Does playing tennis in the cold mess up your game?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by oneguy21, Dec 13, 2008.

  1. oneguy21

    oneguy21 Banned

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    I recently played a match with my friend in 33 degree weather(in a t shirt and shorts) and it seemed to me that my whole game just fell apart. I just hit everyball short if not shanking it and my serve lost so much pop. I did feel really cold and so do you think that my poor playing was b/c of the cold or was it just me?
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2008
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  2. junbug

    junbug Rookie

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    this is my opinion. the colder it gets, the less lively the balls. also the fact you were wearing a tshirt and shorts made things worse.
     
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  3. Headshotterer

    Headshotterer Professional

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    i remember playing in 40 degree weather
    my arms were so stiff i would actually miss the ball or hit it out of the courts
     
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  4. Moz

    Moz Hall of Fame

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    As junbug says the balls go completely dead, making everything seem like more effort than usual.

    Definitely take any results on a cold day with a pinch of salt and focus on technique instead.
     
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  5. i8myshirt

    i8myshirt Rookie

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    The cold could affect a lot of things. 33 degrees is freezing, especially in a t-shirt and shorts. Your muscles would have a very hard time warming up, your racket would compress from the lack of heat, especially the strings, and the balls would compact.
     
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  6. coonio

    coonio New User

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    U guys are nuts.
    The temperature basically never dips below 70 where I play, but I'm lucky to live where I live.
    As stiff as I tend to be, I would say just to make sure you get sufficiently warm before you start running around and really ripping the ball - seems to me you could hurt yourself pretty easily if you're not careful in these kind of temps.
    PS: If all else fails, move the hell away from where it gets so damn cold, nothing good comes from it unless you're a skier!
     
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  7. kelz

    kelz Professional

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    What's all this in degrees celcius? 33, 40, 70
     
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  8. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    I've played in temps like that when I was in my late 40s. Now, my joints (& muscles) have a difficult time dealing with anything much below the mid-50s.

    As others have mentioned, the cold air has a huge effect on the bounce of the ball, primarily due to the significantly reduced air pressure (in pressurized balls). According to the Ideal Gas Law:

    P = nRT/V

    I suppose that one solution is to use pressureless balls. The cold air may have a small effect on the rubber in the pressureless ball, but the pressure-temperature factor is pretty much eliminated.

    If you prefer to use standard pressurized balls, try to keep them as warm as possible. You can heat them up in a microwave (for a fairly short time) -- seriously -- before you head out to the courts or wrap them up in a warm blanket or container. They'll cool off by the time you start using them, but they won't be quite as hard to warm them up by rallying with them. I've gone as far as taking a heating pad to the courts with me. If you heat the balls up too much, they will bounce like crazy -- however, the effect is temporary.

    You can keep the balls from getting too cold by continually bouncing them before you start and in between points. This will help to keep your strings warm & more responsive as well. Do not let balls remain on the cold ground -- keep unused balls in your hand or in your pocket.

    I've noticed recently that my favorite balls, Dunlop Gran Prix balls, feel like rocks in cold weather and bounce less than other brands in these conditions. The same is true for the cheaper Dunlop balls. Wilson US Open balls fare better and feel better in cold weather than the Dunlops. Penn Champions feel the softest, especially in cold weather, but then tend to lose air pressure much quicker than the Wilson & Dunlop balls.

    .
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2008
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  9. limitup

    limitup Professional

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    Micro X balls are great in the cold. I've been hitting with my ball machine the past week when it's been 40 degrees out and I can't really even tell a difference.
     
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  10. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    I was playing a lot of indoor and outdoor tennis last year and the colder conditions seemed to turn my racquet into a brick. I'm in a good situation because I string my own bats and I found that if I set up one of my racquets at maybe four pounds less tension for outdoor sessions, it behaved a lot more like the tighter one that I'd use indoors. Lots more comfortable - I'm pretty sure that the strings become significantly less pliable when they are used in an environment that's maybe thirty or so degrees (F) colder.

