News from World TeamTennis - - June 30, 2006
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WTT Pro League season kicks off on July 6
Sampras debut highlights summer action
Pete celebrate

When the fortnight of tennis across the pond begins to wind down, this summer's World TeamTennis action will just be gearing up. July 6 is opening day for 10 of the 12 teams in the WTT Pro League presented by Advanta. The 2006 season not only features some of the biggest names in tennis but also the return of the multi-colored courts used by the League in the 1970s.

Pete Sampras' WTT debut on July 10 in Newport Beach will certainly draw interest. The 14-time Grand Slam Champion returns to professional tennis for the first time since 2002 to lead the Breakers in seven of their 14 WTT matches.

The attention of tennis fans will swing from Wimbledon to Wilmington when Anna Kournikova returns for her 4th season on July 6 with a visit to Delaware. Kournikova will play five matches for the Sacramento Capitals including stops in Boston, New York (Sportimes), St. Louis and Sacramento.

Anastasia Myskina returns to the League, making her her home debut in Springfield on July 10 against the Hartford FoxForce. Myskina will play four matches for the Lasers.

Other top names suiting up for WTT this summer include Venus Williams, Mike & Bob Bryan, John McEnroe, Martina Hingis, Martina Navratilova, Todd Martin, Nicole Vaidisova and Mardy Fish. For a full lineup of WTT players and matches, visit www.WTT.com.

WTT matches to air on OLN and The Tennis Channel

Watch WTT Pro League action this summer on OLN and The Tennis Channel

OLN Matches
July 16 – 11:30 a.m. Eastern -- Newport Beach (Sampras) at Sacramento
July 23 – 12 Noon Eastern – Boston (Martin) at New York Sportimes (Hingis)
July 29 – 4 p.m. Eastern – Philadelphia (V. Williams) at Houston
July 30 – 4 p.m. Eastern – Newport Beach (Sampras) at Houston
August 6 – 3 p.m. Eastern – WTT Finals (Championship Match)

The Tennis Channel (all matches air at 8 p.m. Eastern)
July 18 – New York at Boston (Navratilova)
July 25 – Springfield at Sacramento (Kournikova)
Aug. 1 – Newport Beach (Sampras) at Houston

WTT Rec League action heats up this summer
rec woman celebrate updated

July will be a busy month for the WTT Recreational League with national qualifiers scheduled in St. Louis and Schenectady, N.Y. More than 250 players from seven states are expected to meet in St. Louis, July 14-16, where Rec League champions will be decided in seven divisions. Registration deadline for St. Louis is June 30.

As an added bonus to signing up for the St. Louis qualifier each player participating will receive a ticket to the WTT Pro League match on July 15 between the St. Louis Aces and the Houston Wranglers.

One week later, WTT Rec League action moves to upstate New York when teams face off July 21-23 for titles in six divisions. Teams have until July 7 to register for the Schenectady event. Participants also get tickets to the New York Buzz match against the Houston Wranglers on July 21.

The final two National Qualifiers of the 2006 season are set for Atlanta (Aug. 25-27) and Irvine, Calif. (Sept. 29-Oct. 1). Winners in each division at all WTT National Qualifying events advance to the WTT Nationals, Nov. 2-5 in Indian Wells, Calif.

Tennis Tips from Wilson
Taking the Sting out of your Performance Anxiety
Wilson updated

by Jeff Greenwald, M.A., MFT

How many among us choose to back off the ball, play it safe, hope to get a win through our opponents errors, or watch our well-crafted lead slip away into oblivion? If you've competed long enough in any sport, you know the feeling--and it can come in an instant. You approach the line, ready to close out the set or score the winning goal and your arms and legs lock up, butterflies begin swarming in your stomach--even if for just a brief moment--you take your foot off the gas and watch your game deteriorate. This shift can range from dramatic to subtle, but regardless of the degree to which we succumb to the anxiety "beast", it is often deadly, particularly when we are playing players of equal or greater ability. There is usually very little room for tentative play as your game improves and the competition gets stiffer.

There are two central problems with this tentative approach in competition, beyond the sheer misery of knowing that you can play better--perhaps a lot better. First, you get away with this conservative style sometimes so when faced with the choice of playing aggressively again you choose to revert to a style of play that appears less risky in the moment-- hitting the ball short, not finishing your swing completely to just keep it in. After all, with the nervous energy pulsating through your body, swinging normally (like you would when you feel "good") going for your shots seems almost reckless. Naturally, since you have been reinforced with a few wins playing conservatively, it still seems like a reasonable reaction under the circumstances. Let's rethink this idea.

