15 Year Hiatus, Comeback, Tennis Elbow, The Cure

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by DaveInBradenton, Mar 4, 2013.

  1. DaveInBradenton

    DaveInBradenton Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2013
    Messages:
    165
    Location:
    Bradenton Fl
    Short Version:

    I did not play for 15 years. I retired at 68 years old. I decided to try to comeback. I quickly developed TENNIS ELBOW. I switched from playing one-hand both sides to two-hands both sides. This allowed me to continue practicing while my tennis elbow subsided. I now can and do hit ground stroke drives on both sides, one or two handed. There is a good chance this will work for you too.


    Long Version:

    I started playing tennis in 1958, the summer before I went to high school. I basically lived on the neighborhood (Cicero Illinois) tennis courts all that summer. The wood racket was a hand me down, the balls were white and usually didn't have much fuzz left. Tennis teams: two years high school, 2 years Wright Junior College (Chicago), and two years at Northeastern Illinois University. NIU was a small fledgling university; we played local teams: U of Ill Chicago Circle, Northwestern U Evanston, North Park College, University of Chicago, etc.. I played number one or two singles, but frankly the quality of tennis in those days was greatly diminished in comparison to the present. Tennis was a very minor sport.

    After graduating, I taught junior high school physical education in Oak Park and spent my bachelor summers at the Oak Park Tennis Club. The OPTC was a long established club with 8 or 9 Har-tru courts. I considered myself a solid club player, usually reaching the round of 16 in the club tournament. My strokes were text-book for the time (now "classic"?) with eastern grips and long swings on both sides. The modern era of graphite rackets with western topspin forehands and two-hand topspin backhands was yet to come.

    As the years rolled by, I moved to Florida in 1981 and enjoyed tennis in the Sun Shine State. In my early 50's, I probably played my best tennis ever. The last rackets I used were the original Prince Graphite OS and Prince CTS Approach. In 1996 I bought a Harley-Davidson and stopped playing tennis.

    I lost interest, I stopped playing. This decision proved to be, ........, well,.......dumb!

    More later....
    Hacker Dave
    Bradenton Fl
     
    #1
  2. DaveInBradenton

    DaveInBradenton Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2013
    Messages:
    165
    Location:
    Bradenton Fl
    You've probably heard of Bradenton Florida. Many high level players have been trained here. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them.

    In '96 I put my rackets in the closet and never took them out again. Eventually my wife said to me, "What should I do with those old rackets?". I told her she should garage sale them. She did. Geez, I wish I still had that old green Prince Graphite 110 with the leather grip.

    In Jan of 2012 I had a mild heart attack on a Sunday motorcycle ride with two buddys. I ended up in the hospital for three days. They gave me a stent to open up a closed artery and prescriptions for heart meds. A few weeks later they gave me a heart stress test on a treadmill and said you're good to go.

    I promptly retired. I was already 68. What was I waiting for?

    So, a few months later, I'm sitting in my recliner in my trailer in my mobile home park with a margarita in hand watching the French Open. Very interesting. I get the crazy idea that wouldn't it be fun just to drop and hit a few tennis balls.

    I go the local Salvation Army and Goodwill stores and buy some rackets. Yeah several,.......only $3.00 or $4.00 ! Such a deal. Prince CTS Precision! Wilson HighBean Advantage 95!, Pro-Kennex Power Prophecy (with vibration absorber) !, a Prince 110 Pursuit (of excellence?, and the biggest prize of all, a Dunlop titanium? PLUS-ONE (inch) 112!

    What was I thinking? All bargains!

    I proceed to the tennis courts, armed with vintage rackets and new Penn pressure-less balls from Wal-mart. (Later I read that these balls are "high impact", only exceeded by dead regular balls. Live and learn) I drop & hit ground strokes. "Why are most of these going in the net?" I raise my sights. Now half the balls are going over the net. "I've still got it!"

    I find that with the Titanium Dunlop PLUS ONE 112 Super Racket it's possible to actually hit the far fence. Ahh, racket testing! Cool!

    Now it's time to test the serve. I toss, I swing,...........NO CONTACT ! !

    I quickly look around to see if anyone is looking. Luckily, I'm the only one at the courts!
    I know I can do better. I toss, I swing,...........FRAMER! The ball hits the side fence!

    Improvement noted.

    After a number of abortive attempts (numerous in the net and near the baseline), I finally hit one in the service box. "Quit while you are ahead!"

    OK, OK,.......I wasn't very good the first time out (OK, I was BAD), but I was encouraged. I decided I would try it again. In no time I was hooked and on the courts three times a week. After a few weeks. I was the "drop & hit" Master.

