Sports

Tennis Hall of Fame

Posted in Family outings, Sports, Trip on October 3rd, 2019 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Day 3 of our road trip took us to the real impetus for the trip - the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island. I’ve wanted to visit here for years.

I’ll give you a little history so you understand the place. As many of you may know, Newport became the place many wealthy families spent their summers during the Gilded Age (late 19th and early 20th century). That’s why there are so many huge mansions in Newport. Of course, wealthy people had the time and money to engage in lots of activities, so there were a bunch social clubs. One of those was the Newport Casino, which had lots of activities including lawn tennis. Since all the rich folks were there in the summer, this became the site of the first United States Lawn Tennis Association championships. This tournament grew, eventually moved to New York, and then later became what is now the US Open.

The place fell into disrepair, but was eventually restored. Today, it has a museum as well as a fully functioning tennis club with outdoor grass courts as well as indoor courts. Every year it hosts a professional tournament and inducts new legends into the Hall of Fame.

I really wanted to play on the grass courts. I’d never played on grass before, so I booked a court for Leah and me a few weeks in advance. It was expensive ($120 for an hour), but totally worth it. Because we were playing, we were allowed to park in the private club parking lot for free (all the parking around there is paid). We stopped by the club house to get a discount coupon for the museum (another perk of playing), then headed to the museum. They had a green screen photo booth, which we had fun with while waiting for our tour to start.

Here are some more videos and pictures from the photo booth, if you’re interested.

We then took a very interesting guided tour of the museum. We learned about many of the Hall of Fame inductees and the history of tennis. One of my favorite parts was about early racquet sports as well as Court Tennis. Court Tennis, also called Real Tennis or Royal Tennis, is an old more complicated version of the game. More on that later.

Tennis history

One of the fun features of the International Tennis Hall of Fame museum is this broadcasting booth. It lets you record yourself doing commentary on a famous tennis match, then plays it back for you.

Tennis broadcasters

We ate lunch across the street from the Hall of Fame at the Newport Creamery. Leah was excited they had a Waffled Grilled Cheese, and both girls were excited to try an Awful Awful.

Lunch

After lunch, it was finally time to play tennis on the grass courts. We of course had to wear our tennis whites to be allowed to play.

Grass Court Tennis

Grass Court Tennis

Grass Court Tennis

Leah and I did some serving practice side by side. If you’re wondering why she’s inside the line, it’s because she currently plays orange ball tennis, which has a shorter court.

Serving practice

Not sure what’s going on with Leah’s serve technique here, but it cracked Jen up for hours.

Interesting technique

This summer, Leah’s school is doing a thing where they encourage kids to take pictures of themselves reading with the Wildcat in interesting locations. After we finished playing, Leah read a bit and got a picture.

Reading with the wildcat

There are lots more pictures of our grass court tennis on Flickr, if you’re looking for even more. Playing on grass is very different from hard or clay courts. The ball bounces so low, and there are so many odd bounces. It’s very challenging.

After playing, we explored the grounds a bit more. Not only did we learn about Court Tennis in the museum, they even had a fully functioning court that people still play on. This sport is largely unchanged from the days of King Henry VIII (who apparently played all the time). Sadly, no one was playing while we were there.

Court Tennis court

Court Tennis court

We bought some souvenirs, then finally left the Hall of Fame. But our day in Newport was only half over. I’ll tell you about the rest of our day in the next post.

US Open 2019

Posted in Family outings, Sports, Trip on October 2nd, 2019 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Day 2 of our road trip took us to the US Open. Last year, I had gotten a great deal on tickets by waiting till the last minute. This year did not go as well. We left our hotel in New Jersey Thursday morning without any tickets. I kept checking when we stopped, but eventually gave up and bought some tickets at the rest stop right before crossing the George Washington Bridge. No deals for us, this year.

We also had trouble getting there, as there was traffic and Molly eventually got car sick. We finally got in the gates about noon, grabbed some quick lunch, then hit the courts. First stop - Armstrong Stadium where Naomi Osaka (world #1 and reigning champion) was about to come out.

US Open

Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka

While we did not get to see one of our favorite players, Bethany Mattek-Sands, play tennis, she was with us in Armstrong Stadium in the broadcaster booth.

Favorite broadcaster

Osaka was playing Magda Linette, who I had hopes of putting up a good fight to make it a competitive match since Linette had won the lead-up tournament in the Bronx the week before. This was not the case, though, as Osaka played great and won fairly easily.

One of my favorite parts of the US Open is the outer courts, where you can sit or stand right next to the court. It’s so up close and personal. We had limited time, so I didn’t get to do this as much as I would have liked, but I did manage to go see a player I really wanted to see. Bianca Andreescu is a super talented teenager, and I got to see her playing her second round match against veteran Kirsten Flipkens. It was a lot of fun. Little did I know she’d go on to defeat Serena Williams in the final and win the whole tournament.

