on foreskin and forehands



Must Watch Tennis All The Time wonders if foreskin, or the lack thereof, might be a reason why the Americans are failing miserably on the ATP Tour:

People say that not being circumsized makes you have a lot more feeling in your penis. Maybe, somehow, this extra feeling in the penis makes them have extra powers on the court.

…And so I wanted to try and make a list if all the top one hundred players who are not circumsized. I don’t know if the Russian do it, but my guess is not. So Safin might go on this list. And definitely Feliciano Lopez, Tommy Robredo, David Ferrer and possibly Juan Monaco, although I’m not entirely certain about the Argentines.

…Perhaps the ATP or the ITF would like to do a study on this. I would be more than willing to help.

I know a few other people who’d be willing to help with the research. And maybe she can use this picture to figure out Juan Monaco’s, uhm, situation.

Speaking of blogging, check out Colette Lewis (Zoo Tennis) and Peter Bodo (TennisWorld) talking about blogging’s effects on the sport. And if you haven’t done so yet, take a look at Nick’s blog, Tennis Chatter (his latest post is a 2008 preview of the women’s tour). He’s also been writing for Sportingo; see those articles here.

I wish everyone a happy and successful 2008. And I hope making this my first post of the year doesn’t come back to haunt me.

how tacky!: the ITF tests the viscosity of court surfaces



After reading about the latest Congress on Tennis Science and Technology held by the ITF Science & Technical Department, I thought I’d track down one of the guys who published a paper in conjunction with the event. Matt Downing, a student at the University of Bath, conducted studies that led to “The effect of temperature on the court pace rating of tennis surfaces” and “The effect of climatic changes on the properties of tennis balls”, both included in Tennis Science and Technology 3 (edited by Miller, S. and Capel-Davies, J. ITF: London). In plain English, he basically did a study on how tennis courts and tennis balls are affected by variations in temperature.

Over e-mail, we chatted with Matt about how he fell into working with the ITF, what his research was like, and what his plans are for future tennis-related studies. Read on.

short balls: thursday edition



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Guga lives on: Columnist Charles Bricker lets us know that Guga is still months away from recovery, and likely can’t take advantage of a U.S. Open wildcard. In the meantime, you can enjoy this fan art.

Monte Carlos Masters stays put: The organizers of this Masters Series tourney get to keep their mid-April date, their ranking points, and prize money levels. Unfortunately, the ATP won’t enforce player commitments for the event, which could mean a lackluster field. But with plenty of players calling the Principality of Monaco home, perhaps recruiting players won’t be so hard to do… (IHT, DT)

Someone loves you, Andy: Andy Roddick‘s still smarting about his quarterfinal loss to Richard Gasquet at this year’s Wimbledon, but he can take consolation in ranking 59th in AfterElton’s Hot 100 list.

It’s not just ‘tennis elbow’ anymore: Spine injury can rear its ugly head early on, so teens: be careful!

A sports lover’s haven: After the sixth hour on the couch watching Wimbledon coverage, I dream about a house like this, too. (LAT)

(OT) Chanel’s mobile pavilion: Designer Karl Lagerfeld has commissioned architect Zaha Hadid to create a pavilion for Chanel‘s Mobile Art exhibition. (On the Runway)

The U.S. Open Series coverage begins: When something gets a New York Times mention, you know it’s got it made. (Talking Tennis)

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Sharapova expands her empire: The Manhattan Beach resident played a WTT match for the Newport Beach Breakers last night. She wore the Summer Sphere Tank from her clothing sponsor, Nike. (via AVP)

Hyuk of the day: Yes, we chuckled when we saw this headline. Did she tie her shoes too tight? Do you hear that frog? (via OTB)

Nike and adidas should watch out: As sneaker companies sense that China will soon become a big-time market, the sponsorship agreements doled out get more and more creative. (Slate)

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>> Tennis Served Fresh’s short balls archive

further reading: what separates Federer from the rest?



Roger Federer entered this week’s French Open with a 2300-point lead over world #2 Rafael Nadal. By now we all know the reasons behind this lead. We’ve seen him play. Winners from all over the court, on the defensive, from in between the legs, or around the net post. Backhand overheads. Clutch shots coming out of nowhere.

Science and our curiousity have tried to chip away at how great athletes like Roger come to be. Back in March, Daniel Coyle, via a NYT article attempted to explain the phenomena — not just that of amazing players, but of amazing players from the same geographical area: South Korean women golfers, Dominican baseball players, and seemingly endless supply of Russian tennis players (the latter an enigma that vexes U.S. Fed Cup team captain Zina Garrison everyday, I’m sure). Is it coincidence, or is there a scientific explanation?

Coyle travelled with Elena Dementieva back to her childhood training academy, Spartak (in Moscow), to get some more insight. The academy was the perfect research specimen: it spawned Dementieva, along with Anna Kournikova, Marat Safin, and Anastasia Myskina, all from the same group of kids. On one hand he attributes their talent to biology — “super-athletes” have more myelin in their nervous system — and on the other he cites intense parenting, training, and time investment. Nothing conclusive, but a well-written article.

And this week’s Wired brings up the idea of field sense, a skill “which mixes anticipation, timing, and an acute sense of spatial relations”, and a skill which the writer deems untrainable. But not if Australian Instute of Sport scientist Damian Farrow has anything to say about it. In tennis, he’s developing ways for players to anticipate a serve as early as possible (perhaps even before the ball toss), thus giving the receiver extra milliseconds to react.

The article also mentions unstructured play as a way of developing good field sense (a skill perfected by Martina Hingis during her childhood — her coach/mother Melanie Molitor would feed her balls to hit from all over the court, leaving Hingis to scramble and anticipate where each ball would land).

ncaa: don't forget your tennis athletes!



The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) and the NCAA have released a report on injury rates in collegiate athletics, with the hopes of reducing such rates through preventive medical treatment and changes in a sport’s rules.

Through their Injury Surveillance System (ISS), both organizations analyze data collected from trainers in 15 collegiate sports over 16 years. The initial version of ISS focused on sports with higher instances of acute (vs. repetitive motion) injuries and on team sports with a higher likelihood of physical contact, thus ruling out swimming, tennis, and cross country. In 2004, they switched to a web-based system which monitored all sports.

Randy Dick, Associate Director of Research at ISS, hopes to have enough information within a year to include tennis in their findings. “There is a learning curve to the new system,” he wrote to Tennis Served Fresh via e-mail. “A few schools (have begun) to report tennis data and we hope that number increases as more people become aware of the system’s expansion.”

The findings will appear in the Journal of Athletic Training. You can find raw(er) data here.

NCAA tennis players suffer from the same ailments that have plagued professional tennis. Injuries, as you may know, affect not only the players, but also spectators and tournament organizers. Also, it’s been a big thorn on the side of pro tennis for a few years. (Currently most glaring is the French Open’s withdrawal list: Hingis, Haas, Murray, Golovin, Peng, Zvonoreva — just to name a few — have dropped out.)

We look forward to seeing how the NCAA will deal with this issue.