    Then I got overconfident. I upped my swing speed and began to hit my version of the Federer overspin backhand. Cool!

    More later.......

    Dave
     
    #2
  3. DaveInBradenton

    DaveInBradenton Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2013
    Messages:
    165
    Location:
    Bradenton Fl
    My classic backhand (now "old school") was good back in olden times. I took a big swing with eastern backhand grip (thumb up the handle) and hit it flat with a big follow through. I hit slice on service returns, approach shots, and defensive lobs.

    Yes, I had seen Rod Laver hitting his topspin BH and I tried it, but it never really worked for me. My best BH was crosscourt and flat. Very historical stuff.

    So here I am, practicing my drop & hit imitation of the R Federer overspin backhand. If he can do it, so can I. (RF is only the best player ever, right?) I am now overconfident and hitting aggressively. The shot really looks good; I am looking good! I can sense the admiring looks of players on adjacent courts. (They don't know my mobility is non-existent, I have no endurance, and I haven't rallied with another player in 15 years)

    My elbow starts to hurt, but I continue to practice for a while longer. On the way home, by elbow is really starting to hurt. The Fed backhand!

    I get home and now my elbow hurts so badly that I cannot even lift up the TV remote without PAIN! What a pickle! I now have the dreaded TENNIS ELBOW.

    More later.......
    Dave
     
    #3
  4. DaveInBradenton

    DaveInBradenton Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2013
    Messages:
    165
    Location:
    Bradenton Fl
    Researching TE on the Internet, I find that the basic cure is,.........cease and desist playing for three months, .......more or less. Oh man, I'm just starting my comeback and now I should not practice? No way.

    I rested the elbow for a week. Meanwhile I ordered a flexible frame (Head MicroGel Radical 107, flex 58) with 15L Tonic natural gut at 57 pounds. I got a forearm brace for elbow tendinitis at Wal-Mart. I ordered some low-impact Tretorn X balls (expensive) and put the high impact zero pressure Penns in the closet.

    I decided since the OHBH had done me in, that I would bite the bullet and switch to a two hand. I had long admired the 2HBH for it's top spin and speed. I am only of average natural athletic ability, but I have always been able to make changes in my strokes over the years. I figured I could, if not master, at least come up with a workable two hand shot. I was a JHS physical education teacher and basketball coach for 13 years; I was used to teaching physical skills. I could teach myself a 2HBH. I researched the technique on the Internet.

    I took my hopper of new balls and new racket to the courts. The two hander felt cramped at first. My left hand had never pushed a racket before, a new experience. I used my normal eastern backhand grip and a semiwestern FH grip for my left hand. I had to learn to turn my shoulders with the stroke. It was like hitting left handed in baseball. I used the low to high swing path. Big follow through. My progress was steady and I kept improving. Now I can hit it with authority.

    My pain was greatly diminished by using two hands on the back hand, BUT I still felt the twinge on my forehand side. This was encouraging and discouraging. I was avoiding forehand practice, but was OK for 2HBH and serving. For some reason, my serve was OK.

    I felt that the 57 tension with 15L NG could be softer. I ordered another Radical with 16 gauge Tonic NG at 54 pounds. It proved to be a better combination.

    Based on my positive experience with the 2HBH (two hands seemed to diminish the impact on my elbow significantly), I decided try something unorthodox.

    More later.....
    Dave

    "Tennis elbow? WE DON'T NEED NO STINKIN' TENNIS ELBOW !"
     
    #4
  5. DaveInBradenton

    DaveInBradenton Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2013
    Messages:
    165
    Location:
    Bradenton Fl
    Readers, I sense what you're thinking,.....a TWO-HAND FOREHAND? Isn't that a bit over the top?

    Look at this from my perspective, back in June, I was 68 years old (now 69), full of enthusiasm for the game, and needed a way back to tennis at some level. I'm thinking this will be my last comeback, I can't be waiting around for a minor miracle. I've got to take some affirmative action and at least see what happens.

    The 2HFH (you don't see that abbreviated much) is not new of course. When I was a senior in high school circa 1962, my father took me to see the Pro tennis tour in Chicago. The headliners were Alex Olmedo, Lew Hoad, Pancho Gonzalez, and Pancho Segura. Segura was a short bow legged guy who swung with two hands on both sides. And there are some modern players too who've used two hand forehands. Monica Seles (lives nearby in Sarasota or used to) dominated with two hands, but the stroke has never caught on. It's still considered an oddity. Oh well, I've evolved into an oddity.

