Category: Sports

Winning men’s singles champion in 2023 Chinese University Alumni of Canada Tennis Tournament

Winning men’s singles champion in 2023 Chinese University Alumni of Canada Tennis Tournament

 

the highlight of my life over the past few years

I am hoping to write two long-form blog posts.  This one will focus on technical analysis of the final game I played in this tournament.  The final score is 8:3.    The next one will cover my overall experience, the stress and expectation, the takeaways, and the broader term implications to my tennis life.

Context

Heading into the final I felt relaxed and recharged, after winning the previous two elimination games with the expectation to win.

The schedule for day 2 (Sunday) was quarter-final at 9:45 am, semi-final at 12:45 pm – both played at 6 game regular set. The final was at 2:45 pm – 8 game pro-set.

My goal was to do better than last year, in which I lost in the quarter-final. Therefore my 1st game in day two was the most important one. I played a bit tight but did make it by 6:3. Next in the semi I needed to play against Shawn, whom I played a practice match against a week prior and I won 6:3. This time I played slightly better and won by 6:2.

Now I am in the final – already surpassed my pre-tournament expectations. My opponent is Ken – the #1 seed.

Before the tournament started, I knew I was ranked #2 seed and wouldn’t play against Ken – the 1st seed who was a runner-up last year and only lost a close match in the final.

Stats

Strength & Weakness

Without watching much of Ken’s prior games, I needed to figure out his style during our game.  He had better movement (He saved this match point by running back from net position to baseline twice), and net touch and athleticism ( It is eye-opening to see him perform a jumping overhead smash as Monfils did 

At the same time, there are two areas that I played conclusively better than Ken in the game.

  • Serve – similar speed, but I had 90% first serve in versus Ken’s 61%)
  • Backhand ( 5 winners w/4 unforced errors(UE) versus his 3 winners v/ 8 UE).

Tactics and in-game adjustment

Start

To my( and my spectators’) surprise, I captured an early lead 4:0 after the first 20 minutes without facing a breakpoint.

Usually I like to use the first 4 games as a tune-up period.  I was totally prepared for a back-and-forth dog fight-style final.  In retrospect, this one-sided result could be attributed to two reasons – on one side, I was playing the best tennis during the whole tournament was I was playing “free” of expectation to win.  On the other side, Ken wasn’t used to my heavy topspin style and made many unforced mistakes.

Mid-turn

After a quick 4-0 lead, my level dropped a bit and Ken held his serve and made it to 1:4.  He was actually already playing a lot better from the previous game on my serve (when I was leading 3:0) .   He seemed to be increasing his net-aggressiveness – hoping to neutralize my baseline advantage.

During the changeover, I told myself I needed to make the adjustment to my game plan. The best way to take away his success of going to the net (and take the momentum back ) is to go to the net more often myself.

Battle on the net

Starting my first point on a 4:1 service game with an opportunity to go the the net, I took advantage of it and executed pretty well with a backhand down the line and a forehand volley winner to finish the point

This point really boosted my confidence.  I took every chance in this game to go to the net, and Ken doesn’t seem to be used to my change of tactics – made a few errors with his passing shot.  I held serve and the score was 5-1.

In the next two games, I rode the momentum with the same approach and took the lead to 7-1.  The last point was the best point I played, summarizing the battle on the net

Closing

“It is not going to be this easy” – I was telling myself during the changeover.  And it was true.   Ken raised his level when his back was against the wall by producing a few breath-taking overheads. At the same time, my level dropped a bit, making a few unforced errors that I wouldn’t make before.  He took the next two games in an easy fashion and took the score to 7:3.   By this time I knew I needed to refocus and raise my level again.  I kept reminding myself that I only needed to win 4 more points.  With a bit of luck, I won the first three points in game 11, holding three match points.

Ken played the best point (in my opinion) on the 1st match point – showcasing his athleticism by running back and forth TWICE

Gladly he can’t repeat this performance over and over – I won my 2nd match point with his overhead error

 

 

2023’s ladder season starts with a L

SwingVision post game stats

It is a bit tough pill to swallow with a lob sided L for the 1st ladder game this season. At the same time it wasn’t a surprise either.

