Kuberg Start: update

January 3rd, 2015

So, I picked up the Kuberg start in late November as a Christmas/birthday present for my son who turned 3 a couple days before Christmas.
That means it sat hidden in my house for a month before I was able to let the kids ride it.

Well, now that they are riding it, they are or have become rather intimidated by it. You see, the bike has a potentiometer that allows an adult to set the top speed of the motorcycle, and this feature is one of the key selling points of the bike. This feature rocks, until it doesn’t. The bike that I have is setup or was setup by me for about a 3mph top speed. Reasoning that the kids would not have any WT or WFO moments early on in their biking careers. At least that is the reasoning. It would also allow them time to learn how to back out of the throttle and even use the brakes (handbrakes on the Kuberg -front and rear. The rear is unusable as the pull is extremely difficult, the kids cannot even budge the lever using two hands!). Again, the reasoning is sound, but when you have a faulty component -and I assume it is the potentiometer that I used to adjust the speed, -or it is flaky, it is not such a nice feature.
Imagine riding around at 3 mph for 10-20 minutes, getting confident in accelerating and slowing the bike, steering, etc. When all of the sudden the bike starts accelerating up to 10 or 12 mph. This is not something a 3 year old knows how to handle, and it is something that I would not be able to handle on my full size bikes with far greater power. But for a new rider that is trying to learn the ropes of motorcycling, to have a bike behaving in this manner is best described as scary.

Kuberg US is attempting to resolve the issue, even sending me a new potentiometer from a 2014 model, but the 2014 is not the same as the 2015 and the parts are not interchangeable. This means that there are no parts in the US for the 2015 bikes, and I no longer have a bike that is safe for the kids to ride.
I may return the bike under warranty and purchase an OSET 12.5. I have effectively had this bike for 2 weeks (the Christmas holidays) and not been able to let my kids ride it as originally planned. And the warranty period is about to expire shortly…hmm, what to do???
I will update shortly.

Electric Motorcycle for the kid(s)

November 23rd, 2014

I just took delivery of a Kuberg Start for my son’s 3rd birthday. His birthday is a month away, so it is going to be a long wait for me. I am so tempted to put him on the bike right now…Yes, I am not the most patient person.

We already have a CRF50 for the kids, but at 23″ seat height, it is still a few years off before I see him riding that thing. Never mind some of the other issues that I have had with the bike…especially the fuel delivery. Anyhow, this Kuberg is the second of the “real” electric bikes to come out for little kids. The first is the Oset, and I am actually on a list to get one of those, and in fact I was 90% sure that was the bike I was going to get. I got to reading about the Oset (the 12.5 model) which is basically a miniature trials bike. I saw some videos of 3 year olds learning to ride that bike in grass fields and parks, all without training wheels. They basically did what you do on a balance bike -keep your feet as outriggers and putt around. Something like this is not possible on a gas bike for a number of reasons. First off is that while the CRF50 in particular has a throttle limiter screw, all that really does is take away the ability to open the throttle WFO. Even if you limit throttle to 1/8 turn or even less, all you do is slow down your rate of acceleration. You can still get up to some pretty high speeds, which means they can hit things pretty hard. I totally see this happening with little ones like my son. Tripp is not even 3 years old, and when I let him handle the throttle duties on the CRF50, he goes straight to full turn and does not let off…even with me on the back, we hit more than 10mpg. Second, if he falls on that 50, the thing weighs almost 100lbs. If it traps him, he is stuck until I can get there. If he is not stuck, but the bike is stalled, he is once again stuck until I get there as even most 6 year olds will have trouble starting a 50cc four stroke. Then there is the issue of the pipe…and that thing WILL burn a little one, and it is not a matter of if, but when.
I am sure that there are those thinking that perhaps starting a kid out before he is 3 might be too early, and I agree -unless that kid happens to be hooked on bikes. (I currently have 5 bikes at the house and he is constantly wanting to go for rides, or to work on the bikes with me.) In that case you simply want to make sure that he is as safe as can be, and encourage them. I won’t go into the bonding etc. that takes place, as those who do not ride simply will never understand. Suffice to say that I cannot wait until we go on our first ride together in the trails.

