Friday, December 3, 2010

Doubles Profile: Peter Smith & Jeff Tarango

Peter Smith & Jeff Tarango
What's important to a good doubles team? Fun and laughter! And these two have plenty of both. Peter Smith is the Men's Tennis Coach at USC, coming off of his second NCAA Championship and a trip to meet the President. Tarango is an ex-pro tennis player who is doing very well in this years tournament. Together, they make one amazing duo!

Peter Smith & Jeff Tarango: Babolat PureDrive
P.S: Pro Hurricane
J.T: Luxilon
P.S: 52 lbs
J.T: 50 lbs
P.S: Rossmoore, Ca
J.T: Manhatten Beach, Ca

First of all Peter, congratulations on USC Second NCAA Championship! How was the win and getting to meet the Obamas?
P.S: It is as exciting as life gets! It is seriously an explosion in your brain. It was really nice and surreal to meet the president. The guys from the team loved it. It was really special for them. 

What is it you like about having each other as partners?
J.T: Doubles can be so simple if it is played right. Pete is such a solid player, so he makes doubles seem a lot easier.
P.S: Tarango is one of the funniest people in the world. He always has a comment on everything. But it is good to have a partner who can make you laugh and have fun.

How long have you guys been playing together?
P.S: We have only been playing for two years, and this is only tournament we have played in together. We actually can only play matches as La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, it is part of our contract. Really, it is an excuse to come and stay here.
J.T: Yeah it is so great here, and Bill is such a gracious host. 

What is some valuable doubles advice?
J.T: Have a plan before you go out on the court. And, always go for a big second serve against me. It is guaranteed to work.
P.S: Keep it simple. You got to have all of the shots down. 

What do you look for in a doubles partner?
P.S: You need to have a sense of humor. You have to get of the way of yourself and remember that its just a game.
J.T: Someone who helps you with all of the break points.

What do you love about this tournament?
J.T: it reminds me of just how much fun I remember junior tennis to be. Literally all of the same guys I played in junior tennis are here. They all love tennis so much, and it really is a lifelong bond.
P.S: My family and I really love La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club and its traditions. It is funny how you can blink and think "oh my god, are we in the 14's still?". The memories all come back.

Player Profile: Paul Settles

Paul Settles
Paul Settles, the current coach at Claremont Mudd Scripps, is participating in many events for this weeks tournament. For him, this sport is really a family event, where everyone can get involved. He has quite the history of tennis, including captain of the tennis team at University of Pennsylvania and even playing abroad in the U.K. Tennis is important to him, and he really wants to see others succeed in the sport, just as much as he wants himself to succeed.

Racket- Head Radical U Teach Oversize
String- Half Solinco Tour Bite and Half Solinco Barbed Wire
Tension- 57 lbs.
Location- Claremont, Ca

I just recently heard about Solinco String! How do you like playing with it?
I love it! I use the 18 gage Tour Bite and the 17 gage Barbed Wire. I actually have the patterns switched on both my rackets. So, for one racket the Barbed Wire is the mains, and for the other racket the Tour Bite used for the mains. I think that the Tour Bite used for the mains puts more on the ball, but I wanted to try both patterns out.

How was your experience at University of Pennsylvania?
It was awesome! I grew up in Southern California for my whole life, and I desperately wanted to go to UCLA. Unfortunately, I wasn't quite skilled enough to play there, so I headed somewhere that actually wanted me and had a good mix of academics and athletics. 

And then you went to England?
Yes, I extended a year of my collegiate tennis in graduate school. I attended Cambridge University, and was able to play there. Actually, in the UK there is 7 years of eligibility for collegiate tennis. Also, it was great because we got to play most of our matches on grass courts.

What did you learn from your collegiate tennis experience?
It was my first introduction into leadership training. I really feel it equipped me to be a college coach. As captain at University of Pennsylvania, i felt responsible for the whole team. By the time I reached graduate school, I was more comfortable leading by example.

What advice would you give to fellow tennis players?
Keep it fun. Competition can be stressful but fun. I have cherished memories competing with family. I really believe people should take the approach that this a lifetime endeavor. So many times junior players feel so much pressure from the game that they give it up entirely. They are really missing out on a lifetime of benefits. 

What was your proudest moment of your tennis career?
I would say winning my 1st gold ball with my dad at age 30, and winning my 2nd gold ball with my wife. It was really amazing to win two national championships with people really close to my heart.

