on the 12th day of giftmas: we give you rest

Yes, oh tired tennis fan, we know: you’re oh, so sleepy. Fear not, because on the twelfth day of Christmas we give you rest and wish you all the best of a holiday weekend/ week/ hour/ day/ minute/ fortnight. We’ll be back in early 2011 to give you all the goodies of the tennis fashion world. Thank you for reading. Thank you for being you. Thank you, Bethanie Mattek Sands.
-Erwin, Nick & Co.

(picture by aleftina via flickr.)

on the 10th day of giftmas: who needs the court?

Online offerings: There really is nothing better than getting out on the tennis court and playing some tennis. But before you do that, there’s plenty of tools online to maximize just how – and why – you play. Sure, the web is full of tennis news, but there is a unique niche that exists that helps you with your game and find out more about the sport you love than just the latest ATP scores.

The kids are all right: We’ll start at the bottom – or at least those who are closest to the ground. 10andundertennis.com was launched by the USTA this summer, and the site goes along with the rule changes that the national organization is starting to phase into the instructional world and will see at the competitive level in its entirety in 2012. Why do we love this site so much? The USTA has created such a wide-reaching hub for parents (and kids!) that you can head there to find out everything about how the game will change for the little tikes: from new equipment and gear to training, programs and events that kids can tap into, it’ll no longer be a dang big court for the first few years of swinging.

All you need is a racket, a ball and a screen: But for those of us who are over 10 (and we guess most (most!) of our readers are), there is a dang big court out there that we have to deal with. We’ve always been fans of FuzzyYellowBalls, the instructional web site that takes the games of the pros – in video! – and helps you learn how to improve your own. Head instructor Will Hamilton has been around since 2007, and the site has grown to be the most popular instructional site in the world. We dig the site for its visual advantage: if you learn best from watching and then doing, this is the place where you can watch how to do it right, and then put the practice to work out on the court.

Find a partner: Especially when you’re new to a place, the web can be the perfect place to find a tennis partner to play tennis. We’re going with LetsPlayTennis.com, where you can find profiles and USTA ratings of potential battle mates.

Rebounces has been around for a while, but this holiday season we’re digging their replay option, which allows you to ship balls to them and get them rebounced and playable once again. That’s seriously green. Or bright yellow. Or whatever color tennis balls are. Reasonable rates: 100 balls for $45, 250 for $100 or 500 for $185. And you’re saving plastic.

(photo by Ligia Cuevas-Johnson via usta.com)

on the 8th day of giftmas: excess baggage

‘Tis the season of choices, no? We give you five (count ‘em, 5!) bags to pick from this holiday season. From the super-chic and trendy Soho choice to a bag that couldn’t be more Apple Pie America to another selection (after the cut) that you might want to buy alongside a pair of sunglasses. No, really… at least for the kids. Batter up: LAYERxlayer is catching our eye this year with their trendy, made-to-order approach of bags that you can really take anywhere. The Wayfarer pack, seen below, is $189 online and couldn’t be better for a city dweller that wants a good, sturdy bag that can withstand a daily commute on the 6 Train. 100% denim body.

Say what you will about the simplicity of the Fila (or Ralph Lauren) color palette, sometime tennis (with it’s bright yellow balls, purple courts and god-forsaken plaid shorts) needs a little grounding. That’s why this year, we’re digging this three-racquet bag from Fila, which is the perfect gift for any regular club or competitive player in your life. And serse, for $39.99, there just isn’t anything better than red, white and blue. (Available on Tennis Warehouse.)

And while after the cut we have two somethings for the ladies, we figured we’d throw a bone for our dudes on this next choice. While we were drooling over Roger’s RF bag earlier this fall, Nike has the next best thing in the small, classic duffel bag in black. The bag, just $60 on their web site, is the perfect carry-on, carry-to-the-court or carry-my-stuff-around-all-day selection for a sporty fella in your life.

After the cut: a look at a tennis bag that is (still) on our radar (and a nice surprise).

[Read more...]

on the 7th day of giftmas: duds for the dudes

While we can probably say that today’s developments in the long road to repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” can’t be bested as a holiday gift for 2010, here’s how we would’ve drowned our sorrows had things gone the other way:

Steven Alan teamed up with Dockers earlier this fall to dress up the classic American brand’s image, and the mens-only collection of button-down polos (Steven Alan’s specialty!), blazers, and pants don’t disappoint. Buy: Steven Alan for Dockers Workwear Chino in Jasper Grey, $128, stevenalan.com. (FYI, Angelenos can also pick this up from the Barney’s CO-OPs and at Steven Alan Annex shops.)

Etc: For the casual guys on your list, consider the tennis-themed tees from Nike (remember the trove they had on the grounds of the U.S. Open?); he doesn’t need to know that this one with Johnny Mac on a face card is now half-off. Buy: Nike John McEnroe Playing Card Men’s Tennis T-Shirt, $14.97, nike.com.

