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fundrazer 01-31-2013 08:19 AM

My Return to Tennis!
I'm going to start up a thread here to talk about my return to playing tennis more often and whatever else comes to my mind:) Don't think anyone will be too interested but who knows. I'm looking to start playing my club's tennis league in march or april. So most of what I blab about will be my progression from rusty technique to solid league player.

So why haven't I been playing tennis? I used to help help out with my old high school's tennis team, but after a bit of a falling out with the head coach last spring I decided to move on from that. Since then I have played very little and have not played any sort of competitive match. I kept active over the summer with road cycling, but seeing as how it's winter time now I haven't been going out. My solution was to join a local athletic club! Can play tennis and even get sessions in on the stationary bike. I joined last Friday, and today is going to be my first time playing tennis again in a while. I signed up for a 4.0 ntrp clinic and am a bit nervous but also excited.

So what about my tennis game? I guess I'm somewhere around 3.5-4.0 ntrp. I've never played tournaments or been rated by a teaching pro, but I'll be evaluated by one of the club pros when I decide to start playing the tennis leagues at the club. My main goal is to get back into playing shape and be competitive...and to have fun too! But back to my game. The big strength for me has always been the forehand. It's always been the shot I can rely on the most for just rallying or if it's time to end the point. Solid 2h backhand and a solid 1h slice to accompany it, but I'm trying to switch to full 1hbh. I've played on and off with both, but after playing 2h for a while the 1hbh technique kind of left me. Hoping the club teaching pros can help with that:) I would rate my serve as my 2nd best shot overall. Can hit the first serve with decent pace and placement, and second serve is solid also. Good pace and spin on my second serve I think. Decent volleyer, (very much inspired by Pat Rafter, but not the success he had :)) my backhand volley is usually the side that breaks down. Looking to fix that also. I'm also a decent mover around the court with some good footspeed and not half bad footwork.

And lastly, I'll talk about what some of my gear. After a bit of time with the blx prostaff 95, I've gone back to the prestige line. My main stick has been the microgel prestige MP, but I've got an anniversary IG prestige that I'm going to play with also. Even if I don't end up liking the IG prestige, it's still a very cool racquet to have. A lot of the pros to use the prestige are some of my favorite players of all time (<3 Safin), and the black paintjob is just sick. I stick to x-one at around 56 usually. Love the feel and I the control provided is still excellent. Probably going to try out the yonex polys at one point as well. Some of the yonex polys seem to be very highly regarded. As for shoes, I'm still on my Breathe 2k10's but will be retiring them for CC feather II's soon. Love the fit on those new feather II's, but my Nike's still have a bit of play left in them.

So I guess that's it for now. I will report back after my clinic session tonight.

OrangePower 01-31-2013 08:56 AM

Good luck with your comeback. Sounds like you have a decent base to build on as you get more into it. There will be ups and downs no doubt but the main thing to keep in mind is to have fun! None of us are being paid to play :)

corbind 01-31-2013 08:56 AM

Should be fun to see how things go.

fundrazer 01-31-2013 05:11 PM

Well just finished up and got home. Time for the first update. Only 2 other guys signed up for the session today, so that made 4 of us including the teaching pro. So how did things go... Well, I'm obviously still a bit rusty. The thing that I noticed the most was that my reactions were just not up to speed. During the volley drills I was pretty slow and it lead to quite a few mishits. I did have some nice shots though, especially some well angled volleys that I took on very early. Unfortunately I had same problems returning serve. It wasn't so much reading where the serve was going, but I just had trouble getting myself into position to return properly. Still need to work off the rust on the serve also. Hit some nice ones but I wasn't making as many as I would like.

Groundstroke drills I was fine, but we didn't spend a whole lot of time working them. I think it would have been better for me to work off more rust by spending more time on groundstrokes, but it's all good. Forehand was solid and dependable as always :) Hitting 1hbh's, I was also surprised at how well I was able to hit them. Remembered to keep contact out in front as opposed to closer to the body as with a 2hander.

All in all I had a good time. Finally took off the plastic wrapping on my IG Prestige and enjoyed hitting with it. :) It had that familiar prestige feel and I had no trouble hitting with it. I'm sure after a few more outings I'll get my reaction timing back up to where they need to be.

Govnor 02-01-2013 06:15 AM

Welcome back Pete!

IA-SteveB 02-01-2013 07:23 AM

Congrats on the session. Seems like you have a foundation that will be honed over time. That rust will fall away and you will be having some real fun. I started back after 20 years off last summer and it did take a while, especially since I had no foundation. :)

omega4 02-02-2013 05:18 AM

Good luck on your comeback and return to tennis.

