How to improve your serve   Leave a comment

American tennis player is known for having the best serve in pro tennis.

American tennis player John Isner is known for having the best serve in pro tennis.

Start with an abbreviated motion.

When first learning, don’t start with a full motion, break the serve down into parts. When I first learned, I started in an abbreviated motion with the racquet down my back. Then, when I mastered that, I moved to the full motion, where you start the racquet with your toss.

Reach high, snap your wrist.

When you are missing into the net, it means your body is coming down too early. So remember to reach as high as you can, hitting the ball at the highest possible moment. I often tell myself to keep my chin up, which is a trick to make sure I’m reaching up to hit the serve. Also, if you are hitting too long, it means that you need to snap your wrist more.

Be aware of your feet.

Make sure your feet are lined up in the direction you want to serve. Remember that your legs are just as important as your arms. All of your power comes from having a strong base. Bend your legs, and jump into the court as you hit the serve, making sure your body weight is going forward without losing your balance.

Practice, practice, practice.

A serve is such a difficult motion to learn that it requires a lot of practice. Go out with a basket of balls and just hit them over and over again. Work on maintaining your technique, finding what works for you and doing it the same way every time. Also, practice different spins (slice, flat, topspin) and placements. It’s necessary to have a variety of serves and to be able to place it anywhere in the box in order to be a good server.


Posted December 13, 2012 by emily9184 in Tennis Tips

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USTA Leagues: Play tennis your whole life   Leave a comment

ustaTwo years ago, I started playing in a USTA women’s 4.5 league during the off-season.                                          Since then, I have continued playing in various leagues, and I strongly recommend that you play in one if you’re interested in tennis. They have leagues for all levels and ages.

They have doubles, combo doubles (where you play with someone at a different level than you), mixed doubles, and singles. It’s a great way to meet new people, but it also is very competitive tennis. As a team, you can advance to Sectionals, Regionals,  and even Nationals. One of my teams, a Montgomery County 4.5 women’s team, actually advanced to Nationals this year and it was in Tucson, Ariz.

Suzie Smith, the assistant coach for the Hood women’s tennis team, plays in several USTA leagues and said it is a great way to stay involved in tennis. “Tennis is truly is a sport for life. My parents are in their 70’s yet they still play competitively through the USTA,” Smith said.

Smith played Division III tennis at the College of Wooster but due to her career and family commitments she barely picked up a racquet for almost 20 years. However, within the past couple years, she started to play again, joining several Frederick USTA teams.

Smith added, “I didn’t realized how much I missed it until I got back out there. I’m glad that there are so many opportunities to play USTA in our area.”

I’m really happy to know that I can continue to play competitive tennis through the USTA once my college career ends. Based off the positive experiences that I’ve already had playing in USTA leagues, I look forward to playing in them as I grow older.

Posted December 13, 2012 by emily9184 in Interviews, Tennis Tips

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Getting to know… Junior Sandra Dziadas   Leave a comment


Hometown: Long Pond, Pa.

Position: #3 singles, #2 doubles

Major: Dual Certification in Elementary/ Special Education

Other clubs/activities: House Council First Floor Representative in Smith, SPURS, and SEA: Student Education Association

What do you enjoy the most about tennis?

I think we have great coaches that want to help us improve. Everyone on both the men’s and women’s teams get along great as well. It creates a great atmosphere.

What do you consider your greatest strength as a tennis player?

I have the determination to always get to the ball. I hate missing a shot if I knew I could have gotten it if I put a little more effort into my game.

What do you find the most challenging about tennis?

Being able to perfect my serve. Serving is crucial in tennis and can give you easy points.

Also, keeping a good mindset. Tennis is a mental game, and if you’re not positive, it can get away from you quickly.

What is your favorite memory so far in your college tennis career?

Beating a girl in the last match of my freshman year who I thought I was going to lose to. She had a very strong serve and really challenged me to think about my strategy to win.

How do you balance tennis and academics?

I have to sacrifice time for friends and leisure because I consider practice and games as leisure. I take a break from school when I play tennis, so when I get back to my room, I focus on the work I need to get done.

Posted December 13, 2012 by emily9184 in Interviews

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Catching up with Coach Tim Halter   Leave a comment


Coach Tim Halter is in his first season as head coach for the Hood College men’s and women’s tennis teams. I talked with him to find out about his thoughts on the experience so far, his coaching style, and preview the Spring season.

What were you most impressed with during the fall season?
“I was impressed with the improvement of everyone in that short amount of time in the fall season. Everyone had the drive to improve and get that mental edge. Also, everyone made great efforts to make all the practices and understood how important it was not to miss them.”
What do we need to improve on the most?
“We need to improve our decision-making and the mental aspect of tennis. We can’t get easily frustrated over one or two little points and have that affect the next couple of games. Also, we need to improve our footwork (especially in doubles), and not getting caught out of position.”
As a coach, what aspects of tennis do you like to emphasize in practice?
“All of the above! I like to work on point play by setting up matches, technique by running drills, and the mental side of tennis by taking everyone aside after a few games and talking with them to see what is going on in their head at the moment. I also emphasize high percentage shots and only going for the big shot when you set up the point. That way you give your unforced errors down and let the opponent make the mistakes.”
Based off the fall season, are there any changes you plan to make in the Spring season?
“Well, Spring season is our traditional season when we play mostly conference matches. Practice will be more serious with match play and all-around conditioning. I really want everyone to go out there and produce good results. I think there will be one or two girls who plan to come out in the Spring, so that will throw some competition in the mix for who makes the line-up.”
How do you think we will be able to compete in the MAC conference?
“I think the women have potential to do good things in the new conference this season. We are a good team getting better and better, and will definitely take advantage of the team rankings. Everyone did well in the MAC individual tournament, so this should translate to us doing well as a team against the same MAC opponents.”