The classic pinstripe polos from Boast, the recently revived tennis brand, are also on our list. This green one’s our fave, though they also carry it in black, blue, and red. Buy: Boast pinstripe polos, $68, boastusa.com. Cantaloupe not included.

And for something a little less fabric-based, there’s always the line of colognes from Lacoste. Andy Roddick is now the face for Challenge (sorry, Hayden, you’re out!). Buy: Lacoste Challenge Eau de Toilette Sprays, $40-$60, lacoste.com.

on the 6th day of giftmas: racquet racket

Remember the Wilson BLX Blade that we spotted in the city back in September? It’s still been on our mind. The series of Six.One Blades that Wilson has put out have been high quality as a pack, and we’re giving thumbs up to most of the collection. The racquet has a “classic Wilson feel,” which means that you get pin-point accuracy and a good connection with the ball, especially if you want to hit consistently from the baseline. Below the Six.One Tour BLX. And how can you not dig the tan-colored grip on this baby? Classic, indeed. Buy it: on TennisWarehouse for $199.

If you want a racquet with a little bit of a different feel from the Wilson but still the same results, we’re digging Yonex’s EZONE, with a 100-inch head and a 27-inch length. Big-hitters like Monica Seles have favorited these racquets for a simple back-swing and a frame that the ball bounces off of. Buy at TennisExpress for (also) $199.

See our kids’ picks after the cut.

[Read more...]

on the 5th day of giftmas: more from santa’s helpers

OK, so those glistening ladies aren’t Santa’s helpers, but they could be, right?! On the 5th day of TSF’s 12 Days of Giftmas, we hear from four more WTA ladies on what they’re hoping for from Santa, what they’re getting their loved ones and their hopes for the year to come.

The other elves: Caro, Jelena, Elena and Vika tell us about their Christmas plans

TSF: What is one of your favorite Christmas presents from the past? Or something you look forward to during the holidays? A present you’re hoping for perhaps?!
Sam Stosur: “I haven’t even thought about it! Actually one of the best presents I’ve had was a few years ago when my brother brought me a ‘swim with the seals’ ticket for SeaWorld which was really cool.”
Kim Clijsters: “What I would really love is for Jada to draw or paint something for us, now that she’s getting old enough, and we can continue to do that every year. Maybe we could send that out as a Christmas card. What we’ve done in previous years is have a group photo with all the family and our 5 dogs! The thing I like most at Christmas is time at home with the family.”
Francesca Schiavone: “The most important thing for me every year at Christmas is to be there with all my family. In terms of presents, we’re not so focused on them, because it’s more important that for this one day of the year we can all be together. For sure I’ll be asking my parents for something! I just don’t know yet! Usually I arrive home on the 23rd or 24th and I think ‘what am I going to do now for presents?!’ So I go to the big mall and at the very last moment I buy everything!”
Vera Zvonareva: “A voucher for a spa, just spend the whole day relaxing, that would be nice! I’m not sure if it will happen this year, but I love spending that time with my friends out in the snow with all the decorations up and a hot chocolate in my hand.”

TSF: What are your 2011 resolutions?
SS:
I was thinking about that the other night and I was considering giving up French fries for a year…but I’m not sure I’ll be able to stick to that….so maybe safer not to make that my resolution! So I think mine will be to stay healthy, fit, happy, and enjoy what I’m doing.
KC: “I’m not really good with electronics, and I’ve never been great at keeping track of my personal schedule on a computer or phone, I still use a diary to write everything in. I always start the year so neatly and I want to keep it like that but I usually find that by one month in I have scribbles and crossings out everywhere and it’s all messy, so that’s going to be my resolution – be more organized with my planning!”
FS: To be better and improve every day of my life.
VZ: To keep improving myself every day, keep fighting and keep my courage – that’s the most important thing.

on the 4th day of giftmas: design between the lines

Hugh Hayden is by no means new news in the tennis design world, but he certainly keeps us interested. The designer of all things comfy (and recycled) continues to churn out tennis-inspired furniture, like the dog bed that can be seen below. Hugh hit it big this year in landing the gig to design Lacoste’s boutique window at the US Open. Now Hayden is personalizing the design concept for his adoring fans. A custom set is available for $325. The dog bed is available on the same link to the left for $285.

Rainbow row: Hayden can get colorful, too.

While the Hall of Fame chairs that you can nab at SportsMemorabilia.com aren’t half as comfy as what Hayden is churning out, they come along with some pretty good history and sentiment along with them. Chairs from the International Tennis Hall of Fame come (signed) from faves like Johnny Mac, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Mats Wilander and Tracy Austin. Cost? It’s a pretty penny: around $600 each.

All right you budget shoppers, we’ve got you covered after the jump, so get a-clickin’!

