Archive for October, 2009


Word of the day: NTRP, The National Tennis Rating Program is the widely used tennis rating system to ensure each participant is play at the appropriate level. Even China is importing it.

The NTRP has 10 levels, starting from 1.0 for people who just starting out to learn to play the game, to 5.5 for those who could hit lethal shots in stress situations. 6.0 and 7.0 refer to professional players, such as Roger and Serena.

Amateur ice hockey league has their own raking system for the same purpose.

I started out playing tennis in 1986 and went to USTA got myself rated in 1989. Either I heard it wrong or the rater was blind, I got a 3.0. When we went to Hilton Head (South Carolina) in 1996, I abandoned my family, letting them spent the day on the beach while I sweat out on the court.

HH is one of my two favorite places in the USA, the other is the Berkshires in the Western Massachusetts. When I went to the tennis club to sign up, the coach asked me what level I was at. Hmmmmmmm … let me see: in the intervening years since the rating, I played [forgot how little] and even joined a Lady’s league.

“4.0” I replied without blinking.

Ok, 4.0 it was. Once on court, the balls went back and forth so fast and precisely, and always passed me by – other players were so skilled to keep the ball away from me because they were sicken tired of me hitting it out. After a couple of games, the nice coach pulled me aside,

“Honey, I think you may enjoy more with that group.”

She ushered me out of the 4.0 court. She did not want to traumatize me so didn’t mentioned the rating of the court I was to join: 2.0. I had better time there, in terms of getting a decent play. But still found myself being out-played.

Anyway, the delicate way she sounded and handled it, made me realize just how big a deal the rating is. No big deal indeed. Few years ago, I was still harboring the dream of reaching the elusive 4.0 in my life time. Ha ha ha … never hurt to have a dream.

Last time we were at the Hilton Head, actually every time there I played .. thinking I’ve been actively playing, day and night, plus lessons for all those years, I ought to improve someway? Never won a match at the HH. Ok, Irene, make sure you could manage to retain the 3.0 rating for this life time. Got it? Good.

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CP Badminton

20-24 119th Street
College Point, NY 11356
(347) 368-4124

This badminton spot has been there for a while. It has parking lot next to it.

DSCN2201 DSCN2202

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Who’s your caddy?

You expect Trump to be a cad. Your expect him to have a new woman every weekend. But this is four years now I’ve seen him at fights and Super Bowls and galas with the same woman – the zipper-busting Miss Melania.

Rick Reilly, the then “back page” columnist for Sports Illustrated (who defected to ESPN in 2008), wrote in his 2003 book. This book is fun to read, because I enjoy his style of writing. Out of all the bold names in golf [in this book] I remember the Donald the most.

It is safe to say that people expect the rich and famous have multiple women? Yet when they actually do, especially in America, all hell broke. Who’s more hypocritical here?

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Whitney Pond Park

Lots of work to clean the tennis courts in the fall but the scenes are just marvelous. The County repaved the 4 courts at the Whitney Pond.

March 18, 2011


Oct 21, 2009

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Deion Sanders’ fat pink tie

Deion SandersI caught a late Sunday night ESPN football recap, three-some talking heads with Deion Sanders sitting pretty in the middle. He’s one of my favored players who played mainly cornerback but also some wide receiver – most NFL plays play just one position. He played for New York Yankees too, that’s right, baseball. One thing I found bit tacky was he played for a few teams:

Atlanta Falcons (1989-1993)
San Francisco 49ers (1994)
Dallas Cowboys (1995-1999)
Washington Redskins (2000)
Baltimore Ravens (2004-2005)

Five NFL teams in total. Lord. That’s a lot.
Sanders in Cowboys uniformI always like Cowboys, especially their uniform, the hue is just very sleek. The New York Giants’ are nice but not striking, the bold blue which doesn’t exactly a fitting for New York.

Any way, back to his fat pink tie last Sunday night.
Mr. Sanders looks the same, sitting pretty in the middle with dark crispy tailored suit.
Talking smartly.
Then there was his tie.
A baby pink.
The color was ok so was the size.
But when the two appeared hand in hand, it looked just so unsophisticated.
Totally uncool.
What did Mary Joe Fernandez say on Safina’s outfit?
It has to go.

