic differs by offering a very comfortable and soft feel with great durability for a multifilament.

Stringing the Energetic was a little unique to other strings.  I strung it at 56 lbs in my Prince TT Warrior MP.  It was pretty stiff and did not stretch much (due to the pre-stretched filaments), but was also fairly soft and easy on the fingers.  In addition, there was a little texture on the outside of the string, which made it a little more difficult to string than other strings with the same softness.  Overall however, it was a relatively easy stringing experience.

When I first hit the Energetic, I instantly noticed the grab it had on the ball and the enhanced ball pocketing.  The ball really sunk into the string bed on contact, and thus the strings were responsive and I was able to have great feel on all my shots.  The string was very soft and also provided a good amount of “pop” to the ball, making it pretty arm-friendly.  With the great ball pocketing, I was also able to generate ample amounts of spin on all my shots.  In addition to the nice playability, the strings lasted me a good 3-4 days in durability, which is much more than I would normally get out of a multifilament string, and right about on par with an average polyester string.

Overall, playing with the Isospeed Energetic 17 was a very nice experience.  It was a great well-rounded string, provided nice power, spin, and feel, while also maintaining tension, providing good durability, and being arm-friendly.  At $8.99 a set, the Energetic is definitely worth a try for anyone looking for an affordable, yet very playable all-around string with nice durability.


String Review: Prince Poly EXP 16


A pleasant surprise awaited me when I was handed a set of the Prince Poly EXP 16 to try. I knew little about the Prince Poly EXP 16 string before I tried it. I have enjoyed the Prince strings I had used in the past (I enjoyed playing with the Prince Syn Gut w/ Duraflex as a junior, as well as the Prince Tour in my college career), but I had never heard of the Poly EXP. And after playing with it I had found another Prince string that I really liked playing with.

I strung up the Poly EXP in my Prince TT Warrior MP at my standard 56 lbs for a polyester (I typically do 56 lbs for polys and 58-60 for multifilaments). It was a relatively easy string compared to other polyesters because of its smooth texture and slightly softer feel.

After just the first shot in the warm up I immediately noticed the incredible feedback and “pop” I was getting off the string bed. At contact the ball seemed to explode of the racket, resulting in a lot more power than I was used to out of a full bed of polyester.

Off the ground the Poly EXP felt excellent. I was able to generate large amounts of pace on the groundstrokes and a decent amount of spin to bring the ball back down into the court. Precision and control was slightly less than normal than other polyesters, but since I enjoy a more explosive and responsive string I did not mind.

Volleys and serves were also nice with the Poly EXP. I would have liked to be able to generate a little more bite on the ball, especially for knifing the volleys, but the pace I was able to generate, especially on the serve, was awesome! I was definitely hitting the big flat serve up the tee with a little more juice than normal…

Tension maintenance was good, but not great. It maintained tension for most of the life in the string bed (a little over a week), but started to lose tension towards the end. Durability was about average for a polyester string.

Overall I was extremely pleased with the Prince Poly EXP 16 string! I had played the Prince Tour string for a while during my college career, and definitely felt that the Poly EXP was a significant upgrade from the Tour (even though I did like the Tour a lot). The power and “pop” I was able to generate would be extremely hard to match from any other polyester on the market. If you enjoy a lively polyester with lots of potential for power, like I do, then I definitely would recommend giving the Prince Poly EXP a try!