Category Archives: Media

Sky Sports tennis coverage – brilliant

On my Facebook information page I have listed ‘tennis on sky sports’ as one of my favourite TV shows.

At university my house mates and I often found ourselves glued to the tv screen watching an epic ATP tour match.

We were very much involved in the tennis gambling scene and there were some very entertaining moments when bets were going well or badly.

For instance I particularly remember when fellow Tennis Centre writer Andrew Johnson lumped £50 on Rafael Nadal when he was a set down to David Nalbandian.

I however had identified this match as a potential banana skin for Nadal and had backed Nalbandian at a massive starting price of 7/1.

Nadal was simply awful throughtout the contest and Andrew was furious with the Spaniard’s lackluster performance.

Items went flying around the room as he shouted at the TV that he would never bet on tennis again while I performed a ‘slide on knees’ celebration across the wooden flooring as the Argentine cruised to a 61 62 victory.

Although we have had many disagreements about who is going to win a match we both agree on one thing; the Sky Sports studio and commentary team are first class.

Presenter Marcus Buckland along with Mark Petchey, Barry Cowan, Barry Millns and Leif Sharas always provide lively commentary and insight with their tongue in cheek humour often making me chuckle.

Mark Petchey in particular is a truely gifted commentator who makes it look easy when it’s not. 

One of my favourite quotes during commentary is Petchey’s decription of Igor Andreev in a recent match. He said: “When his A game isn’t working that’s where his alphabet stops.” What a comment!

Another stand out moment for me was when Buckland and Petchey were discussing an upcoming match between Nadal and Del Potro.

A graphic came up on the screen listing a number of attributes and Petchey had to decide who was better in each department e.g forehand, backhand, serve, speed etc.

My friends and I cracked up as he said Nadal was better at everything and that it would be a very one sided match.

However Petchey didn’t write off Del Potro completely. He cheekily gave him one thing in his favour –  the ‘underdogs advantage’!

Thankfully for Petchey, his pre match analysis was proved right as Nadal comfortably defeated the Argentine in two sets.


Holiday tennis causes arguments

On a recent family holiday to Egypt I decided to come out of retirement and play against my brother.

My elbow tendonitis still continues to hamper me however I have now adopted a Roddick style of serving which doesn’t hurt as much – although a second serve is all I can manage.

On arrival to the Tropicana Grand Azure complex I noticed the tennis court which appeared to be clay and I got a little bit excited as I hadn’t played on ‘dirt’ for a while.

A couple of days later my brother and I headed to the court to find an old man sweeping and preparing the surface – excellent.

However there was a slight problem. While everything appeared to look in order, on closer inspection the court had a number of craters which guaranteed that we would have many dodgy bounces.

I lost the first set we played 6-2 but I was happy with my performance and with only a second serve to play with I can’t expect too much. I managed to drum up the support of the old court sweeper by looking at him and celebrating my good shots. After doing this a few times he began clapping my winners without a prompt!

We played our second set of tennis later on in the week and this time I was able to serve a bit better and took a 4-0 lead. My brother then claimed that his side (the side in which he had won 6-2 two days before) was in worse condition than my side.

I was obviously thought this was ridiculous and changed sides to shut him up. Similarly to  a rain break or an injury break my concentration was unsettled and I lost the next three games but managed to break to go 5-3 up.

Unfortunately I failed to close out the set despite serving for it a second time at 6-5 up. With the ‘my side of the court is worse’ statement echoing in my head I entered the tie break determined to not let it be a factor.

I failed to convert two set points and ended up losing the breaker 11-9.

Naturally I then accused my brother of cheating and intentionally trying to put me off. How dare he blame the court and not my brilliant play for his failure in the early to mid stages of the set!

Two new writers join The Tennis Centre

The Tennis Centre today welcomes two new additions to the team, Richard Shapcott (left) and Andrew Johnson (right).


This is the first expansion of the blog and we hope to bring you even more interesting and insightful posts.

Richard, 22, represented Wiltshire as a junior and his highest rating was 3.2. He still plays tennis on a regular basis while studying for an interactive media degree. His favourite tennis player of all time is Tim Henman who he thinks is better than Andy Murray. The last time I played Richard he crumbled as I beat him 6/3 6/3 6/0.

Andrew, 21, plays for his local club and is an expert when predicting the outcome of matches. He once put a tenner into his Betfair account and built it up to £850 after an unbelievable run. Away from sport he has just completed a Film, TV and Radio degree at Staffordshire University. His favourite player is Fernando Verdasco.

Djokovic enjoying life with Head

Novak Djokovic’  big money move to Head was very surprising.

I remember watching the Australian Open in January and wondering what racket he was using.

His early season form was far from impressive and many criticised the Serb for changing brands when he had had so much success with Wilson.

However the new  YouTek Speed Pro racket appears to be working for him now as he has reached the final of his last three tournaments with victories over the likes of Federer, Verdasco, Del Potro and Ferrer.

Head must be pleased their new signing has come good and with Andy Murray also at the top of his game this year, things could not be going any better.

With two of the top four players now under it’s wing Head feels it’s time to strengthen their position in the market by becoming a bit more edgier in order to appeal to a younger audience.

So they are moving away from pushing their equipment and looking to use the talented players they have on board to create interest in the brand.

When it comes to marketing there is no-one better to have than the charismatic Djokovic and he features in a brand new advert which see’s him ‘score on and off the court’.

In the ad, Djoko manages to flirt with a female spectator during a point when a smash from his opponent sends him scurrying into the crowd. 