    I initially tried a couple different grips, ended up with a semi-western forehand grip on the bottom and a CONTINENTAL grip on top. Basically this is similar to the grips on my 2HBH. In fact I try to use the same principles of footwork and swing path on both sides. I use a circular backswing, a low to high relaxed swing, extend the arms on impact, and a
    long follow through. My swing speed is medium to fast. With two hands, it's easy to swing too fast actually. You can use open stance or closed; I try to get sideways when I have time.

    One thing I like about two handers is that the guide hand makes for a consistent racket swing path.

    Limitations? They are the same as the two hand backhand. You can't reach as far. For hard to reach balls (low, wide, high), I revert to one hand on both sides which is the accepted practice at higher levels.

    The PAYOFF: my tennis elbow is about 95% gone. I just take care never to overuse my elbow.

    I now practice both sides 2 hands and both sides 1 hand. I hit my 1 hand FH with mild topspin, the 2 hand FH with aggressive top spin. I hit my OHBH with mild overspin, no pain. The 2HBH also with aggressive top spin. I can also hit slice on my OHBH.

    My 2HFH is now my best ground stroke. Hard to believe, but true.

    I have gone down a couple more pounds on the MG Radical to 52 and may go to 50.

    Best wishes,
    Dave
     
    #5
  6. Buford T Justice

    Buford T Justice Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2011
    Messages:
    424
    Nice chronicle of your journey Dave!
     
    #6
  7. Brian11785

    Brian11785 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2010
    Messages:
    1,506
    Location:
    TX
    Great story. I hit with a two-handed forehand as well (more for consistency/power--not my elbow's sake) and I have dramatically improved over the year or so I switched. From a 3.0 with a middling matchplay record to a 3.5 with....well a middling and improving matchplay record. But the only other guy I've ever seen at my courts hit with one switched due to injury. Was interesting to see a guy hit with such traditional-looking form a shot that is not necessarily seen as traditional.
     
    #7
  8. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Messages:
    4,410
    Location:
    expanding my Ignore List
    Good story Dave. Sorry about the heart attack but the silver lining is you got to retire and you rediscovered tennis. Do you still have your Harley or did your wife get rid of that too? :)
     
    #8
  9. DaveInBradenton

    DaveInBradenton Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2013
    Messages:
    165
    Location:
    Bradenton Fl
    You use a 2HFH? That makes you an oddball!

    What grips do you use? I tried the hands both both ways (baseball & cross grip), but soon realized that hitting 2 hand backhands on both sides was impractical due to the grip changes needed. It's been done though. Here's a video of Ayumi Morita (Japan) using 2 hand backhands on both sides. You have to look closely to see her quickly changing top and bottom hands.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKeZmsi9vUM

    I try to keep my 2HFH footwork and racket swing path as close as possible to my 2HBH. Using the cross-grip on the forehand makes the backswing a bit more confined, but other than that, they are the same. I use a circular backswing, just as I always did on my one hand shots. I enjoy the good topspin the two hand shots provide.

    I'm thinking of getting a 1/2 inch longer racket for even more fun. What do you think?

    Best wishes,
    Dave
     
    #9
  10. Brian11785

    Brian11785 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2010
    Messages:
    1,506
    Location:
    TX
    Correct, I am a freak. The looks I get from people at my city center are my fuel to keep improving the shot. :)

    You described mine exactly. The loop backswing is something that I've developed the past couple of months, and a find it more intuitive than a loop backswing on a 2HBH.

    Morita hits the ball very cleanly, but I hit the Seles/Bartoli no-hand-change method. My grips on the forehand are continental left hand and semi-western right hand. That also makes a great combo for a 2HFH (like a left handed backhand) slice. The right hand releases upon contact, like Santoro's. Fun shot that throws people off. Particularly approaching net with it.

    I wouldn't worry TOO much about extended length racquets, unless you demo one you really like. At one point, I thought it was a necessity, but I soon realized that this "necessity" cut my available racquet options by like 90%.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2013
    #10
  11. DaveInBradenton

    DaveInBradenton Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2013
    Messages:
    165
    Location:
    Bradenton Fl
    Thanks. I started my comeback last summer June 7th. That means in 3 days it will be 8 months. I've had my aches and pains (TE, achilles, & shoulder) but those are gradually working out. I'm still not very mobile, but that's improving too.

    At about the 2 month mark I bought a small portable ball machine: the Tennis Cube. It's just the ticket for intermediate players. It weighs under 30 pounds and fits in the passenger seat of my Mustang like a glove. It will handle a hopper full of balls, about 65. The speed and frequency of shots is adjustable. I bought some low-impact Tretorn balls that maintain their bounce and have very good longevity. I practice with the machine 2-3 times a week.

    Ironic though, when you are making a 15 year comeback AND a retired senior citizen, that even though you want to go to the courts almost every day, your body demands rest days between sessions. Hence the 2-3 days of weekly.