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The workout

bikeWaking up in the morning.
The out door pool was close.
My family was still sound at sleep.
I have put in appearance at the churches.
.. what else could I do?
I decided to venture to the gym.
The fitness center’s next to the pool, equipped with Life Fitness machines and dumbbells – the lightest were 5 lb. Guess I could only use the stationary bike. There were two, they looked sleek and user friendly, with touch-screen that links to iPod, TV with work-out programs (different terrains and lengths) .. the work-out results can be downloaded to USB, curve seat with back, the side bars measures your heart rate .. wow it’s pretty cool.
My 刘姥姥初进大观园 moment came not at the features but at the price:
Wow .. since when the stationary bike warrens this much?
Well, obviously I don’t workout and knew nothing about it.
I bought Wii Fit when it was very difficult to get – stores sold out the moment it got. And I used total once. Yes, once only. Why did I but it? I had no idea other than one of my tennis buddies said a lot of nice things about it 🙂
impulse purchasing or impulse buy.

on Sunday:
first 5K at level 3: that burned 78 calories, in 14:13 minutes, heart
rate was 116??
2nd 5K at level 9:
at 1K: 3:14, 22 cal ??
at 1M: 3:40, 27
at 2K: 6:11, 45, 126 heart rate
at 3K: 9:00, 67, 126
at 4K: 11:50, 89, 135
at 5K: 14:10, 112, 151

Cool down .. the summary for the second 5K:
Time: 18:36 minutes
Calories: 125
Distance: 3.48 miles
Dis climbed: 1,435 feet
Avg speed: 11.25 MPH
Avg pace: 5:20/miles
Avg heart rate: 124

On Monday:

Cool down .. the summary for the first 5K:
Time: 15:37 minutes
Calories: 114
Distance: 3.23 miles
Dis climbed: 1,336 feet
Avg speed: 12.43 MPH
Avg pace: 4:49/miles
Avg heart rate: 128

Cool down .. the summary for the second 5K:
Time: 15:09 minutes
Calories: 114
Distance: 3.30 miles
Dis climbed: 1,334 feet
Avg speed: 13.07 MPH
Avg pace: 4:35/miles
Avg heart rate: 131

That sounds anal, I know :). I just never know what a calorie is, other than I need about 2,000 of them each day to get me going.

As for workout, although I think it’s sissy, but it had earned my respect: Soon after giving birth to King, I had nothing to do at home for the first two weeks, other than reading (I never took care of my kids or it was secondary ..). Chinese considers it’s 坐月子 zuo yurzi confinement in childbirth. I should lay in bed for a month. One late morning I turned on TV and saw the wide range of workout programs. So, I followed Denise Austin’s.
One two three four ..
Two tow three four ..
Lordy, I was so happy that the commercial break came, because I was panting like a cow, for 15 minutes of girly thing. Guess I’m a crummy sissy – ranked lower than sissy :).

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Men are from Venus too

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus is John Gray’s book on the differences between men and women, as vast as if they might have come from different planets.

An example of the theories it offers is that women complain about problems because they want their problems to be acknowledged, while men complain about problems because they are asking for solutions.

In my limited experience that isn’t scientifically proven women like to talk and gossip (that’s how they bond .. remember I’m the third sex) while men tend to be problem solvers who bond through actions. When I see males that act like sissies I jab at them for being from Venus too.
USTA section mapThis map shows there are 17 sectional teams competing for the national amateur tennis title.

The USTA’s separation of the 52 states is determined by the concentration of registered players as well as geographic constraints (Alaska and Puerto Rico have their on section) The Mid-west and Mountain States have large areas because of the fewer number of players, unfortunately this results in plenty of multi-state travelling for district and regional playoffs.

Geographically speaking, few eastern states like New York covers smaller area than the southern states like the Carolinas with few tennis Meccas like Hilton Head. I would think the road to win that section has to be tough.

The very close knit Long Island mens’ 4.0 team has just won at Las Vegas this past weekend – congratulations!! Andre Agassi showed up unannounced as the minor leaguers were battling one another.

Since winning the Mens 3.5 USTA League’s Eastern Section Championship in Syracuse this past August, the CatsNY 纽约华网 New York Chinese tennis team has been busily preparing their up coming battle, The Adult National Championship on October 16 -18, 2009 at the Randolph Tennis Center in Tucson, Arizona – the ultimate holy grail for weekend hackers. The brutal fact that many teams/captains played for 20+ years have never once reached this far, has made this 3.5 mens team who’s on their virgin quest more exciting and inspiring, although many players have been long time friends.

The team was initially patched up by Charlie Zhang whose tennis career is shorter than many players on his team. As the season progressed his captaining style was being questioned (scouting out opposing teams and pairing your own players, etc.) and many troopers found him to be aloof hence new captain (or captains) was/were added .. that eventually resulted in a 5-person leader group, in lieu of lone captain. The leader group would confer and decide who pair whom and who’s to play. I attended their Metro win at National Tennis Center, and went to Syracuse to cheer them on as a groupy. So I was privy to the preparation leading up to the sectional win and the beginning of the up coming trip to Tucson.

