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ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Collaborates with Tennis Resorts to Serve up Tennis Vacation Experiences

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

Tennis Resorts and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort will collaborate to serve up tennis vacation experiences at its championshiptennis complex.  Beginning March 2, 2015 Tennis Resorts will operate and manage the tennis complex at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World and offer its guests world-class tennis instruction, tournament play, special camps for juniors and families as well as other one-of-a-kind tennis vacation experiences.

Tennis Resorts is led by renowned tennis coach Carlos Goffi and sports management professional, David Gorman. The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and its 10-court facility have been home to the ATP World Tour US Clay Court Championships and have hosted some of the biggest names in the sport, including Serena Williams, Pete Sampras Venus Williams, Billie Jean King and Andre Agassi. Presently the complex hosts the USTA Clay Court Collegiate Invitational. This annual event is a national “grand slam type” invitational featuring 128 men and women players from top college teams in the country.

Tennis Resorts at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex provides tennis players with the opportunity to enjoy their game as well as the other internationally recognized athletic facilities at the sports complex.  Tennis Resorts offers all-inclusive individual and group tennis vacation packages, special youth tennis camps for competitive juniors, family tennis camps, and a variety of tournaments for all ages and abilities throughout the year.  Tennis Resorts guests can improve their game through the various instructional programs offered daily by the professional staff.Coordination and direction of tournaments, clinics and social activities for groups, league players, families or individuals are also offered. Tennis Resorts magical tennis vacation experience will also include the opportunity for tennis vacationers to test their skills against legends of the game by participating in Fantasy Tennis Camps.  “We are excited to offer these tennis vacation experiences and services to tennis enthusiasts from around the globe,” said Carlos Goffi, co-founder of Tennis Resorts. “This venture at such a world-class sports facility at the world’s No. 1 family vacation destination will allow us to create tennis vacation experiences that tennis buffs can’t get anywhere else.

While enjoying the unique tennis experiences provided by Tennis Resorts, tennis vacationers and their guests can also enjoy the hotels, theme and water parks, dining and entertainment of Walt Disney World Resort, the “No. 1  family vacation destination in the world,” and the perfect place for families to play tennis together.

For more information and to book your memorable tennis vacation including travel, hotel and tennis reservations, go to www.tenniswdw.com.




About ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

Disney Sports manages more than 100 events annually, including eight runDisney race weekends at Walt Disney World and Disneyland as well as youth sports events at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort.  The complex, the premiere site for amateur sports in the nation, has accommodated more than 70 different sports and athletes from around the world.  Designed to provide youth athletes with an experience synonymous with the names Disney and ESPN, the 230-acre facility features multiple competition venues, including 16 baseball/softball fields, plus the 10,000 seat Champion Stadium, 18 multi-purpose outdoor fields for soccer, football and lacrosse, two field houses for basketball, volleyball, and other indoor sports, the New Balance Track & Field facility and cross country course, and a tennis court complex with 10 courts. In addition, ESPN production teams are on site, capturing game footage and event highlights which guests can view in Disney Resort rooms, on the ESPN Wide World of Sports YouTube Channel and online at www.ESPNWWOS.com.  ESPN Wide World of Sports also provides coaches and teams with a variety of Disney Sports Solutions, such as fundraising programs, discounted travel packages, special dining options, photography services, customized event merchandise, and post-game celebrations in the Disney Parks. For more information, visit www.disneysportsnews.com for news releases, photos and videos.  Follow us on Twitter at @DisneySports and on Facebook.

About Tennis Resorts

Tennis Resorts manages and operates the championship tennis complex at ESPN Wide World of Sports at Disney World Resort®.  Tennis Resorts is led by world-renowned tennis professional Carlos Goffi and sports marketing executive David Gorman. Goffi is a best selling author having published Tournament Tough: A Guide to Playing Championship Tennis, which has been translated into multiple languages. He has also served as a senior executive with major tennis brands such as Nike and Dunlop Slazenger Group.  Goffi has coached several legends of tennis including John McEnroe, Patrick McEnroe and seven-time major doubles champion, Peter Fleming.  Gorman is an attorney and a former IMG executive who has handled the marketing for professional tennis tournaments and tennis athletes throughout the world.




Serena Williams-Supported Mission Athletecare Announces $35 Million In Capital Funding

Serena Williams

MISSION Athletecare, the first and only line of Athlete-Engineered™ products and the leader in the rapidly emerging Thermoregulation category, today announced that it has raised $35 million of growth capital for organic and M&A expansion in its core cooling and heating categories. As part of the new investment, apparel industry icon, Hap Klopp, the Founder and former CEO of The North Face has joined MISSION’s Board, further positioning it for record growth in 2015.  MISSION has grown more than 10 fold in the last five years, and is expected to achieve another year of double digit growth in 2015.

“In 2014, we achieved record sales as our products gained awareness and acceptance with athletes and active consumers alike.  This capital raise, along with our recent executive hires, positions us to truly lead the development and expansion of the Thermoregulation category,” said CEO and Founder Josh Shaw. “The demand for innovative, affordable and athlete-engineered products that enhance performance by regulating temperature has never been higher, and we are positioned like never before to meet that demand.”

“I am very pleased to join the leadership team of MISSION, one of the most innovative and invigorating businesses with which I have ever been involved,” Klopp said. “The work they are doing to engage and assist consumers in vital areas like cooling, as well as the ways they are empowering and engaging some of the greatest athletes in the world, sets them apart and will make them a leader not just in sports, but in technology and innovation, well into the future.”

The capital raise, which was facilitated by Piper Jaffray, and led by Fremont Private Holdings and VO2 Partners will enable MISSION to further accelerate its global growth.  Fremont and V02 join existing investor Breakaway, and former Reebok CMO, Dennis Baldwin.  Products are currently available at 15,000 retailers across the U.S., and expansion is underway to introduce the brand and portfolio in select international territories in 2015.