    Pay attention to the brand and type of ball that you use outside. A regular duty felt may be less harsh than a heavier duty option and you might find that you really prefer one brand over another for better feel in the cold, too.

    I've also found that really thin synthetic long underwear is an excellent layer to use under my not-too-bulky sweats to keep me comfortable in the low 40's to high 30's. A hat will also keep me a lot more warm and functional on the courts in the marginal temps.
     
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  11. oneguy21

    oneguy21 Banned

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    I guess the pressure in my balls dropped b/c the temp. was really low. The balls were very worn out (around a month of hitting).
     
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  12. tennisfreak15347

    tennisfreak15347 Banned

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    we played in 20-30 Fahrenheit weather once, i couldn't even move my lips to articulate my words, so no one could understand me too much, :lol:. We also found that the ball bounced significantly lower, so we ended up throwing away quite a few balls, thinking they were dead.
     
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  13. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Even the pressure in fresh (new) balls will be relatively low when they are cold. Playing in the cold with old balls, the ball pressure will be even lower. Also, as a couple of us have suggested, the colder racket strings will also be less responsive.
     
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  14. oneguy21

    oneguy21 Banned

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    Yes I know. The Gay-Lussac law which comes from PV=nRT states the temperature and pressure directly proportional.
     
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  15. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    A contrarian view (don't know if it is true) (at Wimbledon, balls used to be refrigerated before play - not sure if it is done any more):

    "At the Wimbledon tennis championships, new balls come out of a fridge, and the commentators always remind us that they have more bounce at first, and less as they warm up.

    The warmth increases the internal pressure, which should increase the bounce, but it also softens the envelope, which must more than cancel out the effect of the pressure increase."

    BTW, I calculated the pressure decrease from 72 F to 32 F for the ideal gas, and it is 20%.
     
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  16. oneguy21

    oneguy21 Banned

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    That's pretty interesting. Could you show your work?
     
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  17. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    No, I just pulled it from the web.

    Unless you mean the 20% thing which is just a plug in into the formula.
     
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  18. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    You would need to use Rankine or Kelvin for T, correct?
     
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  19. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    That I what I did. And I used 72 and 32 so the F -> C conversion gets me 40 and 0. Multiply by 1.8 (9/5), add 273, and you get a ratio of 345/273 = 1.2 or 20%.
     
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  20. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Where did this quote come from? Saw exactly the same answer on Yahoo Answers.

    I have not tried the Slazenger balls on a grass surface, so I don't really know what the overriding effect would be. I would have thought that the cold rubber & felt would also tend to produce a lower bounce.
     
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  21. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Another interesting fact is that higher temperatures cause the ball to move faster:

    "High temperatures cause balls to move faster as the heat-softened rubber ball becomes more pliable and easier to propel."

    whatever than means.

    So, balls should be moving slower in the cold. To compensate, it is recommended to drop the tension by 2 to 4 lbs in cold weather.

    I suspect strings also behave differently in the cold.

    Considering that you cannot do anything about the temperature or its effect on the ball or strings, all you CAN do is to drop the tension a little to achieve the same depth in your shots.
     
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  22. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    A "harder" surface should produce more bounce. So colder rubber should bounce more, not less, I guess is the point.
     
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  23. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Interesting stuff.

    To your last point: I have had pretty positive results by keeping the balls somewhat warmer on cold nights -- they do bounce noticeably higher. Perhaps efforts to warm the stings may also produce better results
     
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  24. oneguy21

    oneguy21 Banned

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    I've found a solution for playing in cold weather.

    Play indoors.
     
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  25. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Another solution is not to play at all
     
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  26. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Indoors? Make sure that your Wii controller is not cold.
     
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  27. ttbrowne

    ttbrowne Hall of Fame

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    At our club, in the winter we have a total of 7 covered courts...4 permanent indoor and 3 covered by a vinyl bubble.
    I always play like crap "in the bubble".
    First, It always stays about 15 degress cooler out there.
    Second, The courts are the regular outdoor courts so they bounce a lot different.
    Very frustrating!
     
