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)

short balls: california girls (and boys)

TSF takes over the West Coast this week as I made the drive from Cottonwood, Idaho, (yeah, it exists) to San Francisco yesterday for a little R&R and a day at the Bank of the West Classic tomorrow in Palo Alto, at Stanford. Meanwhile, Erwin is holding court in LA for the Farmers Classic, making sure that the boys adhere to the warm weather shining on SoCal and going shirtless on the practice courts.

This week’s version of short balls comes on Tuesday, a little earlier than usual. Enjoy!

I’ll make the drive down to Palo Alto tomorrow for a day at the 40th annual Bank of the West Classic, now the longest-running women’s event on tour. Bank of the West has been the title sponsor since 1992 at this event, something that is unheard of in the days of fast-moving money. (Remember the Lipton Championships? Or the Kraft WTA Tour? Seems like centuries ago… ) The Bank of the West has been at Stanford’s Taube Tennis Pavilion since 1997, and just this year announced partnership with Rebounces, a green company that runs a tennis-ball recycling program nationwide. Balls brought in by members of the public (and those used in the tournament) will be collected and recycled by Rebounces, with the help of FedEx to get them shipped and donated to a local youth tennis program. Thumbs up to that!

There’s always plenty of tennis action on the pages of Twitter, and this week a few more tennis names added themselves to the never-ending world of Tweets. Janko Tipsarevic asked his followers to “bare” with his bad English (gladly, Janko, gladly). WTAers Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Alisa Kleybanova have also joined the Twitter ranks. Anastasia is playing in Istanbul this week, whiles Kleybs was already dismissed from Stanford by a studious Ana Ivanovic. Before she was bounced outta the Bay Area, Kleybs sat down with Chris Oddo for an interview featured on On The Baseline.

The USTA announced yesterday that it is partnering with longtime supporter American Express for a program called Fresh Courts. The program will invest money in 17 different tennis courts in three urban centers, including Los Angeles, DC and New York. In NYC, the benefactors will be our friends over at McCarren Park in Brooklyn. The USTA will head up the fixing up of the courts themselves, as it oversees around 700 refurbishing projects each year.

For a little bit of a fashion fix, I’m digging this Lacoste v-neck (and the model!) I ran across yesterday. $40 online. Meanwhile, Serena might be questionable for the US Open itself, but that’s not keeping Nike from prepping itself for her outfit at said tourney. The Control Court dress (seen here via TennisConnected) is $85 and might – just might – be made famous by ReRe if she’s able to show at Flushing Meadows come late August. This is the black version of her Wimbledon get up, which helped her to her 13th slam title.

short(er) balls are happening after the cut. [Read more…]