I'm doing the same but with a focus on having fun and enjoying quality tennis. I intend to still play golf (my primary sport; single digit handicap) but not as much as before, given how the length of weekend golf rounds gets longer each year because of slow play.

fundrazer 02-03-2013 02:52 PM

Like most other folks in the US today I'll be watching the Super Bowl. More interested in the commercials this year though. Not a huge fan of handegg, but I can't stand either team. Would prefer to see the 49ers win however.

I've checked out my club's class schedule for this week, and I've found two classes that I'm going to sign up for. One is 3.5-4.0 stroke production, and the other is the same class I signed up for last week, 4.0 tennis drills. Those will be on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Next update will come on Wednesday with another coming after my session on Thursday. Looking forward to playing again and having some fun:)

bethany2 02-03-2013 05:19 PM

fundraser, excited to follow your story!

I'm actually in a similar position and trying to get back into it and at least close to the level I used to be in a short amount of time. It's been a frustrating experience to say the least, so I wish you the best of luck!
I had never taken more than a week or so off from tennis since I first picked it up (age 8) until 5 years ago when I stopped playing entirely. In the last couple of weeks so far I've played in 3 clinics and one match for my new mixed team. Before I quit, I was probably a 4.5-level singles player. I'm now playing as a 3.5, which is about right for how I've been playing. I have brief periods where I'll look like the player I used to be, and then seconds later I'll shank a ball up and hit the back wall. I'm sure some of it is just practice and muscle memory, but I think even more if it is all mental. I've found that even in my clinics, I keep overthinking every swing. Consistency and my mental toughness were always what got me through tough matches before, but now I seem to have lost both!!
Have you had any problems with that? Not necessarily a lack of mental toughness, but just overthinking things that used to be natural? It's frustrating to begin with but now I think I've become my own biggest problem!

Good luck to you again though and I'll definitely be following your story to try to learn anything I can from it!!

bethany2 02-03-2013 05:22 PM

oops that was supposed to say "age 8" in my post above (not a smiley face!) ha

Say Chi Sin Lo 02-03-2013 05:29 PM

Good luck! I always hate the "comeback phase".

Those first 1-2weeks of rust make me want to quit for good.

Relinquis 02-03-2013 09:41 PM

I've recently returned to tennis after a 15 year or so absence.

My serve is still bad, but it was never a weapon (retooling it with a coach now). It took me about a month of regular playing (three times a week) to get my forehand back, but my backhand was on from from day 1, more or less. It was always my stronger shot.

The funny thing is, i find that when i'm outstretched running for a forehand or am in the heat of a tough rally i will pull off shots as if I had never stopped playing tennis! I understand the over-thinking bit you talked about.

My movement was really bad during the first month as my fitness wasn't at the level which allows me to execute my game. I had never been so aware of my joints and weight before! There are certain stresses you feel on a tennis court that you don't in the gym or out running/cycling. Once I got my fitness back up, regular tennis helped as did some cycling/running, my game really improved and I can safely say that I could probably beat my 15-year-old-younger self in a best of 5 match now.

Stick with it, but make sure you give yourself enough days rest between practice sessions and matches especially during the first couple of months as your body is probably not used to the stress of tennis. the last thing you want is an injury on the court that will put your game back even longer.

It's such a fun sport, i wish i had never stopped playing.

colowhisper 02-04-2013 05:38 AM

I was going to bring up the same idea, fitness. Be aware and careful!

I was exactly where you are one year ago. I grew up playing and had a solid foundation but had not played for 25 years or so. When I first joined the adult rec team at my local club I was amazed at the number of injuries my teammates complained about. Little did I know I would fall victim to most of the "over-use" injuries by the end of the season and was pretty beat up. (I am 45). So this year I trained like a banshee all winter and am now in MUCH better shape and am playing much higher level game and really looking forward to the season. Tennis was the inspiration, so I hope you enjoy your comeback too!

fundrazer 02-04-2013 07:14 AM

Luckily for me I am in way better shape than when I was in high school a few years back. That's not to say I was in bad shape then, but I'm just more active overall making better decisions about my health/fitness.

Hi bethany! Thanks for the post. I'll try to answer your question. I've always been pretty relaxed when I play. I don't tend to think too much or dwell on missed shots. Maybe I was a little bit more jittery during my first session, but nothing too noticeable I guess. I know that I'm going to make some mistakes and I just take them as they come. I like to think that I'm in a state of relaxed focus. Staying calm but hitting my shots the way I know how.

Although, I think when I was playing matches whether competitive or just for fun, I think sometimes I didn't think enough actually. I usually play with a fast pace and I think sometimes I don't give myself any time to think the last point over and whatnot.