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  28. Mick

    Mick Legend

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    in my view, playing tennis in the cold does not mess up your game as much as not playing tennis (when you could be playing tennis in the cold) :)

    the more you play, the more you will improve.
     
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  29. beamjayman

    beamjayman New User

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    My racket feels brittle like it's going to shatter in the cold and my hands go so numb I can barely hold the racket.
     
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  30. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Yeah, those balls will shrink big time. In those weathers I always come in pants.
     
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  31. a_2c+

    a_2c+ Rookie

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    i am sorry to vent. but...

    I REALLY HATE PLAYING IN COLD WEATHER. (especially where i live...it routinely goes below 50° F during the boys tennis season...) THE COLD ruins my game: my game is centered around using omnster spin on groundstrokes and serves.... just can't seem to get them right during cold days...
     
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  32. Bottle Rocket

    Bottle Rocket Hall of Fame

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    You might want to check that again, specially your F to C conversion (40C is 104F)...

    My math says there is about an 8% difference in pressure.

    SO, a tennis ball at 72 degrees ideally has an internal pressure of 12 psi (above atmospheric). At 32 degrees you lose about 1 psi.

    I think this ends up being more significant than one would think, cold tennis balls annoy me more than most other things in this world. What is even worse is going to play indoors when the guys I am playing with kept all their balls outside in their car all day and its 15 degrees.

    I used to feel differently, but now, cold weather completely ruins the game for me. I don't enjoy it all and generally think it is is waste of time.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2009
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  33. AlphaCDjkr

    AlphaCDjkr Rookie

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    Cold days are really the bane of my tennis... and then, at the same time they can become a help, assuming I attempt to abuse the weather. Cold days= Flat balls, which don't respond well to topspin since they don't bounce much at all, right?

    On cold days most of my shots lose pop and spin, and most of any spin effect is nullified on bounce. Most of my topspin shots land around the service line (which is really annoying, because it peaks around my opponent's comfort zone, which usually ends up getting a rocket sent my way) and bounce is lower than normal. If the bounce becomes lower to the point where it becomes less effective, I prefer to abuse the opposite of a high bounce; skidding, low bouncing, slice.

    Particularly on cold days, since half of my arsenal is essentially dead, I start loading slice into my game. Kick serves will not kick well in cold weather, so I prefer go with the low bouncing, skidding slice serve. I can often get some winners when my opponents are surprised by how low the serve skidded. The same applies for slice groundies and drop shots; I can usually swing harder and attempt to add more spin. The chance of overpowering the shot and sending it into the fence is really low on cold days...

    I think that the best thing to do in the situation where you're playing in an uncomfortable condition is just to adapt and do what works. Maybe your normal game won't work anymore; experiment, and see what else you're capable of pulling off. I know on strong windy days, I tend to use sidespin more often in my game, in terms of both serves and groundstrokes; strong wind can really make some previously inaccessible angles... accessible. :)
     
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  34. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Hahahahahahaha, thanks for the laugh!

    40 degrees is excellent for playing, IMO, because you can run all over the place and barely even break a sweat in the process. After about 5 minutes I'm down to just a T shirt when I play in 40 degree weather. Actually, come to think of it, I've played when temperatures were in the 20s and both me and my hitting partner were down to T shirts in about 30 minutes or so.

    The balls still seem to bounce pretty well when it's in the 40s or higher, but when it gets below freezing it's really tough for me to continually dig out low balls to my forehand with my semi western grip. I can low ball all day long on the backhand side, but the forehand gets tricky sometimes. I like to really get under the ball and try to get some good topspin on it. That can be tough when the ball's 6 inches off the ground.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2009
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  35. superlobber

    superlobber New User

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    So let my guess, you lost. Keep in mind that your opponent has to play in the same condition too. However, if it's 33 degree, freezing tempature, will freezing your balls. And you mean YOUR BALLS.
     
