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!
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!
I wanted to postpone this review for a couple weeks in order to hit with the strings for a substantial amount of time under a variety of conditions. My prior configuration was a hybrid of Pro Hurricane Tour 17/VS Team Gut 17. I replaced that with RPM Blast 17 on the mains. Tension is 53lb on a Prince EXO3 Black frame. In general, I think strings like PHT/RPM need to be on stiffer frames. Interestingly, Rafa’s stick, the AeroPro Drive GT (stock frame) has a stiffness of 70, swingweight of 331, and balance is 4pt HL. The EXO3 Black has a stiffness of 71, swingweight of 328, and equivalent balance. Nadal can afford to swing away with a fullbed; I prefer a gut hybrid for a little more control and feel. Maybe that’s why he’s French Open champ and I’m writing Flex applications for a living 🙂
The observation I want to counter with this review is that RPM Blast is just PHT in a different color. On the subject of color, black is a great choice. The difference does not stop there. I could tell from the very first hit that this was a different string. The responsiveness was there, but with a little something extra. The ball even sounds a bit different at impact. I do not have specific measurements, but over the course of several weeks, I can see increased spin on the ball. This is generally from getting a bit more dip on the ball with the same stroke. If I really try to put some spin on the ball, I can get some wicked action 🙂
Two other observations of note. First, I always disliked restringing because I thought it took several days of hitting before the PHT/VS Team hybrid started to ‘feel’ right. Some of that may be that I’ve always thought gut plays better after it starts to fray. With the RPM Blast/VS Team hybrid, I liked the feel from the very first hit and it’s even better after a few weeks of hitting.
Second, the RPM Blast silicone coating does seem to let the strings slip more, but I kind of have a habit of adjusting the strings after every point anyway. The side effect is that the mains do not cut into the gut as much, which will probably increase the durability of the hybrid configuration. I rarely worry about that in any event because at the low tension the hybrid becomes mushy before it breaks.
Now, for what you really want to know about – power. Revenge was marketed as a power string, but it kind of underwhelmed me. RPM Blast delivers the goods, although to achieve the string’s potential you will probably want to string a bit lower than you are used to. I can’t vouch for feel in a fullbed and you may lose some control depending on your current configuration. It may be okay in a fullbed for very advanced players, but intermediate or between intermediate and advanced may prefer it in a hybrid.
For me, the extra feel and control from crossing it with gut is worth the extra cost. I also found RPM to be easier on the arm than PHT, a nice bonus recovering from an arm injury.
RPM Blast is an upgrade over PHT in every aspect of the game. Serve, volley, groundstroke, overhead, drop shot, whatever. So, if you don’t mind a bit more coinage for a poly, go string up some bad-ass black RPM Blast and kick some on the court!
One a personal level, this is pretty exciting. The Grapevine Tennis Classic Women’s $50K Pro Circuit event returns to the Hilton DFW Lakes again this year, July 5-13. I was excited to be a volunteer at last year’s event and was working the court during the Dubois-Tetreault final. What looked like a comfortable run to the championship for Dubois turned into Tetreault fighting off multiple championship points and coming from behind to win in three dramatic sets. All with temps approaching 120 degrees on-court!
Check out the tournament blog here and please consider sponsorship or coming by to watch the tournament this year if you live in the area. I hope to upgrade from volunteer to sponsor myself this year 🙂
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.