Player Profile: William Mitchell

William Mitchell
William Mitchell is 87 years-old and still loves tennis just as much as the first time he picked up a racket. A native from Cleveland, Ohio, he is not stranger to this tournament. His exuberance and love for the sport is inspiring, and you can really feel that he is passionate about this tournament and the tradition is hold. 
How did you start playing tennis?
I was actually belonged to the Cleveland Skating Club, and at that time they had the best tennis team in Cleveland. It looked so much fun, and there were a lot of people my age out there playing, so I decided to try it out. 

What was the farthest you advanced in your tennis career?
There s a tournament in Cleveland called the Gordon Trophy, between U.S.A. and Canada. It is the 2nd longest running Men's International tournament, and I was selected by Monty Granger to play in it. 

What are you doing in the tennis community now?
I was actually chosen to help select the men's 80's team for the Gordon Trophy. It was an honor to help out with the 60 year-old tradition.

How often do you play tournaments?
I play every tournament that I can get to. I'm not saying I win all of these tournaments, but it is about the experience. I played a great last summer in West Virginia against the team that ended up winning the whole tournament. 

What challenges have you had to overcome in your tennis career?
Actually about 12 years ago, I had to start playing with a glass eye. It was hard to adjust to my new eye sight, and something to get used to. But it has been a fun experience.

What advice would you give to fellow tennis players?
Watch the ball. Don't look up! Keep your nose on the ball the whole time!

Player Profile: Kim-Trang Nguyen

Kim-Trang Nguyen
Kim-Trang Nguyen has had quite an interesting life, including moving from Vietnam to America, and starting a tennis career here. She has done quite well in this tournament. Nguyen made it to the Semi-Finals, playing a great match against Gretchen Magers. She truly loves all things tennis, and has found her passion in coaching in Orange County. But, she still hasn't lost her need to compete.

Racket- Prince
String- Prince ProBlend 16
Tension- 58 lbs.
Location- Orange County, Ca

What made you want to start playing tennis?
My mom was a tennis player. She used to take me to the tennis courts with her everyday, and I would watch her play. I decided I wanted to start playing with her and my family.

How was your tennis career in Vietnam?
It was great! I had a lot of great opportunities. I got to represent for Vietnam in a lot of different international tournaments. I would say that I played my best match in Australia, at the Arafura Games. 

Did you have anyone coaching you while you played in Vietnam?
No, actually there wasn't a lot of opportunity to get coaching there. I learned mostly from my mom, and her teachings. Besides that, I would watch and learn from tennis videos. I had to rely on my eye and my heart. I loved it so much, I pushed myself to become better. 

What made you want to play in the Women's 40's Nation Hard Court Championship?
I actually retired from tennis entirely in 2001. But, I turned 40 this year, so I thought it would be fun to come out and play this National tournament. It was my first tournament in a long time. 

What would be your advice for other tennis players?
First, you totally have to have your technique down. But, if you don't have a strong mind you will lose. Practice is good, but if you don't know how to handle the game, you won't succeed. Stay calm, because there is always a chance you can win the match.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tournament Director: Bill Kellogg

Bill Kellogg
If there was every a man who exemplified true love for tennis, it is Bill Kellogg. To say that Mr. Kellogg is active in the tennis community would be an understatement. Mr. Kellogg is the president of the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, and serves as the tournament director for the 2010 National Hard Court Championships here at the club. He is also a competitor in the Men's 40's Doubles Hard Court Championships. 

Sitting down with him was a great opportunity, and it was amazing to meet a man who believes in this sport and what it can do. Not only does he have a great tennis career under his belt, but he also is now the President of the Southern California Tennis Association. This is a man with many different commitments and activities, and he handles them all with grace and a smile. TAnd to think, he almost played baseball...

Racket- Wilson Pro Staff Hyper Carbon
String- Wilson Synthetic Gut
Tension- 62 lbs.

Why did you start playing tennis?
My mother used to take me out to the public park and hit with me. Also, my dad played in a tennis match every weekend with his friends. Well, it was his turn to watch me on the weekends, so I would go and sit and watch them play. Sometimes, after the sets, they would let me hit with them. That would really be the highlight of my day! Then, I would go home and hit the ball against the garage door. It was always my goal to knock a hole in the garage door. I never did.

When did you really begin to take tennis seriously?
Actually this was a big decision. I was 12 years-old, and I was playing both little league baseball and tennis. At that moment I wanted to qualify for a national tournament, but I was still pitching for my baseball team. It was hard to decide, but I ultimately thought tennis would be the best path for me.