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  36. superlobber

    superlobber New User

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    So let my guess, you lost. Keep in mind that your opponent has to play in the same condition too. However, if it's 33 degree, freezing tempature, will freezing your balls. And I mean YOUR BALLS.
     
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  37. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Just where are you guys living where you've never grown accustomed to the cold weather? Honestly, I don't think playing in 32 degree weather is so bad at all. Sure, the hands may get a little chilly, but overall it's kind of nice not to have a 106 degree Oklahoma sun beating down on me.
     
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  38. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    You may change your tune when you get older. When I was 47, playing in weather colder than 40F didn't bother me as much as it does now, 10 yrs later. Now the (semi-arthritic) joints have a difficult time tolerating temps much below 50F. However, if I get on an exercise bike for 15 minutes before heading out to the courts and periodically jump rope between games, I can tolerate temps in the low-to-mid 40s.
     
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  39. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    T and shorts in 33 is just plain not smart.... unless you're comfy.
    Wear loose, athletic clothes.
    Down to 35 should be no problem.
    Some players even resort to wearing hats!! And gloves.
     
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  40. In D Zone

    In D Zone Hall of Fame

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    Weather was nice but cold last Monday. My son and I went out to hit some balls outdoor court - I'd say it was around 44 degrees at that time then right around 5pm temp just dropped down to 32 degrees. Guys from the other court wanted to play doubles. My non dominant hand was all numb after moving around and serving for awhile - we go into the game. It was cold, balls were going dead and I cannot feel my face. We stopped right around 7pm and man we were was exhausted.

    Indoor is much better - I have played indoors even down to upper 20's - no problem.
     
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  41. 408tennisguy

    408tennisguy New User

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    All I can say is, if Novak Djokovich wants to play me, I'll take him to 30 degree farenheit weather and make him forfeit!!
     
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  42. Syfo-Dias

    Syfo-Dias Semi-Pro

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    Playing in the cold definitely messes up my game. Last time I played outside it was in the 40's and I played horrible. Ended up breaking a racquet for the first time in 3 years that night. I'm sticking to indoor courts till Spring arrives.
     
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  43. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Good point. The balls are like rocks in the cold. They dont bounce and your hands lose their feel because they are cold or frozen. After awhile the hands warm-up (hopefully).

    But like others said, take the results with a grain of salt but try to work on your form and technique. You can work on your movement and footwork if the court is safe to do so. This will at least keep players warm.
     
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  44. Lotto

    Lotto Professional

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    What's all this farenheight tall :evil: lol. Celsius people, it's the way to go.

    In Ireland it's pretty much 0-18/19 degrees celsius at most so, I'm used to the cold. A couple of summers ago we had a couple of days where it went up to 33 degrees!! And it used to be consistently 20-25 during the summer and bright and sunny but now our summers are WET and 15-16 degrees, it's so frustrating :evil: How did that happen?

    I don't know, when I play in cold weather I feel horrible because, well normally I don't move at all anyway but I'm even less inclined to move. lol.
     
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  45. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Oh, I know that, but let's be honest, 80% of the posters here are under 18 years old here. I'm not saying that to put them down or anything, it's just the truth.
     
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  46. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Yeah, whatever. It is still cold. :)

    I dont know how it happened. However, have you ever considered moving?
     
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  47. Drewwonu

    Drewwonu Semi-Pro

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    Here in jersey i played in 30 degree weather the other day. Yeah, it sucks but i need to play tennis! I refuse to pay $50 an hour at our club. I would rather freeze to death. (literally)
     
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  48. HS Tennis Player

    HS Tennis Player New User

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    ive noticed that too, when i play on outdoor courts the temp doesnt get much past 40, and i always play a lot worse, and i always think im just havin a bad day, but when i play on indoor courts my shots go in most of the time, i never really put the two together, but it makes sense now. I think my coach told me to store my hopper somewhere semi warm for the reason that has been stated a few times.
     
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