In less than three years, MISSION has taken its EnduraCool™ line from a single product to a full category ranging from Instant Cooling Towels and Instant Cooling Skull Caps to Instant Cooling Sleeves and Instant Cooling Hats.  MISSION is now the leading brand in Thermoregulation, one of the fastest-growing categories in athlete wellness.

“As an athlete and a businesswoman, I am proud to have played a role in the growth of MISSION from the very beginning,” 19-Time Grand Slam Champion and MISSION Co-Founder Serena Williams added. “I have believed in the brand and products from day one and this latest milestone is yet another step towards building MISSION into a global brand.”


Launched in 2009 by a group of elite, world class athletes including Dwyane Wade, Serena Williams, Reggie Bush, David Wright and others, MISSION is pioneering Thermoregulating innovations to maximize athlete performance and recovery.  Working hand-in-hand with world-class doctors, scientists and athletes, MISSION is focused on changing the game – delivering groundbreaking, innovative and technologically advanced solutions to meet the growing demands of today’s athletes before, during and after competition.  The Company first unveiled its line of innovative EnduraCool™ instant cooling towels in 2012, and has since expanded the line to cover a wide range of instant cooling gear and accessories. The Company also has a dual MISSION. While delivering world-class product innovations, MISSION also makes an impact off the field of play through health and safety initiatives for youth athletes and proudly supports the charities of its athlete partners.  Find out about MISSION at www.missionathletecare.com and follow the brand on Twitter @MissionAthlete.

2015 PowerShares Series Match-Ups Announced

Andy Roddick and James Blake

InsideOut Sports & Entertainment today announced the draws for its 2015 PowerShares Series champions tennis circuit. The PowerShares Series, the North American tennis circuit for champion tennis players, will visit 12 cities in 2015 starting March 24 in Salt Lake City, Utah and concluding Saturday, May 2 in Vancouver, Canada. Players competing on the 2015 PowerShares Series are John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Andy Roddick, Michael Chang, James Blake and Mark Philippoussis.

Each one-night event will feature two one-set semifinal matches, followed by a one–set championship match. Tickets and unique VIP fan experience packages are now on sale. Tickets start at $30 and all ticket and VIP information is available at www.PowerSharesSeries.com.

The full 2015 PowerShares Series schedule with event match-ups are as follows:


Tuesday, March 24: Salt Lake City, Utah (Huntsman Center) “Champions Shootout”

James Blake vs. Mark Philippoussis, Andre Agassi vs. Jim Courier


Wednesday, March 25: Los Angeles, Calif., (Galen Center at USC) “SoCal Honda Dealers Helpful Cup”

Pete Sampras vs. Jim Courier, Andy Roddick vs. James Blake


Wednesday, April 1: Lincoln, Neb., (Pinnacle Bank Arena at Univ. of Nebraska) “Champions Cup Presented by Woods Park Tennis”

Andy Roddick vs. Jim Courier, James Blake vs. John McEnroe


Thursday, April 2: Chicago, Ill. (Sears Centre) “PowerShares QQQ Challenge”

John McEnroe vs. Jim Courier, Andy Roddick vs. James Blake


Thursday, April 16: Austin, Texas (Cedar Park Center) “Champions Shootout”

John McEnroe vs. Jim Courier, Andy Roddick vs. James Blake


Friday, April 17: Little Rock, Ark. (Jack Stephens Center at the UALR) “Champions Cup”

Andy Roddick vs. Jim Courier, John McEnroe vs. Mark Philippoussis


Saturday, April 18: Dallas, Texas (Moody Coliseum at SMU) “Champions Showdown”

John McEnroe vs. Jim Courier, Andy Roddick vs. Mark Philippoussis


Wednesday, April 22: Boston, Mass. (Agganis Arena at Boston University) “Champions Cup”

John McEnroe vs. Jim Courier, Andy Roddick vs. James Blake


Thursday, April 23: Richmond, Va., (Siegel Center at VCU) “Champions Challenge”

Jim Courier vs. Andy Roddick, John McEnroe vs. James Blake


Wednesday, April 29: Minneapolis, Minn. (Target Center) “Champions Shootout”

John McEnroe vs. James Blake, Andy Roddick vs. Michael Chang


Thursday, April 30: Cincinnati, Ohio (Cintas Center at Xavier) “Champions Showdown”

Andy Roddick vs. James Blake, John McEnroe vs. Michael Chang


Saturday, May 2: Vancouver, Canada (Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre at UBC) “Champions Showdown”

Michael Chang vs. Mark Philippoussis, Pete Sampras vs. John McEnroe


In 2014, McEnroe won the points title for the first time in the nine-year history of Champions Series tennis by winning events in Kansas City, Indianapolis, Nashville and Charlotte. McEnroe was followed in the points standings by Blake in second place and Roddick in third place.


InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a Los Angeles-based producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world No. 1 and Hall of Fame tennis player Jim Courier and former SFX and Clear Channel executive Jon Venison. In 2005, InsideOut launched its signature property, the Champions Series, a collection of tournaments featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including “Legendary Night” exhibitions, The World Series of Beach Volleyball and numerous corporate outings. Since inception, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment has have raised over $4 million for charity. In 2014, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment merged with Horizon Media, the largest privately held media services agency in the world.  For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or www.powersharesseries.com or follow on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


Horizon Media, Inc. is the largest and fastest growing privately held media services agency in the world. The company was founded in 1989, is headquartered in New York, and has offices in Los Angeles, San Diego and Chicago. Horizon Media was named 2011 Independent Media Agency of the Year by Mediapost, 2010 U.S. Media Agency of the Year by Adweek, Brandweek, Mediaweek and Ad Age and as one of the world’s ten most innovative marketing and advertising companies by Fast Company in 2011. In 2012, Bill Koenigsberg, President, CEO and Founder, was honored by Advertising Age as Industry Executive of the Year and he currently serves as Chairman of the 4A’s, the industry’s oldest and most prestigious trade association. The company’s mission is “To create the most meaningful brand connections within the lives of people everywhere.”  Horizon Media has estimated billings of $4 .7 billion and approximately 1,000 employees. For more info, go towww.HorizonMedia.com


Invesco PowerShares Capital Management LLC is Leading the Intelligent ETF Revolution® through its family of more than 140 domestic and international exchange-traded funds, providing advisors and investors access to an innovative array of focused investment opportunities. With franchise assets over $66.7 billion as of June 29, 2012, PowerShares ETFs trade on both U.S. stock exchanges. For more information, please visit us at invescopowershares.com or follow us on Twitter @PowerShares.


