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With the start of the  US Open which is our equivalent of London’s Wimbledon, France’s French Open, I thought it would be a good idea to do a post semi-breaking down the sport.  There are many sport fans and spectators out there that often watch the game without actually understanding the rules of the game; I am that way with Golf and Lacrosse and Jai alai(so serious). In an effort for you to not only enjoy watching what is sure to be a very competitive US Open, but to also understand what is actually going on rather than just golf clapping when everyone else does. I had the opportunity to speak with Alec Horton, Director of Tennis at Midtown Bannockbourn. Mr. Horton explained some of the basic fundamentals of tennis, as well as some of the names to watch not only at the US Open but up and coming ATP tennis players.

ACE: It is an un-returnable serve that is untouched by the opponent. Serena Williams’ crazy 115mph serves often result in ace

FAULT: a serve outside the service box or when the serve hits the net. If it happens twice in a row the servers opponent wins a point.

FOOT FAULT: When the player steps on the line before serving. The opponent wins a point due to the serving error

VOLLEY: When the ball is hit in the air without bouncing around first.

Tennis is a team sport, though there are a lot of individual players one needs at least two people to play the sport.

SETS-in a women’s match there are 3 sets and one must win 2 out of 3 sets. There are 6 games(points) to win a set. For men, winner needs 3 out of 5 to win the match.

The service box which is a rectangle, not a square,  in which the match is played includes the white lines. If any part of the line is touched the ball is considered in. You might see instant replays where a player will challenge the call and the close-up usually reveal where the ball is in or out.

CHALLENGE: each player is awarded 3 challenges per set. Fan’s love challenges especially during close matches.

Some things to pay attention to during a match:
The serve of the ball. There is usually a device that calibrates how fast the ball was served. Also pay attention to how quickly the players move their feet and respond to their opponent. Each player has to react quickly and anticipate the next shot. Every shot is a response to what your opponent did.

When I asked what kind of physical activity one can do to be in shape to play tennis, Mr. Horton noted that in addition to actual tennis lessons,  players perform exercise such as Pilates, cardio and strength training.Muscle Activation Techniques are used to stay balanced. To put it in perspective a tennis player needs to have the stamina of a soccer player, throwing ability of a baseball player, athleticism of a basketball player and mental preparation of a golf player.

Aside from the marquee name players like Roger Federer, Andy Murray(Olympic Champion), Serena Williams(Olympic Champion), defending 2011 U.S Open champion Novak DjokovicMaria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters, Andy Roddick some other names to look out for include: France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Tomas Berdych, Coco Vandeweghe, Brian Baker who is coming of major injury surgery, Christina McHale who trains in Flushing Meadows and Mardy Fish.

Midtown Athletics  have locations in Bannockburn, Oak Park, Willowbrook, Palatine and of course  Chicago. They offer lessons for all playing levels andthey do offer more than just tennis.

Make sure to check the US Open schedule for all scheduled play times and catch your favourite player hopefully survive to the next round.


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