John Newcombe Fantasy Camp Monday, Day 2

The morning started off cool; but the temperature warmed up to the high 70s for our day of training, team positioning, and drills. After breakfast, Newk, Rick Leach, and Charlie Pasarell gave a short clinic on how to hit better volleys:

• THE NUMBER ONE RULE: watch the ball into your racquet
• Use the continental grip for all volleys
• Keep your weight on the balls of your feet and keep moving forward
• On the high volley, don’t take the racquet back too far and keep the ball out in front of you
• When your doubles partner is serving, start in the middle of the service box
• If you are as big and as good as the Bryans, you can really crowd the net; but if not, don’t get too close
• Backhand volley: also keep your racquet out in front, with a short back swing and short follow through

Then the teams went off to our courts to play some doubles, with different pairings to see how we match up together. In the middle of a very long point (chase the lob and hit overheads), I exclaimed, “Guys, it is only Monday!” … as I then retrieved another ball and floated it back over and our opponents whiffed at the ball; but as I turned to high five my partner, the young whiffer (Aden Levin) chased back to the baseline to hit the ball to win the point!

It looks like I could be playing #3 doubles for the Wankers, paired with one of our “younger” team members, perhaps young Aden.

How many can you name?
How many can you name?

We played for almost two hours; and then had our pictures individually taken with all the Legends. After lunch, we had planned for another session of doubles pairings and practicing; but the rains came and forced us to the four indoor courts for an hour of drills.

Emmo’s tips on changing court surfaces:
• Going from clay to hard courts: really shorten up your backswing on all ground strokes and take the ball out in front of you.
• Going from hard courts to clay: concentrate on having over-active feet

After a “light day” of about three hours on the court, I watched Willy Hoffmann and Dick Stockton in an excellent one-set Fantasy match, which they ended up losing 13-11 in a standard set 7-point tiebreaker to Brian Gottfried and his camper partner.

Then was Happy Hour and dinner of barbeque chicken and ribs. After dinner, Doc Eden improved his joke telling stats, going three for three … with good ad libs.

John Newcombe then told of the highlight of his tennis year: a gathering at the Waldorf before the US Open of 19 of the male tennis players who had ever been ranked #1 over the last 40 years (he was the first, when the ATP rankings began). He said it was an amazing event, where he, McEnroe, Connors, Lendl, and Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic shared the stage with all the others (even including one-week-wonder Marcello Rios).

Young Americans

Then there was a panel discussion on the benefits and status of playing college tennis. Two major points:

• The non-American young players are “much hungrier” than ours, and therefore, work harder
• College coaches are under pressure to win, therefore more scholarships are going to those “hungrier” non-American kids

Afterwards, while others went to the bar for more drink and talk, I went off to my room to try to get a decent night’s sleep before the team competition, with singles in the morning and doubles in the afternoon starting on Tuesday vs. Newk’s Mongrel Kangaroo defending champion team.

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