Friday, June 29, 2007

Henman finally defeated in 5 sets

Tim Henman finally lost in a 5-set thriller to Felix Lopez yesterday. He has again demonstrated his brilliant qualities as a serve and volleyer - a dying breed in modern tennis. To his credit, Felix was just as good at the net with his "Joseph" style service, it was difficult to guess whether it was a slice or top-spin serve most of the time.

Had Tim converted that easy volley when leading 3-1 in the first set tie-break, he might have won in 4 sets. Tennis is a game about converting your opportunities when presenting with them. One of the biggest criticisms of Tim was his inability to play the big points aggressively.

Two other learning points -

Felix Lopez was hitting his backhand cross-court 90% of the time, some even doubted whether he had a drive backhand down the line shot. So being predictable in tennis is not a good strategy. Every now and then, surprise your opponent with something unexpected once in a while, and mix up your choice of shots within your capability. It is not the same as hitting shots with low chance of success.

Secondly, you need to read your opponent's weakness. It was evident to Lopez that Tim's forehand return was not good under pressure. The same said for Lopez's backhand in tight situations. This is most of the points will be won. When you practise service, you need to hit them wide, down the middle and also body shot (making it difficult for opponent to take any effective swing at your service) Something Edmond and Ernest could help you with.

Finally, the main difference between victory and defeat in tennis quite often lies with physical fitness. Lopez is a younger, stonger player with better stamina in 5-set match. All those physical training will help you in tight situations. Remember you need to play 3 sets in 2 hours in inter-school competition, which is quite demanding

Enjoy your practice

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Team Effort and Sense of Belonging

Dear All,

Although I was not there at the practice, I realized that team effort was paying off slowly. Actually both Charles and I deliberately drove past Wylie Road at around 5:30 pm yesterday to check out on you guys in the first team practice, but thought that you already left instead of being put through the physical training by your coaches.

We now have Ernest and Edmond helping out with the tennis coaching. Both of them come back to help out WYK because of their senses of belonging to WYK. For Ernest and Edmond, it must be quite similar to the jobs taken on by Kenny Dalgleish to coach Liverpool and Joahn Cryuff coaching Barcelona and Ajax in football. We hope that they will help the School Team learn about the true spiritis of the game and develop a passion in tennis.

It is also great fun to be involved in a team sport. Although some of you will end up as qualified tennis coaches like Ernest and Edmond, some of you Super-A players like Ernest and Charles, some of you school champions and tennis team captains likes William, Ambrose, Joseph and Simon, some of you may be just club players like Kane, Roger, Alvin and me, some of you just enjoy a good game of tennis and a beer like Tony Ko. All of you will end up making lifelong friends and enjoy the discipline and social network from the great game of tennis. The comradeship and friendship will last longer than your tennis playing career. I have only had a handful of jobs in my life, but all of them were partly or wholly due to my outgoing personality of playing tennis to a good club level. It is a tremendous asset.

Hong Kong men has the longest average life expectancy of 79.2 years in the world. Tennis could also keep you healthy and relieve you of any stress. Whatever happens in the next few months, enjoy the process of fighting for that promotion spot in Division I, you will have a great time and enjoy the team effort and sense of belonging to WYK.

Once Roger and Wesley finished with the tennis uniform project, it will be a magic feeling putting that school shirt on and representing WYK. In fact, the Old Boys look forward to putting one of those shirts on and played against other clubs. It will be a corporate identity and great team effort

Have fun

27-June-2007 First day practice after the exam

We gathered at about 3pm.

Ernest and I chatted with the boys first, talking about the tournament on Sat, team spirit, some of their behaviour, etc. Boys lack the experience of the public matches, especially some HKTA's official tournanment which you would meet good performance players. One more horrible thing which appeared in the past few year, our ball baskets were empty or I would say in aother way--we lost too much balls in a short time.

Old boys, how many balls were in the basket last Saturday?
Today, we got only half of the basket. Moreover, the balls were not the new one, I doubted. Unbelievable! I believe the old boys or the fund can't always buy new balls every months because the boys don't pick up the balls in the court. The balls are the property of the tennis team, please be respectful to the team!

Today's children were spoiled.
If the situation comes worse, I suggest the boys should pay for the new balls.
You know, old boys can't always give you the new balls because of the boys behavior.
In my time at wahyan, boys were lucky. We didn't need to pay for the balls. My dad supported the team by giving us many balls every months. My dad knew Gary To, they were friends. Moreover, as I were in the team, that's why my dad support the team in terms of the tennis balls. Maybe, this is my dad's fault! He shouldn't support the team in this way--- it spoiled the boys.

