Monthly Archives: March 2012

Babolat Stringing Team Combines the Best Stringers and the Finest Babolat Strings

Pierre Babolat created the first Babolat strings in 1875 and since then the company has been perfecting tennis string. In 1927 the brand debuted the VS natural gut, in the 80`s they created the Babolat Stringing Team, in 2011 they had an official partnership with the French Open and on February 29,2012 they hosted the first Babolat VS String Team Academy.

The Babolat VS String Team Academy allows the best stringers in the tennis community to become certified to string with the Babolat VS String Team using the finest of Babolat Strings.

“We invited the best of the best to be part of our inaugural class of the Babolat VS String Team Academy,” stated Mickey Maule, Babolat National Sales Manager. “Our team created this event to have time together to share, learn and explore our collective knowledge of strings and the art of stringing to better service our players and customers.”

To become certified and apart of Babolat`s stringing team, participants must have partaken in  the String Team Academy, have stringing experience, knowledge of Babolat strings and know how stringing techniques affect each player`s game.

Based on their stringing skills and technological understanding of Babolat string, Babolat selected Chris Gaudreau and Marc Kessler to be the official stringing representatives of the U.S.  at the 2012 French Open.

“Stringing in a tournament like the French Open adds a different level of pressure,” Maule commented. “Chris and Marc both bring a strong technical proficiency and previous experience stringing for Grand Slam tournaments. We’re honored to have these talented stringers represent our brand at the French Open.”

Not only are Gaudreau and Kessler representing the brand with Babolat strings, they are reinforcing Babolat`s reputation as one of the leading tennis equipment brands in the world with their stringing expertise. Since the creation of their first string in 1875, the family owned and operated company has perfected tennis string with state-of-the-art technology and a love of the game.


Should Grunting in Women`s Tennis Be Illegal?

The battle continues… should grunting in tennis be illegal? As a tennis fan I often wonder if grunting on the courts has gotten so out of control that the once just annoying trend among some female players should be outlawed. Is it just irritating or is it cheating?

Tennis fans in Australia and England have voiced their opinions about Victoria Azarenka`s screaming  but kept pretty quiet at the Sony Ericsson Open on Wednesday night when she played against Marion Bartoli who is virtually silent on the court.

Although grunting on the tennis court is shown to release stress, stabilize breathing and increase focus, stability and strength, stars like Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka may take their grunting too far.

Some tennis enthusiasts argue that grunting on the court should be considered illegal because it intentionally throws the grunters` opponent off because  they can`t hear when the ball hits the tennis racquet.

Grunters like “Vika the Shrieka” claim that the sound they make when they hit the ball is natural and they can`t control it but as player, Caroline Wozniacki, pointed out, grunters don`t scream during practice.

Although Azarenka and Sharapova claim the noise is uncontrollable there’s no doubt that is not natural to make as much noise as a tractor, 100 decibels, which Maria Sharapova has reached in the past.

Tennis was much quieter in the past, so where did this grunting trend come from in women`s tennis? I would say that Monica (Moan-ica) Seles is to blame. She was the first prominent   female grunter to enter the world of women`s tennis.

But it`s not just the women, male pros like Andre Agassi and Michael Chang  are also guilty of out-of-control grunting.

International Tennis Federation Rule 26 (Hindrance),  states that, “If a player is hindered in playing the point by a deliberate act of the opponent, the player shall win the point. However, the point shall be replayed if a player is hindered in playing the point by either an unintentional act of the opponent, or something outside the player`s own control.”

This rule is never really enforced but how can you say that 100 decibels isn’t intentional? The tennis community needs to speak up and have umpires start penalizing players for their deliberate hindrance!


Bernard Tomic Asks for His Father to Be Thrown Out of the Stands

Bernard Tomic finally found a way to silence worked up parents at matches….get them kicked out of the stands!

At the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, Tomic asked the umpire during a changeover to have his father, John,  removed from the stands.

