Posts Tagged Todd Martin

Andre Agassi Inducted Into The International Tennis Hall Of Fame

Andre Agassi and my daughter Skylar

I just spent four breathtakingly fabulous days watching the Campbell’s ATP Tennis tournament at the International
Hall of Fame facility in Newport, RI. And I also played on the grass courts there myself for seven hours during two of the days. (This included a 2 1/2 hour clinic, where I learned many useful tips I am eager to try out.) Prior to this trip, I had only hit on grass one hour in my life. Quite a thrill.

But even more exciting was attending some events that attracted a number of Hall of Famers, particularly this year’s two inductees, Andre Agassi and Peachy Kelmeyer, who launched the WTA and equal rights and prize money for women. Did you know that tennis is the most popular professional women’s sport in the world?

I was privileged to be able to thank Andre (who was sitting five feet from me) at a luncheon for his inspiration and contributions to the game and the world. I also saw and heard speak his wife, Steffi Graff and other previous inductees, including tennis greats Todd Martin, Vic Seixas, Rosie Casals, Donald Dell, Owen Davidson, Pam Shriver, tennis journalist/broadcast commentator Bud Collins, and famed tennis photographer Mike Adams.

Agassi gave a speech that was so emotional and filled with gratitude that some people—including Andre—were tearing up or crying. He said that he had been on the podium there twice before: once to introduce his wife, when she was inducted into the Fall of Fame in 2004, and secondly in his father’s imagination since the day Andre was born. Andre’s speech in the video starts at 10:30. You may want to listen to the first 30 seconds to hear a bit of what Andre has accomplished. A humble man who has given back so much. His foundation and college preparatory academy in Las Vegas that he hopes to replicate in other cities graduates 2000 inner-city kids a year. He has raised $150 million to help transform kids who might never have had a decent education, any self esteem and a chance for college. Andre himself only attended school up to 8th grade.

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Playing My Best Tennis After Weeks Of Terrible Tennis

In spite of my injured right arm and shoulder, I have continued to play tennis and practice squash. In the last two months, my game steadily deteriorated to terrible, and then recently it became (for me) sensational. I am ecstatic today, after playing the best tennis of my life. How did this happen? Here is a little account of my journey from awful to fantastic.

I was doing real well in July, until I injured myself I believe in the gym. That month I played and practiced tennis 14 times and squash once.

August was busy and sore, although I played/practiced tennis 10 times and hit squash balls (no games yet) with a friend twice. September has seen me on the tennis court 12 times and the squash court three.

My tennis game had suffered enormously, and I was very discouraged. I guess the injury had some influence, but I didn’t feel any aching while playing (just after for a bit) and wasn’t aware that it was affecting my performance. But I constantly hit the tennis balls long or into the net. My serve was weak, and I had a negative attitude. My team lost more sets than I could accept easily. As relaxed as I am about losing, I was really fed up.

Then a number of things changed, so that in the last week, I have played the best tennis ever. My team has won six out of seven sets: 6-1, 6-0, 6-1, 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. I must confess that I have had three different partners in those three matches. But my playing has been superior…for me, and compared to my previous results.

My net game is vastly improved and the backhand volleys are often powerful instead of dinky. Many of my volleys are gentle, finessed at side angles that are impossible to return. My forehand strokes are harder and IN THE COURT. I was always hitting the ball too long, over and over. And my backhands are better, although there is still plenty of room to add power.

So what happened? Read the rest of this entry »

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Tennis Report Since My Injury

At least I didn’t quit playing sports while I was avoiding gym workouts: I was on a tennis court 12 times and a squash court three times. The aches and discomfort were definitely bearable. However my tennis game suffered, and I became very discouraged.

Unfortunately this weakened fitness period coincided with two doubles tournaments I entered and did poorly in. In the September 4th effort, my team lost all three matches and came in 17th out of 18 teams. A slight consolation is that two of the teams we played ended up in first and second place, the tournament winning duo including a tennis coach, and the runner up had a player who’d been ranked high in New England 40 years ago. The third competitor also boasted one of the top club players in the area who competed successfully in high school and college.

The best news was being told that my serve was the weakest part of my game—a total reversal of the earlier praise by others that my serve is my best weapon. So I will put more effort into improving it—should I make Andy Roddick my serve hero?

This particular competition was very interesting. Called a Court Prive, it is played on nine different private courts. After each match, which is concluded after one team wins eight games, you drive to the next location. The organizers spend quite a bit of time arranging for the courts, the players and the teams, which were mostly mixed. But they were out of women by the time it was my turn for a partner, so I was one of the three teams comprised of two men. All great fun, and a joyful sunny party afterward. The warm weather is greatly appreciated, because this has been among the wettest summers in recorded history. One black cloud was that I heard some of the losing players were a bit gruff at times. I want to talk later about the importance of winning at amateur sports.

One of the major happy distractions recently is the hours I have spent watching the US Open. Very exciting. I am totally addicted. Read the rest of this entry »

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