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!

Player Profile: Brett Joelson

Brett Joelson
Brett Joelson is competing int he Father/Son National Hard Court Championships this year with his father. He has been quite active playing in the professional circuit, seeded #240 in the world, and traveling around the globe. Not only does have a passion for tennis, he has a passion for life. His outlook on tennis and competing is inspiring, and his dad and him will be great competitors in the tournament.

Racket- Head Speed MidPlus
String- Solinco
Tension- 58 lbs. 
Location- Portland, Oregon

How has your time on the Pro Circuit been so far?
It really has been an incredible experience. There is nothing better than traveling and seeing the world. I am learning everyday, and meeting new people. You really get the opportunity to make good friends. 

Has it been hard to be on the road so much?
I mean, yeah. Sometimes you are on the road for two months at a time. But, then I think that when I graduated how I had a desk job. I decided to leave that job and play tennis professionally. Every time traveling for such a long time gets rough, I just think about how I could be stuck inside at a desk all day. I am really lucky.

How was your experience at Texas A & M?
It was good. I played #3 singles and #1 doubles for four years. I loved it there. I spent a lot of my time growing up in Texas, so it was great to school there. 

What was your proudest moment in your tennis career?
I would say that making it to the U.S. Open Junior finals was my proudest moment. I got a Wild Card into the tournament, and I ended up making it to the finals. It was really amazing and inspiring to make it that far in such a great tournament. 

Wow! That must have been a great experience!
Yeah!  It was so surreal being in the same player lounge as Peter Sampras and Andre Agassi. I even got to meet Anna Kournikova, which was a 16 year-old boy's dream!

What was your challenging moment in your tennis career?
Playing six straight weeks in Mexico was pretty tough. It's hard because you aren't playing in the nicest conditions or places. I was riding a bus 6 hours throughout the country to get to new places. It was both mentally and physically demanding.

What is one piece of advice you would give to fellow tennis players?
Enjoy and have fun! The people you meet at these tournaments will be your friend for the rest of your life. 

Player Profile: Anthony Smith

Anthony Smith
Anthony Smith has been doing quite well the first two days of the Men's 40's Hard Court Championships, winning his first two matches. He is a family man, here with his daughter Kendall, with a love and passion for tennis. Although he is native of Los Angeles, San Diego holds a special place in his heart.

Racket- Prince Triple Threat
String- Prince ProBlend
Tension- 68 lbs.
Location- Los Angeles, CA

Why did you start playing tennis?
I had always enjoyed playing as a kid, and I thought it would be fun to start. I have been playing since I was 12 years-old.

How was your experience playing tennis at Mesa?
It really improved my skills. I learned a lot about conditioning and competitiveness. Working with a team was also a learning experience.

What was a defining moment in your tennis career?
A big moment for me was when I moved to San Diego. I got the opportunity to play tennis at Morley Field in North Park for 3 years. I was surrounded by great players, and it was really a great environment.

How are you active in the tennis community now?
I am currently teaching tennis at a facility in Beverly Hills. I really love it there, I teach quite a few people. It is a great place.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Player Profile: Carolyn Nichols

Carolyn Nichols
Carolyn Nichols is the queen of the senior circuit. She has a passion for seniors tennis that is unparalleled, and a true love for competition. She has been playing seriously since her 30's, and wants to pursue her career even further. She is currently ranked #1 in the U.S. for 55's and up, and #2 in the world!

Racket- Volkl Power Bridge 4
String- VS17
Tension- 52 lbs.

Why did you start playing tennis?
My parents played all the time, and actually built a court on our farm. There was nothing else to do, so I started playing with them!

What are some advantages of being ranked #1 in the U.S. and #2 in the World for 55's?
I have been privileged enough to travel the world! I have played tennis everywhere from Argentina to south Africa. I have made so many great friends on my travels, and have really taken the time to give back to the game as much as I can. 

What was the changing point in your tennis career?
I started to really take tennis seriously in my early 30's. I took the time to really gear up for the 35's, so I could start playing Nationals. My game was much better suited for seniors play.

What was your proudest tennis moment?
Honestly, 2010 has been an amazing year for me! I beat two players in National Finals that I had never beat before, and won World Doubles! It has been a great year, and it is only my first year in the 55's!

What are you doing in the tennis community now?
I am chair of several committees, including the Senior International, Adult Senior Competition, and ITF Senior Committee. I am also on on the board of the San Diego District and the National Womens Tennis Association. I contribute to Inside Tennis, and keep a website, Carolyn Nichols Tennis.

Player Profile: Nelson Alapi

Nelson Alapi
Nelson Alapi is a tennis pro here at La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. I have had the pleasure of knowing Nelson for quite some time, and I can personally say that he is a great tennis player with a megawatt personality.  Growing up in Buenos Aires with clay courts, he had a different experience playing tennis then most do. He has been playing tennis for most of his life, and it shows in his game!

Racket- Wilson BLX Pro Tour FX Team 
String- Luxilon Adrenaline 
Tension- 61 lbs.

