Jul 20 2013

Lessons I Learned at State

League Tennis | USTA | USTA Junior Team Tennis       Clif Render      

I just finished one of the longest weekends of my life. I am sitting in a hotel room in Auburn, Alabama at the end of Alabama's USTA Junior Team Tennis State Championship weekend. My son just completed his first season playing USTA Junior Team Tennis. It wasn't necessarily the most successful season in terms of wins and losses but the lessons it taught us were truly remarkable. These were lessons learned from experience. And as I am continually reminded, a lesson learned from experience is truly a lesson learned.

For us the season began with a phone call from a coach at our local tennis club. I had never met Coach Clay Parrish before but I really should have. He's a USPTA Certified teaching pro and Pastor and is one of the primary coaches of up and coming junior players in the Pelham, Alabama area. My son had just completed his 7th grade year. He had played on his middle school tennis team and really wanted to play more over the summer. He had taken a number of clinics from another exceptional Junior's coach at Pelham Racquet Club, Rusty Wilkes who was awarded the USPTA's Southern Assistant Tennis Pro of the Year for 2013 but Rusty was overloaded with Junior teams for the Summer and didn't have one for my son's skill level....


Jul 14 2013

How To Be a USTA Team Captain

League Tennis | Rules | Team Captain | USTA       Clif Render      

If you're reading this then the chances are you are about to join the ranks of USTA Team Captains Nationwide. Congratulations! As a USTA Team Captain, you have just become an Ambassador for the sport of Tennis. Along with this unofficial ambassadorship comes no money, no business card, no fame, and no fortune. What does come with the job, though, is respect, trust, appreciation, and a personalized "Thank You" video recorded just for you by Billie Jean King. And while all of these are excellent things (even the video - thanks BJK!), you need to be prepared for the fact that it will be a lot of work. As long as you know what to expect, though, your life as a USTA Team Captain can be an extremely rewarding experience. Go in with the wrong expectations, though, and you'll come away swearing to never do it again.

So, to save you from the consequences, let's cover the basic responsibilities of a Team Captain now so you know what you're in for. They are:

1. Recruitment. Plan to do some recruiting. Even if you're captaining a pre-existing team as a favor to some buddies of yours, the League Director, or the local pro, do yourself a favor and keep on the lookout for new players. Speaking as someone who has had to suffer through the painful experience of defaulting away matches...


Jul 9 2013

5 Things to Avoid on Your Website and One Thing Not To

Technology | Website       Clif Render      

So, you're thinking about putting together a website and you're telling your computer guy about what you want. Did you notice his eyes glazing over a bit when you ran through the list of songs you wanted to auto-play for your visitors? Do you see those little beads of sweat bubbling up on his forehead as you explain the really cool animation that you want to see on the home page? Well, there's a reason for his discomfort. The web has been through many iterations in recent years and the chances are that you're a bit behind. Many of the things that were cool back in the day are major problems for the web now. I'm going to share with you five of the most deadly sins in putting together your web site along with the single one most powerful thing that you can do to really establish a solid presence on the web. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's start off with the Naughty List first...

The number one thing on the naughty list is the thing that I hear most often from people who haven't really kept up with technology lately. "When I first pull up my website, I want to see a tennis ball spinning into view and then I want it to explode and then..." Well, you get the idea. It's a splash page. Everyone whose ever seen a movie knows how cool splashy images and animations can be in a movie theater with surround sound and popcorn. Keep in mind, though, that you go to the theater and pay them the big bucks specifically because you want to see that kind of thing. When you go to someone's website, that's not at all why you're there. You probably went there for a specific purpose and then they made you have to wait. Ugh...


Jul 6 2013

The Evolution of the Tennis Racquet

History | Racquets | Technology       Clif Render      

The tennis racquet is a marvelous invention. Without it, the sport we play today just wouldn't be the same. In its prehistory, it started off as either a bare hand or a glove made of leather or cloth. Before long, however, the first (and longest) age of the racquet would begin: The Wood Age.

Around the 14th century, a frame of wood with strings made of animal intestine (or gut) was first used to play the sport. The use of this type of racquet would continue on and off for the next six hundred years or so. It was made the official standard of the sport (or, at least, the sport's ancestor) in the late 1800s when Major Walter C. Wingfield began registering patents for what he called "The Ancient Game of Tennis". This wood and gut model racquet would continue to be the standard of play until the late 1960s when Jimmy Conners and Wilson Sporting Goods introduced us to the amazing T2000 all steel racquet...


Jul 5 2013

Tennis and Technology

Babolat | Racquets | Technology       Clif Render      
Ball Bouncing

Tennis is one of the top recreational sports in the United States and is one of the most heavily marketed sports worldwide. As the popularity of Tennis grows, so does the impact and influence of technology in the sport.

From the creation of the first non-wood racquet to the invention of Hawkeye and beyond, the forward march of technology is a wonderful and relentless thing. It is a thing that directly impacts the life of every pro on the tour every day of their lives. That impact, however, doesn't only impact the pros.

Simple recreational players like myself are affected as well. There is not a day that I walk onto a tennis court that I don't thank the hardware wizards at Babolat for every misguided shot that I hit that somehow inexplicably lands in. How people ever played the game before humanity discovered composites, I'll never know...