Battle of the Ages Wrap Up

On Friday, January 11, 2019 we had our annual Battle of the Ages Event. Once again the adults finished victorious winning a very close tournament, 6 to 5. The adults displayed their wisdom and knowledge of the game schooling the youngsters once again. I am very proud of how the juniors played because last year they were destroyed by the adults and really was taught a valuable lesson. They learned that just hitting the ball as hard as they can was not going to get them far in this game. From that loss last year the juniors came back stronger this year by playing smart, using the entire court, playing with a variety of pace and they even got up to the net. Thank you to both the adults and juniors for making this great fun event a huge success!


Key to Success: Overhead Placement Over Power – February 2019

One of the biggest mistakes tennis players make when trying to win a point with overhead is by focusing more on power over placement. In my opinion, placement is far more important than trying to hit the ball hard. A lot of times an overhead is hit as hard as you can right back to your opponent. This may work against some players but against other players who have excellent hands and are very skilled at defensive shots, that ball is going to come back every time.

How many times has this happened to you? You hit an overhead to your opponent, they block it back, you hit it harder, they block it back again and then you miss the third overhead deep or into the net. We all know what happens when you or your opponent brings one more ball back. It usually ends with an error.

The key to success is taking a little bit of pace off of the overhead and focus more on placing the ball where your opponent is not. I always tell my students that I’d rather hit a 30mph winner than a 100mph ball that’s coming back. Use your short angles of the court, place the ball where your opponent is not or simply hit the overhead down the middle when playing doubles.  Your overheads will really become great when you can execute your shots with both power and placement. Until then, just keep it simple and focus more on your placement.

Keep on Playing!


Member Spotlight: Dan and Felicia Black

We have a very special “Member Spotlight” for the month of February. This story begins 30 years ago at the Aspen Hill Club! I was re-introduced to Felicia and Dan during their New Member Tennis Evaluation, at which point they let me know that they had indeed been members of The Club before, and were itching to get back into tennis. That brief summary of their story does very little to tell their tale!

Going back to 1987, Felicia loved tennis! She wanted to play more, so she picked up the phone and called The Club. She enjoyed herself in a group class—taught by my mom (Vicki Datlow), and learned there was a tennis social going on right after the class she had attended. She did in fact stay for the social, and started chatting with a man while in line for the food buffet. Dan and Felicia agreed to play tennis the next week!

Felicia and Dan attended tennis class the next week, but Felicia needed to know more about this guy. In 1987,  she didn’t Google his name—but she did make a test of her own for him, “ I needed to see what he was made of” explains Felicia. She had him ride the bike with her to see if he could keep up. Dan vividly remembers this pop-quiz “I knew I was either going to be in the best shape of my life, or dead!” Luckily, Dan did in fact pass this test!

In the next couple years, Felicia and Dan kept up with their tennis and fitness at The Club. Dan participated in tennis leagues at The Club. Felicia joined a 3.0 USTA team, playing a key role on her 3.0  team that advanced to USTA Sectionals in Virginia Beach.

Dan and Felicia got married in October 1988, with many of their tennis friends from the Aspen Hill Club in attendance. Over the years, their tennis took a back seat. They had two children, Sarah and Joshua, and the tennis games of the kids soon surpassed that of mom and dad. Sarah and Joshua did attend junior tennis camp at Aspen Hill, which made Felicia jealous of the kids tennis playing. “I told Dan, one day we’ll be back to Aspen Hill.” That day came!

As a 30th wedding anniversary present to each other, the two bought memberships to the Aspen Hill Club. I got them onto the court for their free tennis evaluation, and quickly placed them into Jeff Klein’s adult beginner drills as a refresher for their tennis games. They have been attending these classes once a week, and are now attending Jeff’s Tuesday morning Mindful Tennis class, “We are learning so much about strategy, Jeff really does an excellent job,” explains Felicia. Dan is also participating in Reserve Season Court Time groups and is enjoying meeting new people on the tennis court and chatting with the after tennis, “It’s very social” says Dan.

In addition to tennis, the two have started playing Pickleball. “We walked by and saw the signs, and we wanted to try it! Maria was running the class, and it was so fun. I have never laughed so much!” The two are now regulars on Thursday playing Pickleball in our Pickleball match play—free to members.

Dan and Felicia are always up for trying something new, and this had lead them to meeting new people—even each other! “Life is an adventure. Come out of your comfort zone and you might be surprised. The Club is such a welcoming place,” Felicia explains.

Dan and Felicia, “THANK YOU” two for helping create an environment at The Club where we all have fun. It is excellent to have you back!

