Well, this is what every contractor likes to hear – “you’ve been extended.” Although relatively short, it means that between the gig, taking care of family, and supporting users of the Freehand Drawing Library, my lack of blogging will also be extended for a while.
On a personal note, I hope to get back into tennis after being out of practice since April due to a foot injury. Looking forward to hitting this afternoon instead of just watching the US Open
If you live in the D/FW area, the Hilton D/FW Lakes is hosting the Texas Tennis Open in less than two weeks! This is an exciting women’s pro tour event, featuring a number of well-known top-100 players in the world, and about a dozen of the top-50.
For more information and tickets, visit the tournament site at http://www.texastennisopen.com/
Hope to see you there!
If you’re going to 360|Flex, I’ll be meeting with Paul Taylor (guyinthechair) for tennis some time during the conference. Just casual hitting. If you are a tennis player or are interested in some exercise, trying out tennis, whatever, send me an email at theAlgorithmist[at]gmail[dot]com. We can all try to get out at the same time or over multiple days. I’ve already scouted local courts and tennis centers and will have a car as well as multiple racquets in case someone needs a loaner.
Even if you’re not interested in tennis, make sure to say hello. I’ll probably be the only bozo at the conference wearing tennis gear See you in D.C.
I was really pleased to be in a position to sponsor this year’s tournament. Although the single’s final was not as dramatic as last year, I’d actually have to rate the overall action as better than the prior year. Numerous improvements to the organization and process lead to a smoother operation. Night matches and covers for the stands were greatly appreciated.
Many thanks to the other sponsors and people like Tom Coyle who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to keep the tournament moving smoothly. Chris Giordano and the Hilton D/FW Lakes put on another great pro circuit event.
Good news is that we get to do it all over again in November, which becomes our regular date on the pro circuit calendar. If you live in the D/FW area and missed the action this year, check out the official tournament web site for more info and follow them on twitter to stay up to date.
See you in November!
Do you play tennis in the D/FW area and live relatively close to the airport? Bummed out by the bad weather this winter? Well, the Hilton D/FW Lakes has the solution for you. They have reopened indoor courts. The court area alternates between meeting space and tennis, so it’s important to check ahead for availability and make a reservation.
Rates are very reasonable for indoor courts, $15/hour for sports club members and $20/hour for non-members. I’ll post some pics or video whenever possible. In the mean time, contact the sports club for more information at 817.481.8444.
Over the past two years, I profiled several black mathematicians, many of which had an indirect influence on my own career. I’ve been very busy taking care of family issues as of late, so blogging has gone off my personal radar. Even so, I recently realized I have yet to profile a single black contributor to the sport of tennis.
Modern players like Blake and Monfils capture the public eye with their incredible talent. Who has not heard of the Williams sisters? Some of us may even remember greats such as Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson, the first male and female black winners at Wimbledon. Whatever the Williams sisters achieve on the road of success, that road was paved by athletes such as Gibson. In 1950, she was the first black woman to compete at the US Open. Gibson achieved the same status at Wimbledon in 1951.
But the history goes back even further than that. Black tennis players have a godfather whose achievements paved the way for players like Gibson and Ashe. Both these players were coached by Robert Walter Johnson. Johnson was a physician by trade, but an intense tennis player.
Due to segregation, black tennis players in the South had no access to public courts and often little if any money for lessons. Johnson established a tennis camp for African-American children where expenses and instructor fees were paid. In some cases, blacks were denied access to hotels, so Johnson offered his house as lodging to distinguished African-Americans passing through the Lynchburg, VA area.
In 2002, the house and tennis court were added to the National Register of Historic Places and in 2007, Dr. Johnson was nominated for inclusion in the International Tennis Hall of Fame to which he was inducted in 2009.
While you enjoy the success of modern black players in the time, I hope you also make time to search the web for more on “Whirlwind” Johnson, the person on whom much of the foundation of black tennis can be firmly pinned.
My recent two hitting sessions were against a heavy, cold wind. I was quite pleased with how the frame held up against the wind. Here are some pics of the racquet, courtesy of Tom Coyle (Hilton D/FW Lakes). The EXO3 Black is shown by itself and compared right next to the O3 Speedport Black (both with the exact same string job).
EXO3 Black is on the right, Speedport Black on the left (with the blue grommets). I have to keep the pic sizes small for the blog. Contact me if you want the full-size images.
The racquet has the same 16×19 string pattern and head size as the O3 Black.
