Tennis Club News Page

Saturday, September 2

Court Conditions: Closed. Puddled up. If the rain lets up, please call the club for an update on your court.

Labor Day Potluck/Pick-Up Doubles/Barbecue Extravaganza: Yup, it's that time again. On Monday, September 4, there will be all day pick-up doubles and a cook-out at the club. There is a pot-luck aspect to the day and, in recent years, the food has been wonderful. It is suggested that if your last name begins with the letters A-G, you might bring some salad; if H-O, some fruit; if P-Z, some desserts. Bring your racquet.

Men's and Women's Doubles Tournaments: The closing date for signing up for the tournaments is September 6.

U.S. Open: Are we glued to the tube? Here's a link to the official site.

The courts are too dry. Remember last year? We had a drought. During the season last year, the staff spread tons of calcium chloride on the courts. Calcium chloride holds the moisture in the courts so that, when the courts are watered, they don't dry out. This year has been very wet. We've held back on the calcium: the courts opened as soon as the rain stopped. We lost, relatively speaking, very little time to the rain. (We aren't claiming to have foretold the season's wet weather: every time we blocked off a court to add some calcium, it rained.) The trade-off is that if the weather stays hot and sunny for a while, the courts are going to be a bit dry. The courts are 'fast-dry:' the water runs right through them. The courts are watered at least twice a day, but they really need a little bit of rain every once in a while to give them a good soaking. In the meantime, please be patient.

Website Note from Bob Doyle:

The MEMBERS link now gives you a choice between getting information on other members or editing your own personal information.

The EVENTS link shows events for the upcoming week. We could list more events, like board and committee meetings. Send event suggestions to the webmaster.

Both these links and the RESERVATIONS REQUEST link require your password.

Since few members have used our new multiple Names feature to keep their names from appearing on the reservations timeLines, we are turning all names to Anonymous until further notice. Please tell us what you think about Anonymous, which now only shows when courts are not available, not who is playing when.

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

We have been soliciting for a while now, and we are receiving some suggestions, including the above Times article on Bunny Austin.(Thanks, Timesly Man.)

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.

Court Conditions: Closed. Puddled up. If the rain lets up, please call the club for an update on your court.

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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