Author Topic: Mertov's Tennis Desk  (Read 7579 times)

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Offline euroka1

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Re: Mertov's Tennis Desk
« Reply #20 on: February 17, 2013, 04:39:15 AM »
Thinking this over, I have no objection to the big tennis organizations making money, from corporations and otherwise, as long as they provide a good product with good value, which the Australian Open mostly is. But the recruitment and training of the young up and coming players should be left to the tennis pros and coaches. The old apprentice system has worked very well in the past in many fields. I myself benefited from it in my own.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2013, 05:00:14 AM by euroka1 »

Offline Mertov

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Re: Mertov's Tennis Desk
« Reply #21 on: April 12, 2013, 06:17:33 PM »
Euroka, I finally got around to listening to all the interviews and everything.  Especially watching the 45 minute report with interviews of a variety of people gave me the impression that there is definitely something fishy going on with the few people operating in a way to monopolize the ressources.  There is definitely a smaller version of the 'Halliburton' scheme going on.  First of all, I never understood how Craig Tiley got such an important job without much to back it up in the qualification department.  Yes, he did resurrect the men's tennis program at University of Illinois and brought them to number one in NCAA.  He had nothing else in his resume up to that point.  But how can that be enough to be hired as the Director of Tennis at Tennis Australia when there are so many others with much better accomplishments?  Just as an indication of how lucrative it must be for Tiley, he was in the short list for Illinois' AD job in 2011, and he did not even consider it.  Let's see how lomg this small group will concentrate the power in the hands of the few before they are finally ousted.  Without considerable success in tennis, their credibility will suffer.

On to something else:
The latest article is up, and it's about the US vs. Serbia Davis Cup with extended input on American Tennis.  I talked to an old friend of mine who is close to a walking tennis encyclopedia, who has been involved with tennis for almost four decades, and who now runs his tennis academy in Boise, ID.
http://my.opera.com/mertov/blog/2013/04/09/the-us-vs-serbia-davis-cup-tie-aftermath-a-closer-look

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Offline Alex

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Re: Mertov's Tennis Desk
« Reply #22 on: April 12, 2013, 09:22:21 PM »
Mert, that article is so good on so many different levels. Thanks for posting. so many great touches, the way Djokovic was training, American general attitude and what actually is wrong with American tennis nowadays. fantastic.

Offline Gawdblessya

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Re: Mertov's Tennis Desk
« Reply #23 on: April 13, 2013, 05:38:39 AM »
Hi guys,

The latest article is up for those interested, Q & A with Pat Cash.

http://my.opera.com/mertov/blog/q-a-with-pat-cash

Mertov


Thanks for this article, Mertov. Late catch, but interesting reading.

This quote from Cash made me laugh out loud:

".... Ventures to the net will be to shake hands and that’s about it..... "     :))

Pat is often candid in his views - we have him on BBC Radio as a commentator - and I enjoy his take on things, even if I disagree with him.   

Whilst watching the Wawrinka match in Casablanca yesterday, I felt a twinge of sadness when the commentator praised a beautiful point by SW, but added how his style of tennis - SV -  was dying out. It seems the refrain of how the game lacks variety & flair, is now oft repeated.  To what avail, one wonders?   I wouldn't wish to presume any influence, but do request that, if possible, you consider doing a piece on how things might change to re-introduce an all court game again. 

I'd be interested to know what those on the ground are thinking about, if anything.  Thanks.


.......On to something else:
The latest article is up, and it's about the US vs. Serbia Davis Cup with extended input on American Tennis............. 


I enjoyed reading this interview, Mertov, and Jim Moortgat's  excellent responses.  My respect for Djokovic, already considerable,  increases when I read how hard he works & takes nothing for granted when prepping.  And I can relate to his "soft" comment as far as British tennis is concerned too.   
« Last Edit: April 13, 2013, 06:17:18 AM by Gawdblessya »
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Offline euroka1

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Re: Mertov's Tennis Desk
« Reply #24 on: April 13, 2013, 06:00:38 AM »
Hullo Mert,

Thanks for your comment on Australian tennis and thanks also for the new article, which is very perceptive.

