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Fri, Oct. 18

Winners of Flex Doubles League; Roddick interview

The winning teams of each flight for the first five-week Doubles Flex League were: 1. Ken Jackson/Dick McGaw. 2. Binki Thalheimer/Gary Amadio. 3. Donald Dimmel/Ted Harris. 4. Jim & Judy Veney. 5. Patty Pollock/Regina Butt.

The next league has begun as of this past weekend, with 30 teams in five flights participating.

"Scottsdale Men's Pro Tourney-Now On"

The men's ATP "Franklin Templeton Professional Tournament" held at the Princess Hotel in Scottsdale began Monday.

Andy Roddick is the headliner while Andre Agassi decided to bow out with a slight hip injury.

Other great players like James Blake, and up-and-coming Taylor Dent, Jan-Michael Gambill, Wayne Ferreira, and U.S. Davis Cupper Roby Ginepri are just a few of the 32-player draw you'll enjoy watching.

Prices for general admission range from early in the week at $14 to the final match at $30. Call 480-784-4444 to purchase tickets or you can get them at the gate on arrival.

Let's continue to support professional tennis in Arizona by attending this seven day extravaganza.

"Andy Roddick Interview"

Sunday I went down to the tournament at the Princess, which is a beautiful 5-Star Resort just off of Scottsdale Road and Bell, and got a chance to interview last year's No. 1-ranked player in the world, Andy Roddick.

He was articulate, friendly, knowledgeable, and fun ... but at the same time serious about the business he's in, and that's winning tennis matches.

I've taken some of the highlights of that time spent with him.

CH: How is your back condition right now?

Roddick: "If I told you I was 100 percent confident I'd be lying to you, but I'm here and ready to play, and I'm gonna give it my best shot ... and that's for sure."

CH: When You heard Agassi was out of the tournament, what was your reaction?

Roddick: "I always try to focus on who's in the tournament instead of who isn't there, but anytime you lose someone like Andre it isn't a good thing for the tournament. But maybe now it'll give some of the younger players here an opportunity to have the fans see and focus on their playing for the first time.

CH: What has your coach Brad Gilbert done to help your game?

Roddick: "Brad has just brought a lot more relaxed attitude to the table ... it's not so much do or die every day, and after a match we'll go out grab some dinner and watch some movies. He'll go out and scout all of my opponents, pick up on my tendencies, and naturally drill me on the court in different aspects.

CH: How is that different from your previous coach?

Roddick: "They are almost two totally different styles. At that time I wasn't in the greatest shape, maybe a little lazy, and didn't have a very good work ethic ... he really came in and taught me that side of things. He took me from 25 in the world in juniors to No. 6 in the world in the pros. I'd probably be playing college tennis somewhere right now if it wasn't for him. That's a pretty significant jump. Now Brad's come aboard and he's helped me get to that next step."

CH: Who has had the most impact on your tennis career?

Roddick: "Probably my mom. She's the one who was driving me to practices and had a full-time job getting me and my two other brothers to all the things we were involved in. She's probably the one who made it possible."

CH: Do you have any advice for junior players?

Roddick: "Yeah, like I'm the old guy on the tour now? Um, as redundant as it sounds and as much as I would have rolled my eyes at this answer when I was 12 or 13, the one thing you can control on a daily basis is what you put into it. I started realizing that when I was 15 or 16 ... but there can be a lot of excuses. You can't control the weather, you can't control the way your opponent plays, but you can control what you put into it yourself."

CH: Do you ever consider playing doubles?

Roddick: "I do sometimes, but um, my definite focus is on singles. Especially with as grueling schedule as what we play. If I played doubles every week I'd probably be adding two or three matches on average and I feel it's just something I can't do for my body's sake. I'm not the type of player who can play a doubles match or two and then just call it ... if I can't give it my all, I might as not enter it and put my energy in the singles."

CH: How do you maintain a health and nutritional diet while on the road?

Roddick: "Not as well as I should, I come and go with that ... so we'll leave that one alone. I couldn't give you a very responsible answer (laughs)."

"Is Your Racquet Ready For Spring and Summer Play?"

Some of us play tennis year round, so keeping our racquet in good playing shape is continuous, but for those of us who are just getting back at it, or are somewhat seasonal players, it just might be time to take a look at the weapon we're using.

When was the last time it was restrung? How old is the racquet? Is the grip in good playing condition?

Your first question should be ... is the cost of fixing this racquet worth thinking about up-dating to a new one? To restring a racquet the cost ranges from $20 to $30. To put a new grip on is around $10. A decent new racquet might cost you $50 to $100 and with the newest technology. Give it some thought.

Your racquet might need to be restrung if any of the following questions can be answered yes. It hasn't been restrung in the last year. The strings are worn and/or discolored in the sweet spot. The strings are notched. Also check the bumper guard to see it needs to be replaced.

If your grip is worn, slippery, or you think you might have the wrong grip size, have your local pro get you squared away by taking a look at it.

Now, if you're still playing with a wood racquet, you are definitely due to visit a sporting goods store right away. (Do save your old woodie for the 10th Annual Legends Wood Racquet Tournament, April 25 here in Prescott.)

(Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 30 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 445-1331 or 4541choward@earthlink.net)

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