| By Luke Jensen

For many players in the north, our tennis is just starting to come out of our indoor hibernation to dealing with all of Mother Nature’s elements outside. This is one of the most frustrating aspects of the game. Indoor tennis is easy compared to the chaos of dealing with lobbing with your overhead in the sun.

I would like to focus first on making sure your gear is up to speed. I'm a huge believer in a new restringing at least four times a year. A general rule is to take the number of days a week you play, and restring that number per year. If you play three times a week, string your frames three times a year. Juniors and massive hitters may break strings more than that and will have to adjust accordingly.

Investing in new sneakers is always wise. Just because the shoe does not have a hole yet, the inner support system of your shoe may have broken down and can be causing foot problems. Just be aware of any discomfort when you are playing.

Rewrap your grip with a new overwrap for a better grip on your frame. These are cheap and can make your golden boy favorite frames feel new all over again.

Finally, go to a local pro shop and demo out some new frames. I have my players play test new strings and frames all the time. New approaches to the game with new technologies are always evolving, and you never know when something new can make your game feel even better. A simple rule in trying new frames is to make sure the racquet fits your best shot. If a demo feels good in some areas of your game and not others, do not buy it. A frame is an extension of your body. It should enhance your best weapon and clean up your weakest shots. If you feel that in the play test phase then you have found a winner!

Now that you are all geared up for summer, make sure you set a simple goal for your game. I like to add a new shot every season to my player’s game. That would be four per year. This takes time, so I give my players a chance to try it in practice before using it in matches.

A simple approach to this is to use a drop shot at least once a game to see if it works. Another is to lob high to your opponent’s backhand to see how they deal with it. It can go beyond tactical to technical. Let’s try getting out of the frying pan grip serve to hitting a real continental grip serve that will give you more options for various spin serves.

Your approach is key. Success is making our game more complete. There is no such thing as a perfect tennis player, but if we strive for it, we are sure to achieve excellence!

Keep going for winners … it is the American way!

Luke Jensen

Raised in Ludington, Mich., Luke Jensen’s resume includes 10 ATP Tour doubles titles. He was also a member of the U.S. Davis Cup teams that reached the finals in 1991 and won in 1992. His ambidextrous play, including his ability to serve the ball with either hand at 130 mph, earned him the nickname “Dual Hand Luke.” Luke is currently director of racket sports at West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, N.Y. He may be reached by phone at (315) 403-0752 or e-mail LukeJensen84@yahoo.com.