Here is a side view.
Yes, that’s me – sorry, we were going low-budget on this production
Now, here’s the frame straight on.
And last, the two side-by-side. BTW, the EXO3 Black is shown with the stock grip; the O3 Speedport Black has an overgrip.
Sorry about the left hand over part of both frames, but it was *very* windy when these pics were taken, so it was pretty difficult to keep the two racquets steady for the camera.
This is the first in a multi-part review of the Prince EXO3 Black. I’ve hit with this racquet four times with my standard stringbed of Pro Hurricane Tour 17 on the mains and VS Team Gut 17 on the crosses. I previously used an O3 Speedport Black, although have been hitting with the Black Team for many months while recovering from an arm injury. I’m still not back to 100% on the arm/shoulder, so I feel this is a good condition to report on any wear/stress caused by the new frame.
Here are the racquet specs, right off the frame
Head Size: 100 sq. in
Length: 27 in.
String Pattern: 16×19
Unstrung Weight: 10.8 oz
Unstrung Balance: 12.6 in
Power Level: 975
Grip: Prince Resi Pro
Stiffness: 72 (from the internet)
Strung balance appears to be a few points head-light. Although the EXO3 Black clearly feels heavier than the O3 Black Team, the swingweight is such that it’s pretty easy to get the racquet to the ball. I do experience some timing issues and that’s just a matter of me getting used to the frame.
My style is all-court (1hb) and what I never do under any circumstances is stand several feet behind the baseline and trade mondo-topspin groundies with the young whippersnappers. I like to step up, take the ball on the rise, and hammer it back deep and hard. For that, you need a rock-solid frame and the EXO3 Black delivers with flying colors. I can’t describe how much I like the solid feel at impact. I can stand closer to the baseline and take half- or three-quarter swings at deep balls and pound them back with complete confidence. It was a bit hit-and-miss with the prior frame.
Speaking of feel and response, I got a dramatic upgrade on volleys. I never liked being at the net with the Speedport Black Team, despite the excellent maneuverability of the stick. With the EXO3 Black, I can’t wait to get there
Serves are a bit different. I’m taking more of a half-stroke motion, starting with the racquet raised in the air. The EXO3 Black needs a bit more work to generate the same service speed. However, I noticed that I hit my spots with more regularity. I suspect that the previous frame was more susceptible to slight twitches in forearm or wrist motion.
I was quite pleased with the arm-friendliness of the heavier, stiffer frame. As expected, stroke timing is a bit different. When balls are being hammered to you by a pro or a 4.5+ player, tiny fractions of a second really matter. The first two sessions, I noticed some slight soreness in the front of my shoulder near the chest. It faded pretty quickly. By the fourth session, I didn’t notice much at all. With the Speedport Black Team, I had a problem with the head-heavy frame and a responsive stringbed at lower tension. Even sweet-spot impacts at very low racquet speed (like a drop shot) had some perceptible low-frequency vibration (the type a damper does not inhibit). Nothing but solid feel from the EXO3 Black. I should note, however, with this particular hybrid string job at lower tension, I prefer the feel of the frame with the small EXO3 vibration damper that comes with the racquet.
Stock grip feels really good, although I’m not sweating much in the colder weather. For most racquets, I can’t wait to apply an overgrip.
I’ll post another review as soon as I have pics. I don’t own a digital camera, so I have to find someone to take the pics for me. I want to compare the EXO3 Black to the Speedport Black in the same pic.
Continuing from part 1, I hit with Revenge as a fullbed for a little over eight hours under a variety of conditions. Tension loss was less than a pound. The string grew on me, but I was still anxious to test it in a hybrid. Fortunately, the gut on my regular hybrid became mushy and it was time to restring. So, I had both racquets restrung with VS Team 17 on the crosses. One was strung with Revenge 17 on the mains at 51 lb and the other with the usual Pro Hurricane Tour 17 at 53. My racquet is a Prince Speedport Black.
I was pleased with the control provided by Revenge as a fullbed at lower tension, so I wanted to experiment at the low end of my normal range. If I strung a hybrid with say xCel Power on the mains at 51, I would be guranteed to spray balls into the fence from the first shot The hybrid Revenge configuration performed pretty much the same as the fullbed. Solid control even at lower tension and this from a so-called ‘power’ string.
