Monday, July 27, 2015

A Court of my Own

Well okay, maybe having my own personal tennis court is a dream too far, but having a place I could call "home" when it comes to coaching would be nice. I've had one or two calls recently about coaching but I continue to face the issue of where to coach. The public courts on the village are okay, but without floodlights and with no booking system, it's all a bit hit and miss. What I'd really like is a couple of  courts to rent for a few hours a week so that I can book regular sessions with folk and not have to worry about getting there in time to secure the court.

What would be even better would be to find someone who is passionate about tennis and would like to build a facility locally that is run on a pay-to-play basis but with a club running there too. A place where I could be guaranteed access to a court, an indoor and outdoor option and built around artificial and real clay. There are so few clay or artificial clay courts around that I'm sure players from around the region would want to come and practice there.

So if you're sitting there with a large amount of spare cash and you were wondering what to do with it, maybe you'd like to invest! No? Well I guess it's back to the tarmac for me!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Conversation about a Grinder!

Well, I decided to take the plunge and buy myself a wet stone grinder. I've been looking at them wistfully for a few years and could neither afford or justify the top end systems that are out there. But a simple bench grinder, while cheap, is not necessarily a good option. It's really easy to get too much heat into the metal of a tool and therefore render it useless unless you can anneal it again.

So a wet grinding system seemed a good idea and today I ordered the one I like the loo of and the reviews I've read about it. The later being more important than the former for me, but not apparently for some.

How do I know this? I know because of a conversation I had with the supplier this afternoon. Here's the grinder I've ordered.

Looks nice doesn't it. It comes with some jigs for different tools and I think there are other jigs you can buy. But back to the conversation. The 'phone rings and a very polite rep on the other end explains to me that the colour has changed. It is the same machine but now comes in orange. Orange! Oh no, I'll have to change the whole colour scheme of my workshop. Or at least that's what I said to the rep.

"You'd be surprised," he said, "some people cancel their order when the find out.


Are you actually telling me that the colour of a grinder is the most important thing to consider when buying one. No, I couldn't believe it either. Needless to say I haven't cancelled my order and I'm looking forward to the arrival of my orange grinder. I suspect the colour won't affect the performance unless it turns out to be a banana. (If you've never seen Red Dwarf, you won't get the reference, but don't worry you can probably watch the box set online somewhere!)

Friday, July 17, 2015

May and Baker Tennis

Watching the tennis courts at May & Baker being brought back into use makes me realise that the idea I put forward for a tennis club/coaching programme might just actually become a reality! There used to be a club, so this is more a resuscitation than a brand new venture, but I'm guessing a lot has changed since the old club folded and it really would be a new start.

May and Baker, for those who don't know, was a pharmaceutical company in Dagenham, London. The site is quite extensive and they had a large Sports and Social Club attached to the working site. The company changed names and hands a few time and it's most recent incarnation has finally closed its doors. The Sports and Social Club was gifted to the the community, and there is a thriving rugby club, football, cricket (not called May and Baker) and social club. A local running club is based their too.

The tennis courts haven't been used for some years but the club managed to secure a grant to refurbish two of the three courts. The work was delayed by the poor weather in May but the surface is down and the fence is up. Marking out and painting still needs to be done and then the courts need time to settle before we can begin playing on them. Quite when that will be I don't know.

In a conversation with one of the committee members through my involvement with the rugby club, I offered to set out a few ideas about how the courts could be run for coaching and as a club. It wasn't all guesswork, on the other hand, trying to give a reasonable idea of what might be possible wasn't that easy.

Anyway, I set out my thoughts and handed them over. Whether I will be involved or not I have no idea, but it would be interesting to be in at the start of something like this. There is a mountain of work to do to set up a club and get officers in place and policies written. Especially true when really what you want to do is get out on the courts and get people playing tennis.

I hope that M&B Tennis will take off and we can offer a great tennis service and experience to the club and community. I never imagined that I might be involved in anything quite like this, but then I never imagined I'd be involved in setting up an After School Club in Newark, or on a steering group for a Children's Centre in Bedford or a Care Scheme in the village etc. I have no idea even where to start with tho latest adventure. I'm rather hoping that the local tennis association will be helpful! I'll also pick the brains of a few folk I've got to know over that last few years of being around tennis.

My next step is to complete my next level of coaching certification, which I'm doing in August/September. Hopefully that will give me some more ideas about coaching models and more technical information to help correct stroke errors and teach good habits. I don't see myself as going much beyond helping people get started and improving to become good recreational players. That's my goal-to get people playing and enjoying tennis. If they want to push further then I know enough coaches to refer them on to who have more experience and more skills than I have.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Workshop project (4)

So, I'm still building the workstation, which is nearly finished and certainly useable. I actually used the sliding mitre saw to cut the front, back and sides of the drawers I've made.

These are really simple to make. The front and back have rebates for the sides and all four pieces have a rebate for the base. The drawer is assembled with glue and 30mm brads. One of the drawers now has a couple of slots in it so that the two circular saws I have can sit in the tray. The slots are for the blades and guards that protrude from the bottom of the saw. When I mount the drawer runners I'll need to make allowance for both the bits that stick through the bottom of the tray and the height of the tools above the height of the drawer.

I've already fitted one drawer to the cabinet on simple wooden runners, but I trying to work out a better system that allows the drawer to open further to make access easier. I've seen some full extension drawer runners but I need to get some and see how they fit. I may have to rebate the base of the drawer to make room between the cabinet sides and the drawers. It all depends on how wide the runners are.

The sliding top that the mitre saw is fixed to works really well. I installed a simple stop so that it comes forward far enough for the slide to operate fully but it can't slide all the way and drop onto your feet! I also decided to rip down the worktop that was left and use that to bring the outer sections forward. Because I hadn't thought of this sooner I'd already notched the piece that fits around the gas pipe. I'll just have to live with that.

There's still plenty of storage options to exploit, and I might change a few things around. I'm making most of it up as I go!

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Just a series of stills of a serve in motion

The title says it all! We were at Wimbledon yesterday and I was standing by court 11 watching the mixed doubles when I took a quick burst of pictures on my phone of Robert Lindstedt serving.

It's really interesting, to someone who plays tennis like me, to see how the racket head drops and then snaps through the contact point out in front, and how his body weight is moving forward. Some people think the jump is intentional, but hopefully you can see from the pictures that he doesn't jump, it's his upward drive and the action of his racket arm that literally throws him into the air as he goes up and into the ball.

The other thing that was noticeable yesterday was that the players who didn't bend their knees on their ground strokes really do come unstuck on the grass. It was really obvious in the Kygrios/Gasquet match we watched. Kygrios missed a number of shots mainly because he tried to hit a low bouncing ball without bending his knees.

So, the tennis was great, the day was great and I had a great time watching and thinking. I also met up with Ali, a friend of mine with whom I did my coaching qualification. Very encouraging because he's done his level 2 and it didn't sound that hard!