On my own side – I wasn’t in my good form with 5kg overweight. Today also marked my 1st time playing at the Milton club.

My opponent is today is a solid 5.0 player with an aggressive attacking style. He doesn’t seem to have weakness on forehand, backhand or serve.

It is a discouraging but hopefully it is providing extra motivation to get back to my peak form. I don’t have many years left to improve my skills. Losing games like this against players significant older than me was not what I wanted to play.

Losing a semi-final at milton year end tournament 2022

Losing a semi-final at milton year end tournament 2022

 

It is a mixed feeling for me right now.

Losing a close match brought disappointment, particularly for a game I feel I was actually the better player.  But I failed to convert on those points that really matter to the match’s outcome.

At the same time, I am also satisfied and relieved that I don’t need to play the final tomorrow against the same player I lost in the final last year.  After a marathon match(2 hr full), I would appreciate taking tomorrow off and focusing on my family to prepare for Monday’s work.  It would NOT be good if I win today and then retire for tomorrow’s final at 8pm.

Dave did an outstanding job again organizing the whole thing I enjoy the whole tournament at Milton tennis club, and hopefully have another chance later this year.

Let me breakdown today’s game this way

No SwingVision consent today

Definitely a surprise.  I have played against this opponent in a ladder match and he has no issue with it. But today he refused, claiming last time was enough.  I respected his preference, but find it a bit weird because of the inconsistency.  It is 2nd time received a refusal for setting up the equipment.

Line call argument

The first game starts with two controversial calls. At one point I believe he waited until the balls bounced twice, and 2nd point he hit it long so I called out.  He immediately raised his voice and complained.  I ended up giving him the benefit of the doubt on both times.   One of the goals I came in today is to enjoy the game and not get into arguments on line calls.

After that, I gave him all the points on my side and didn’t argue a bit on any points he called out on his side. What upset me is there is one point initially I thought was out so I raised my hand.  However the balls actually bounced in with topspin, so I changed my call and call it in.  He started to taunt me, saying words like “you are going to call it out right?”.  I told him that it was very disrespectful and I choose not to argue with him only because of his age.

Struggle to get back to the game

Maybe because of the incident, I wasn’t playing my best game and quickly I was behind 2:4 and later 3:5. In game 7, I faced multiple game points but ended up breaking him after a 13 min dogfight.  The same goes for game 9, in which I clawed it back and broke him again to make it 4:5

There are still questionable calls during these games, but I chose to give him the benefit of the doubt.  The outcome of these games is barely impacted by these calls.  I also felt relieved about not falling behind by 3 game score.

My main tactics were NOT working at all – his backhand was very solid today, very different from the last time we played in the ladder match.

Took the lead

After failing behind 3:5,  I took the next three games and got my first lead at 6:5.  That is the point I starts to feel I am the better player today :  I am almost 20 years younger, in good physical condition, and we are in the 2nd hour.  On game points, I noticed his main weapon (forehand cross-court attacks) has more and more errors.

We exchanged a few breaks and then I had a critical hold to break the game open at 8:6.  If we are playing an 8 game set, it would be over. Sadly the format of the semi-final is first to 10.

He got frustrated and served two double faults at 6-8.  Now it is 0:30 , 6:8.  I went to court 3 to get those balls, feeling that if I broke him again to make it 6:9, the game would be over.   And I was telling myself – he isn’t quitting – I need to take the game. Sadly – I didn’t execute this plan well.  He ended up using his main weapon again and got two consecutive points to even it to 30:30.   I wish I could go to the net and show my balls !  I didn’t, and the tide turned again.

Losing 4 games in a row and letting the opponent closing out

Even though I was fully prepared for a dogfight with a marathon match, my opponent’s competitiveness and the ability to raise his level & focus impressed me.  My legs are starting to cramp a bit.  How can he sustain this physical challenge?

My mentality wasn’t right, and I ended up paying for it.