Boys, do you all know that the tennis ball is expensive?
Don't waste the ball! Please pick up every ball after you played in the court.

Then, we did some warm-up. It is a must to have regular warm-up like running and streching at the start of the practice. Next, the boys warm-up at the service boxes. Some even can not rally the balls over 20... I found that almost all the boys didn't have the ready position, some never bend their knee. Work hard!!

The first drill, the most important drill, the serve.
We had serve practice for about three times today. Ernest and I agreed that serve is crucial in the match. Ernest talked about the topspin serve. Boys, don't you know that what you have to do in the match is to hit every shot in the court! Even you have an awful second serve, but once you hit the ball in the service box, your opponent may return the ball to the net and "out". What's more, during the practice, the boys who hit a double fault would have an punishment--three push-ups. The punishment is not really an punishment, this is to remind the boys to hit the ball "in".

Some groundstrokes and volley drill came for the next practice.
Ernest concentrated for the forehand, I focused their backhand. Boys were divided into two groups. We had volleys and groundstrokes practices. They were okay.

Having some match.
We only played a tie-break.
Two doubles and one single.

At last, we had the running lesson. Joseph and I joined with the boys. Ernest led the boys to run around our wonderful wahyan. Some boys' faces were nearly turned pale. That's okay for the first time. I suggest to having more shuttle run in the court, but they were too tired. Luckily, no one fainted in the court after the tough training. But if one fainted, I would try my best to him as I just took a course about the first aid and CPR yesterday!

Some stretching, and one more match.
I paired with Joseph vs. Barry and Chris.
Played about five games, it rained.

*Thanks Joseph for coming and supporting the school team!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wimbledon Tennis 2007

Dear All,

For those of you who wish to learn more about how the game of tennis should be played, you could watch some of the actions on NOW covering Wimbledon tennis. It will be most relevant text-book tennis. Did anyone of you watch the exciting game between Carlos Moya and Tim Henman last night?

If you want to know how to play a volley, watch Tim Henman. It was poetry in motion. Both Carlos (Former World No 1) and Tim (The nearly Man in Grand-Slam tennis) returned superbly on their backhands. Carlos' forehand was great. Tim's forehand was colourful.

Both players show great determination and fighting spirit in the match. The choice of shots was phenomenal, a bit like chess players trying to out-guess their opponents by planning 2-3 shots in advance. Hope that some of you will show the same fighting qualities in Victoria Park the coming weekend.

Of course, we propose to watch Wimbledon tennis and play tennis video games sometime next week. I know that some of you will be meeting your new tennis coaches Ernest and Edmond today, together with Joseph in WYK. Let us know when and what you would like to do next Friday 6 July 2007 (Men's semi-final usually).

Saturday, June 23, 2007

23-June-2007 Report of the morning session

I got to the court at about nine am. I saw two boys were warming, Darren Lee (the old boy who is F7 in HSSC) and Calvin( or Nicholas, I forgot). Then, Marco and I came. Clement, who is F4 now if he's in wahyan, but he left Hong Kong a year ago and went to Canada. Also, Joseph came with Matthew.

We had few boys.
So, we decided to have a match.
I was paired with Joseph, Darren with Marco.
We had good time. Joseph, your volley is good which I learnt a lot. We won 6-2 at last.

At about ten, Raymond, Ernest, Tony Ko , Chris all came. (I forgot one of the old boys' name><)
They joined us for matches. Luckily, we had totally ten boys to have doubles.

In the second match, I paired with Chris, versus Joseph and Ernest.
We were tough this time. I know more about Chris in the doubles, just like playing in the HKFC last thursday. However, I doubted that Chris was too nervous and he's really couldn't concentrate or focus during the match. Maybe, he felt Ernest is too strong who we can't beat him! Chris, I would like to tell you my story...

When I was about F2 or F3, I behaves like you. I really can't concentrate in the match all the time. In those days, there were singles match for secondary school boys held by the Hong Kong Schools Sports Federation( just like the doubles match we play every year, but only two boys of each school can take part in). I once took part in the competition with an enthusiastic boy named Martin( Covan's partner, who had served four double fault in one game!). I went in to the semi-final at the competiton. In the match of the semi, I played with a La Salle boy who I knew him before. I was leading 4-1, but lastly lost the match (4-6). I was really upset because I can't concentrate or focus all the time at the match, that is, when I had too much unforced error or I were down, I can't face the difficulties. In other words, we can't lead the set all the times, there were ups and downs in our match. We have to face it. We can't just say we were tired so we can't win the points. There is no excuse! If you go in the court, you should or you ought to focus all the time and play a good match, even if you are likely to lose the match.