PowerShares QQQ™, an exchange-traded fund (ETF) based on the NASDAQ-100 Index®, is one of the largest and most traded ETFs in the world. Under most circumstances, QQQ will consist of all of the stocks in the index which includes 100 of the largest domestic and international nonfinancial companies listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market based on market capitalization.


How Tennis Betting Odds Are Determined


Betting odds aren’t just created out of thin air. There is a lot that goes into them. Over recent years, the way of determining tennis betting odds have changed, due to some of the changes in the game and the players. Here is everything you need to know to understand these changes and just how tennis betting odds are determined.

Bookmakers Publish Odds Weeks—Sometimes Months—In Advance

One important point to note is that the odds are published weeks in advance, an example of it is Paddy Power tennis betting odds, although sometimes they are published months in advance. The betting exchanges use these odds as a guide for their own betters. The odds will change as the tennis game gets closer, depending on recent events in the news and the way players have played on court in other games.

Public Opinion Considered

It is no lie that public opinion is considered when setting tennis betting odds. After all, it is the public who is going to plays the bets in the first place. The bets need to make sense to those people gambling. The bookmaker is not in the business of guessing the outcome, but more interested in the way the public perceives the game will go.

As Opinions Change, So Do the Odds

Remember that it is all about public opinion. As the opinion of a tennis player changes, so will the odds. An originally unexpected player may get through a round, which raises the public opinion of that player. That means the odds become more narrow because more people may bet on them. Likewise, an expected winner may suffer injury going into another round. As the public opinion changes, the betting odds have to change.

Betting odds is all about business and making money. The bookmakers are not out there to guess who will win a game. When it comes to tennis, bookmakers have made changes to the way the odds are determined. It is all down to public opinion over anything else.

Ivo Karlovic Deserves More Respect

Ivo Karlovic

by Andrew Eichenholz


The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club played host to history in 2003 when Roger Federer won his first of what is currently 17 Grand Slam titles, a men’s tennis record. For Ivo Karlovic, it was the tournament that saw the birth of his career, as the Croat defeated world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt in four sets, announcing what was and still is the most feared serve on planet Earth to the tour.

Fast forward nearly 12 years, and the tallest player on tour is still swatting serves here, there and everywhere, as one of the biggest dark horse threats at any tournament he plays in.

Over the years, his opponents from good to bad have all done the same thing: left the court shaking their heads. How could they struggle or lose to that guy?

Onlookers admire Rafael Nadal’s forehand, Novak Djokovic’s backhand and the hands that Bob and Mike Bryan have up at net. Yet, for whatever reason, nobody marvels at the biggest shot at tennis, literally, Karlovic’s serve.

All it takes is a quick peek at the record books. Officially, Karlovic hit the fastest serve in the history of the game at 156 miles per hour in a Davis Cup match. He has hit more than 50 aces in a single match three times. The 6-foot-11 inch giant’s 2007 and 2014 seasons also stack up in second and third on the all-time aces in a season list, respectively.

Yet, almost everybody at some point shows frustration, as if it is ridiculous or unfair that they have to contend with such a weapon. It is a part of the game, and everybody else on tour has the same ability to step up to the line and serve. If Karlovic takes more advantage of starting a point than his opponents, so be it.

What nobody keeps in mind is that Karlovic is not merely a one trick pony. In winning this past week’s Delray Beach Open, an ATP World Tour 250 level event, he did not drop serve once. That is to be expected. What may surprise fans is that en route to his sixth tour title, he broke serve ten times.

But how can he do that if all Karlovic has in his arsenal is a serve?

That is where the common misconception goes astray. “Dr. Ivo,” as many call him, can do more than hit the first ball in a point. The 35-year old, who turns 36 on Saturday, can slice, dice and straight out hit his way past opponents.

Nicolas Mahut is one of the players on tour who still employs the serve and volley, just like Karlovic much of the time. Known for his endless Wimbledon battle with American John Isner, players are able to find ways to get a rhythm on the Frenchman’s serve to hit angled or dipping passing shots. Those same returns against Karlovic would more than likely be intelligently cut off for a deep volley, forcing an even tougher pass.

Being tall is important, but it means nothing if a player does not know the geometry of the tennis court.

How about on return games? Karlovic’s backhand is one of the most criticized shots in the sport. That is because many of those who comment on it see him continuously go to the chip or daggering slice.

“Why doesn’t Dr. Ivo hit over his backhand?”

Well, he does not really have to. When a heavy-and-hard slice spikes down into a court from a 6-foot-11 frame, the height of the bounce will be minimal. Sometimes, forcing an opponent to dig down to his shoelaces just to scrape a ball into the court is more valuable than hitting a standard topspin backhand.

Very few hit that chip as well as the doctor, and he joins another highly-criticized player in Feliciano Lopez as players who use what is thought of as a defensive shot on the attack.

Furthermore, people simply ignore that despite its lack of spin, Karlovic can hit an incredibly penetrating forehand. When it goes in, the shot lands deep in the court with plenty of pace right near the baseline. It is impossible to be aggressive in returning a shot like that, which more often than not leaves him with a sitting duck to put away at net.

So, at an age when most players are retired, if not heading towards it, Karlovic just keeps getting better. He is at No. 23 in the ATP World Rankings, with plenty of room to climb. The best Grand Slam result he had last season in the majors other than the Australian Open was the third round, leaving plenty of ranking points up for grabs.