We went back and forth on this critical game, but then there is a questionable line call again.  I am 90% sure my forehand lob was in, but he called it out when we are at the 3rd deuce 6:8.   I was a little upset and then quickly made an easy error on his next serve.  In hindsight, I lose this game because of the easy error on the serve, not on the questionable calls. Now it became 7:8.

To this point, I have switched my tactics to start to feed the balls into his forehand, because his backhand was rock solid. I had some success by leading 40:15 again on 7:8.  Again I was playing conservative by generating short balls, and he took advantage of that with another consecutive forehand winner cross court. He ended up even the score at 8-8 after saving 5 game points.

At this point, he has switched tactics by using his forehand to get the angle, then approaching the nets to finish the points. To his credit, he was flawless during those overheads which I found not easy for a relatively short opponent.  He closed the game out over the next two games, in which I didn’t play well at all against his new tactics.  This is the same one Matthew was using against me.

In closing

Losing is a bit painful, but it can motivate me to get better.   I didn’t go to the net at all – after concluding it not effective by watching our last game highlight.  That was definitely a miss.  I had the physical height advantage.

It is still a hell of an experience. I still enjoy it and this is really the beauty of tennis games.

 

The first real ladder game against a 5.0 player

What happens today (fact)

  • This is my third ladder match at Milton tennis club.  My opponent is Andrew.  He ranked two spot(#2) above me(#4). 
  • The weather wasn’t great.  We almost cancelled the match due to the rain earlier. Realizing our upcoming schedule might not fit for another match, both of us made effort to get to the court and finish the ladder match. 
  • The result is one-sided.  I lost by 1:6.   We chose to use the 6-game instead of the 8-game pro set due to the weather delay.  The game only lasted 25 minutes.
  • Total points played: 45.  I won 38% of them (17 of 45).
  • I served quite well today (88% first serve in) and had 5 service winners.  

My hot takes 

  • I lost today because I feel my opponent is the better player
  • I wasn’t able to match my opponent’s intensity & shot speed.  When feel pressured and rushed, my rallies were often short. This gave my opponents too many chances to move forward and attack inside out.  This momentum keeps going and I was in a hole 0-4 very quickly.
  • My word playing at Milton’s Court 1 (showroom court) is 0 for 3 so far.  (lost to Henry, Suriyan, and now Andrew)I should avoid playing at this court for important matches in the future 🙁
  • When holding break points twice, I chose to play defence and let my opponent dictate the points. This works with ppl with/below my level, not today. When losing those two precious games, I lost my momentum and  my confidence

My post-game analysis after watching the video from SwingVision- 

  • I lost today because I chose the wrong tactics – I played too safe and bet my opponents would beat himself with unforced errors.  In my experience, It never worked when playing against opponents with both skills & experience.
  • My defense wasn’t up to my standard.  There are a few times when Andrew started to attack inside-out, and my returning shots were immediately falling short.  That makes me an easy target to get “finished” , and this led to the quick drop of my confidence. 
  • Even though my service was solid, I wasn’t hitting enough on his backhand, particularly for my 2nd serve.  As a result, he can attack my 2nd serve with ease, and got 2 winners out of my first two service games.  That also led to me having doubt of my abilities in the match.

Next steps

  • In order to work on my aggressiveness, the slinger bag I bought a few months ago is suitable to work on “techniques”.  
  • Mental part would be more difficult – essentially how can I feel more “confident” to generate my own pace ?  I guess the only thing I can do is to play against players slightly above my skill level this summer. 

 

 

 

First outdoor game in 2022 season – my tennis journal #1

Finally, I am able to play my first outdoor game, recorded using my newest equipment fence cap (bought on Black Friday 2021). It is a pro-set game with Kevin – my doubles partner from Credit Valley Club Inter-county “B” team. We didn’t play very often recently, as he spent more time on doubles and I focused on singles match plays.

The game was played at Glen Abby community part upon my request. The weather is cloudy with mild wind conditions, 8 degrees celsius in early after. I believe this to be an ideal weather condition for tennis, but Kevin feels it is a bit too cold. He said the balls feel too hard with the cold temperate. My topspin heavy style neutralized the bad weather condition, as I usually don’t need to hit the ball perfectly to generate points.