Unlike many other teams they courted media coverage and sought sponsors, and they complained and bickered which I considered its women specialty. Many wanted a piece of the pie, it feels like 无头蝇 headless flies heading all directions. Immediately after the Syracuse win, few committees were born to handle fund raising (which I was assigned to but did nothing b/c the chairperson never initiated or reached out .. to me at least), logistic, media coverage, coaching, etc. Each committee has a chairperson with few helpers. Granted they are all newbies in term of making it to the Nationals. But it shouldn’t be. It’s just a game, should be fun foremost. Secondly, making a trip shouldn’t be that difficult – with a committed team. I suggested a forum for communications and to sign up for the trip. The up side of it I saw’s to reduce the jam in the income eamil box, and let everyone know where others stand – go or no go, when to go, etc. The down side of it, of course is losing the control (of what?). In the beginning when I asked the person in charge
“Who are going?” (I wanted to see if I could get a baifen card game going .. no one can change Irene, a born addict to the game), I was told

Andy said not to talk about the trip

Mrs. Captain called me asking if I had purchased ticket [to go]. There are few scheduled flights from New York to Tucson/Phoenix, with the cocktail party (on Thursday) and match schedules are in place (Fri – Sun). I thought it was a straightforward planning: mapping out couple of departure dates/times/car rentals (not everyone could arrive early) in the forum and let players find their own travel buddies at their conveniences. Simple enough? It shouldn’t be an all out operation like sending a platoon to Iraq, unless the lucky few have too much time on their hands – 英雄无用武之地 no scope to exercise one’s abilities.

To practice for the tourney in Tucson, the team enlists Barry the coach on weekends. However, Xue HU (Steve), the first singles player suggested that the teammates should participate in as many tourneys as possible during this period. It was him who played/won at the Tatang’s Memorial Cup 2009 the weekend prior that got me to play the following weekend. None of them showed up at this but few did participate the Labor Day tourney. Steve won that one too.

At the beginning of September Emily called me to say that they weren’t sure if they would go to Tucson and Andy knew about their indecision. The reason was more on the fact Steve did not feel the teammates were doing the right preparation, etc. That’s the draft I got from her.

Failing to see/predict the 2008 stock market crash, Steve came out of two-year long retirement, working as an IT consultant now. He claimed that he had a slow summer in term of finding work assignment; since March 09, he entered 4 tournaments at 4.0 or 4.5 level and won all of them – each with nice trophy, US Open tickets or Prize Money. (His 4.0 USTA league record is 2-2.) He apparently got more personal satisfaction out those. In one of his e-mails to his teammates

I was happy to see my effort to make you all so happy and excited. 3.5 matches are not that challenging for me technically, .. .. I got the joy out of 3.5 plays from seeing my teammates/friends happy.

He’s type of guy who would diligently do his homework and works hard at what he does – it pays off: in his first year playing at USTA, he claimed that he jumped from 3.5 to 4.5 and said he won 80% in tournament matches against 4.5 players. He’s the only player who would do conditioning after playing among us when I hardly do warm up (shouldn’t be whining about my injury).

Few players on the team were passionate that even bewildered their wives (who are decent tennis devotees too) who believed this 3.5 National Championship is “once in a life time opportunity” when Steve considered it only “for a 55 year-old player after playing 10+ years”.

“I couldn’t understand their urgency and devotion .. .. ” one wife shocked her head in disbelieve.
“It’s like they’re having mid age crisis .. has to be this year .. has to be this year .. .. And having him [her hubby’s 4.0] to play .. just not right .. ” Although it’s not good sportsmanship (4.0 plays for a 3.5 team) but nevertheless, she said few teams do it too, until they get caught.

There are probably two motivations for a player when s/he decided on a team: to get on a strong winning team aiming at the National or just to have fun and meet other players. One seasoned captain commented that quite often the two do not go hand in hand. If looking for a strong team you have to realize that unless you’re one of the starters, you could get very limited playing time because captains place a priority on winning.

Another wife was upset because during the press conference after the Syracuse they cited the wins and loses stats.

“They shouldn’t have counted the loss that they asked my husband to lose [to avoid being disqualified].”

Ok, we all play to win and few on the team wanted to win badly but the question is, does it feel good and proud to take home the trophy with the hired guns – the 4.0+ players?

Steve said he agreed to join the team was out of his friendship with one of the captains. Now as his work assignment mounting, and the fact 3.5 grade isn’t really providing him competition hence he was iffy on committing himself to the National while the team pressed hard for a Yes or No pronto.

