How to handle tension - on the court and in your racket

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The Independent Online
The new tennis season starts on Monday in the Gulf with the Qatar Open, where last year Tim Henman recorded his first ATP Tour victory and where he started his rise up the rankings.

Henman is at 17 and Greg Rusedski No 6 as the new year begins with two weeks of minor tournaments before the first Grand Slam, the Australian Open, which begins on January 19th.

All this information and more is available on the official ATP site. Starting off with the complete calendar for the whole year, this comprehensive site has results, rankings, player details (although not yet updated to include 1997 figures).

Within the calendar there are links to web sites for individual tournaments plus the Davis Cup. The female equivalent, the WTA Tour, also has its own web site, which has many similar features. It does have its 1997 stats up to date and a better players' biography section linked to the rankings. It also contains more video clips.

A good central point to start exploring tennis sites on the net is Advantage Tennis, which has links to both men's and women's tennis. It also has links to racket stringing and tennis psychology.

In the former section you can find out that Pete Sampras likes his rackets strung at the top of the scale, around 74lb (33-34 kilos). Henman plays with a more moderate 62 to 67lb, whereas Rusedski prefers a considerably slacker tension, which paradoxically generates greater power, at 48-52lb. This comes courtesy of Jay's Custom Stringing.

You can also compare the best stringing machines and look at the Racquet Stringing Machine Frequently Asked Questions page, where you learn about the differences between floating clamps, fixed clamps and swivel clamps.

In the tennis psychology section there is a piece on Crisis Management - How to Handle the Pressure. With this week's news that Tony Blair is having the tennis court at Chequers done up, perhaps he would be interested in how to handle pressure situations, control adrenalin flows and learn about the link between peak performance and medium arousal.

Many of the players, both men and women, have their own home pages, including Pete Sampras, whose site is run by CBS Sportsline and more interesting than the man himself. Of the women the player with the most web sites, all unofficial, is Anna Kournikova, the photogenic Russian teenager.

- Edward Abelson

ADDRESSES

ATP Tour - http://atptour.com/index.html

Australian Open - http://www.ausopen.org/index.html

Davis Cup - http://www.daviscup.org/indexie.htm

Wimbledon - http://www.wimbledon.org/

WTA Tour - http://www.corelwtatour.com/

Advantage Tennis - http://www.advantage-tennis.com/frindex2.htm

Jay's Custom Stringing - http://www.jcsnyc.com/

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