Eventual champ

Bianca Andreescu

Bianca Andreescu

Bianca Andreescu

Gotta get a picture with a giant racquet.

Giant racquet

And the tennis ball couch was back.

Tennis ball couch

Our purchased seats were in the giant Arthur Ashe stadium, but we didn’t get there till the end of our day as we enjoyed going all over the grounds earlier. We saw unseeded American Taylor Townsend take on #4 Simona Halep. It looked like Halep was going to roll over Townsend, but Townsend managed to come back and win. Sadly, we did not stay for the entire match. We had a long drive to Massachusetts that night, so opted to take off early and beat the traffic.

Our seats

Simona Halep

Simona Halep

We ate some dinner and hit the road, driving from New York to our hotel in Attleboro, Massachusetts. We were all ready to get some sleep after a long, fun day.

Tennis family

Posted in Leah, Sports on July 1st, 2019 by c-had – Be the first to comment

We are a tennis-loving family. Well, at least half of the family is. Leah and I both play regularly and really enjoy it. This Spring, they started a Junior Team Tennis league, and Leah was happy to join a team.

Junior Team Tennis

Junior Team Tennis

Between lessons on Friday, team tennis on Saturday, and match play on Sunday, Leah was playing a lot of tennis this Spring. I’ve been playing a lot too, but I have no pictures to share with you.

Black belt in the family

Posted in Molly, Sports on June 28th, 2019 by c-had – Be the first to comment
Black belt and Sensei

Molly is now a black belt in karate! We are so proud of Molly for all her hard work over the past five years. She’s just awesome. I want to tell you all about her black belt test, but first I just want to let her awesomeness sink in for a bit...

OK, on to the test. Molly tested for her black belt last night. This was an advanced belt test at her dojo, so it was just the brown belts working toward their next degree and black belt candidates. There were actually 4 black belt candidates, including Molly.

The test began with a written test, which she’s been studying for for years. Questions include things like who created the Kyokushin style of karate, where, and in what year.

Test questions

There are lots of exercises throughout the test, including jumping jacks, sit ups, burpees (lots of burpees), mountain climbers, and more.

Jumping jacks

Molly had to perform 17 katas throughout the test. Here’s one of the more basic ones - the 12 step kata.

12 step kata

As a black belt candidate, Molly gave a speech about her journey through karate.

Other students often help with the test, and there was no way Molly’s long-time friend Sarah (who got her black belt 2 months ago) was going to miss it. As soon as Sensei asked students to help with punches and kicks, Sarah ran straight for Molly. In fact, later this happened again, and Sensei immediately amended her request with “not Molly” to avoid having Molly continually evaluated by her friend.

Kicking

A couple of Molly’s katas involve the bo staff, including Dragon, seen here.

Dragon kata

The test also includes getting beat up a bit. Knowing how to punch and kick is important, but so is knowing how to take a hit. Here, Sensei is hitting Molly in the stomach to make sure she can take a hit.

Hit in the stomach

In addition to taking a hit, she has to take a kick. She’s done this before, but this was the first time she was kicked in the stomach from both sides. She says she’s still sore the morning after.

Kick in the stomach

After getting hit and kicked, she got stepped on too.

Stepped on

Here are photos from a few more katas, including Shadow, Heaven and Earth, and Tiger.

Shadow kata

Heaven and Earth kata

Tiger kata

Molly had been tested on every kata up to this point as part of previous belt tests, but there was one new kata for black belt - Gangasho.

Gangasho kata

As part of her black belt test, Molly had to break 3 boards. She could choose how to break them. She chose to break 2 boards at one time with a hammer fist, then the final board with a kick.

Part of the self-defense training of karate is knowing how to fight two-on-one. So, all the black belt candidates have to fight against two people at the same time.

Two on one

Molly sparred a bunch of people during the test, but I’m sure her favorite was getting to spar her old friend Sarah.

Sparring Sarah

The test was long and grueling. As it approached 3 hours long, Molly was exhausted. Then she took a hard kick during sparring from a bigger girl, and started to cry. But she didn’t let it stop her. She pushed through, kept fighting, and proved how tough she was. A hug from a good friend was also a big help when fighting through tears.

Hug from a friend

Each black belt candidate had to spar against Sensei. They don’t have to win, but they have to stand their ground and fight. It’s the first to 3 points. Molly did great, and even scored a point as you can see here!

Point against Sensei

After all that, the test kept going. They took off their sparring gear and Sensei sat on them as they held a push-up position. They also had to do a bunch more mountain climbers (not pictured).