“He’s annoying me. I know he’s my father, but he’s annoying me. I want him to leave as soon as possible,” Tomic explained.

The chair umpire gave Tomic`s dad a warning for his behavior but even though Tomic was able to silence his father he still lost to David Ferrer, 6-4, 6-4…. Maybe he did need his father`s coaching after all.

Check out the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVoJ4srmHeo


Tennis Player Turns Hobby into a Business with HipGrip Tennis Grips

There is more than $6 billion dollars generated from tennis equipment and gear sales each year. The market is controlled by industry tycoons like Babolat, Nike, Wilson and many more that are equipped with large sales forces as well as pro endorsements. Although the odds were unlikely,  recreational tennis player, Caryl Parker, created a lucrative business making tennis grips despite the fierce competition by the large companies .

Caryl Parker, from San Mateo, California, spent 16 years working for International Business Machines Corp., but that proved incompatible with her second job; a mother of four. She decided to leave the job that she had for 16 years to be a stay-at-home mom and after a decade, she decided she wanted to get back into the work force. She built a tennis grip business out of her home which earns the mother and entrepreneur about $15,000 a month with operating costs being around half that.

At first, Caryl Parker wanted to design tennis clothing but didn`t think she would be successful in such an aggressive market. She also tried wallpaper designs but she said, “Nothing really grabbed me.” When she came up with Hawaiian style flower designs she realized she had something. It led to the creation of “HipGrips,” her Hawaiian inspired tennis grips.

Although her company, HipGrips, is extremely successful now, it didn`t come easy. Parker ran into a few “bumps in the road” while getting her business started. She bought thousands of tennis grips from a Taiwanese supplier that were too slick, a $900 cell phone bill from all the international calls and disgruntled employees consisting of her husband and four kids.

In the Spring of 2005, her Hawaiian print overgrips became a hit among the tennis community. She was selling her tennis grips to dozens of shops around the U.S.

To lessen her family`s workload, Caryl Parker took on a partner, Bobbi Giudicelli, who enjoyed dealing with the financial aspects of the company. Ms. Giudicelli also got HipGrips trademarked and copywrited the designs so they wouldn`t have to worry about other companies creating similar tennis grips.

Wilson Sporting Goods eventually got wind of the new tennis grips and contacted Giudicelli. They proposed a deal where they would handle the manufacturing and distribution of HipGrips. Bobbi Giudicelli liked the idea but Caryl Parker was hesitant.

After thinking it over, Parker decided an alliance with Wilson Sporting Goods would be a good idea seeing that she wouldn`t have to hire full-time employees, get a distribution center that wasn’t in her dining room and they would be better equipped to deal with bigger tennis grip competition.

Caryl Parker also wanted to design other sports accessories along with her tennis grips like squash overgrips and shoelaces which would be easier with the help of Wilson.

Although it`s not easy having your own business as it calls for long hours and Caryl Parker didn’t earn as much making tennis grips as she did when she worked for IBM, she loves having something she can call her own.

“When you work for your own company, you’re so much more passionate about what you do,” Ms. Parker says. “At a big company like IBM, you just sell what they tell you to sell. Here, we’re always thinking about ways to improve every aspect of what we’ve made.”


Rafael Nadal`s New Book Gets Bad Review

Although I have not read Rafael Nadal`s new autobiography, “Rafa,”  I stumbled across a few of the reviews on the new book.

In a review posted on tennischick.net, the author is not impressed by the book in which she says, “The problem with this book is that the language of the Rafa chapters is hopelessly inauthentic and unbelievable. Rafa’s voice is just not there. I don’t know who this person is who is speaking in the first person on his behalf, but he sounds nothing like Rafa. The real Rafa should sue him because he is fraud.”