For the actual scores, I won the 1st set 8:3 by winning the last 4 games straight. The 2nd set was much closer and ended with 1-1 when the times ran out (the total score for the 2nd set was 15-15).

My conditioning is still nowhere close to my peak level. If we have enough time to finish, the 2nd set would be a lot closer. Fatigue seems to impact me much more than Kevin.

What I like about my game today is I was able to hit 2 winners on the forehand cross-court, each with over 85km/h on the line. I don’t usually attack that angle on my previous matches

What is interesting is my backhand slice shots type % – only 28% slices. I used to only use slices on my backhand so this is definitely encouraging to see. It could also indicate Kevin didn’t attack my backhand with deep balls much.

2021 Tennis Journey Recap

2021 is a challenging year for me.  I am quite satisfied with the progress I have made with my tennis journey.  I believe I became a better tennis player overall with the technology I have been using.

If you have arrived here, I hope you are a tennis fan (not just a speculator) like me, who is curious to learn to adopt modern technology to improve and enjoy the game. Here are the three things I am aiming to help you achieve :

  • Get a better understanding of how to get the most value out of SwingVision
  • Learn some new tricks and avoid the pitfall I experienced
  • Be inspired to improve your own tennis

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Tennis score tracking and exported data analysis with Apple Watch using Swing App

Tennis score tracking and exported data analysis with Apple Watch using Swing App

During the winter of 2018-2019, I was able to take my tennis tracking journey into a new level.  By now most of my tennis hitting partners are calling me a “data nerd”, clicking my watch like crazy during the game. But when I show them the stats after the game, they all (seem to be) impressed.

I did the following two new things in particular:

  1. Used the “Point by Point + ” score tracking in the Swing App to track all the points I have played. In total, I tracked 18 matches over the last 4 month, all of them were single matches and played in 1 hour.
  2. Exported the captured data into spreadsheets. By analyzing the data set, I was able to identify some of the limitations, as well as some opportunities to further enhance the analytics experience.

Before we dive in, if you are interested in knowing the tennis tracking tools and methodology, or a high-level overview, you can check my 1st blog post of this series: Tennis tracking after 18 month of usage. Or if you prefer to track drills instead of match, you can check out my last post on advanced tennis shots tracking.

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Tracking tennis swing with Apple Watch (Series 4) and the updated Swing App

Tracking tennis swing with Apple Watch (Series 4) and the updated Swing App

It has been 9 months since I first shared experience to track tennis performance with Apple Watch.   Backing up by popular demand(Surprised so many visitors found this blog from search engine all over the world), I’d like to take it further with a more in-depth review, of my own experience tracking and analyzing my tennis workout with the Swing app.  

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Advanced Analytics with Swimming data from Apple Watch

Advanced Analytics with Swimming data from Apple Watch

This blog post is aiming to provide a step-by-step guide to perform advanced analytics on swimming data, captured by Apple watch.  Microsoft PowerBI and Python on Jupyter Notebook are the primary tools to prepare, analyze and visualize the data.

You will learn how to export the workout data efficiently to your PC, make necessary data transformation, and understand what metrics and dimensions are available.  Then I will walk you thru how to analyze the data to answer typical questions related to why certain behaviors happened.   You will then see my preliminary attempt to use advanced analytics tools to predict future swimming performance.

Most importantly, you will find quite a few reference articles related to this topic, hopefully fulfilling your intellectual curiosity.

It is also the #3 articles of a series, the previous articles can be found here:

#1: How to use Apple Watch to monitor and improve swim performance

#2: Improving swimming performance with Apple Watch(WatchOS 4)

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Tracking tennis using Apple Watch – My own takes after 18 month of usage

Tracking tennis using Apple Watch – My own takes after 18 month of usage

Playing tennis has been a major part of my adult life: It is fun, competitive and a truly global sport. More importantly, it has shaped my character and my social network.  Over the past 18 months, I have been using my Apple Watch to track, and subsequently, to analyze my tennis performance along with swimming    

In this post, we will cover the background, the pros and cons of different apps, and how the additional metrics playing a role in my mindset shift.

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