While everyone continues to count him out, Karlovic’s play on court counts him in, making him a player to watch throughout the season, as the bombs rain down from above.


The Big Four Are Not Dead Yet

Novak Djokovic

By Michael Lemort


After the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray moved back as the top four players on the ATP ranking for the first time since May of 2013.

“The Big Four” started to fall apart two years ago while Rafael Nadal struggled with some new injuries. Then Roger Federer and Andy Murray also quit the Top 5 due to back injuries.

Even though he suffered of a new injury, at his twist, Nadal maintained himself in the Top 4 last year but he was the first one to betray the Big Four in May of 2013 when he reached the 5th position after the French Open, due to a knee injury occurred the year before which made him lose lots of points.

Then Federer fell out of the ATP Top 4 rankings in the Summer of 2013 and finished the season at the 6th position (his worst position since 2003) due to a back injury. Everybody thought this time Roger’s career was close to his end and that he would never be able to get back to the top again. He proved everyone that he could still reach new milestones by winning the Davis Cup and coming back at the No. 2 position at the ATP ranking last year after a very consistant season.

In the meantime, Murray also suffered from a back injury that needed surgery and forced him to end his 2013 season after the US Open. Not completely at his best during the first part of 2014, he slipped out of the top 10 after losing his Wimbledon trophy. After a fourth (lost) final at the Australian Open last month, he is now back in the top four.

When Stanislas Wawrinka claimed the Australian Open last year, It was the first time in five years (Juan Martin del Potro, US Open 2009) than a non-member of the Big Four won a major. Then Marin Cilic beat Kei Nishikori to win the US Open few months later and another statistic fell : it was the first time in nine years than a major’s final was played without any member of that Big Four (Safin/Hewitt, Australian Open 2005). Everybody thought this time the reign of the Big Four was done for good.

But apparently Novak, Roger, Rafael and Andy are not done yet with their domination. After its fifth success in Melbourne, Novak Djokovic, who is the only one who stayed in the top 4 during all that time, is more than ever leader of the ATP ranking. He is actually an uninterrupted member of the top 3 since October of 2009 and a member of the Top 4 since June of 2007. With Federer not ready to retire, Murray back to his best and Nadal no more injured, let’s bet that the Big Four is not dead yet!

The Top Five Forehands of All Time – Where Does Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal Rank?


The forehand is perhaps the most the most destructive weapon in the sport of tennis. Who in the history of the game had – or has – the best forehand of all time? Steve Flink, tennis historian and journalist and author of the book THE GREATEST TENNIS MATCHES OF ALL TIME (available here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Greatest-Tennis-Matches-Time/dp/0942257936/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346763283&sr=8-1&keywords=Greatest+tennis+matches+of+all+time) ranks the top five forehands of all time as part of his book. The list is exclusively excerpted below.


Top Five Forehands of All Time – Men


  1. ROGER FEDERER Some hit the ball more mightily off the forehand side, and others were flashier, but Federer’s forehand is the best I have ever seen. His capacity to station himself inside the baseline and shorten the court for his opponent has surpassed all others. Once he is inside the court, he can go either way—inside-in or inside-out—and hit winners at will. In top form, he clips more lines with his majestic forehand than anyone and yet he makes very few mistakes for someone so adventuresome.


  1. RAFAEL NADAL The Spaniard’s forehand has always been his trademark shot. Nadal tortures his rivals with his rhythmic precision off the forehand. The hop he gets on the forehand with the heaviest and most penetrating topspin of all time is almost mind boggling. He can go full tilt for hours on end and hardly miss a forehand, but it is not as if he is pushing his shots back into play; he is pulverizing the ball and weakening his opponent’s will simultaneously. He sends his adversaries into submission with a barrage of heavy forehands, weakening their resolve in the process. His ball control off the forehand is amazing. I give Federer the edge over Nadal for the best forehand ever, but it is a very close call.


  1. IVAN LENDL The former Czech who became an American citizen transformed the world of tennis with his playing style, most importantly with his signature inside-out forehand. There were an abundance of serve-and-volley competitors along with more conventional baseline practitioners during his era, but Lendl changed it all, serving with impressive power to set up his magnificent semi-western, inside-out forehand—the shot that carried him to eight major titles. Lendl’s power and accuracy with that forehand had never been witnessed before.


  1. BILL TILDEN Over the course of the 1920’s, when Tilden ruled tennis and studied the technique of the sport with all-consuming interest, the American influenced the sport immensely. He had an estimable first serve and he improved his backhand markedly, but the forehand was Tilden’s finest shot. He drove through the ball classically and confidently and it was a stroke that would not break down under pressure. The Tilden forehand was a shot made for the ages.


  1. BJORN BORG, PETE SAMPRAS and JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO Although many observers took more notice of the Swede’s two-handed backhand because he joined Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert to popularize that shot in the 1970’s, his forehand was in many ways superior. Borg ushered in a brand of heavy topspin that was unprecedented and the forehand took him to the top of the sport. He passed particularly well off the backhand and disguised his two-hander adeptly, but the Borg forehand defined his greatness more than anything else. Sampras had the most explosive running forehand of all time and he could do quite a bit of damage from the middle of the court off that side as well. His magnificent forehand was relatively flat and it was awesome when he was on. Del Potro is changing the face of the modern game with his explosive flat forehand, the biggest in the sport today. It is a prodigious weapon, released with blinding speed. More than anything else, his sizzling forehand was the reason he halted Federer in a five-set final at the 2009 U.S. Open.


Top Five Forehands of All Time – Women


1 . STEFFI GRAF This was among the easiest selections to make among the best strokes ever produced. Considering how much pace she got on this explosive shot, it was made all the more remarkable by her grip—essentially a continental, on the border of an eastern. She would get into position early and with supreme racket head acceleration she would sweep through the ball and strike countless outright winners with her flat stroke. She had little margin for error, yet the forehand seldom let her down. In my view, it stands in a class by itself as the best ever.