    My advice: Don't give up the game AND don't get old.

    Best wishes,
    Dave
     
    #11
  12. DaveInBradenton

    DaveInBradenton Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2013
    Messages:
    165
    Location:
    Bradenton Fl
    Good question. Actually she got ride of............ ME !

    Yeah, about a decade ago. She got the house, I got the Harley.

    You know how that goes.

    A lot of things happened since I gave up the game circa 1996.

    The heart attack.: Well, I certainly did not think I was a candidate for that. I have never smoked and I was only about ten pounds overweight. I had one artery open, one partially blocked, and one completely blocked. The stent opened the partially closed one and one still remains closed. I'm still OK to do pretty much any activities I want, just use common sense. I restrict myself to two Margaritas a day.

    Motorcycles: Since the Harley, I have owned a Suzuki Bandit 1200, Yamaha FZ1, Kawasaki ZX12R, ZX10R, and now have three: Suzuki SV1000, Kawasaki Concours 1400, and Ninja 1000. Also since '96 I have owned and sold 3 trucks and now have a GT Mustang. All this since I gave up tennis!

    Time marches on.

    Best wishes,
    Dave
     
    #12
  13. DaveInBradenton

    DaveInBradenton Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2013
    Messages:
    165
    Location:
    Bradenton Fl
    Brian, you're right on that. Plus in my case I have to use a VERY arm friendly racket. I have the double whammy, I still have some shoulder issues and I'm old.

    What I'm thinking is that an extra 1/2 inch would give me a bit more fire-power. I've always liked things that go fast: cars, motorcycles, bullets, TENNIS BALLS.

    I am considering the Pro Kennex 7G. There's an on-going thread now with lots of praise for this racket.

    Best wishes,
    Dave
     
    #13
  14. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
    Messages:
    19,659
    Location:
    Central Florida
    I'd stay away from extended length. The 7G is comfy but I could never shake my TE issues with it and I'm pretty sure that little extra length was the culprit.
     
    #14
  15. Brian11785

    Brian11785 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2010
    Messages:
    1,506
    Location:
    TX
    I demo-ed that one. Definitely the most arm-friendly extended racquet I tried. Hope it works out for you!
     
    #15
  16. DaveInBradenton

    DaveInBradenton Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2013
    Messages:
    165
    Location:
    Bradenton Fl
    Mikeler
    Brian

    Thanks for the input. For fun, I've just sent for some TW demos, all ProKennex:

    Redondo Mid Plus 98
    Kenetic Pro 7G
    Kenetic Pro 5G

    All have good reviews for arm and shoulder problems.

    My present setup (MicroGel Radical OS, NG Tonic 16 @ 52) is good (got me through my TE), BUT as my confidence has grown, so has my swing speed. I believe this has given me my present shoulder issues. It's both shoulders so it must be from big swings on both 2 handers. (I was always prone to "over-hit" in my previous life) Perhaps the PK technology will be better.

    Mikeler, I know you enjoy long threads (Mikeler's Multis). I am thinking of starting one:

    "WHAT'S THE BEST RACKET, STRING, AND TENSION COMBINATION?"

    What do you think? The never endiing saga of man vs racket vs string vs tension vs the fuzzy yellow ball. Think of the infinite combinations!

    Dave
    Tampa Bay Fl
     
    #16
  17. scotus

    scotus Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2005
    Messages:
    7,610
    If you check out some motorcyclist forums, quite a few people report getting tennis elbow just from riding their motorcycles.
     
    #17
  18. DaveInBradenton

    DaveInBradenton Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2013
    Messages:
    165
    Location:
    Bradenton Fl
    I think you'd find that a whole lot more motorcyclists actually BREAK their elbows while riding.

    I only had tennis elbow once before. Back near the end of my playing days almost two decades ago, Prince came out with what was then an ultra light racket, about 10 onces if memory serves. It had a super wide beam and must have been very stiff. I couldn't wait to get my hands on one. I was playing primarily on Har-tru at the time and the light Prince had lots of power (too much actually) for the heavy fuzzy balls. I could really crank my one hand backhand down the line with it. Anyhow it gave me tennis elbow in no time.

    Remember when tennis balls were white and rackets were wood? In my youth my racket of choice was the Wilson Jack Kramer autograph. I hope Jack received some renumeration for every JK autograph sold because I had a bunch of them.

    I also had one Imperial. Most readers will have to google that one. The Tad Davis company also made TAD rackets. These rackets were also sort of works of art.

    Best wishes,
    Dave

    "What is love? Baby don't hurt me! Don't hurt me no more!"
     
    #18

Share This Page