Sat on

Molly did it! She got her black belt! She’s still a bit weepy at this point, but trying to turn it into a smile having accomplished her goal.

Black belt

The dojo acknowledges that all these girls have a family behind them, so we got to present Molly with her black belt certificate.

Family

Molly had her parents, sister, and grandparents there to cheer her on.

Family support

Black belt Molly

Almost a black belt

Posted in Molly, Sports on February 22nd, 2019 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Molly has her brown belt in karate, and is working toward her black belt. Part of that is passing tests to get three stripes removed from it. She had the first stripe removed back in June, and tested to have the second stripe removed in December.

Part of this test involves breaking boards. Molly’s been breaking boards for years in karate. However, after earning her brown belt, she moved up to trying to break 2 boards stacked on top of each other instead of just 1 board. Her first attempt to do this was back when she got her first stripe removed from her brown belt, but she wasn't able to do it. So, she’s worked hard between then and now to get ready for her second attempt. As you can see here, she does it perfectly. We’re so proud of you, Molly!

And she passed her test, removing another stripe from her brown belt and paving the way for her black belt test in June.

Another stripe down

One stripe down

Posted in Molly, Sports on August 30th, 2018 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Molly has her brown belt in karate, and is working toward black. When she got her brown belt, it had 3 stripes on it, which she has to work off over 18 months in order to test for her black belt. After 6 months of work, she got the first stripe removed. Congratulations, Molly.

One stripe down

Brown belt

Posted in Extracurriculars, Molly, Sports on December 20th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Molly’s been practicing karate for over three years now, and just reached her biggest milestone yet. She tested for her brown belt on Friday night. That’s the last belt before black. The test got started at 6:30 and finished around 10:30. There were some very tired kids.

The test included lots of katas (choreographed fights), including this bo kata.

Bo staff kata

There were 3 girls testing for their black belts, which meant all of the girls got to try their hand at breaking boards. Molly’s done this several times before, and had no trouble.

Breaking a board

There was a lot of sparring.

Sparring

Sparring

And Molly got her brown belt!

Brown belt

She was very excited.

Excited

Getting her brown belt means she is now an advanced belt, which means she will now be teaching (well, assistant teaching) classes. She’ll be working toward her black belt, though it’ll likely take her 18 months to get there. Along the way, she’ll be working towards milestones that allow her to remove stripes from her brown belt. Once all 3 stripes are gone, she’ll be ready to test for black.

With her new brown belt

Awesome job Molly!

Church 5K

Posted in Sports on October 29th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

While our visitors were in town, our church held their annual 5K. It was a beautiful day (much better than last year, when it started pouring rain half-way through the race). I had hoped to get others in my family to join me in the run, but no one wanted to take on the very hilly course. So, I headed off by myself.

That doesn’t mean the kids didn’t get involved in the race, though. The 5K runs right by our house. The kids decided to make signs and come out to cheer me (and the rest of the racers) on.

Cheering section

I got a nice boost of energy from my cheering section as I ran by.

Here comes Dad

My family didn’t run, but some of their friends did. Simon and Ben ran by too quickly to be photographed (they actually ended up first and second in their age group), but Jen did get a picture of Matilda, Stacie, and Julie.

Friends running

I had my best result in this race so far. For the first time, I won my age group. Thanks to all the other 30-something real runners for not showing up today. It was a great race, so all of you who didn't come should come next year - assuming you're not a 30-something male serious runner. In that case, you should come in 2 years when I move up to the 40-something bracket :)

Brown stripe test

Posted in Molly, Sports on October 16th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Back at the end of August, Molly tested for her brown stripe. This is the precursor to testing for her brown belt (4 months later), which is a big milestone. As you can see, she’s serious.

Brown stripe test

She keeps getting better at sparring.

Sparring

Sparring

Sparring

Two and a half hours later (these tests are long), she got it!

Brown stripe

Hug

Congratulations to all the testers!

All the testers

That brown stripe is the last little step before going for her brown belt, which means a lot more responsibility (including being an assistant teacher in classes).

Happy with success

Lots of tennis

Posted in Family outings, Family visits, Sports on July 31st, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

At Callaway, I play a lot of tennis. I don’t get to play daily at home, so it’s fun to get to at Callaway. I played 4 out of 5 camp days (TreeTop conflicted on Thursday). Friday was an especially busy day. I woke up early to run the camp 5K at 7:00. Then played in the camp tennis tournament from 10 to noon. And then, we finally found the time to take the whole family out on the courts.

Family tennis

Leah backhand

Family tennis

JJ and Uncle J came out to play as well (yes, I brought enough racquets for everyone).

Tennis cousins

Family tennis

Thanks to everyone for joining me out on the court.

Tennis players