Level high at Glasgow ITF Women's 15K

The ITF Glasgow Women's 15K ($) has attracted a strong field this year with top seed Arantxa Rus (Ned) ranked 174 in the world and Michaela Honcova seeded 2 (SLV) seeded 364.

Everyball's Beth Gray takes on 3rd seed Julia Wachaczyk (GER) ranked 368 in the first round at 10.00am this morning and then teams up with partner Olivia Nicholls in doubles against all German pair Katharina Hering and Luisa Marie Huber.

Iron sharpens iron

How true this is - the biblical concept of iron sharpening iron.  Proverbs 27:17 reads, 'As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.'

Training or working in isolation is tough.  Sharing ideas, bouncing off of and at times challenging each other only serves to sharpen us.  As players, we need practice partners and peers to train with on-court and as coaches we need each other to work alongside. 

My coaching over the last week has been sharper.  Why?  One colleague gave me a book to read with some great reminders in it, another challenged me on a particular area of serving technique, yet another inspired me with her forever positive attitude and work ethic. A further conversation today led to a new and better perspective.

Get alongside somebody with the right energy and attitude and a two-way sharpening begins, as long as we 'bring it' as well, otherwise we can become a parasitic blunting force.

For the love of the game - is that why you play?

This theme keeps coming up again and again with Federer - the love of playing the game as his primary motivating factor.  Andrew Castle said yesterday in commentary:

It's about the joy of hitting the ball.  That's why he came back.'

Great reminder that fundamentally tennis is a game.  There to be 'played' and enjoyed.  The powerful intrinsic motivation that comes from striving to master it in all its rich dimensions.

If you don't love it it's unlikely you'll stick at it, no matter what external rewards (riches, rankings, kudos/status etc) are to be gained.

Thanks Fed and Rafa for something truly amazing yesterday.

Learn from Rafa - shoulder high FH contact point

Lots to learn here from Rafa.

Notice how far out in front of his body he makes contact with this shoulder high ball. This allows for the correct racket path (slightly flatter) and rhythm (slower to faster at and just after impact) through the shot as well as presenting the opportunity for him to rotate his shoulders/upper body - see his left hitting shoulder slightly in front of his right, thus allowing for his superb extension out towards the target. His head remains perfectly still and over his centre of gravity minimising any postural sway giving him perfect balance as he executes his vicious forehand.

The fight to enter your opponent's head

When two evenly matched players take to the court/field of play, the fight is all about how you can enter your opponent's head and prevent them from entering yours, all with the view of taking the psychological edge on the day.

Fascinating to see this at the Australian Open.  Did Serena beat Konta on this alone, or did 'tennis' play it's part?  Fascinating now to see the run in to the finals.  The likely winners will be those who manage to get into their opponent's heads!!

How do you do this?

Body language, body language, body language!!  You've got to 'show' your fight, your resilience, your determination on the day not to falter or give in by coming back again and again with your very best effort.  The top players are experts at reading their opponent's body language - like chess players, studying each other for little signs of weakness, fatigue and self-doubt.

Your opponent's disposition is not a mystery without any clues.  Study them hard whilst giving nothing away yourself!

Martial arts and tennis

Martial arts experts practice things super slow before they have any hope of carrying out the movement fast. Do we do this enough in tennis - shadowing/hitting slow to feel every nuance of the stroke, getting to know it inside and out?!