Key to Success: Best Return of Serve Options for Doubles Players – January 2019

Tennis players should view the tennis court as a blank canvas and you are the artist with all of the creativity. The key to being a great returner in doubles is to be very creative and mix up your returns. Listed below are all of the best returning options for doubles players from your best to worse returns.


Return Cross Court Deep

It’s always great if you can return a ball right back to the server deep into their court. If done successfully, you will give the returner no time to react immediately after they serve.


Return Cross Court Short Angle

Hitting the return cross court short with an angle can catch the server off guard and force them to run forward barely getting to the ball. If they are reaching for the ball then there is a strong possibility of them popping it up for your partner or you to pick it off.


Lob Cross Court Deep

This play is effective if you are playing against someone who serves and volleys a lot. I wouldn’t suggest this for every play but every so often to keep them on their heels and potentially pinned back on the baseline. If you can execute this lob well enough then they may think twice about closing in so quickly.


Chip and Charge Cross Court

If you are a master at slicing then chipping their serve with underpin and charging the net can be very effective. This play could take your opponent by surprise and force them to come up with a great shot. They may even take their eye off of the ball because they are so focused to see what you are doing as you charge their way. It may even force them to just make an error.


Lob Down the Line

Lobbing the net player down the line is always a great option as it puts the other team in disarray immediately after the return. It also forces the server to have to run that ball down if the net player can’t get to it. If this play is used well, there is a great chance that there will be a lob coming your way for you to put away, so be ready and look for it.  If you are playing against a team that does not move very well then that lob will not be coming back at all.


Passing Shot in the Doubles Alley

Using this play can be risky but can be very effective if done right. I like to use this play toward the beginning of my matches to send a message to the net player not to poach. Even if my team loses the point, it may be worth it because that pesky net player may think twice about making any moves because of that one shot you hit. This shot can also work if there is a player who likes to stand very close to the center of the court. Hitting down the line will force your opponent to move more toward the line to free up your cross-court returns.  One last way this will work is that element of surprise. Every once in a while you may catch that net player sleeping.


Right at the Net Player

The final play is for you to go right to the net player. By hitting right at your opponent one of three things will happen. One, they will get handcuffed and hit back a weak volley. Two, they will be getting out of dodge to avoid the ball. Three, you are going to hit them. It is a part of the rules. Please remember that tennis is a gentlemen’s sport so please make sure you apologize if you hit your opponent. As you can see this play is way down on my list, our intention is never to hurt anyone so please be mindful before doing this play. One measly tennis point is not worth risking a long time friendship.


Next time you are on the court be sure to try all of these great return options. Paint that beautiful picture with your great creative mind. Outwit, outplay and outlast all of your opponents with as much variety a possible. Keep on Playing!

How Often Should I Restring My Racket?

By: Tim Hahn, Aspen Hill Pro Shop Owner


As a general rule you should re-string each year as often as you play per week. If you play twice per week, you should restring  your racket twice per year. All strings gradually stretch and lose their resiliency or go dead, even if you play infrequently. When this happens you begin to swing harder, grip the racket tighter to get the same results from the ball.

Swinging harder and gripping tighter makes control more difficult, fatigue arrives early and may even contribute to tennis elbow. fresh strings help your racket play the way it was intended to play. If you have any question about rackets or restringing please stop by the Aspen Hill Pro shop. Tim will be glad to assist with your needs. Tim is a member of USRSA, a Master Racket
Technician, the Yonex National Stringing Team, and the USPTR.

Key to Success: How to Serve and Volley – December 2018

A lot of players believe to be an effective serve and volley-er that they need to possess a big serve and lots of foot speed to get to the net. This is far from the truth. In fact, it is quite the opposite. One of the biggest mistakes players make is hitting a hard flat fast serve and running straight to the net. Don’t do it!

Let’s Think About the Serve Options

Which type of serve is going to get you closer to the net in optimal volley position? The answer is a nice spin serve that is well placed. Taking some pace off of your serve will provide you more time to get closer to the net for your first volley.

Serving down the “T” will take the return angles away from your opponent, therefore, forcing them to hit the ball in more of a straight line to you. This will make your first volley easier to handle.

Serving right at your opponent can also be very effective as it will jam your opponent up and force them to hit the ball over the net defensively.

Another serve to consider is serving the ball to your opponents weaker side, either their forehand or backhand. Even if you are serving out wide, it can be effective if the return is coming back weak. It may be worth it to serve out wide. You will have to determine this as the match is played to know what is working and what is not.