How far did you get in your tennis career?
I played satellite professional tennis as part of the ATP Tour. It was a lot of fun, but tough. It required a lot of physical hard work, and that was difficult. I did take a lot away from the experience. I learned a lot about self-reliance and resilience under pressure. 

What was a changing point in your tennis career?
I got an offer to teach tennis at Club Med, and it really changed my life! I was given the opportunity to teach what I love in a great place! I worked there for about four years.

Who is someone you are not looking forward to playing in this tournament.
I don't want to have to play Jeff Greenwald. He won the tournament last year, and is great competitor!

What was your proudest tennis moment?
I took a fifteen year hiatus from tennis. Being able to start playing tournaments again after such a long time away was very rewarding. 

What is your advice for fellow tennis players?
Go out there and play! Don't think too much about technique, just hit lots of balls!

Player Profile: Jennifer Dawson

Jennifer Dawson
Jennifer Dawson is the #2 seed for the Women's 40's National Hard Court Championship, and another local of San Diego. She did quite well in the first round, and is well on her way to being a tough competitor this year. Her opponents had nothing but compliments and good things to say about her. She is definitely going to be a force to be reckoned with this year.
Racket- Babolat Pure Drive
String- Prince Synthetic Gut
Tension- 60 lbs.
Location- Carlsbad, CA
When was a changing point in your tennis career, when you really began to take it seriously?
I would have to say that playing college tennis really altered the way I approached tennis. In high school, I didn't take tennis too seriously. On a college team, you realize you are representing your school. I really wanted to play well for my school, so I started to take it more seriously.

What was the farthest you got in your tennis career?
I played at University of San Diego, as the #1 player for four years. Also, I played in the pro circuit, and was ranked #400.

How was your experience as a professional?
It is a tough life to play professionally. There is a lot of traveling and being away from home for long periods of time involved. You have to really enjoy it, or else it will be really tough on you.

What was your proudest tennis moment?
When USD was ranked #14 in the country. I knew that I had helped the team get to that spot, and I was really proud of what we had accomplished. 

What are you doing in the tennis community now?
I am teaching tennis at La Jolla Recreation Center. I also play in some ladies leagues and some tournaments here and there. 

What is one piece of advice you would give to fellow tennis players?
Always try your hardest. Whatever happens, happens, but you have to give 100%!

Player Profile: Carol Gay

Carol Gay
Carol Gay is a local player, who has an obvious love for the sport, and La Jolla Beach and Tennis Player. Gay has a lot of history with Sothern California tennis and LJBTC. Her parents used to bring her to the club all the time, and it holds a special place in her heart. Her passion for tennis exudes through her constant involvement in the community and love for the game.
Why do you have a connection to La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club?
My parents played here all the time. They were both nationally ranked players, and my mother actually won this tournament a while back. I remember learning lots of skills as a junior on these courts. 

I heard you had experience in the Professional circuit?
Yes! I teamed up with Peggy Micheal, who was a Wimbledon Doubles Winner, and we did pretty well. I also played in Forrest Hills, which is now the U.S. Open.

Did you learn anything from your time on the circuit?
I was disappointed with my mental game. My nerves really got the best of me, and it held me back. I would lose to girls that I had beat in college because I was so nervous! I actually decided not to play in Wimbledon, and returned the money to my sponsors. I don't regret it.

How are you involved in the tennis community now?
I am playing in National Tournaments and also did a lot of volunteer work in Phoenix. I ran a pilot program for Collegiate USTA, basically aimed for recreational tennis on college campuses. I also am really enjoying the tournament community, the demeanor in the senior circuit is a lot different. We're always injured, and have to focus on the condition of our bodies so much more.

Player Profile: Matthias Mueller-Steele

Matthias Mueller-Steele
Matthias Mueller-Steele traveled the longest length to take part of the Men's 40's Hard Court National Championships, and we are excited to have such a great player! Matthias lives in Germany, but has a lot of great tennis experience here in the states. He was #1 on the tennis team at the University of Nebraska, and also played in the First Division back home in Germany.  He has been playing for 39 years, and has a true passion for tennis. 
Racket- Dunlop 100
Tension- 53 lbs.
Location- Germany

Why did you start playing tennis?
My parents played a lot at the club in Germany, and I hung out there everyday. Eventually, I started to play with them.

How was your experience at the University of Nebraska?
Well, no one ever wanted to travel to Nebraska to play us, so we got to travel a lot of great places. It was hard to adjust being from another country, but it was a great experience. 

How was it adjusting when you moved to America for school?
It was tough for a few months, especially missing classes for tennis. But luckily, there were a few other foreigners on the team with me that were going through the same thing.

What was a changing moment in your tennis career?
A big moment in my career was when I was 20 years-old. I was playing in the First Division in Germany during the summer, and then would head back to America to play with University of Nebraska. I really took my tennis to the next level. 

Let the Games Begin!

It's that time of the year again! The 2010 National Hardcourt Championships are back at La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. Get ready for amazing tennis, and some fierce competitors. La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club has transformed into tennis central, and I am going to be reporting on all of it!

I will be featuring some stand-out players, and finding out more about their love for the game. I hope you enjoy getting to learn more about the players behind the tournament that has built quite the tradition at La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club.