[Read more...]

on the 3rd day of giftmas: the kiddie kind

There are those tennis-loving kids out there who are going to be expecting more than just a can of tennis balls in their stockings. Yep, we get it: they’re greedy! But look, tennis is pretty dang hard to play when you’re using lumps of coal. We’ve gathered together our best pint-sized gems (no, we’re not talking about our new BFF Justine) for a little kiddie shopping on the third day of TSF‘s 12 days of Giftmas.

We’ve always been big fans of the things that bubble over at Stick it Wear?! in SoCal. (No really. We. Are. Big. Fans.) This year SIW?! is getting young and hip – and we mean young as in they’ve got stuff for the little ones! And that rocks. Our faves: the no-nonsense AnaTank is a good option if you’re dreaming about sunny and warm weather in December (retails for $24.99) and, for the boys, the OurSaviour (can you guess who?!) is offered in the performance line for boys. Cost? $34.99.

And not just tennis: SIW?! now goes for the greens of the golf world too. Because you know those kiddies love g-o-l-f.

Remember when the rules changed for the kids of tennis? Well, now shopping has, too. TennisWarehouse has put together a portal that points shoppers to different landing pages by age and by products themselves. For kids from 5-10 and and products like racquets and shoes and balls and apparel can all be found via the link. What’s the best way to get your kid excited about 10 and Under Tennis?? Buy them some goods and get out there on the court with them! Our pick? A 12-pack of foam tennis balls for $29.95, seen below.

[Read more...]

on the 2nd day of giftmas: if the shoe fits

There was no glass slipper to be worn on the tour this year, not – at least – for the professionals. Melanie Oudin did her best at that last year at the US Open (as did the much-forgotten Jelena Dokic at the Aussie), but no such slipper was happening this year. There were, however, plenty of good shoes to be worn by the pros and we give you a good line-up to find over the next two weeks, just in case you have a Christmas Day tennis match with Pete Sampras (or his trophy stealer).

The adidas Barricade (shown above) has been alive and well for awhile now, and the sixth version of the shoe launched this fall. Oudin sported her “Courage” pair at this year’s USO, and a bevy adidas-wearing players were together to tout the shoe before the start of play at the US Open. But you don’t need to be at Flushing Meadows to sport these kicks, find them online starting at $115.

Remember when? TSF was besties with Justine. We do: The Justine Diaries | Part 2 (We’re famous in Belgium!)

If you’re not looking for competitive kicks, we would have loved to have recommended you landing on the K-Swiss collaborative shoe, Deuce. But the shoe, which we gave a thumbs-up to in October, sold out in three weeks after a successful collaboration with Undefeated, a quirky SoCal.  Therefore, we’re giving the nod to the aptly-named “Classic Hiker” from K-Swiss, which was just named one of Complex‘s 18 Best Boots for Winter. What’s even better than the look of this no-nonsense shoe is its price: $75 online.

Below: a look at the Ariake, a K-Swiss running shoe that we’re digging. Online for $100.

Hop the jump for our other shoe picks this holiday season.

[Read more...]

on the 1st day of giftmas: tennis lit

2010 has been a pretty good year for the tennis literary community (if you can even call it a “community”). There was an as-always this-is-what-my-tennis-life was (and is!) book in Patrick McEnroe’s Hardcourt Confidential, while Venus Williams put out a best-selling business book called Come To Win. Right, we said business book. We give you a few other selections that might fit well as fit-in-your-suitcase take-home gifts this holiday season.

Hardcourt Confidential might be the only book on this list that I’ve actually completed, and after a bit of skepticism to start, I surely appreciated it. McEnroe write with Tennis‘s Peter Bodo and Bodo’s signature phrases can be found throughout the book. But it’s still McEnroe’s voice that shines through and tells some good stories. The book follows a calendar format (Jan. to Dec.) instead of a biographical one, which grew on me as I progressed. A great read from – what a tennis friend recently told me – “one of the nicest guys in tennis.” | Hardcover on Amazon.com for $10.40

Come to Win is Venus’s take – along with a host of other “visionaries” – on how to rise above the rest in whatever you choose.”Every single story in this book is very motivating. Sports give you knowledge that you can take with you and apply into other fields,” says Mihaela Hagiu in her review of Come to Win on Bookstove.com. “Many people do not realize the benefits of playing a sport. The lessons that could be learned are too valuable.” | Hardcover on Amazon.com for $17.15

Doubles Agatha Donkar’s take on the book on the Art & Literature blog: “Taking the reader along for the ride as Slow tries to crawl out from this bottom that he’s hit, Doubles explores tennis, friendship, and love, and the truly strange lengths human beings go to in pursuit of those things — the idea that we’re all just muddling along, and there’s only so much indulgence you can take before you have to do something else.” | Paperback on Amazon.com for $11.41

[Read more...]