 :book: 
I am reading at the moment a rather good book called  The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates by Frans De Vaal. (It is a very good read, incidentally.) In the discussion of primate communities, I cannot help being reminded of Davis Cup teams and their supporters in the stands. When a primate community loses its alpha-male, it becomes uncoordinated and undisciplined without the individual present to pump enthusiasm, care, and motivation into the group. In Davis Cup, the US has lost Roddick, with no obvious replacement, while Serbia now has Djokovic as its alpha-male. The ageing Hewitt still performs this task on the Australian team.... and so on  :) . To what extent does the formal team captain fill this role? I've never felt  PMac or Courier very effective in this.

From the inside, what do you think?

The same, incidentally, applies to scientific collaborations, although there one more often has an alpha-female.  :))

Offline monstertruck

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Re: Mertov's Tennis Desk
« Reply #25 on: April 13, 2013, 07:24:28 AM »
Great stuff Mertov!!!
I love the story about Kramer and how it relates to the state of tennis in the U.S.A.
This article echos what I've said for years now-  Americans aren't hungry.
The few that have been successful are those that have pushed their personal limits beyond the field.  How sad that Courier lacks the pull or desire to instill that in todays current crop of players. :(
CONK da ball!!!

Offline Mertov

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Re: Mertov's Tennis Desk
« Reply #26 on: April 13, 2013, 08:42:12 PM »
Thanks for the positive comments guys.

Gawdblessya, that is a great question – “how to reintroduce an all-court game again”.  What I find strange is that most tennis experts seem to have the somewhat indifferent and casual “it’s a cycle” approach.  They simply believe it’s a phase and that the attacking style will come back sooner than later.  I find this approach naive.  A cyclical pattern would be more likely to occur if conditions remain roughly the same through the time period in which the cycles take place.  It is not the case here.  Conditions have clearly skewed in the favor of the baseline game.  So, I am not as sure as most pundits about the cyclical outlook, but I know I am in the minority.  But their casual attitude about this baffles me.

Monstertruck, I agree with you on everything that you say above. 

Euroka, good point as usual my friend.   Indeed what you have said happened many times where an individual leadership and presence has lifted a less talented team to the Davis Cup victory.  The best example is Stan Smith’s heroic weekend in ousting the legendary Romanian Davis Cup team of Ilie Nastase and Ion Tiriac in 1972.  There is also Bjorn Borg and Sweden in 1975.  In 1982, I was lucky enough to watch in person John Mc Enroe single-handedly melt the French Team with Yannick Noah and Henri Leconte on the red clay of Grenoble, France, against all odds.  This final rarely gets talked about because the same year McEnroe defeated Wilander in the earlier US vs. Sweden Davis Cup tie that made history, but McEnroe took out all the spirit, belief and enthusiasm of both the French team and the rowdy crowd with an introductory 5-set win over Noah and followed it with one of the best doubles performances that I have ever seen the next day (zero errors in three sets on his serve, forced or unforced).  It was over before it started.  But then Yannick Noah as a captain returned the favor in 1991, when his underdog French Team with an old Leconte (Noah was criticized for selecting him prior to the tie) and Guy Forget took out US team led by Pete Sampras, Jim Courier and Andre Agassi, through his enthusiastic presence on the sideline and his electrifying cheering that hinted in advance at what was to become a future successful career as a showman.  We could multiply the examples of leaders leading their team to over-achievement, so you definitely hit a valid point.  Novak Djokovic’s presence was absolutely a factor in the Serbs’ victory.  The other Serbian players probably consider him more of a legend than any other American player ever considered the best player on his same American team to be one, so yes, Djokovic’s enthusiasm surely pumped up the other players physically and psychologically (in fact, they all openly admitted that it did)..

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Offline Alex

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Re: Mertov's Tennis Desk
« Reply #27 on: April 13, 2013, 09:27:09 PM »
Mertov, some great points. always enjoy reading your posts.