Back to the e-bike. This thing weighs all of 45-50 lbs. I have ridden bicycles that are this heavy. My daughter went with me to collect the bike, and she dropped it in the parking lot (you should have seen the look on her face)!!! I calmly instructed her pick it back up, which was no problem for her (she is only 4 -and a small 4 at that). All afternoon she wanted to take that bike out…she was begging me all afternoon while Tripp was napping. (I was working on the bike, checking nuts and bolts, chain, brakes, etc. Needless to say it is going to be a long month.

Speaking of the kids. I ordered this Kuberg Start 3 weeks ago. A large part of me thought that this would be how I get Tripp, and possibly Madison, to ride a bicycle without training wheels. I had already removed their training wheels, along with the cranks on one of the bikes. This left just one bike with pedals and cranks, the one with the cranks removed to be used as a balance bike, and an actual balance bike that we also happen to have. So last week (Saturday) my kids want to ride bikes, which means my son on the balance bike, and my daughter on her bike without the pedals and cranks. But when we went out, she grabs the only bike with pedals. So we go out, and I hold her while we get to the paved area we will ride on…all the while I cannot help but notice that I am holding her but actually doing nothing. Once we get to the paved street, I basically let go and she is off. 10 minutes later she is trying to skid the rear wheel while braking. We rode that afternoon until dark (about 2 hours).
The next morning sees me getting up and putting her bike back together so that she can pedal around on her own bike -which has the preferred pink paint that is necessary for a 4 year old girl. Once done with her bike, we head back out and this time Tripp (who is over a month away from turning 3) grabs the same bike Madison was on the day before (which is his bike). So I now feel like I am hearding cats, trying to get two kids down the road so that I can try to teach my son how to ride (Madison still cannot start on her own). Long story short, it took all of 30 seconds to get him going without holding him up…he heads down the street and even turns around and comes back!
What does this have to do with the Kuberg? Well I seriously thought that the motorcycle would be the start of one or possibly both riding bicycles without training wheels, and it turns out that now they will already have enough confidence in their balance that the e-bike is likely to actually be “ridden” from day one.

Here are images of the bike without the seat in “trials bike” format along with images of it with a seat mounted for more standard trail bike ergonomics and taller riders…
Seat comparison
With the seat…
With Seat
I included these two images for a couple of reasons. The main reason being that I had a heck of a time finding images of the Start without the seat. All the good pictures show the bike with the optional seat on it, so these are for anyone who might be wondering the same things that I was.
Where the CRF50 has a throttle limiter to control acceleration, as mentioned previously, the bike can still get going a pretty good clip. The e-bike is so much different in that you can adjust the electronics to control the top speed. This bike has basically 5 different speeds, with the lowest being around 2-3mph. This means that even if he happens to target fixate early on, I know that he is not going to hit something at high speed like I fear on the CRF50. Big plus. And it makes NO NOISE. Now I happen to be one of those that likes the sound of a finely tuned motor, and I have bikes to prove it, but I do like the idea of being able to go into stealth mode so that neighbors are not offended, and even the kid is not distracted or intimidated by a motor revving out.

I will update more after the first shakedown, and after I make some adjustments to the driveline to my liking. But so far, I like the value proposition that this bike offers.

Groupon commentary (short rant)

September 7th, 2012

I have used Groupon a few times now, and thus far my experiences are less than stellar.
It is the most recent handling of a purchase that has me riled up. It is not so much that I was unable to get a refund, but that my reasoning was totally ignored as evidenced by their response. I plainly stated that I purchased a groupon that looked like a great idea, only to find that even with the supposed $500 value, the price STILL exceeded standard pricing for equivalent businesses. So calling it a deal is clearly an accurate statement –if you are the vendor in this particular case. Of course, I have not tried to advertise or sell on Groupon so I do not know if they make a good margin, but I have to assume that it is this margin that they are trying to protect in this case, which does not bode well as a business practice and means that I have been “warned”.
This coincided with another issue regarding car detailing, where the detailer could not be found. Apparently, the detailing business had been sold and the new owner must have closed up shop…as the shop location no longer existed and the phone had been turned off. Luckily, and no thanks to Groupon, I had the email address of the original business owner and was able to get a refund. Now, I caught this sorta early, so perhaps Groupon is handling this properly for others that might find the same thing. As such, this is not a Groupon issue either as they cannot be expected to know in advance whether businesses intend on honoring their commitment or not, but only goes to show that the Amazon business model is far preferable to the Groupon model.
I am not sure if businesses will like this or not, but I am seriously considering contacting businesses using Groupon to see if perhaps I can deal directly with them on these deals. With the advantage being twofold, you get to sorta “pre-screen” a business before departing with your money, and the business get the opportunity to keep any fees they might have had to pay out in the first place.
Basically the rest of the message from them was that I could give my Groupon away as a gift…but if the cost including the discount is out of line with normal pricing, then you are simply passing on the burden to someone else (why would they still want to feel obligated to overpay?.

