The Queue

For most people getting tickets to Wimbledon, it turns into an overnight outdoors adventure.

Ticket demand for the match between British club pro Marcus Willis vs. Roger Federer was very high yesterday but it wasn’t impossible to see the spectacle live.

Wimbledon remains one of the very few major UK sporting events where you can still buy premium tickets on the day of play. There is one Queue for the on-day sale of tickets. Payment is by cash only. A limited number of tickets are available daily for Centre Court, No.1 Court and No.2 Court, except for the last four days on Centre Court, when all are sold in advance. In addition, several thousand Grounds Passes are available each day.

To get their spot in the Queue people camp out overnight on a field at Wimbledon Park, just a few hundred yards from where I play tennis with my IBM and ESPN friends. Early in the morning, about 6:00 a.m., anyone in The Queue will be woken by the Stewards (volunteers), asked to dismantle their camping equipment and get ready to stand in line. At about 7:30 a.m. volunteers issue wristbands to those towards the front of The Queue who want tickets for the Show Courts. The number of wristbands issued exactly matches the quantity of tickets available for each court on that day. After play, people must return to pick up their camping gear and maybe get in line for the next day.
IMG_1738

IMG_1735

IMG_1736

Dominique Levin
USPTA Tennis Professional

Bruising of the Courts

Just a couple courts away from where Roland Garros Champion Garbine Muguruza and future super star Dominic Thiem played practice matches, members of the All England Lawn Tennis  & Croquet Club competed on the show courts today in what is part of an annual tradition, the “Bruising of the Courts.”

Normally members aren’t allowed to play on show courts but today was special.

Two days before the start of the Championships a few select members played a set of mixed doubles in sunny, ideal match conditions – with chair umpire, ball kids and the official line review system, Hawkeye, in place. The Club does this to make sure every human and every piece of technology, including the LED scoreboards, function properly before the Championships commence on Monday.

IMG_1690

Muguruza and Thiem also did some testing. The Spanish No.2 seed hit with Julia Goerges to prepare for her first round match against Italian Camila Giorgi.

Thiem, seeded No.8, practiced with Gilles Simon to get ready for German veteran Florian Mayer who recently beat him on grass in the semifinal of Halle.

Have a look at the pictures of Muguruza and Thiem:IMG_1706
IMG_1703

If you compare their service motions (both are in the trophy position) you’ll notice that Thiem has his tossing arm almost 90 degrees higher.

Muguruza has the tendency to drop her tossing arm too soon. Also her wrist could be more relaxed for better racquet head acceleration.

Let’s hope she fine tunes the little things this weekend. She needs plenty of confidence to be able to win her second major.

Dominique Levin
USPTA Tennis Professional

Signal on Return

Every time I watch a professional doubles match I pick up little things and try to add them to my “inventory”. Here the German team of Dustin Brown (remember, he beat Rafa Nadal at Wimbledon once) and Jan-Lennard Struff are taking on the Indian combo of Purav Raja and Divij Sharan.

When you watch this video, look for these things.

1) How close the server’s partner stands at the net.

2) How he hops forward and pinches the middle after his partner hits (and misses) the serve to take over the middle.

3) How the returner’s partner (at service line) signals his parter to go down the line

4) How he then crosses over after the return is hit because he anticipates a short ball coming back from the other side

By the way, the Germans won 8-6 in the third set. Easy, right? This much work for a first round qualifying match.

That shows how dense the field is.

Dominique Levin
USPTA Tennis Professional

A Hidden Gem

The Wimbledon Qualifying tournament is like an unpretentious restaurant with fantastic service and really good food. Nobody talks about it and they don’t advertise, but people show up in droves! It’s a hidden gem for any tennis fan eager to catch great competition for an unbelievable price. FREE!

IMG_1603IMG_1605The level of play is comparable to first week tennis at the Championships, the competition is fierce. This morning, two Americans battled each other in the first round. Bjorn Fratangelo prevailed over Ryan Harrison, 6-4, 7-5.

Harrison argued with the chair umpire over a racket abuse code violation he received near the end of the first set. His point was he didn’t put divots or holes in the court when he threw his raquet. The umpire countered he had given Harrison a soft warning at the beginning of the match so he had to follow suit when he made the call. Harrison kept arguing and proceeded to lose the set.

Players primarily stay at the baseline here but often use slices on approach shots because they stay so low on the grass. Serve and volley is a somewhat popular tactic but much less than in the 70s and 80s. That is because the players are more athletic, raquet and string technology has improved and passing shots have become easier to pull off.

Dominique Levin
USPTA Tennis Professional

Arrived at SW 19!

Hello everyone!

My journey to Wimbledon as an IBM statistician and TV graphics operator has begun!

We had a very smooth flight through Atlanta to London and took a cab from Heathrow airport to our rental house in Southfields on Revelstoke, just down the road from my favorite coffee shop, Coffee and Chocolate.

IMG_1595

The owner loved seeing me back because he knows I’ll be coming in every day for an iced mocha. Usually his wife is in the shop too but she was working on the last rounds of Wimbledon chocolates which are always a hot item during the Championships.

The owner is an investment banker turned chocolatier. He decided to turn his old Head Prestige tennis racket into a chocolate sensation. Of course I had to pick it up because it combines my two favorite things in the world, chocolate and tennis.

IMG_1594

IMG_1593

My first day of work as a statistician starts tomorrow for Round 1 of Qualifying at the Bank of England Grounds in Roehampton. I can’t really call it “work” because I get paid to sit court side and watch word class tennis while analyzing the match and entering data into a computer, which then gets distributed to journalists, players, coaches and of course the Internet. Some may call it a dream job but in my opinion, the combination of coaching at Bonita Bay Club and working at Grand Slams is what truly defines a dream job.

Stay tuned for more updates in the days to come! Here’s a few facts about the Qualifying tournament:

2016 qualifying takes place from June 20 to June 23 at the Bank of England Sports Grounds in Roehampton.

What is it?

Qualifiers are the winners of the qualifying competitions staged at the Bank of England Sports Ground at Roehampton the week before The Championships. Players entering the singles events must play three rounds on grass.

Unlike The Championships, there is no single ‘winner’ of Qualifying, instead the players who win all three rounds – 16 in the Gentlemen’s Singles and 12 in the Ladies’ Singles – will progress, along with four pairs in each of the Ladies’ and Men’s Doubles events.

Dominique Levin
USPTA Tennis Professional