  1. MAUREEN CONNOLLY A natural left-hander who played tennis right-handed, Connolly had a beautifully produced one-handed backhand that was a shot which came more easily to her. The fact remains that Connolly’s forehand paved the way for her to win the Grand Slam in 1953. She placed the same value on fast footwork as Graf. Her inexhaustible attention to detail and sound mechanics gave Connolly a magnificent forehand.


  1. HELEN WILLS MOODY Brought up on the hard courts of California, taught to play the game from the baseline with steadfast conviction, realizing the importance of controlling the climate of her matches, Wills Moody was not called “Little Miss Poker Face” without good reason. She was relentlessly disciplined in her court craft, making the backcourt her home, refusing to make mistakes yet hitting her ground strokes hard. Her flat forehand—hit unfailingly deep and close to the lines—was far and away the best of her era and one of the finest ever.


  1. MONICA SELES Authorities often debated whether Seles was better off the forehand or the backhand. Both were left-handed, two-fisted strokes. Each was taken early. She could explore the most acute crosscourt angles or direct her shots within inches of the baseline off either side. Unlike most of her peers, Seles’s forehand was not one dimensional.


  1. SERENA WILLIAMS On her finest afternoons, when her timing is on and her concentration is sharp, Williams can be uncontainable off the forehand. She covers the ball with just enough topspin and takes it early, often from an open stance. It is the shot she uses to open up the court, to either release winners or advance to the net. She can be breathtaking off that side at her best, but her ranking is not higher because her brilliance off that side can be sporadic.Federer-Aussie-Davydenko

How To Hit Specialty Shots In Tennis: Book Excerpt From “Tennis Made Easy”

"Tennis Made Easy" by Kelly Gunterman

Most tennis players know the fundamentals of how to hit forehands and backhands, but what about specialty shots such as the drop shot, lob or cross-court roller?

Kelly Gunterman tells you how in his book TENNIS MADE EASY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, available here: http://www.amazon.com/Tennis-Made-Easy-Essential-Strategies/dp/0942257715/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1345144569&sr=8-1&keywords=Tennis+Made+Easy). These shots, especially the drop shot, are seen frequently in pro tennis as one will see in the latter stages of the US Open. The following is the excerpt from Gunterman’s book that teaches tennis players “HOW TO HIT SPECIALTY SHOTS IN TENNIS”


These shots all require a great deal of practice to develop touch or feel to hit successfully. They won’t be used often but are great shots to have in your repertoire because they are fun to hit and even more fun to watch your opponent chase down. The element of surprise is very important when using any of these shots. Knowing not only how to hit these specialty shots is important but knowing when to attempt them is equally important. Try not to overuse any of them. We don’t want our opponent to know when they are coming.


The Drop Shot

Just as it sounds, you are trying to drop the ball just over the net with as little pace as possible. The drop shot should be attempted when your opponent is behind the baseline and you are inside your baseline. If you attempt a drop shot from behind your baseline the ball has to travel much too far to get to the net, giving your opponent plenty of time to run it down. Disguise is another important aspect of any touch shot, especially the drop shot. The later your opponent recognizes you are hitting short, the less time there is for them to react to your shot.

When hitting a drop shot, the backswing should look very similar to any other groundstroke but just before you make contact, soften or loosen your grip and roll the racquet face under the ball with an abbreviated follow through. The best grip to use when hitting an effective drop shot is the continental grip, as it allows you to roll the wrist under the ball. This takes the speed off of your shot, essentially dropping the ball over the net.

Since you are hitting this ball from inside the baseline, follow your shot into the net. In the event that your opponent does get to your drop shot, you will be in the best position to cover all the possible angles of return. Never celebrate your great shot until you know the point is over. Many times I’ve seen players make a good drop shot and stop playing, thinking they have won the point. The opponent gets to the ball and wins the point just by getting the ball back in play.

If you are playing a true baseline player, the drop shot effectively brings your opponent out of their element. Hitting even a marginal drop shot forces your opponent to come to the net where they may not feel as comfortable.

When you have hit a good drop shot, move in toward the ball. If your opponent is on the dead run, the chance of them hitting a great shot is pretty slim. By moving in, you put added pressure on them as they run to get to your drop shot.



The lob can be hit in two different but equally effective ways, offensive to win the point or defensive to keep you in the point. Let’s look at both of them. But first, as with all touch or feel shots, the element of surprise is very important. Try to make the backswing in each of these shots look just like a groundstroke. Either offensive or defensive the lob can be quite effective and frustrating for your opponent.


Defensive Lobs

The best grip for hitting this shot is the same grip you use when hitting a normal groundstroke. By keeping the grip you are comfortable with, you can hit the lob with the most confidence. Usually this shot is used when you are out of position and you need time to get back in the court and ready for the next shot. That being said, you may not always have the time you need to set up and make the shot exactly as you would like. Try to keep your weight back when your racquet is back, similar to any groundstroke. The backswing is also very similar, probably a little lower to allow you to get the right amount of lift on the shot.

At contact, the racquet face is slightly open and still somewhat in front of your body. A long high, full finish that is slightly higher than usual will give you the depth you need on the shot. Any slowing or stopping of the follow through results in a short lob and big problems for you when your opponent is hitting overheads back at you.

More often than not, the defensive lob is hit too short rather than too long. When you are practicing, make sure you are working on getting the feel for the depth and height of each lob. This takes some practice but it is a pretty easy touch shot to master. To help develop touch on your lobs, have the peak of the trajectory be over the net. If the trajectory peaks too early, the ball will land short in the court and, conversely, if the ball peaks late, it will probably land out of the court.

This shot can be used successfully when you are pulled way out of position or are running down a tough shot by your opponent. It is great to use when you need a little more time to make your shot and get back in the point.