And thanks for the support everybody. Again, I'll be posting updates after my sessions on Wednesday and Thursday :)

colowhisper 02-04-2013 12:30 PM


Originally Posted by fundrazer (Post 7190448)
Luckily for me I am in way better shape than when I was in high school a few years back

Yep, you probably don't have as much worry about then.

fundrazer 02-06-2013 05:29 PM

Okay, just home from my session today and had a very good time. This was a clinic for 3.5 to 4.0 players so I was a little bit more in my zone. The 2 guys from last week were cracking the ball a bit and I struggled because of that.

Overall, every aspect of my game was on and working today. Hit the forehand very well. Still had some occasions where I felt a little bit rushed though. A little bit of trouble anticipating how the ball was coming through the court. Backhand was okay but I was missing more than I did last week. Think I need to focus on getting that swing through and up while taking the ball out in front. Will make that a focus point for tomorrow.

Where I was really happy tonight, volleys! I was complimented on my net play by one of the other players there. I covered the net well, nice compact stroke, and I even had some killer reaction volleys. I was totally up to speed and it felt great. I was also hitting the serve well again. Teaching pro reminded me to get the toss up a bit higher, and when I made the adjustment I was back to cracking some good serves.

I was also very happy to have a session with this particular teaching pro. I know most of the guys on their staff, but it had been a while since I'd seen or talked with him. It was great to catch up and everything. He was a big fan of the anniversary prestige bag as well. Can't always play well, but ya gotta look good on the court :) Turns out he actually runs the class I took last week also. He was sick last week but he's back in action now. I'll be seeing him tomorrow for the 4.0 drills session.

fundrazer 02-07-2013 06:52 PM

Today's session was mostly similar to last night's. Hit the ball from all areas of the court pretty well. For the most part anyway. Had some trouble with backhands again, but that's a work in progress. Pace of shot was a bit higher tonight so I am glad that I made the adjustment well. Definitely feeling like I am anticipating and reacting more quickly than last week.

Also had some interesting forehand exchanges with the other younger guy of the group. He often tries to crack the ball on that side, but when he would go cross court to me (playing doubles) I had no problems with it. Felt good, sort of thinking to myself "I can play that game too, maybe even a bit better." I kind of think I gave him more trouble than vice versa.

Already looking forward to my sessions next week. Legs are a bit sore but I'm good to go :) Also had a brief scare with my ankle but all's good. I sometimes have a very short slide when being pulled a bit over to my forehand side. On this occasion I actually felt my ankle start to roll over but I was able to recover and kept stable. Won the point too:) Anyway, I'm going to try and make the same 2 clinics every week and possibly get in a hit with a friend of mine. Three sessions a week should have me right back on track for getting ready to play the club league that starts up in a month or two.

fundrazer 02-13-2013 08:38 PM

So today was a bit funny. Started off like opposite day when we started warming up. I couldn't hit a forehand over the net. Dunno what the deal with that was, but the funny bit was that I was making practically all of my 1hbh's. Hence why I called it opposite day. Once we started warming up with rallying though things got better and I made all the balls I should be making.

Net play was solid for the most part. Biggest problem today though was my backhand volley. Was making clean contact with ball but they were just popping up on me. Teaching pro said I was hitting them a little to close instead of out in front. Will try to keep in it mind for tomorrow when I'm at net.

I'm also always trying to keep my feet moving during the warmups and everything else as well. I know good footwork is a big key to moving around easily but also to hitting a solid shot. Also had no incidents with lack of traction on the shoes. I was a bit worried after last week's slight ankle scare but everything's cool. I was using tonight as a gauge to see if I should switch to my newer shoes or not. Think my breath 2k10's still have a bit more life in them though :)

fundrazer 02-21-2013 09:52 AM

So I think I'm starting to cement myself as the best player of the Wednesday night clinic I attend. Still having trouble returning some of the faster serves, but every other shot I have confidence in right now. Not to mention that I'm probably the fastest guy there, it also helps that I'm probably at least 15 years younger than most of them :)

I just think I'm winning points in all sorts of ways and have improved drastically from where I was just 3 weeks ago. Forehand is great, backhand is usually dependable (especially if I slice), volleys have been rock solid, and my movement around the court has been great. I had some nice touch shots last night, including a half volley lob shot off the backhand with my opponents at net, some very nice volleys (soft hands!), and one of those Federeresque on the run backhand flicks down the line.

Looking forward to tonight. I'm also retiring my Nike's I have decided. My right foot was sliding a bit too much last night and I think it's a sign that the traction is going awol. Excited to see how the CC Feather II's feel on court.

fundrazer 02-22-2013 08:44 AM

Think I may have had a breakthrough discovery in regards to hitting my 1hbh. At one point last night I realized that I am taking my eye off of the ball as it gets closer to contact instead of watching it through contact. Made a mental note to keep eyes on the ball through the swing and I ended up being more consistent with it. Woohoo!

I was also invited to play on Sunday by some of the other guys of the clinics. Looking forward to that :)

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