Matches is not only depends on winning or losing, but the joy you have during it.
Lastly, I lost to the La Salle boy and had another match for the 2nd and 2rd runner-up. I played with another La Salle boy called Gary Yam( Absolutely, some may know him as he is Hong Kong's player). I know that guy, we were friends now. Sometimes, I saw him praticing in the Hong Kong Tennis Centre. I lost the match as the previous one. I was leading 4-2( if I remembered it right..), but I lost 4-6 AGAIN! I was doomed. I can't believe it and I nearly sobbed after the match. I'm elder than the two La Salle boys.. I was leading...but I lost all the two match. At the end, I only got the 3rd runner-up of the competitioin. This is the last year of the inter-school single competition..

Going back to wahyan, my teammates didn't blame me, also the coach. They were proud of me, as I was prized. However, I was not feeling good as I can't believe the truth. I regret myself, if I win two more games in 4-2 at the semi-final, I would go to the final and may be the champion(but, it was just an assumption, you know, the winner of the match was Martin Sayer, a powerful server!).

Chris, what I want to tell you is we can't win all the time, even the ranked no.1 Federer. He lost to Nadal at the clay court. What we can do in the adverse circumstances is to hit all the ball in the court. If we return the ball to the court, we can stay longer in the court and hope that our opponents will hit an unforced error. But if we can't return the ball to the court, we would lose a point, a game and of course a match.

Work hard Chris and have more pratice. Play more games so you would be experienced to face the difficulties in the court. We can learnt from Nadal: he seldoms hits winner shot, but he can put all the balls to the court---he waits his enemy to hit an error.

Playing against Ernest and Joseph was tough, but we can learnt a lot.
One thing, we seldoms play with two net game players in doubles. You know, in division 2, not too many students like approach to the net or stay at the service box for volleys. Boys, work hard on the volleys, it would a benefit if we had good volley player in the team. Like Simon said last thursday, volley is important in the doubles. I think Simon had an extremely crispy volley, which the boys should learn from him.

Lastly, I had the third match. Marco and I, Chris and Matthew.
I'm sorry to say that you two have too much unforced errors. Marco and I was not really good as he didn't play for a very long time. We didn't hit too much winner shots, but we can put the balls in the court. What we do is to wait Matthew and Chris to hit the ball to the net and outside the court. Consistency is important.

Playing in Division 2 is not the same as Division 1.
Not many powerful server, volley-killer, forehand passing shot hitter in D2. If you can be consistent, you would win points. Don't try to hit some winner shots( you know, you may hit the ball to the NET!).

Be consistent and work hard!

Sunday, June 3, 2007


Only three boys, Boris, Calvin and Louve(who was late).
Too many old boys came(Covan, Sam, Raymond, Simon...)

At first, Boris and Calvin warmed up. At about nine thirty, we started to do some drills about approach. The approach is not only hard for the boys, also our left-handed old boy, Raymond. We believed that the player found it difficult is that they seldom approach to the net, especially approach by using backhand.

First, we started by the forehand approach, the easiest. The boys did well, but they sometimes hit the ball out. Hitting the ball out or to the net is common error of the appoach, you know, they have to hit the ball when it bounces high. If the ball bounces low, you can't make it as an approach shot and lastly is very difficult for you to move to the net. That's why the ball have to be high enough to hit an approach shot. Later, the drill becomed hard. They have to hit a cross-court fore hand approach. Not easy for them, but they did it.

What's more, we started the backhand appoach. Backhand approach, I advised to use a slice single-handed backhand to approach. Three boys were not good at slice backhand, they used their double handed "powerful" backhand instead of a slice. It's okay, but the fact is they can't control the ball.

Lastly, we did the in-side-out and in-side-in approach. They were good at the in-side-out forehand, maybe they have practised so much their forehand in-side-out at the adv court! However, the in-side-in approach is hard for them at first. They hit the ball to the net. They did well at last and have a very powerful forehand approach.

I would like to comment on the boys volleys.
The boys tried their best in the net, they had the sense of playing volley. Sadly, their volleys are too weak, they just return the ball to the court. We should or we must focus more on their volleys, too weak and without power. I hope, one day, they will have a crispy volley...Fortunately, I think Calvin had improved his net game.