Many teammates who contribute a lot to the team felt being jerked around, for too long.

Was Steve the only one to blame? Hmmmm .. If the captains didn’t give him the tacit permission, told him early on that you have to commit, there shouldn’t be any heartburn later on. 委曲求全 stoop to compromise is not an effective way in managing a team – there are other players to consider as well. Steve is who he is, he was given the latitude and he acted on it fully.

A heated e-mail exchange ensured. After being reminded that in spite he had played for Manhattan 4.0 team this year and beaten everyone that came in his way. However, they, the 4.0 team did not make it out of Manhattan. In essence, each match (2 singles and 3 doubles) will enhance the chance of winning by 1/5 percentage – you still need your teammates to pull through other 4/5, for you. At this pungent moment Steve pointblankly demanded to know

What do you think if I did not play? Do you honestly think you will have this opportunity to play National Championship?

I actually had this debate with one of the players. Statistically the 3.5 team didn’t need Steve’s win: they were 5:0 at Metro and 4:1 at Section when all they needed was 3 wins out of 5 played matches. But mentally, without him being on the team that guarantees a win, no one knows how much that assurance had motivated everyone on the team. I knew I play far better with a stronger partner.

Steve quickly made his decision afterward that he’ll skip the National, citing Ken Zhang, whose name the team is under, has improved his singles game dramatically,

he [Ken] can play singles, and others will have more opportunities to play doubles, less fighting. Perfect!

Can the real captain stand up, please?

I never wanted to get close to the power base, b/c tennis to me is just a game, at end of the day, I have a family to be with. I don’t have time for nonsense or trivial tasks. No one has the right to judge how others live, singleton or divorced .. .. but it seems to me those people might have more time on hand to stir up a lot of trivia strife.

One of the consiglieres had invited me in May to be its secretary, unsolicited. I accepted – we just came back together from a trip to Nicaragua. Upon close inspection, CatsNY Chinese American tennis society of New York is ran bit like a private club veering away from their own mission statement.

In any case, the team is in unity and ready to roll.

Thanks to Jonathan’s effort, our uniform been produced amid China 10days national holiday.

My shanghai office couriered the package to my HK office last night for Friday delivery in HK. .. will airfreight uniform to NY on Sunday. If all goes as planned, I can have uniform ready for you Monday night.

Just in time for their trip, never mind the mileage the T-shirts have clocked in. It just got me thinking that perhaps most of my cloths have traveled longer than I do in a year 🙂 They’re resourceful and committed: One of my buddies who made to the Nationals too, Senior / 3.5 / F at Indian Wells in CA this October. But her team could not field enough people and thyey had to give it up to the second place team which is LI. What a bummer!!!!! So .. .. .. the 3.5 men, good luck and bring home the trophies!

Mr. Gray did say that his “Martians” and “Venusians” are only stereotypes and cannot be applied blindly to individuals.
Which is, thank lord, true.

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How much do you love the game?

ouchThought I should keep a log on what’s happening to my tennis buddies. It’s two years ago that I ran into him in the hospital. This time he’s all neatly wrapped up.
“What’s happened?”
“.. while playing ping pong ..” He insisted.
With one working leg, he still has to come to the court, be near the action, at Crocheron Park.
I handed him my racket, he held it for a moment then gave it back to me.
“Good it’s getting cold ..” I tried to comfort him.
Bet he’ll be running around on the court in no time.
Have I told you we’re all nuts?

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She’s heading toward another divorce

After only 15 months of marriage, former tennis pro Chris Evert and golf star Greg Norman have separated.

The sudden split has people speculating that Norman’s children may have put a wedge in the relationship and are partly to blame, reports the “Daily Mail.” According to Norman’s ex-wife, Laura Andrassy, 26-year-old Morgan and 23-year-old Greg “did not like Evert at all.”

Hmmmmm .. who are the adults here and who’s marriage it’s?

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Let’s play at Grand Central

031909courts.jpgCourtesy MAS
~ . ~

A long time ago I played at the Grand Central tennis, a capacious old attic on the third floor of Grand Central Terminal, located directly above Vanderbilt Hall. The courts were ok, not as comfortable as the newly renovated courts at USTA – given what it charged, $170 or so per hour. The lady’s locker room was down the narrow and raw hallway to right at the end, a little eerie. Metro-North administrators have decided to replace the courts with a rest area for conductors and train engineers.

Donald Trump had been leasing the courts for just $4 a square foot, while the average rent in the landmark terminal for restaurants and other retail shops is $99 a square foot.

Oh well .. it’s sad.

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