There was increased feel from groundstrokes by crossing with the gut, which helped alleviate my concerns from the first part of the review. Next, I wanted to see how the configuration volleyed. At 51lb, I expected a slight mushy feel from volleys. The opposite was true. Response was crisp from the very first volley. With the VS Team/Pro Hurricane Tour hybrid, I get a serious feel of the ball being pocketed and ‘launched’ from stringbed. This affects volleying to some extent based on the pace of the ball coming towards you. With VS Team/Revenge, response is consistent whether it is a light touch volley or responding to a very hard passing shot.
You will pick up a bit more feel and spin from the hybrid configuration on serve, but overall response is quite muted compared to Pro Hurricane Tour on the mains. Again, the expectation for Revenge is to provide reasonable power while maintaining control. With a power configuration, it’s up to you to provide the control.
My first conclusion is that Revenge is better suited for a hybrid configuration if you already play a hybrid (especially a gut/poly hybrid). Control is quite good even at lower tension. Given the combination of control and response on volleys, I’m probably going to keep the VS Team/Revenge hybrid as a doubles racquet. It is not as powerful or responsive as the VS Team/Pro Hurricane Tour combination, leading me to believe that Babolat should be advertising this as more of a control string as opposed to a power string.
You can get plenty of power from Revenge by stringing at lower tension and just hitting out on the ball. The response is adequate and the control ensures that if you miss, it’s all on you. Spin is average; about what I would expect from any 17 -gauge hybrid configuration. As might be expected, it is noticeably less than I achieve with the VS Team/Pro Hurricane Tour configuration. However, given Revenge’s reputation for tension maintenance, you can hold that power/control level for longer periods of time than other configurations. I expect more frequent restringing with VS Team/Pro Hurricane Tour.
Given the pace I experience from 4.5/5.0 players, my general conclusion is to stick with the VS Team/Pro Hurricane Tour hybrid for singles play. I’m viewing VS Team/Revenge as more of a specialty configuration, for use in windy conditions when control is at a premium or doubles play.
This is the first in a two-part review of the new Revenge string from Babolat. I currently play a VS Team 16/Pro Hurricane Tour 17 hybrid, so I’m reviewing Revenge both fullbed and in a hybrid. I normally string in the 50-53 range, so I first tried Revenge 17 in a fullbed @ 54lb.
I had previously tested Pro Hurricane Tour and xCel Power as a fullbed in the same racquet, both at an average tension of 53. The xCel Power felt great but had a tendency to spray balls. It was better crossed with xCel Premium. The Pro Hurricane tour was so responsive in my head-light racquet that it had some low-frequency vibration that was very noticeable on touch shots and light volleys. Crossed with the VS Team gut, however, performance is terrific in a hybrid.
My first impression of Revenge was that it was a cool-looking (red) string with a unique popping sound at impact. At lower tension, the string provided expected power on groundstrokes but with unexpected control. This is one string you can take a hard swing at the ball and if you miss, it’s all on you. While not advertised as a comfort string, I did not notice any arm soreness after hammering on the string with 4.0/4.5 players for about an hour.
Volleys were very crisp and it almost seemed like the string performed better at the net than on the baseline. If you have a relatively flat first serve, you will probably upgrade your first serve with Revenge. Spin was definitely weaker than Pro Hurricane Tour (as would be expected) and from what I remember hitting with xCel Power. You might lose a bit on a sliced second or heavy topspin first serves.
Coming from a gut player, my next observation is almost predictable. Revenge does not have the feel I like on touch shots. If these are an important part of your game, then you will not like this string in a fullbed.
After about 3 1/2 hours of hitting under various circumstances (including in the middle of the day in Texas heat), there was very little string movement. The person who strung my racquet indicated no issues in the stringing and little coil memory. DIY’ers will probably find it an easy job to string.
Overall, this string impresses me as good choice for 3.0/3.5 players looking for a power string without sacrificing control. Revenge is advertised as a highly durable string with minimal tension loss. That means you can afford to string at lower tensions without fear of the string becoming mushy after just a couple weeks of hard play (which happened to me with xCel Power). I will continue to hit with the string and once I get to about ten hours, I’ll measure the tension and report back.
I believe 4.0+ players might consider Revenge as an alternative to say Big Banger, but only from the standpoint of adding control or getting a more arm-friendly string. If you currently play a hybrid (especially a gut/poly hybrid), you would only want to consider Revenge as a substitute for your mains. When my current hybrid is ready for restringing, I’ll see how Revenge compares as a main string to the Pro Hurricane Tour and then post part 2 of this review.