Offensive Lobs

Sometimes called the attacking lob, the offensive lob is hit to win the point not just to get back in the point. It is a little lower in trajectory and with much more topspin. The effectiveness of this shot relies on disguise. The set up and backswing look identical to the set up for any open stance topspin groundstroke. As we have discussed, when the racquet goes back, the weight goes back with a full rotation of the hips and shoulders. The racquet should be turned slightly more closed with the hitting face toward the ground. This set up allows you to hit with the most topspin. The contact point is very early with the racquet, moving up as you come through the ball. The follow through will be high, with a feeling of brushing up the back of the ball. Make sure you use a full rotation of the hips and shoulders to ensure a full swing through the ball. The trajectory of this shot isn’t quite as high as the defensive lob and the spin makes it jump away from your opponent when it bounces. Don’t over think this shot. Look at it as a very high topspin groundstroke. It is very effective from both the forehand and backhand side. When developing this shot, practice by varying the height of your normal groundstrokes, some lower, some higher, some really high and, voila – you are hitting a topspin lob. It’s not magic but you do need a reasonable amount of practice. Try to use this shot when your opponent is coming into the net and you have little time to get set to make the shot.

With either lob, if your opponent moves back in the court and lets the ball drop, move in. When they move back, you move in, making the transition from defense to offense.


Cross Court Roller

Another one of my favorite touch shots is the cross court roller. You hit this shot with either the forehand or backhand when your opponent is coming to the net. Simply set up to hit a traditional groundstroke with the backswing slightly more closed, hit the ball very early and roll the racquet face over the ball. Make it drop on the side “T” of the service box. All of these shots can be a lot of fun and add a considerable amount of variety to your game. Keep in mind you may never master all the shots but it’s great fun to try.


When A Wimbledon Champion Did Laundry With Arnold Palmer

Arnold Palmer with Sidney Wood

The following is an excerpt from the book THE WIMBLEDON FINAL THAT NEVER WAS… AND OTHER TENNIS TALES FROM A BYGONE ERA by 1931 Wimbledon Champion Sidney Wood, available here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0942257847?tag=tennisgrancom-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=0942257847&adid=0VKY0ZQHN94S10SJX7C5&&ref-refURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.tennisbloggers.com%2F about Wood getting into the laundry business with Arnold Palmer.


In 1939, I thought I’d like to try something where the value of a name in sport could be exploited in a competitive business, where the name would have a greater value than “Mr. Smith.” I looked into different businesses that were essential to people’s lives and I picked the laundry business.

I started it with Frank Shields because I thought it would be nothing but a laughingstock, so I said, “Frank, let’s get laughed at together,” and it was an instant success. Frank was otherwise involved in the insurance business and was asked by his bosses to drop the laundry pursuits, so he dropped out and Don Budge came in. Don was a great friend of mine and somewhat a protegé in a sense. I believe Don would have confirmed that it was I who got him to change from a Western forehand to an Eastern forehand. I was the one who actually initiated with the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association that Don should travel with the U.S. Davis Cup team that first year when they weren’t going to take him. Don actually replaced me on the team, so maybe I shouldn’t have been so generous!

Anyway, we went into business with the idea that Don would open us in California, but Don got much more involved in professional tennis after winning the Grand Slam in 1938 and really didn’t have an opportunity to do this. However, it turned into a terrific success (one of our slogans was “Rub-adub-dub, Budge-Wood have a tub”) and subsequently I introduced the idea to golfing legend Arnold Palmer and his camp.

The first time I met up with Arnie was in the bar of a Philadelphia Marriot Inn near the Whitemarch Club where he was playing in a tournament. It was essentially a business meeting, but undoubtedly there would be sporting overtones. My wife Pat was there, as was Arnie’s Winnie and his chum, super-agent head of International Management Group, Mark McCormack.

When I dreamed up the idea of setting up a marquee name, national franchise laundry and dry cleaning chain, there was no question that Arnie’s name was far and away the one that would sell the best. So I called Mark, who was interested and asked me to meet with him. A couple of days later when I knocked on the hotel door, it flung open and this guy points his finger at me and hollers, “I saw you beat Frankie Parker in Chicago!” That was my introduction to Mark McCormack, and you can say I liked his style!

I asked Arnie if he ever hoisted one during a tournament, and he said, “One after a good round; and two if it was a lousy day.” That afternoon it was just the pro-am, and Arnie, a Pennsylvanian to the core, asked for a boilermaker and looked at me. I nodded, and after another round there was little talk of business and much comparing of golf and tennis play and players. We ended up founding the Arnold Palmer Cleaning Centers, which was an immediate success and was subsequently sold out among some of Arnold’s other enterprises.

Wrote McCormack in Sports Illustrated in 1967, “What Sidney Wood knew, and we all learned, was that if two dry cleaning shops are going to open in the same block and one is called Arnold Palmer and the other is Jack Smith’s, it is the Palmer shop that a new customer is more likely to try.”


THE WIMBLEDON FINAL THAT NEVER WAS ($15.95, New Chapter Press) details the life and times of Wood with a focus on one of the most unusual episodes ever in sport when he won the men’s singles title at Wimbledon by forfeit. Wood, who passed away in 2009 at the age of 97, tells the story of how he won the title over Frank Shields, his school buddy, doubles partner, roommate and Davis Cup teammate – and the grandfather of actress and model Brooke Shields – when Shields was ordered by the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) to withdraw from the final to rest his injured knee in preparation for a U.S. Davis Cup match following Wimbledon. He then discusses his “private understanding playoff” that saw his match with Shields at the Queen’s Club tournament final in London three years later be played for the Wimbledon trophy.

Wood, who could be called the greatest story teller tennis ever had, also relates fascinating anecdotes and stories that involve some of greatest titans of tennis and such legendary Hollywood personalities as Grace Kelly, Errol Flynn, Charlie Chaplin, Groucho Marx, Gary Cooper among others. Wood also critiques all the best players and all the best strokes for every top player through the years – from Bill Tilden, Rene Lacoste and Don Budge all the way to the modern era of the game.