US Open Azarenka-Sharapova (two battles going on)

September 7th, 2012

Let me start off by saying that “These girls can play tennis…”
Now that I got that out of the way, I think you have a safer chance of watching porn at work with the volume on high without anyone taking notice, than watching these two screechers play tennis, with the volume at ANY audible volume. If you even attempt to listen to the commentary, the business complex across the road will surely file a noise complaint against you. And this is on the tiny laptop speakers. I always thought that watching either was bad enough that I had to forego commentary, but both, playing each other? This is simply unacceptable no matter how you look at it. I say this with all sincerity, if I was offered tickets to see these two play each other, or even just play, I would decline. No matter how good the seats. They have taken screaming, which used to be just grunting, to an all new level, and the new rules have not come fast enough…even more concerning is that the ruling only affects new players, so fails to address the real problem which is these two distractions to ladies tennis. I use the term lady as I am not being sexist when I say that when these two are playing, it is no longer ladies tennis, nor even women’s tennis for that matter. No wonder the stands are not filled during their match…I suspect that earplugs are running low, hence many would be spectators find that they must stay away from Arthur Ashe stadium for fear of permanent damage to their hearing, or recurring nightmares, or both. (I swear I can hear the screeching even with the volume on 0).
If I had never seen these women before, I would call them attractive…however, I find them both repulsive, which only speaks to how bad that screaming really is. New York City must be in turmoil right now, and there must be a many noise ordinance that is being violated right now…At the end of this match, we will know who won the tennis battle, but we will not know who won the second battle…as I have yet to see a sound meter on the screaming…

Technology -ATT

April 19th, 2012

I now have the Samsung Galaxy Note and am 95% certain I have the phone of my dreams. I say certain as this thing will mow through a battery at times. This is especially true when travelling for work and using the phone for navigation… I now carry a car charger with me and I have found that depending upon the car charger being used, you can still lose charge, but at a reduced rate when running navigation. Typically I have GPS, Bluetooth and WiFi (I never turn WiFi off) on while in the car, as well as I keep the screen active. If that battery could last me into the second day on a single charge, this would be the ticket. As it is, you cannot really use it on an airplane as the screen consumes so much power that even a short 2-3 hour flight will suck 60-80% of your battery if you choose to play games or watch videos or simply tinker with the phone. BUT! I did just purchase a New Trent Battery pack (5000mAh) on daily steals mobile today, so will be evaluating that shortly to see if it will help with the battery situation on the Note, plus I have a spare battery that came with a dock that I purchased that I keep in my bag as well. I will have to provide reviews on those in the future.

Example of battery usage from Screen

Example of battery usage from Screen

Other than being a great phone for doing just about everything that you can think of, I still have my share of issues with ATT (maybe unreasonably…). I was tempted to leave ATT, but I wanted this phone which is only available on ATT…AND I did not wish to lose my unlimited data plan –whether I use it or not. I have heard that ATT will throttle high users of data, but I have not noticed anything like that, but then I cannot seem to access my data usage from my phone either, so I cannot tell how much data I might be pulling with this phone. I do not imagine that I am using much since I am on WiFi all day long, and even at home. I have noticed that ATT 4GLTE is not nearly as nice as my wife’s Verizon 4G. Hers simply smokes…being much faster than our home WiFi. –she is on a Droid Bionic, which she does not particularly like, preferring the iPhone experience and simplicity instead.

