Tennis Club News Page

Friday, September 8

Men's and Women's Doubles Tournaments: The deadline for signing up has been extended! You can still enter, maybe go a few rounds, maybe win. But you can't win if you don't enter.

U.S. Open: Are we glued to the tube? (Hingis and Venus tonight and you have some other obligation? Oh woe.) Here's a link to the official site. (We had a call from a member in New York, attending the Open. She told us about spotting other CTC members there, in the stands. Glued to the tube, indeed.)

Here's another site for the Open. We are told that this site has more up-to-date info: Sportsline.

Rick Rose, the club's pro, made his picks for the open: Sampras to win; Martin as the dark horse.

Website Note: Check out the new Members section of the CTC website. Everything is hidden BUT you can edit your personal information, make visible whatever you want by checking a box. What fun! Or keep everything invisible. Give it a look.

Solicitations: Any suggestions for the website? for the news page?

We have been soliciting for a while now, and we are receiving some suggestions.

A member who we'll call Blondie sent us the Sportsline address above. Thanks, Blondie.

Another member asked who does all the typing?

A member who goes by the handle ctc_richard, sent us an address of what looks to be a big, comely tennis site that you might take a look at. Tennis Server has a column by Ron Waite called Turbo Tennis. Click on Waite's 'Current Column' and if you like what you see, click on the 'Turbo Tennis Archive' on the left-hand column.

The Art of Failure: Malcolm Gladwell wrote an article by that name in the August 21 and 28 issue of the New Yorker. The subtitle is: "Why some people choke and others panic." He writes about Jana Novotna's loss in the 1993 Wimbledon final. She was leading 4-1 in the third set, and serving at 40-30 and managed to lose. Gladwell writes:

"Human beings sometimes falter under presure. Pilots crash and divers drown. Under the glare of competition, basketball players cannot find the basket and golfers cannot find the pin. When that happens, we say variously that people have 'panicked' or, to use the sports colloquialism, 'choked.' Both are pejoratives. To choke or panic is considered to be as bad as to quit."

Gladwell writes that "choking involves a very specific kind of failure." He talked to a psychologist named Daniel Willingham at the University of Virginia. Willingham conducted series of tests on learning and failure. He talked about 'explicit learning' wherein a person is taught a skill in a straightforward fashion, and "'implicit learning' - learning that takes place outside of awareness."

"Willingham says that when you are first taught something - say, how to hit a backhand or an overhead forehand - you think it thhrough in a very deliberate, mechanical manner. But as you get better the implicit system takes over: you start to hit a backhand fluidly, without thinking. The basal ganglia, where implicit learning partially resides, are concerned with force and timing, and when that system kicks in you begin to develop touch and accuracy, the ability to hit a drop shot or place a serve at a hundred miles per hour. 'This is something that is going to happen gradually,' Willingham says. 'You hit several thousand forehands, after a while you may still be attending to it. But not very much. In the end, you don't really notice what you hand is doing at all.'

"Under conditions of stress, however, the explicit system sometimes takes over. That's what it means to choke. When Jan Novotna faltered at Wimbledon, it was because she began thinking about her shots again. She lost her fluidity, her touch. She double-faulted on her serves and mis-hit her overheads, the shots that demand the greatest sensitivity in force and timing. She seemed like a different person - playing with the slow, cautious deliberation of a beginner - because she was a beginner again: she was relying on a learning system that she hadn't used to hit serves and overhead forehands and volleys since she was first taught tennis, as a child."

Gladwell goes on to contrast choking, too much thinking, too many things in the brain, to panicking, the blocking out of options, too few things in the brain. Panic doesn't seem to apply to tennis players, but choking sure does.

Rick Rose isn't sure that he agrees. Rick claims vast experience in choking and according to him, choking is freezing, stiffening up. Rick says that your weakest shot goes first and then your better shots. And then it's a downward spiral: every shot you miss makes it harder for you to make a shot.

So we asked Rick what should a person do when he or she is in a match and starts to choke? What's the remedy?

     -That's a good question, Rick said. -If I knew, I'd be coaching Krajicek.

Court Conditions: Wonderful, but a bit dry.

The time and temperature icon is a link to a Boston weather site. Give it a click.

Click for Boston Weather

Joe DeBassio Webmaster.

Website Note: The honey-comb icon is also a link. It takes the clicker to an archive of all the past news pages so's you can catch up on what you missed while you were visiting friends on the Vineyard or frolicking in Oblivia. The less-than link (<) next to the honeycomb icon will take you to yesterday's page.

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