How was playing college tennis at Dartmouth?
It was good! I played #1 at Dartmouth for all four years, and served as the captain of the team. Actually, as a senior I was selected to play in an All Ivy League doubles team league. To this day, I still have the best win/loss record at the school.

What did you learn from this experience?
You really learn how to compete. You are forced to play in different conditions with all different types of people. It is a struggle to learn how to control anxiousness when playing competitively.

What was your proudest moment in your tennis career?
I have a few really proud moments. I would say that being ranked #1 in the Men's 35's was really exciting for me. But, I would say that getting to play with my daughter in the Father/Daughter Championships, and win the whole tournament was a really proud moment for me.

What was a really big challenge for you during your tennis career?
I would say that opponents that aren't very good sports are very challenging to play against. Especially in the juniors, there are so many kids that want to win too much. They end up resorting to cheating and using bad line calls. It is something you just have to learn to deal with. 

What would be one piece of advice you would give to fellow tennis players?
Don't take it too seriously. Always remember that it's a game, and it's meant to be fun!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Player Profile: Martin Barba

Martin Barba
Martin Barba is a two time winner of the 40's Men's Hard Court Championships, and he is back for number three! He has had a great career, and some really amazing tennis opportunities throughout his life. He loves to spread his knowledge and love for the game to others, and believes in playing in the moment!
Racket- Babolat
String- Half Gut, half Luxilon
Tension- 58 lbs.
Location- Carlsbad, Ca

How did you start playing tennis?
Actually, my brother tricked me! I was playing football at the time, and had a big game coming up. My brother took me to the court the day before, and said that tennis would really improve my football. I loved playing, but it gave me a huge blister just in time for the big game. I guess I had to keep playing tennis from then on. 

What has been your biggest accomplishment thus far?
I won the Men's Open, 25's, 35's, and 40's National Championships. I am actually the only player in history to win all four. 

What was your defining moment, when you really started to take the game seriously?
I would say that would say this happened when I had the opportunity for Pancho Segura oversee my tennis for two years. I would really say that we are kindred spirits. He really revealed the dynamics of tennis to me. I learned more about cause and effect and how to play to your advantage under his guidance. From there, the game really began to open up.

What was your proudest moment in your tennis career?
I was able to go back to the Carlsbad Boys Club, where I grew up, and give a clinic to 30 kids. It was great to be able to give them an opportunity to learn something. The look in their eyes learning and playing was better then winning any tournament.

What are you doing in the tennis community now?
I instruct through Rancho Santa Fe. I get to work with all kinds of people, at all different walks of life. I really want to try and pass on every form of knowledge that I have gathered throughout the years. I am so grateful for what this game has done for me that I want to bring that joy to as many people as possible.

Player Profile: Gretchen Magers

Gretchen Magers 
Gretchen Magers has been a dominant force the first two days of the Women's 40's Hard Court Championships. Gretchen has had some amazing tennis experiences throughout her life, and is still an active player. It is easy to see that sport means a lot to her, and she is not ready to give it up anytime soon.

Racket- Dunlop 100 Aerogel
String- Technifiber
Tension- 62 lbs.
Location- San Diego, Ca

Why did you start playing tennis?
My whole family started playing tennis together. In the 70's tennis was really popular. When I was 11 years-old, my dad brought home some rackets, and we all started playing. 

How was your time in the professional circuit?
I have had some great experiences! I made it to the Finals in Mixed Doubles for Wimbledon, and the Quarterfinals of the U.S. Open.

What was some things you learned playing in the pro tour?
You can't give up! You never know what is going to happen. It is a pretty lonely existence. When you're winning, it is the best thing in the world. But, losing really sucks.

What was your proudest moment in your tennis career?
I would have to say that playing on the Olympic team in 1984 was my proudest moment. Being able to represent my country and walk through the Coliseum for the Opening Ceremonies was unreal. You never forget something like that.

What was your most challenging moment in your tennis career?
My toughest moment was playing Gigi Fernandez in the Finals of the Pan American Games. Everyone in the stands was cheering for Gigi, so I really had to fight that much harder. She was such a great player, and I ended up overcoming the challenge and beating her.

What is one piece of advice you would give to fellow tennis players?
Watch the ball and don't give up! You really need to trust and believe in yourself.

How was your time working at La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club?
I loved it! I love working here so much. It really is a great environment, and a great place to work. I really do love this club!