The Tennis Pro and XOG

August 2nd, 2011

At our Gym, (In-Shape Tracy) we have a really nice tennis facility. I have made a lot of friends there, and if I am not at work, or at home, I am at the club hitting balls.
I have also had some reasonable success with XOG underwear at the club as well. I have no issues with giving a way a free pair if someone will at least try them. One person in particular is the tennis pro, AG. AG has become someone that I would call a good friend, and I have never even taken a lesson with him. NOT that I wouldn’t mind you. After playing Tennis for 16 months, it sounds silly to say that I just cannot seem to find the time to schedule a lesson. The wife thinks that I spend far too much time there…and she may have a point. Prior to the baby, I was out there 4-5 times a week. Open nights are Tuesdays and Thursdays, with Saturday mornings having the same format. I hated missing even one of these “social” events. And once I began to meet people, or I guess the right way to word it would be, once my skills advanced enough, I found that I was able to play on other evenings and Sunday mornings. There area few folks that are as caught up with Tennis as I am, and fortunately for me, they are all better than I am. This means that my game started improving even faster.
Anyway, back to AG…I gave him a pair, and I kid you not if AG did not call me that same evening asking for 10 more pair! Since then I pretty much pay him in product for my racket stringing -which he does a great job. (to be continued)

AG has left our club, and with his leaving, so has our contact ended. I cannot seem to get hold of him and I wish he and his family the best.

Politics and new math

August 2nd, 2011

This is a great time to be an American.
Our politicians have created new Math!!!
Where else can somebody increase our spending limits (debt ceiling) by $2.4 Trillion dollars –which at our current rate of spending will last 1 year and 5 months…OK, let’s round it up to 1.5 years. Mind you, this is for NEW spending as there are thus far, no actual cuts to current spending…To make this even easier to understand, that is $141 BILLION (with a “B”) in increased spending PER MONTH!!!
But to offset this, the government promises to reduce spending by $1 Trillion over 10 years. Again, to clarify, that is $1Trillion over 120 months which comes to just under $8.5 BILLION (with a “B”) per month in “reduced” spending. –Again, not a cut, but a “reduction” in spending. For the idiots that voted this admin into office, and for others that simply do not GET it, anytime you hear or read of reductions in spending, understand that this does NOT decrease monies that go to any specific agency, it simply means that future increases are reduced. The increases continue to roll in, just at a smaller growth rate! AMAZING, right?
To summarize, but increasing our spending by $141B per month, our efficient government will reduce spending by $8.5B per month. Also understand that a future Congress is NOT bound by legislation of a previous Congress. Which means if 2012 is carried by the liberals, bet money that spending will go right back up…which may very well happen if carried by Republicans as happened under Bush. Seriously, the only shining light are the extremists as the mainstream media like to call them, that are carrying the TEA party message, but clearly they are in the sights of the media as well as our current socialist administration, and will have serious battles ahead…