Posted December 5, 2012 by emily9184 in Interviews

Club Tennis: A great way to stay involved in tennis at Division I schools   Leave a comment

Many high school tennis players may decide to attend large universities instead of smaller Division III schools such as Hood College This makes it difficult to continue a tennis career at the varsity level unless you are a top-ranked recruit and willing to make a huge commitment to play a Division I sport. Luckily, there is another option at many schools that allows you to continue to play competitively: club tennis.

My brother, Tommy Maerz, a senior at the University of Pittsburgh, has played on their club tennis team for four years. Here is what he has to say about club tennis.

The Pittsburgh Club Tennis Team. Tommy Maerz is second from the left in the back row.

Who can play club tennis?

“Undergraduate and graduate students can play. It’s a co-ed team, there are try-outs since we play at a pretty high level, but we take up to 25 players. The team consists of above-average players, many with exceptional high school backgrounds, which often include advancing to their High School State Championships.”

What are practices like at the club level?

“We practice three times a week at a local tennis club in Pittsburgh – we have to pay club fees to cover court time, but it ends up being a really great deal.”

How about matches?

“There are no matches against one specific team – instead, we compete against other universities at USTA Tennis on Campus-sanctioned events. We play about 4 to 5 tournaments a semester, and if we do well, we can advance to Sectionals or Nationals. We have to travel to the tournaments – for example, we traveled to New York City and the Greenbriar Resort in W. Va. Some examples of schools we play include: Penn State, Rutgers, Villanova, and Syracuse. The tournaments are round-robin format and include singles, doubles and mixed doubles, so you get to play a lot of matches.

What are the advantages of playing club tennis instead of playing at the Varsity or recreational level?

“We are not as intense as Division I, we are more focused on having fun. Still, it allows tennis players to continue to play at a competitive level, not just recreational. You have more time for academics or other clubs that you wouldn’t have if playing varsity. You also get to meet a lot of new people that all enjoy playing tennis.”

What has been your favorite experience?

“Getting to play at the Louie Armstrong court at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center where they play the U.S. Open. It was cool to play in such a huge stadium on the same court that the pros play on.”

Posted December 3, 2012 by emily9184 in Interviews

Local Tennis Clubs   Leave a comment

Due to the colder weather, it is often hard to continue to play outside, so you might have to play indoors. Here is some information on  two of the tennis clubs in the area that have indoor courts.

West Winds Tennis and Fitness Center

Address: 11411 Gas House Pike, New Market, Md.

Phone: 301-865-2701

How far is it from Hood?  16 mi.

6 indoor hard-tru (clay) courts and 3 outdoor lighted courts

Positives: There is usually a court available. Playing on clay improves your footwork

Negatives: It is often very cold during the winter, making you question why you bothered to pay for indoor court time. The clay isn’t in the best condition.

Tuscarora Tennis Barn

Address: 5216 Renn Rd. Frederick, Md.

Phone: 301-473-5050

How far is it from Hood? 6 miles

4 indoor hard courts

Positives: Courts are in great condition, well-lit, easy to get to from Hood

Negatives: Hard to get a court since there are only 4 available, give preference to USTA leagues and lessons

Posted December 2, 2012 by emily9184 in Tennis Tips

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How playing doubles improves your singles   Leave a comment

During the fall season, Coach Tim Halter has placed a lot of emphasis on practicing doubles. After all, we play three lines of doubles, and if you can win two or three of those, you are heading into the six singles matches with an advantage. Doubles can also greatly improve your singles play – personally, I feel that I have become a better singles player since entering college because I have had the opportunity to play both doubles and singles.

I talked to local tennis pro Gene Cutter of West Winds Tennis Center about the ways playing doubles can help your singles.

It works on your return.

“When playing doubles, you have to return cross-court, otherwise the net person will cut off the ball and put the volley away,” Cutter said. “This means you have to be a lot more accurate on your returns.”

Improve your volleys.

In singles, a lot of players just stay back and hit ground strokes from the baseline, rarely approaching the net. Their volleys are often weak. However, doubles is all about volleys, your whole goal is to get up to the net. “A lot of kids now are almost afraid to come up to the net during a point – playing doubles can help them become much more comfortable up there,” Cutter said.

The more match play, the better.

No matter how much you practice, you can’t actually simulate match play. Doubles matches can give you valuable experience playing under pressure situations that can only benefit you in singles matches. “I tell my students to enter in both singles and doubles when playing junior tournaments. It’s important to get as much match experience  as possible,” Cutter said.

Improve your strategy.

Doubles requires a lot more strategy than singles. You are constantly taking time to talk things over with your partner. You can’t just go out there and mindlessly bash the ball and expect to win. Cutter added, “Doubles requires you to think. You learn more about the game, which only helps you become a better overall player.”

Posted December 2, 2012 by emily9184 in Tennis Tips

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