While reading the review I found out that the book was co-written by Rafael Nadal and John Carlin, John Carlin actually has a Master’s degree in English Language and Literature from Oxford University. The problem is that Rafael Nadal does not have an English Language and Literature degree and in his interviews, it is apparent that English isn’t his first language.

English not being the pro`s first language is not a bad thing, I actually just wrote a school paper on how language and accent are a huge part of a persons` culture and you shouldn`t “tame” your native tongue. The problem, according to this review, is that you can tell that is isn`t Rafael`s true voice, it is Carlin`s.

The author of this book states that, “Nowhere in this book could I detect the authentic voice of Rafael Nadal. He’s nowhere to be found.”

Despite the  negative review I read on this book, I am still planning on reading it myself… that is, when I have some extra time! I am curious to read and see if I can find Rafa`s voice anywhere in the autobiography and from what I understand, his story is extremely interesting.


Wasted Tennis Strings Go to Good Use: The Stringlet!

Having the right kind of tennis strings set to the right tension is so important to your game but one tennis player, Malcom Shieh, has found one more use for tennis string; bracelets!

Malcom Shieh began stringing racquets to earn extra cash to pay for court time and began noticing what a waste it would be to just toss the tennis string scraps into the trash. He came up with the Stringlet; a friendship bracelet composed of nylon tennis strings and held together by a silver magnetic clasp.

“It was my own effort to make something fun out of found materials from the sport, but even more so the product rose from a basic boredom with the souvenir offerings at tournaments—jumbo balls, tennis ball key chains and t-shirts—that I can remember from thirty years of watching pro tennis,” Shieh says. “From years of stringing, I know how durable string can be, so I started twisting the [tennis] string together and found they make pretty cool bracelets.”

Just like the colorful Jelly bracelets that you see on high school students, the Stringlet is targeted at junior players but has also been spotted being worn by high school, college and even USTA league players.

“It’s definitely skewed toward a younger crowd, but we’ve received orders from senior league team members too,” Shieh says. “When I initially made it, I was thinking more of fans who attend tournaments as the primary audience, so we made some red and yellow to represent Spain, for instance. We’re finding people choose the colors more to represent their team colors or just because they like a particular color.”

The colorful bracelets made of twisted tennis strings are available in a variety of colors and in the future, Shieh wants to create Stringlets with team names and slogans. Shieh also hopes that just like the color of martial arts belts that signify skill level, Singlets will become a sign of player level.

Not only do these tennis string bracelets turn waste into artful expression, Malcom Shieh wants to use them for charity. “We are also trying to align the sales of the Stringlet with a charitable or developmental program that would benefit the game,” Shieh says.

Thanks to Malcom Shieh, tennis strings now have one more purpose. The colorful Stringlets add color and expression to the game as well as turn trash into fashionable accessories. If you wish to purchase the Singlet for a doubles partner, teammates, a friend or for yourself, they are available at http://www.stringlet.net/.


Tennis News: Stomach Flu Hits Indian Wells

Even the pros get sick! At the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, seven players including Vera Zvonareva, Gael Monfils, Vania King, Juegen Melzer, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Andreas Seppi and Magdalena Rybarikova, had to withdraw due to illness; a nasty stomach virus.

King tweeted, “Just spent one of the worst nights of my life (gruesome details) fever, vomiting, diarrhea..all at the same time..caught a bug from someone.”

The Palm Springs-area health representatives stated that the flu lasts between 24 and 48 hours. Not only were some of the players ill but many others including officials, ball kids and journalists also fell victim to the illness.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands was also hit with the flu bug but continued to play which may have been a bad idea. There are some myths about playing sports when you’re sick like “sweating out” a cold or flu but can actually lead to a worse infection.

According to the Marshfield Clinic, it may be okay to play if your symptoms are “above the neck,” including runny nose, nasal congestion or a mild sore throat. If your symptoms are “below the neck,” like chest congestion or an upset stomach, it is a good idea to take a break and rest your body because competing with the flu may worsen the symptoms.