Wood was born on November 1, 1911 in Black Rock, Conn., and was a long-time resident of New York, N.Y., Southampton, N.Y., and Palm Beach, Fla. When he won the Wimbledon title in 1931 at age 19, he was the youngest man to win the singles title at the All England Club – 17-year-old Boris Becker breaking his record in 1985. He still holds the record of being the youngest player to compete at Wimbledon at age 15 in 1927. He was a singles finalist at the 1935 U.S. Championships and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1964.

David Wood of Queens, N.Y., the youngest son of Wood, served as a contributor to the volume.

Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press is also the publisher of “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer (www.RogerFedererBook.com), “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf (www.CliffRicheyBook.com), “Jan Kodes: A Journey To Glory From Behind The Iron Curtain” by Jan Kodes with Peter Kolar, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “A Player’s Guide To USTA League Tennis” by Tony Serksnis, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli (www.Boycott1980.com), “The Lennon Prophecy: A New Examination of the Death Clues of The Beatles” by Joe Niezgoda (www.TheLennonProphecy.com), “Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Susan Anson, “How To Sell Your Screenplay” by Carl Sautter, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According To Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin among others.

Book Excerpt: Rick Macci On His First Meeting Richard, Venus and Serena Williams

Rick Macci's book "Macci Magic: Extracting Greatness From Yourself And Others"

Rick Macci has been dubbed “the coach of prodigies” by Hall of Fame journalist and personality Bud Collins. His reputation as such started when he worked with a pre-teen Jennifer Capriati in the 1980s, but it was burnished when he worked with Venus and Serena Williams when the future legends were only 9 and 10 years old.

In his new book “Macci Magic: Extracting Greatness From Yourself And Others” ($19.95, New Chapter Press, available here on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1937559254/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_vfRvtb1P14M50T4C ), Macci describes his incredible first ever meeting with Richard Williams and his first on-court experience with Venus and Serena. The first part of the chapter “Venus and Serena Williams” from the book is excerpted here below:


I was at the Easter Bowl in 1991 in Florida one afternoon and watching kids from the academy compete and someone mentioned to me that there was a girl out in California who had a lot of potential and had just been in the New York Times. I knew every kid in the country and I had never heard of this girl named Venus Williams. And they said, “Yeah, she’s in the New York Times and there is a lot of potential.”

One thing led to another and an agent from Advantage International said, “Mr. Williams is going to give you a call because they are eventually looking to move from California to Florida to come to a tennis academy.” I said, “OK, give me a call.” A couple weekends passed and Richard Williams ended up giving me a call, probably one of the most bizarre and interesting conversations I ever had in my life. We started talking and he explained to me where they’re at, and so on and so forth, and he wanted to know if I wanted to come out to Compton and take a look at his girls. The only thing I knew about Compton was that it was kind of a rough neighborhood back in the day. He said, “The only thing I can guarantee you is I won’t let you get shot!!”

I thought I’ve got to meet this guy! I said, “Hey, it’s May, it’s kind of slow. I’ll come out for a weekend.”

I was very curious because if someone was that good, from what other people said, I know what good would be. I didn’t have anything to do that weekend, so I booked a ticket and flew out to Compton and got into LAX, got a cab to the hotel in Compton. That night Richard and Oracene and Venus and Serena came over and it was interesting because Venus sat on one knee of her dad and Serena sat on his other knee and we had this two-hour conversation. Richard was asking me all kinds of questions. He actually was very insightful because he knew a lot of things that I was surprised about. He knew who I taught and what I’ve done and which kids have won national tournaments, how many times I’ve been coach of the year. He did some homework, so he kind of had the pulse on my career.

The night ended and he said, “I’ll pick you up at 6:30 in the morning and we’ll go to Compton Hills Country Club and that’s where we’re going to practice.” He picked me up at 6:30 in the morning in an old Beetle bus, kind of wobbling side to side. I got in there in the passenger side and there was a spring sticking out of the seat and I was afraid I would harpoon myself and be permanently injured. So I watched how I sat, for sure. Venus and Serena were in the back of it and there must have been three months’ worth of McDonalds and Burger King wrappers in there, and many Coke cans and bottles, tennis balls all over. I asked, “Do you guys sleep in here?” He said, “Sometimes if I have to. Depends on the wife!”

We pulled up to the park and I thought we were going to a country club. He said, “No, this is the Compton Hills Country Club. I named it that.” I thought this guy was crazy. And I was right. Crazy like a fox! More on that later. It was a park that had two courts and it was about 7 o’clock on a Saturday morning and there were about 20 guys playing basketball and there were another 15 people at least passed out on the grass. There was broken glass and beer bottles everywhere. This was definitely different than the luxurious Grenelefe Golf & Tennis Resort, where I was director of tennis. So it was really a culture shock to see the situation.

When Richard and Venus and Serena got out of the car everybody acknowledged Richard. They called him King Richard. They acknowledged the girls. They stopped playing basketball and parted like the Red Sea and we walked through the basketball courts to get to the tennis courts. They were very respectful of the girls, probably because of the publicity. We go onto the tennis courts and they’re kind of like the courts I grew up on. They were broken, chipped up and broken glass was all over the court. The courts didn’t need resurfacing, they needed to be blown up.

I remember Richard had a shopping cart attached to the net post and it had about 20 feet of chain around it. He got the balls from the car and it took him about 20 minutes to get the chain off the basket that was attached around the post so nobody would steal it. He filled up the basket with balls, and they were all dead balls. But I brought a case of new balls because I thought maybe they might not have the best balls.

After we got organized and had all the balls in there, Venus and Serena kind of jogged around the court. One thing I noticed right off the bat: Venus ran kind of different. She was very long, very tall and had strides like a gazelle. I said, “Ah, that’s interesting.” I was thinking she should run track and not pursue tennis. This isn’t very common for tennis, someone who is spindly. She was like a praying mantis. There was a lot of length there in her stride. Serena was very stocky and compact as a 9-year-old.