The second problem is that by continuing to choose the more tentative path in the face of your anxiety, you actually reinforce your initial fears--that you will probably miss if you really attack the ball feeling like this, or that you simply don't play well when you are tight. I get it. But how long will the nerves last if you don't give into them in the same way? What if you chose to play your game regardless of how you feel in the moment or what you believe is on the line? What could happen to your game in the long-run?

While relaxation exercises can be enormously beneficial to counter physical tension, exposing yourself to your fears and training yourself to respond differently while tolerating the anxiety can be a breakthrough experience for you as an athlete.

Here are some suggestions on how to train yourself to play freely while feeling anxious:

1. Put yourself in pressure situations as often as possible. Of course, exactly recreating the pressure of tournament play is difficult, but you'll want to try and add some tension so you can desensitize yourself to your most challenging situations. Ideas: Set up matches and have people come watch as you try to close out a lead, put something on the line to incentivize yourself, video tape a match or set, do drills that make you start over when you are exhausted, play tiebreakers.

2.Imagine people watching you play. Picture them on the sidelines. Picture youself in the stadium court at your club or favorite tournament on specific points. Add pressure. Add drama anyway possible to raise the stakes and your anxiety level.

3. Then, play aggressively and confidently regardless of your physical tension. Go for your shots with intention that are within your skill-set. This is not a license to play carelessly. You want to play with intention despite any anxiety. Be decisive.

Of course, tournament play will be your greatest teacher. Challenge yourself to play freely with a clear purpose in mind when anxiety strikes. Not backing down and playing safely is critical to becoming a "pressure player." I hope this article helps you tackle the "anxiety beast" that thrusts its claws into you on occasion. Let this be the start of a new relationship with your anxiety. Winning this tug of war is a gradual process, but by asserting your intention as the pressure mounts, you will put your self on the other side of this universal challenge--playing freely when it counts.

Jeff Greenwald, M.A., MFT, is a nationally recognized sports psychology consultant and was ITF’s #1 world-ranked 35 singles player in 2002 and #1 in the U.S in singles and doubles. Jeff is the author of Fearless Tennis, a double-CD audio program, called a “breakthrough” in the field of mental training. To purchase visit www.mentaledge.net. Jeff works with athletes in all sports and is a Wilson WTeam member. You can email Jeff with questions at jeff@mentaledge.net.

WTT.com to feature live scoring for WTT Pro League matches
web screenshot

If you can't make it out to every WTT match this summer, you can still keep up with your favorite teams and players. WTT.com will feature live scoring from all WTT Pro League matches. This season umpires will keep score with handheld computers tied into onsite electronic scoreboards as well as WTT.com.

Show-Me state showdown set for three WTT teams
Missouri teams logo

The battle lines have been drawn – who is the best WTT team in Missouri? The trifecta of Show-Me state teams - St. Louis Aces, Springfield Lasers and Kansas City Explorers – will decide that during the WTT regular season, July 6-26. While all three teams certainly start the season with the WTT Championship in their sights, one eye may just be on the “Show-Me Cup”. USTA Missouri Valley will present the inaugural “Show-Me Cup” to the Missouri WTT franchise with the best record this summer. Follow the fight for state bragging rights at www.missourivalley.usta.com.

Bollettieri website now online

It's here. The long awaited official website of legendary coach, Nick Bollettieri, is up and running. Tennis fans can visit www.nickbollett ieri.com to get tennis tips, news, predictions along with a list of the best "Nick-isms".

Girl with racquet

Advanta's "Ready, Set, Racquet!" program returns in 2006. Kids age 16 & under will get a free racquet at all WTT matches this summer.

All photos: Fred & Susan Mullane / Camerawork USA

WTT ticket discounts

All 12 WTT teams offer discounts to WTT and USTA members. Check with your favorite teams for special event nights and ticket discounts.

FREE WTT TICKETS! . . . WTT members can receive a free ticket to a Pro League match on special WTT nights this summer. Check your email the week of July 3 for more details. WTT nights are:
Hartford - July 6
Houston - July 6
Springfield - July 6
Philadelphia - July 7
New York Sportimes - July 8
Schenectady - July 9
Kansas City - July 10
Delaware - July 13
Newport Beach - July 15
Sacramento - July 22
St. Louis - July 26
Boston - TBD

Coming up:

PETE & RE-PETE: Pete Sampras makes the first of seven WTT appearances on July 10 in Newport Beach, Calif.

WTT Recreational League
WTT National Qualifying events
St. Louis (July 14-16)
Schenectady, N.Y. (July 21-23)
Atlanta (August 25-27)
Irvine, Calif. (September 29-October 1)

WTT Rec League National Finals:
November 2-5 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, Calif.

WTT Pro League:
July 6-26

WTT Pro League Finals:
July 28-30 - Newport Beach, Calif.

Next: WTT Pro League season starts July 6