ATT and the iPhone

July 25th, 2011

It is amazing how businesses stay in business these days.
Take AT&T for example. Now I am sure that there are many that will take an opposing position to what I have to say here, but that is to be expected. But since it is my blog, I get to say what is on my mind…
Having just moved from the City of Tracy to the City of Pleasanton, I have run into a number of difficulties. I could write pages on the trials and tribulations of a moving a small family to a new town and a home that is one half the size of the previous home, (one that has no garage or storage)…but I will not.
I will talk about AT&T, in particular AT&T cellular service. You see, in my new (old) home I am lucky to get one bar on my iPhone 3GS. My 2 year contract expires in 6 months, and you can pretty much bet that I am switching providers. I have never really liked the locked down nature of the iPhone and certainly have no use for bloatware that is iTunes. But not being able to take or make calls at my house is just too much. But, ATT has a solution. (I am paying for unlimited data and calling, I have a rather large bill every month –but that is to be expected when you need the phone for work.) The solution is what is called a microcell. This is available to subscribers who have AT&T internet at their home, along with an AT&T phone if the coverage at their home renders their phones unusable. The problem is that AT&T used to provide these microcells free of charge –or so I have read, and now they want me to pay $200 for one. Now, here is where I see the logic…they figure if you are committed enough to buy the unit, you will stay with AT&T when your contract expires. What they have not counted on is how pissed off folks will be when they stop to consider what they are being asked…For the record, I have been with AT&T for better than 10 years –all unlimited data and calling plans. So now that I have moved, in order to actually receive what I am already paying for, I am being asked to buy another piece of equipment. I do not know if this is because they do not believe me when I say that I have a paperweight when I am at my home or not, because according to their map I should be in a “good” reception zone.
Regardless of their reasoning, here is what has turned me off of AT&T.
-Their attitude that I can just piss off…for one…in other words, that they do not really care about “me” as a customer. (Maybe because I have been w them for 10 years, they figure that I will not leave?)
-Their attitude towards their supposedly “unlimited” data plan. You see, to me, unlimited data means just that…unlimited. They no longer offer an unlimited data plan for new subscribers, but since I have been paying for unlimited data since the day I got the iPhone, I supposedly get to keep it. But here is the rub…you cannot use your phone as a tethering device. So unlimited data is limited to the iPhone ONLY. Even if tethering means that your laptop or tablet must go through your iPhone, it is not considered valid under their plan. I realize that other providers offer data plans for their cell phones, and that you must purchase a data plan for this, but they do not call their plans unlimited data plans unless they are truly unlimited. If you jailbreak your iPhone, you can get access to using your phone as a tethering device, and even newer iPhones have tethering in the settings menu, but again, a different plan must be purchased to “legally” tether under their plan.
-Poor signals and dropped calls: Everyone who has AT&T and an iPhone knows exactly what I am talking about. If you have an iPhone through AT&T, it is expected that many calls will simply be terminated for no apparent reason. The poor signal issue discussed here is just me at my home, and is so bad that I went and installed Skype, and I even got a Skype phone number so that I can send and receive calls at my house…I was and am not interested in forking over another $20-$30 month for a dedicated line that will rarely be used. –Or “should” rarely be used since we live on our cell phones.
-Poor support: I have not received a voice message indication on my phone in over a month. Now if I miss a call, I have to dial and hold down the “1” button in order to see if I have messages. To further compound the issue, none of these messages have a time stamp with them, so I have no idea when a message may have been left if I haven’t checked messages in a while…Phone support failed to turn up any help, as the problem persists. I have been told that I should stop by an AT&T store to get a new sim card, but just need to find the time.
-In typical iPhone fashion, I cannot upgrade the phone. I cannot install apps because they say that I need a certain version of firmware on my phone, but like I stated, I cannot upgrade my phone, so therefore I must forgo some frequently used applications. Sort of a quandary.

If only the next 6 months fly by quickly. I can live with this for the time being I suppose. I just need to remember to press and hold the #1 in order to see if I have voicemessages…
The new Droid phones are looking really nice. I like the idea of the Bionic, but it is made by Motorola –who have apparently pissed off many Droid fans by locking down their phones, which means that Motorola is off the table for me…not that I plan to root the phone or anything, but if a company is going to mimic Apple, then I will not consider them.
There is the Samsung galaxy S2 that is rumored to be coming stateside –and is likely the one that I will go with. Of course, I will change carriers, so I am hopeful that Verizon is able to pick up this phone as well. If not, there is always the HTC, which I have liked since the EVO…

Which brings up early cancellation fees. I understand that as of today, I would have to pay a $90 fee, and since the phone that I most want is not yet available, there is no need to break my contract just yet. Just my desire to stick it to AT&T in my own small way by switching carriers. Which I guess will have to wait for now.

Anyway, that is all for now. No actual resolution just yet, just venting.