I said this before and I'll say it again (not in this thread). Let's talk about American players. I appologize to other posters that I'm repeating my self but wanted to get Mertov's response.

How do you explain that the richest country in the world can't produce top players any more? How do you explain that little poor Serbia has world number one Djokovic and Tipsy in top 10? Do you think  that American guys are simply not hungry enough? what about their playing style. I find both Isner and Sam to be almost boring when I watch them. Serve, Serve and then nothing ... they are so one dimensional. Don't get me wrong, I like both guys, love their personalities but I feel like falling asleep watching them playing.

Don't you think that American trainers should have a some sort of a different approach when it comes to training? and forget about different surfaces, enough was said about it. it is what it is, same for everyone. My deep belief is that Novak, Fed and Rafa would be still winning even if they have to play on ice.

tennis to me is the most 'beautiful' sport in the world. somehow, American kids don't care.

one more questions. what about youngsters (not Americans), but general ... how come none of these guys can brake through (talking about Tomic, Janowitcz, Dimitrov, Harrison etc)? I'm a Nole fan but seriously I'm getting bored seeing same 4 players is semis, finals and winning everything left and right.

Offline Gawdblessya

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Re: Mertov's Tennis Desk
« Reply #28 on: April 14, 2013, 12:32:52 PM »
....
Gawdblessya, that is a great question – “how to reintroduce an all-court game again”.  What I find strange is that most tennis experts seem to have the somewhat indifferent and casual “it’s a cycle” approach.  They simply believe it’s a phase and that the attacking style will come back sooner than later.  I find this approach naive.  A cyclical pattern would be more likely to occur if conditions remain roughly the same through the time period in which the cycles take place.  It is not the case here.  Conditions have clearly skewed in the favor of the baseline game.  So, I am not as sure as most pundits about the cyclical outlook, but I know I am in the minority.  But their casual attitude about this baffles me........

Thanks for your reply, Mertov.    At one level, as in life generally, so in tennis & the view that these things are cyclical seems obvious.   I suppose my query arises from the fact that current commentary from varying sources seems to be pointing to the demise of the all court / varied game, with considerable nostalgia.  This points to a sense of lack in the game & the potential that those involved in the development of players might encourage some changes.  However, as you state, the  issue goes beyond just player development & includes the homogenised conditions etc.
I do however think that how players are trained to play needs adjusting, if an all court game is to make a revival, despite the court conditions etc.   In this regard, the casual attitude you mention, is indeed baffling.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2013, 12:36:13 PM by Gawdblessya »
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Offline Mertov

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Re: Mertov's Tennis Desk
« Reply #29 on: April 14, 2013, 02:39:53 PM »
Alex, for the most part the answers lie in the culture/approach component of the issue (thus Jim’s “soft culture” statement).  In the USA, there is a multitude of factors that do not exist overseas (in Serbia for example).  First of all, in the USA, it seems that you have to belong to a club (thus have money), take lessons from the club pro (more money), and then you get results in tournaments hoping that USTA notices you.  Even that remains a small possibility since USTA’s network of coaches that are supposed to ‘discover’ new talents are products of the same culture so they don’t look for the same elements as the development coach in Serbia, Germany, or France.  Most tennis federations have the best coaches selected and their common goal is to produce tennis players; the players themselves and their families are aware of the enormous opportunity that tennis presents to them. 
   
A lot of juniors grow up through their local club’s junior tennis academy system and accompanied to tournaments as a group with other kids from the club, then discovered by talent seeking national coaches.  Some of the best players may have never taken 1/10th of the amount of private lessons that American kids take from pros who basically do whatever will please the parent during the lesson because they want the $60 to $90 an hour rate to turn into a regular weekly income source.  What I just described happens regularly all over the country in American tennis clubs, yet it’s very rare to none in most European clubs.  Parents do not have half of the power that the American parents have over the tennis pros, coaches (or even teachers in schools).  So politics, money and influential connections factor in much more effectively in the US and conveniently take precedence over ‘tennis-related’ issues (how much talent the kid has, what parts of his game needs improvement, etc). 