The randy Serb uses all of his best attraction techniques to try and impress her!

Check out the video below to find out what happened…

Davis Cup team selection – mind boggling

I have no idea why John Lloyd went to the bother of putting the GB players through an energy sapping play off series. Each match was best of five sets which was designed to test each player over the Davis Cup format. These are all young physically fit guys who grind out results on tour regularly and surely they do not need to be put through 5 set matches before playing for their country.

Alex Bogdanovic was not invited apparently because he has lost seven of eight matches played for Great Britain. I’m sure if any other British player was playing this record would most probably be similar. It seems very strange to make this statement to Bogdanovic when considering the fact he would have been favourite to win his play-off matches had he been involved.

No consideration was given to the world ranking of each player in the selection process which doesn’t make sense as a ranking is a measure of how good a player is.

The British number four James Ward lost to Chris Eaton 21-19 in the fifth set in a six hour match having played a five set match a couple of days earlier. I don’t see how this could make Eaton such a sure selection when he is ranked nearly 100 places lower than Ward.

Unsurprisingly Britain lost the tie and maybe the selection process should be thought through a bit more in the future.

Summer Review :: Sulking, injuries and becoming a tennis version of Phil Neville

When I got my second Murray prediction wrong in a row at Wimbledon I admit I slipped into a blogging sulk. Furious that my decent tipping service was more or less on the scrap heap and that I had showed little faith in a truly gifted player, I quickly lost interest in updating The Tennis Centre and got carried away in various activities during my summer break from university.

If you have read my about me section I planned to play a number of tournaments in the months of July and August and was going to write my results up. However in my quest to do well at these upcoming tournaments and find a bit of the magic I had in my younger county years I trained too hard and ended up with tendonitis and medial epicondylitis (golfers elbow). Something to do with my serving technique apparently. Whatever. All I knew was that one day I woke up after playing the night before with a horrific pain on the inside of my elbow.

 This means I have hardly hit a ball since early July and despite a number of physio sessions my elbow hasn’t particularly improved that much. If anyone has any advice it would be greatly recieved!

So I decided to transform into a left hander, a logical decision to keep the feet moving whilst I wait for my right elbow to recover and I now and rate myself as tennis’ answer to football utility man Phil Neville. 

He can play in any position on the pitch to suit his managers wishes and similarly I can play tennis left and right handed to suit my opponents wishes (and standard). Phillip can kick with his left and right foot and I can obviously play right handed as well as being able to hit a vicious left handed forehand, a technically sound single left handed backhand (occasionally) and admittedly I have a distinctly average left handed serve. But this is OK, football utility men are average and this is no different in the case of the first ever tennis utility man. 

So I put myself up for a few tests and took on some casual tennis playing mates for money over the summer and usually comfortably defeated them with my Nadal like forehand. Hmmm maybe the forehand isn’t quite Nadal standard but it’s certainly better than Bogdanovic’.

James Ward Blog 26/05/08 – 03/06/08

26th May – I woke up this morning still tired from the weekend in Paris where I played another club match. I have to play them to get a bit of extra cash to travel around with! I went to Roehampton to train today and had a good session working on my serve and return which is key for the upcoming grass court season. I then had a gym session in order to keep in shape. It would have been good to get on the grass in preparation for Surbiton but it’s been raining constantly!

27th May – Today I trained at Next Generation Gidea Park where a local photographer came along to take pictures for the local paper. It was useful as the carpet courts there are fast and a lot like grass. I’m hitting the ball well and feeling in good condition.

28th May – I went down to Roehampton today and had another good session although it was indoors again as its still raining here in London! There’s still been no news on wildcards for upcoming events but all I can do is keep working hard and give myself the best chance to perform by the time next week comes. Another long day and another long journey back home across London in rush hour… all part of the job! Put the Ipod on and get on with it!

29th May – Another day of practice… I’m feeling a bit sore today but looking forward to carrying on from yesterday. I missed two trains today due to millions of people on the tube at rush hour – not a nice place to be with a big tennis bag on your back!

I heard today that I wasn’t on for a wild card at Surbiton. I’m disappointed to be honest but then again I shouldn’t have expected much more! I’ll have to go and sign in and fight it out in the qualies over the weekend!

30th May – Once again so many people on the train, Im sweating before I’ve even started training! I went to Roehampton to play a few practice sets but unfortunately not on grass again. I haven’t touched the grass as yet and I’m playing on Sunday but neither has anyone else so I can’t complain too much! I took a win in practice so I’m feeling good and confident for the qualies at least!

31th May – I practiced with Bogo (Alex Bogdanovic) today and we finally got on the grass although it was so soft the ball didn’t bounce! I signed in at Surbiton in the evening and then had quite a few hours to kill…something I’m used to as a tennis player!

1st June – I played my first match in the evening after waiting around all day at the club. I played a long match and came through 7-6 in the third against a good Australian player called Brydan Klien. It was a tough match as it was the first of my grass season and being a long one it was a killer on the legs staying so low all the time!

2nd June – I played today again on a very wet court with no bounce… not my favourite surface but no excuses. I didn’t change my game  to what I needed to do to win. I tried to win playing my way but it wasn’t called for on this surface! I’ll live and learn and move on for next week at Queens where the courts will be a lot better… I hope!

3rd June – I was supposed to play doubles today but once again the rain was a factor so I went to train indoors. A few hours of hard work and improving on my game for the long term is what is required after such an early loss.