Big Government

July 25th, 2011

Today’s topic: DEBT
Before starting, I would like to offer apologies to anyone that does not like my writing style, or viewpoint. I certainly wish that I knew how to express myself through writing, but that is simply not the case as I was not blessed as a good creative writer…
Politically speaking, we are in for a world of hurt.
We have an administration that is trying to vilify anyone who stands for fiscal responsibility (and succeeding). Now I do not profess to be an economic wonderboy. Far from it. However, what is happening in Washington right now is the equivalent of maxing out your credit card, and then saying that the ONLY way out is to raise the card’s credit limit in exchange for a promise that you will eat out one less night a week and not take a vacation. Of course, this does not mean that you will not continue to spend beyond your means, it just means that you will back off on the specifically mentioned niceties. (But that big screen is still a MUST have…)
The logic is mind blowing to me. It seems to me that politicians ONLY make decisions that will satisfy their constituents –but the good of the country be damned. Now that the majority of the voters out there are voting for their own best interests, and not that of the country that they live in, I do not see how things can possibly turn around. When more and more people vote for entitlements, you will see work quality and output continue to degrade, and even more jobs leave the US (but for different reasons than now). Regardless of what you think the reasons for businesses fleeing the US for overseas manufacturing are, (selfishness, self interest, greed, etc) you have to ask yourselves why would those reasons drive someone away? It used to be said that US wages are too high, but that is only part of the equation in my mind. I work in the high tech industry, which used to be a cash cow. That made these businesses prime targets for government agencies to grab money. They grab them through regulations, standards, fees, etc. In order to build a building these days, you need to have multiples of dozens of agencies sign off…and do not think for a minute that each agency does not have their hands out. Anyway, when any business is making lots of money, they are not looking to move away…quite the opposite, they are naturally going to look at how to continue to make more money. That always involves expanding production, which leads to more jobs. Now if the government sees that a company is doing really well, the government starts to see a source for additional revenue –money that can be used to grow bigger government. Of course, the very nature of government can be best described as inefficiency at work (I use the word “work” loosely). THIS is what drives companies to manufacture elsewhere. If said company wants to expand, you have government officials looking at an opportunity to tax every aspect of an expansion in the interest of increasing revenues…fees are added everywhere. Road fees, even if roads servicing the proposed site already exist, there are always “other roads” in need of repair (that “should have” been repaired using fees previously collected but redirected towards other “pet projects” of the city managers, etcs…Fees for new parks on the other side of town, fees to help complete the rejuvenation the downtown (that should have already been completed if not for “feature creep”), etc. The list goes on. School impact fees, water runoff impact fees, permits for building, electrical, water treatment, police, fire, and a whole host of which did not even exist when the business first started. Ever see buildings sitting that were never even completed? Makes you wonder how many were dropped because new fees were being “invented” that were not considered during the design phase, because they did not exist at that time. You know the fees must be out of control when it is easier to just leave the building partially built, then pick up and move to another state, or country, build and start producing product before the original construction project would have even completed being built.

It is time to stop electing officials that WANT to be elected, and start looking for all new traits in elected officials. How about somebody that wants what is best for AMERICA? Not what is best for their neighborhood. How about someone who has an understanding of fiscal responsibility?