In Serbia/Other places in Europe, the club becomes like the kid’s second home.   He gets off school, stops by home to grab his bag and rackets and heads to the club to hang out with his other tennis friends and practice.  Tennis becomes the focal point of their daily life, they socialize around it, develop their personalities through it. 

In contrast, what do you see in most US tennis clubs?  The parents drive the kid to the country club to take his 1-hour or more tennis lesson, during which the parents sit and watch (or even lose control and participate in the practice/coaching!!), then the lesson ends, the pro talks to the parent, in most cases reinforces to them how great their kid could be, and then the parents and the kid get in the car and drive back home to their regular life where the kid plays X-BOX, hangs out with his/her buddies at the local café or movie theater complex, etc.  For the Serbian, Czech, Dutch, or French kid, the camaraderie at the club and his /her circle of friends – i.e. other tennis players – ARE his/her regular life.  Do you see the difference?  When is the last time you have seen a tennis club where the best juniors of the club just come to the club daily after school, to hang out with their friends, and play tennis as an activity on top of the after-school practice scheduled by the club’s main coach?

Best

PS: Gawd, I hear you but how will you get the coaches to push for a style that has 'against-all-odds' type of chance of succeeding when their livelihood depends on how they are measured by the success of their pupils? Can you imagine a coach pushing for a serve-and-volley style and watch his pupils= take loss after loss for an extended period of time?  Imagine dealing with the kid's parents. Even in the 90s where attacking the net was still not archaic, only a handful have done that successfully and they were exceptional talents (Sampras, Rafter, who both admitted to losing for extended periods of time as a junior because they were swimming against the current so to speak.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2013, 02:46:36 PM by Mertov »

Offline Gawdblessya

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Re: Mertov's Tennis Desk
« Reply #30 on: April 14, 2013, 05:00:46 PM »
Thanks, I hear you too, Mertov, loud & clear.  The dilemma writ large. One hopes that a more varied game will find at least some root in up & coming youngsters. 

And your response to Alex, in relation to the culture / how youngsters are brought up to play, is thought provoking. Something isn't "clicking"  - not just in the US, but in Britain too & it seems, also in Australia. We have Murray of course, but who else? 

« Last Edit: April 14, 2013, 05:11:18 PM by Gawdblessya »
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Offline euroka1

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Re: Mertov's Tennis Desk
« Reply #31 on: April 14, 2013, 06:37:30 PM »
Hi GBY,

Mertov and I talked about the Australian situation earlier in the thread and it is much the same as the US. But while I feel bad about the inability of the present system  to  provide top class tennis players, I do think we do a pretty good job in spreading the word about tennis to young kids who are never going to become anywhere near pros but who can take advantages of the community contacts that the sport offers. The program that the Washington Tennis and Education Foundation does locally here in getting them off the streets and hitting tennis balls is a worthy endeavor in itself even if it has not produced a champion (yet).  It is always a good feeling to see these kids hitting away on the side courts at the time that the pros come to town for the annual 500 tournament.

« Last Edit: April 14, 2013, 06:38:42 PM by euroka1 »

Offline Gawdblessya

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Re: Mertov's Tennis Desk
« Reply #32 on: April 15, 2013, 05:17:39 PM »
......The program that the Washington Tennis and Education Foundation does locally here in getting them off the streets and hitting tennis balls is a worthy endeavor in itself even if it has not produced a champion (yet).  It is always a good feeling to see these kids hitting away on the side courts at the time that the pros come to town for the annual 500 tournament.


Hello Euroka.  Thanks for the reminder that in the scheme of things, establishing a system of paricipation / healthy tennis culture at grassroots level is worthwhile in itself.  The social aspect that Mertov mentions, and the sense of participation & fun that you point to, are perhaps the foundation for establishing the sport in the "everyman" psyche.  Which can only be a good thing.