The last thing you want to do is serve the ball and run straight up to the net. You will actually hurt your chances of hitting a great volley. Think about it as gradually working your way up to the net. Most players are going to hit their first volley around no-mans land or just before you reach the service line. The key to success is to run up a little bit at a time, split step, make your volley and then move up some more. This is what us pros call closing the net. You want to get to your optimal volley position after your first and potentially your second volley. Typically in doubles, the team that gets to the net first has a great chance to win the point.

What is the best volley position to be at? The answer is about three feet inside the service line. You do not want to have your nose on the net as this will give you less time to react to the ball and leave you open to be lobbed. So you want to get close to the net but not too close.

I hope this helps all my serve and volley-ers out there.

Keep on playing!

Key to Success: Take the Pressure Off and Win – November 2018

A lot of players struggle when the pressure is on during a match and fail to execute their best shots when it matters most. Listed below are some tricks you can use to take the pressure off of yourself so that you can play your best tennis.

Stop Caring and Have Fun

So many players get caught up with the end result of winning or losing that they end up putting pressure on themselves that it paralyzes their game. When you care too much, you start playing tentative and scared which prohibits you from actually playing your best tennis. You start playing not to lose instead of playing to win. The key to playing your best tennis is to stop caring and just have fun. I know it’s easier said than done but once you can master this, you will see a huge difference in your performance.

Flip the Score

How many times have you had the lead in a set or after winning the first set, turnaround and end up losing? A mental trick you could use would be to switch the score. If you are winning 5-2, pretend that you are losing 2-5. Typically, players who are behind play harder to try and catch back up. This will be very helpful if you are one of those players who struggle with closing out a set or a match.

Prepare Yourself for Success

Another way to take the pressure off yourself is by going into your matches feeling prepared. When you know that you have been working hard by taking private lessons, participating in clinics and match play, you feel more confident in your skill set to play a strong game. Knowing that you have put in the work and are ready to win will go a very long way.

Lose Going for your Shots

The worst that could happen is that you lose a match. So what, it’s not the end of the world. When you go into every match not caring about losing, you will play better. Lose a match going for your shots opposed to losing not going for them. You will keep yourself in every match if you play hard from beginning to end.


Member Spotlight: Copeland-Sanchez Family

Seven years ago Victoria was searching for a home where she could focus on aquatics program. Our 25-meter indoor pool brought her to the Aspen Hill Club. Swimming is a big part of Victoria’s life—and she is also fully engaged on the tennis court! She and husband Marcos, and children Aiden, Dalton and Erin have used the pool, tennis court, and an array of other roles and responsibilities to grow & learn as a family at The Club, “We had a great place for our family to grow, learn, & play” says Victoria.

Victoria continues to be a big part of the aquatics scene at The Club. In addition to being a swim instructor, you can often find Victoria taking in a water aerobics class, working out in the gym, & a constant on our tennis courts!  Marcos makes great use of the gym—and uses our weight room to get into shape for his tennis. (more…)

Stress is the #1 Rule for Improvement

By: Dana Shorb, Fitness Director


It is common knowledge that chronic mental stress can cause health problems. This comes from the elevated levels of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. What is not commonly known is that the dissociation of physical stress from mental stressors means there is no resolution to the influx of those hormones. Our fight-or-flight mechanism never gets to brawl and run. Physical stress, aka exercise, dissipates those hormones quickly and efficiently as it satisfies the cycle of the stress response. In addition to utilizing those hormones, physical exertion will also cause your body to adapt to whatever demand is being put on it. Muscles change, ligaments and tendons to strengthen and the heart becomes more efficient.

In the gym, we have the goal to cause a specific change so there needs to be a specific stress. The type, volume, intensity, complexity of the stress (exercise), will determine your body’s response. Compare Olympic level athletes, their bodies look drastically different yet all perform incredibly intense training routines year round. Are you causing a physical stress that will progress you towards your goal? What results have you been getting from your current routine? (more…)

American Hero Classic 2018 THANK YOU!

We did it again! The American Hero Classic powerlifting meet on November 10th was a huge success. Raising $1,050 for Paralyzed Veterans of America has never been more fun. For many of our participants it was their first experience training for and competing in a powerlifting meet. We provided powerlifting clinics and did one on one training for many of the participants to prepare them. In case you haven’t heard of powerlifting the basic premise is to Squat, Bench press and Deadlift as much weight as you can with in three attempts for each lift. Form is critical, so the participants not only trained to build strength but also did lots of work on technique and form. If you didn’t get a chance to experience the excitement mark your calendars for November 9th 2019! See you next year.

Here is a summary of what went down:

  • Participants lifted over 5 tons, 10,475 pounds
  • $525 donated to Paralyzed Veterans of America based on weight lifted
  • We raised an additional $525 through the generous donation of our members
  • We had more than 75 spectators attend throughout the event​​