I started feeding them balls. One blueprint in seeing a lot of kids is that I see greatness technically at a young age. I coached Jennifer Capriati for three years and    biomechanically Jennifer was not only one of the best ever in those areas of the game, she was one of best ball strikers ever. So now I’m seeing these girls from Compton and they had beads in their hair and they were swinging at the balls and their arms and legs and hair were flying everywhere. There were elbows going right and legs going back, there was improvising all over. So cosmetically I’m looking at this and I’m thinking, “This is a train wreck! This is all hype and I cannot believe I’m in Compton, California, ruining my weekend.” I didn’t think they were really that good. I had seen all the kids and had just come from the Easter Bowl and I’d had many kids win every national at that time.

I thought Venus and Serena looked like decent athletes but technically they were all over the map just because they were improvising. You could tell they just didn’t have quality instruction. After about an hour we started doing competitive things where Venus would do something against Serena even though Venus was much better at the time. Richard said, “I prefer that they not play against each other.” So I said, “OK” and had one of them come and play with me. So we started competing and right then and there their stock rose immediately. My whole perception — and this is a good lesson for any parent or coach — you don’t judge a book by its cover. I looked cosmetically and I saw what I wanted to see. And I come from a vast background of information and I passed judgment that I thought they were limited. Now when they start competing I saw the preparation get a little quicker, I saw the footwork get a little faster, I saw consistency raise a little higher. I thought, “OK, they went from just maybe average kids their age to they could be some of the better prospects in the country.” At least now their stock was at a point where I thought they’re good, there’s some potential here. Athletically they were unique for sure.

But technically they were still a train wreck. Just a lot of things were really way off. They hadn’t had world-class instruction. But the way they competed, and they didn’t want to lose the point, to me their stock rose even more. To me that’s always the X factor, the way someone competes. Venus and Serena had a deep down burning desire to fight and compete at this age. It was unique. Unreal hunger.

Then Venus asked Richard if she could go to the bathroom. There was a lot of hugging and kissing going on. There were a great close knit, loving family. So Venus decided to go to the bathroom. She went out the gate and the first 10 feet she walked on her hands. And the next 10 feet she went into backward cartwheels.

Now I’m seeing this girl and I’m thinking, “How tall are these girls going to be?” He says, “They’re both going to be over 6 feet, strong and powerful.” And I said, “Let me tell you something. I think you have the next female Michael Jordan on your hands.” And he put his arm around me and he said, “No brother man, I’ve got the next two.” At 10 and 9 years old.


“MACCI MAGIC,” available where books are sold, including here on Amazon.com: http://m1e.net/c?150001094-X99l/7XH5chA2%4063364085-8b8oWs74ZG6qQ  is the entertaining and inspirational manual and memoir that helps pave the way to great achievement not only in tennis, but in business and in life. Macci, known as the coach of tennis phenoms, including five world No. 1 players – Venus and Serena Williams, Jennifer Capriati, Andy Roddick and Maria Sharapova – shares his secrets to success both on and off the tennis court through anecdotes and more than 100 of his famous “Macci-ism” sayings that exemplify his teaching philosophy and illustrate the core role and power of positive thinking in the molding of a champion.

The book was written with Jim Martz, the former Miami Herald tennis writer, author and current Florida Tennis magazine publisher. Former world No. 1 and U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick contributed the foreword to the book while another teen phenom student of Macci’s, Tommy Ho, wrote a preface to the book.

Among those endorsing the book are ESPN basketball commentator and tennis fan Dick Vitale who says of Macci, “He will share his secrets for becoming a better all-around person and tennis player and gives you all the tools you will need to assist you in THE GAME OF LIFE!”

Said Mo Vaughn, three-time Major League Baseball All-Star, former American League MVP, “Rick Macci is the best coach I’ve seen. He can coach any sport on any level in any era. That’s due to his ability to communicate directly with his athletes on a level that they clearly understand the technique and what it takes both physically and mentally to be successful. Ultimately the best thing about Rick Macci is that no matter your age, ability or goals being with him on a consistent basis will teach you life lessons that you can take with you regardless of what you do. Rick Macci can make any person better just by his coaching style. My daughter Grace is lucky to have Rick Macci in her life.”

Said Vince Carter, NBA All-Star and Olympic gold medalist of Macci, “As a professional athlete, I have been around many coaches. Rick’s dedication and commitment to turning kids into great tennis players is paramount. The confidence and technique he continues to instill in my daughter amazes me. Rick Macci’s ability to cultivate a player is a testimony of his dynamic coaching skills.”

Said popular tennis coach and personality Wayne Bryan, father of all-time great doubles team Bob & Mike Bryan, “Rick Macci has long been at the very top of the mountain as a tennis coach. Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Andy Roddick, Jenny Capriati are on his laundry list of Grand Slam champs and all-time greats that he has worked with, but he has coached so, so many other pros and Division I college players through the years. He is a coaches’ coach. He is passionate, motivational, dedicated to the game and players, super hard working from dawn to dusk and into the night when the court lights come on, very bright, knows the game inside and out, still learning, and still striving. He is engaging, fun and funny. His new book is loaded with great stuff and stories are such a great way to entertain and educate and inspire — and no one can tell a story or give a lesson better than Rick. You will enjoy this book and be a better person for having read it.”

Macci is a United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) Master Professional, and seven-time USPTA coach of the year. He founded he Rick Macci Tennis Academy and has been inducted into the Florida USPTA Hall of Fame. He lives in Boca Raton, Florida.

Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com) is also the publisher of “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All-Time” by Steve Flink, “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer (www.RogerFedererBook.com), “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins, “The Wimbledon Final That Never Was” by Sidney Wood, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “Titanic: The Tennis Story” by Lindsay Gibbs, “Jan Kodes: A Journey To Glory From Behind The Iron Curtain” by Jan Kodes with Peter Kolar, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “On This Day In Tennis History” by Randy Walker (www.TennisHistoryApp.com), “A Player’s Guide To USTA League Tennis” by Tony Serksnis, “A Backhanded Gift” by Marshall Jon Fisher “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli (www.Boycott1980.com) among others.


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