It is inevitable that most discussions here will turn to the professional game, but it is indeed worth noting that a lot of good work is being done to promote the sport & engage "ordinary" people.

I thought this article was interesting, and provides an insight into our system of selection of talented players. 

 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/tennis/9948995/The-next-head-of-British-tennis-has-a-simple-task-create-a-conveyor-belt-of-Andy-Murray-clones.html
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Offline Alex

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Re: Mertov's Tennis Desk
« Reply #33 on: May 24, 2013, 06:34:28 PM »
Mertov, how do you feel about the draw at RG? What's your feeling? favorites, dark horses? potential upsets?

Offline Mertov

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Re: Mertov's Tennis Desk
« Reply #34 on: May 25, 2013, 02:56:50 AM »
Hi Alex,

I have not looked that much in detail to the draws, but on the women's side, I am expecting an upset or two.  Serena is not a write-in at the French although she is clearly the best player on the tour now.  I am afraid onthe other hand that an outsider goes to the finals and we have a 38 minute match again..

On the men's side, I think it's unfair that Djokovic and Nadal are on the same side.  That would have been the Sunday final that everyone would have liked to see.  Personally, I would like to see Tsonga have a breakthrough tournament and go the finals from Federer's side.  It would be fun to watch a Djokovic or a Nadal play against a confident Tsonga in the finals.  I do not believe guys like Raonic, Wawrinka and Dmitrov will be push overs when they face the top seeds, I even believe that there is a chance that Federer, Ferrer, Nadal, and Djokovic semifinals line-up is not likely.  I am expecting a major upset or two (I know I am in the minority there).
I will chime in on the Roland Garros thread whenever I can with the matches.

I have started Roland Garros updates by the way, for those interested.

First one was back on Monday:
http://my.opera.com/mertov/blog/show.dml/62748982

Second one was yesterday evening:
http://my.opera.com/mertov/blog/2013/05/24/roland-garros-update-2-anecdotes-from-the-qualifying-week

I will continue to update as frequently as I can.  Since the scores and match reports can be followed from any site, I will try to stick mostly to interesting anecdotes from Roland Garros,

Best

Offline monstertruck

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Re: Mertov's Tennis Desk
« Reply #35 on: May 25, 2013, 07:00:46 AM »
I'm always excited to see a post from you in this thread. :)

I think you're right about Nole v. Raf being the dream final for most fans.
Then I paused and thought about it for a moment.
If they indeed get to play each other, regardless of what round, isn't that a beautiful thing?  For me, that's enough.

I'd love to see Tsonga riding high into the final.
When he is full of joy he can play some dominating tennis.
He is my favorite player to watch, regardless of surface.
I never count Ferrer out on clay and Stan is playing some great/confident tennis as well.

Keep the anecdotes coming Mate! :))
CONK da ball!!!

Offline Alex

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Re: Mertov's Tennis Desk
« Reply #36 on: May 25, 2013, 08:15:07 AM »
I agree with both of you that Nole/Rafa would be a dream final, but it is what it is. I think that RG should come up with some sort of a clay formula (similar to Wimbledon).
Tsonga might upset Fed if they meet, he almost upset Djokovic last year ... I'm just not so sure about Jo's form at the moment.

Offline Mertov

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Re: Mertov's Tennis Desk
« Reply #37 on: May 25, 2013, 09:09:25 AM »
Thanks Monstertruck!

I am not sure if I will be able to post every time I put a new update so visit the page when you get a chance:
http://my.opera.com/mertov/blog/

Alex, yes, Roland Garros needs a formula as you say.

Online Babblelot

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Re: Mertov's Tennis Desk
« Reply #38 on: May 25, 2013, 02:22:22 PM »
Mertov, some great points. always enjoy reading your posts.

I said this before and I'll say it again (not in this thread). Let's talk about American players. I appologize to other posters that I'm repeating my self but wanted to get Mertov's response.