Flex League Tennis

July 30th, 2010

In order to try to improve my tennis game, I joined a men’s singles flex league at the 3.5 level. At the time that I joined, I was a true 3.5, and if I am being honest, I feel that as a singles player I am still at the 3.5 level. However, during the course of the 4.0 men’s league in Tracy that just ended, I had some pretty good results against some solid doubles teams, and I was bumped up. To think that a year ago at this time, I was moving up from a 2.5 rating to 3.0 rating! In November 09, I rated myself up from a 3.0 to a 3.5, and then in July ‘10, the USTA sends me a letter telling me that I am now rated at 4.0. I only wish that my consistency was up to that of a 4.0 player. I digress. So I am playing flex league for the opportunity to improve game in ways that playing doubles cannot. Unfortunately, I am also learning that either I am getting old (fact) or that if you are feeling like you might be on the verge of a physical ailment, playing singles will pretty much ensure that you will have a physical ailment.
Several weeks prior to the start of flex singles, my knee was swelling externally. I would ice it after playing, and even started to wear a neoprene sleeve during play to help press-out or prevent external inflammation. It seemed to be working just fine up until my first singles match. I believe that the cool air combined with my chasing down every shot contributed to my injuring my knee. –I later learned that I have a torn lateral meniscus and will at some point have surgery to fix this.
The doctor that performed my first two knee surgeries suggested that I take some time off from tennis. Of course I didn’t listen, and thought that I would alter my style to sort of meet his request half way. I reduced my play by roughly two nights a week –down to 2-3 times per week. I felt that it was working and even managed to get in a complete singles match the following week, but the week after that I was up 1 set to 0 and leading the second set when my knee told me that it has had enough. I almost could not walk off the court at that point and I offered to concede the match. My opponent said that he did not want the win and that we should finish the match sometime in the future…wow!
So this issue with my knee bummed me out for several reasons. In addition to being damaged goods, the guys on our 4.0 team (well some of them) indicated that they wanted me in the lineup for the playoff match against Escalon. These playoffs determined who would be playing post season, and Escalon was in first place, while Tracy was in second at the end of the season. Escalon is a very solid team, and I would not be surprised if a good portion of their team gets bumped up to 4.5 for next year. They have several guys that are at the level of the Tracy area 4.5s, but I’m not saying this as a complaint, rather as an observation. Anyway, our match was a tight one, and quite contrasting in styles. Our opponents were very steady and consistent, while we were much more dangerous in that we tended to hit more aggressively and powerfully, especially our serves. Their net play was better than ours, and for that the blame falls on me alone. I have been practicing my net play every single chance I get, and while I have made great strides in my net play, I was still the weakest net player on the court that day.
The good news was that I was able to play mostly pain free, and I had actually at one point not played any tennis or hit any balls for as many as 3 weeks leading up to that match. I only started the week prior, and at that, tried to limit my hitting and running. Suffering the most was and is my backhand. That part of the two handed motion where I weight transfer to my right foot and turn (twist) is what is bothering me the most. I have a two handed backhand, and prior to my knee bothering me really felt that my backhand was my more stable shot. That is certainly not the case right now, and I look forward to the day when I can swing out on my backhand without something in the back of my mind playing tricks on me, and causing me to back off. I do not have much power on my backhand, especially compared with my forehand, but I am seriously missing the consistency. –I have even questioned whether or not I should continue to play BH side on the doubles court, but that is my spot, so have been playing there regardless. I have a match this weekend (at home) for the 8.5 combo men’s team, and expect that I will be playing BH again…I only hope that I get the opportunity to hit some balls before then.
I played two flex matches this week, both on Tuesday in order to make up for the 5 weeks that I have pushed off playing singles. My first match was during lunch in Walnut Creek and 15 minutes into the match, I thought I was a goner. My opponent, Chris, is a lefty with decent movement on his serve…just enough movement to keep me from taking the offensive when he was serving, plus my first serve was not on. Playing southpaws is always tough if you do not get to face them on a regular basis. Their spins are always the exact opposite of what you are expecting -or used to seeing, plus if they are smart enough to develop some spin on their serves, it sometimes can take an entire match just to get the hang getting strings to ball on serve receive. In this case, it took me the first set. He cleared me off the court 6-2 in short order. His serves possibly frustrated me into making service errors myself, so I started to back off of my 1st serve, and focused on throwing different spins at him, and it seemed to work. I held all my serves, and he held all his, and I managed to win the tie break at 7-5. Third set was played as a tie break to 10 and I was up 8-2 or 9-2 and managed to win at 11-8. It is scored as a 1-0 third set win, but it was close. And it was not that I felt that I disintegrated when I was up, he just made more shots than me to crawl back into the game. Good match.
Second match of the day was at 6PM in Pleasanton, and I was playing a guy named Danny, and he had me worried. Short court warmup revealed that I did NOT want him coming to the net…he looked so comfortable with volleys, and had great footwork as well. When we backed up for baseline hitting, I was not feeling any better as he had a great swing, on both sides. At that point, I was telling myself to just try to hit smart balls, and run him when possible as I did not see myself beating him in baseline rallies. I also knew that I would need big serves. I managed to win the toss, so I elected to serve and I believe that is what saved me. I was able to throw a lot of different serves at him and possibly spooked him (I don’t know) out of his game. The final score I thought was 6-4, 6-3, but he posted to the website that it was 6-2, 6-2. Regardless, it was NOT a blowout by any means, and I was still trying just as hard when serving for the match -as I did not want him to get on a roll. I could tell that Danny was angry that he lost, and even today, I feel lucky that I came away with two wins that day. We stayed around and hit for another hour, and my initial assessment remains…he is a better player than me. My keys were that I hit short to him, to bring him inside the baseline, and then I would try to hit at his feet to keep him from coming in to the net. He tended to hit deep when hitting from inside the court, which is exactly what I do as well, so I guess that you could say that I played him as if I was playing against myself. It is amazing what the first couple of minutes of a match can do for the outcome. My serve set the rhythm in my favor, and I am glad that he did not try to fight his way to the net. I do not feel that I would have had as much luck if I had to try and pass him…
I will schedule more matches for next week, and will try to catch the Isner-Fish match that I recorded last weekend at some point (meaning the next few nights)…