By Luke Jensen, French Open Doubles Champion
Tennis lifers! How ya playing? I hope you are staying warm on the tennis court. I absolutely love the winter gear options to stay cozy and fashionably cool during the winter season. Don’t forget to bring your frames in for a tune up with fresh grips and new strings to adjust to the winter conditions. For example, on my overgrip I go from Tourna grip that absorbs the sweat during summer humidity to the Wilson Pro Over Grip that seems to grip me back when I swing through the ball. When I string my frames for the colder months, I go from 53 lbs. in the summer where the ball flies faster in warmer conditions to 50 lbs. when the colder weather makes the ball feel heavier. Remember, the looser you go in tension the more power you will have. The higher up you go in tension the more control you will have because the ball will not stay on the string bed that long; the looser tension is more like a trampoline that pockets the ball and sling shots it over to the other side of the court.
Knowing your equipment and how it works for your style of game is important. Do you see yourself as a power player? A control player or a combination of the two? Have you tried new strings to see how new technology can improve your game? I am always speaking to players, coaches, stringers, and company reps on the latest innovations that could provide me with new pop in my game.
As we get adjusted to a pro game without Serena and Federer, we can look at the various things they did extremely well. One thing they did to improve was test new equipment from racquets, shoes, and strings. Usually this happened in the late fall before the initial training period for the Australian Open. If the GOATS thought new gear technology could help their games, then YOU should!
I’m really bummed out that Serena and Fed are no longer competing. The impact that both legends had on and off the court is unprecedented. They inspired so many players to watch and compete in this sport we love. What I will remember most is Serena and her tough mindset under pressure. A confidence that carried her to 23 major singles titles. Her fight would intimidate and lift her level when she needed it. Fed brought a style the game had never seen before. John McEnroe said Fed is the most beautiful tennis player he has ever seen. Fed developed so many tools to draw upon and used them to such effectiveness time after time. He lives with a growth mindset and his game was always improving because of that approach.
Moving forward, the WTA has so much talent beginning with world number-one Swiatek and about 50 other players who can win majors. I think Jessica Pegula being the only player in the world in the top 10 in singles and doubles makes her a player to watch. Coco Gauff is about to join that list and is the world number-one in doubles. Playing both disciplines improves so many aspects of anyone’s game.
On the ATP, the new number-one Alcaraz is a 19-year-old beast! I absolutely love his cool-under-pressure temperament. He is a great role model for all young players on being a problem solver when things are not going your way in a match. I also like the army of American competitors on the rise: Tiafoe, Korda, Paul, Opelka, Fritz, Cressy, and Eubanks. Others in ATP top 150 are not going to stop improving.
It’s a bittersweet time to be watching legends at the end of their careers, and yet watching young talents emerge. I can’t wait to see who emerges from the pack and becomes dominant moving forward.