How do you explain that the richest country in the world can't produce top players any more? How do you explain that little poor Serbia has world number one Djokovic and Tipsy in top 10? Do you think  that American guys are simply not hungry enough? what about their playing style. I find both Isner and Sam to be almost boring when I watch them. Serve, Serve and then nothing ... they are so one dimensional. Don't get me wrong, I like both guys, love their personalities but I feel like falling asleep watching them playing.

Don't you think that American trainers should have a some sort of a different approach when it comes to training? and forget about different surfaces, enough was said about it. it is what it is, same for everyone. My deep belief is that Novak, Fed and Rafa would be still winning even if they have to play on ice.

tennis to me is the most 'beautiful' sport in the world. somehow, American kids don't care.

one more questions. what about youngsters (not Americans), but general ... how come none of these guys can brake through (talking about Tomic, Janowitcz, Dimitrov, Harrison etc)? I'm a Nole fan but seriously I'm getting bored seeing same 4 players is semis, finals and winning everything left and right.


Mert took the "show me the money" factor and gave a perspective--the "tennis pro culture"--that I've never before considered.

Beyond that, Alex, I don't think you'll ever get it no matter how many times we explain it to you. Tennis doesn't rate in the the US. Just to give you some perspective, since Title IX (gender equity), these men's programs have been eliminated at the university level:

Quote
Title IX and Its Effect on Men’s Collegiate Athletics
By Karen Owoc (circa 2008)

• Men’s Olympic sports in colleges (such as,
gymnastics, swimming, track and field,
water polo, volleyball, soccer, tennis and wrestling)
are disappearing under pressure to achieve “gender
equity” under Title IX. Consequently, the pool
of U.S. Olympic talent has diminished due to the
tremendous loss of men’s Olympic sports in colleges.
These cuts inevitably affect high school participation
in that sport as well.


For example, in 1969 over 40,000 high school boys
participated in gymnastics in the U.S. with over
230 NCAA schools sponsoring men’s gymnastics.
Since that time, the sport has lost 92% of its varsity
programs (2,544 college roster positions eliminated)
and 75% of its participating (high school) boys.



*The one top tier athletic sport anomaly is baseball. It's a victim of Title IX due to low revenue and huge rosters. But baseball is the 3rd most popular boys sports in America behind only football and basketball. Anyway, whether her last claim applies to tennis isn't that important--and probably doesn't when you consider the following:

Most popular youth sports in America

1. football
2. basketball
3. baseball
4. track and field
5. soccer
6. volleyball

Track, Soccer, and Volleyball > tennis

No athletes play tennis, Alex, so shut up already. We've given you all kinds of explanations. Most athletes that play the top tier sports can't afford cable TV and the Tennis Channel. They therefore don't have heroes to emulate. And tennis is one of those odd sports that doesn't bring people together. People get together to watch football, basketball, baseball, and hockey. Tennis fans are trolls who sit at home alone. There are many factors that conspire against American men's tennis, not just one or two, and we've explained most if not all of them to you a few times now.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/99949-popular-youth-sports/
« Last Edit: May 25, 2013, 02:38:25 PM by Babblelot »
1995 USO, 1997 USO, 2004 USO, 2005 RG, 2005 USO, 2006 RG, 2006 USO, 2007 USO, 2008 RG, 2008 USO, 2009 USO, 2010 USO, 2011 USO, 2012 USOhttp://www.gifsoup.com/view4/1856936/2005safin-o.gif
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Offline euroka1

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Re: Mertov's Tennis Desk
« Reply #39 on: May 25, 2013, 09:14:32 PM »
Thanks Monstertruck!

I am not sure if I will be able to post every time I put a new update so visit the page when you get a chance:
http://my.opera.com/mertov/blog/

Alex, yes, Roland Garros needs a formula as you say.



Hullo Mert,

I enjoyed report 3 too although I was left somewhat confused by the plans to change things round at Roland Garros. I wonder how certain they all are?

It is wonderful that a "no competition day" can be such a success with everybody out there just celebrating tennis.

Please keep the reports coming.