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Charlie Garfinkel’s Racket Sports: Tweak your tennis game for the outdoors

Soon, many tennis players who have been playing indoors at Miller Tennis Center, South Towns Tennis Club, the Village Glen and Buffalo Racquet Club will be playing outdoors at these and many other outdoor and private courts.

The bounce and pace of the ball will be much different than playing indoors. However, one of the biggest problems will be playing on windy days. The wind can wreak havoc with your game regardless of whether you are a 4.5 player or a beginner.

My advice is to get your racket back sooner than you did when your were playing indoors. Be sure to hit through the ball with plenty of topspin in order to keep your shots in the court, whether or not you are hitting into or with the wind. Just blocking the ball back will cause your shots to fall short.

You will also find that serving will be much more difficult outdoors, especially if it is windy. My advice is to hit your serves with plenty of topspin to ensure that they find their mark. It also surprises me that many players never wear sunglasses on really sunny days. The glasses will really cut down on glare that could affect your following the ball.

There is another problem that could arise if you have been playing on hard courts all winter and then proceed to play on har tru or clay courts outside as the weather gets warmer.

You will find that har tru and clay courts are much slower than hard courts. Topspin ground strokes are more effective on the slower courts as the ball will take an upward bounce that will force your opponent to move back in the court. On the slower courts you must be patient before you rush the net in singles as your opponent will have plenty of time to set up for your offensive strokes. In doubles, the good news is that a topspin serve will allow you to rush the net consistently as the high bounce of the serve will give you plenty of time to get to the net.

American twist serves also give you a high bouncing serve. However, this serve could cause back problems with some players due to the great arching of your back.

If you are uncomfortable rushing the net on your serve in doubles you could keep the ball in play until you get a short shot to hit and join your partner at the net. Using an occasional slice serve and drop shots are a good change of pace when the situation arises.

Be ready to warm up properly. If you are scheduled to play at 6 p.m. and you arrive at 5:55, change into your tennis clothes, and then run out to the court to commence play, you could be looking for problems, especially a hamstring pull or other serious injuries.

My advice is to get to the tennis courts at least 15-20 minutes before you play. You should warm up by jogging or running in place for at least 7-10 minutes. Then it would be wise to warm up on the court by practicing your ground strokes, net game and some serves.

However, because of time restrictions this might be hard to do. To compensate, many players like to warm up by playing mini-tennis – hitting the ball easily back and forth from each player’s service line to get the body moving and producing a slight sweat.

As for shot selection outdoors, it constantly amazes me how many players don’t like to lob. The shot is effective against players at all levels, especially in doubles when both of your opponents are at the net. When you hit the lob, the highest point should be directly over or near your opponent’s service line to ensure that the lob lands near the baseline.

John Powless is a multiple-time nationally ranked senior player who has won many national senior singles and doubles tournaments. He said, “Lobs that are hit effectively, especially in senior ranks, can greatly cause havoc when an onrushing team is trying to take control of the net.”

Most players, especially those who play in tournaments and USTA play, should have at least two rackets that are strung with the same tension.

You should have your racket strung each year as many times as you play on the average during the week. For instance, if you play three times a week, you should have your rackets strung three times a year.

Often overlooked are the grips. I play at least four times a week and find that I am often putting on new grips at least every two weeks. New grips will give you a much better feel for the racket.


Buffalo Squash Racquets Association City Championships:


Singles A: Leyton Johnston d. Matt Dukarm, 11-3 ,8-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-6. B: Allan Tompkins d. Chris Jacobs, 13-11, 11-6, 5-11, 11-9. C: Brahm Brooks d. Elias Sarraf, 11-7, 11-8, 11-7. D: Dave McKinley d. Adam Miller, 9-11, 11-9,11-9 11-6. 40 & Over: Lou Karl d. Trey Sausen, 13-11, 11-4, 11-7. 50 & Over: Peter Derose d. Steve Joyce, 8-11, 5-11, 2-6. Retired 60 & Over: Steve Bell d. David Steffan, 11-0, 3-11, 11-8, 13-11.

Doubles: A: Charlie Barth/Leyton Johnson de Steve Joyce/Tom Sheehan, 11-4, 10-11, 14-12, 12-10. B: Elias Sarraf/Peter Walsh d. Bill Cleary/Bill Koessler, 11-4, 13-11, 11-7


Singles A: Pamicka Marinello d. Rebecca Brady, 11-9, 11-10, 10-11, 7-11, 11-6. B: Cara Derose d. Katie Walsh - Default.

Doubles: Rebecca Brady/Pamicka Marinello d. Erin Hart/Mary Rockwell, 11-6, 11-4, 15-13.

Mixed Doubles

Charlie Barth/Pamicka Marinello d. Gui Alvarez/Rebecca Brady, 11-8, 15-13, 15-12.