The Week at Wilson with Blair Rickers: March 3rd

Hello All,

Glad to hear that Serena Williams overcame her health scare.  Canada had a huge victory at the World Nordic Championships this week.  Powered by Salomon boots and bindings Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey won gold in the team sprint classic.  Whether it’s Eric Guay, Milos Raonic or Kershaw/Harvey, Amer Sports is helping Canada’s best take on the rest of the world.  Lots of news this week.  Please read on….

Blair is Missing in Action

As of Monday I’m out of the office until March 21st.  I will likely have e-mail access, but unless it’s an emergency (for example, you’ve been shot, need blood, and I’m the only person in the world with the same type), please try to avoid phone calls.

Racquet of the Week

I’ve already mentioned the rave reviews we are getting about the Blade 98 (both the champagne and hot pink models), but another member of the Blade family that is getting tremendous feedback is the Blade Lite.  Don’t let the word “Lite” fool you.  This Blade packs a punch but provides the control and feel that players demand.  At 9.6 oz (289 grams) it’s lightweight and maneuverable, but still plays rock solid.  The weight and 100 square inch head will appeal to elite juniors and any adult looking for all the racquet taste, but less filling.


I’ve got quite a few demo racquets to work with this year, so I’d love to get a quick start to our demo season.  If you have any upcoming socials or round-robins please let me know and we’ll get you a bag of frames.  If it’s a major event we can normally provide a demo person as well to help out.  ALL TEACHING PROS should organize at least two events.

TPA Awards

This year’s TPA Conference was a great success with significant increase in numbers over 2010.  Congratulations to Ari and all the folks at Tennis Canada.  Wilson Sports hosted the awards breakfast on Friday morning.  Jeff McCarrol of ORC did a splendid job in his role as MC.   Miron Mann of the Richmond Hill Country Club was awarded the Gary Caron Scholarship for outstanding work by a young pro.  Under the guidance of Richard Hernandez, Miron is surely destined for big success.  Casey Curtis received well deserved recognition for his guidance and tutelage of Milos Raonic.  Anyone who has read any of the newspaper articles know what an impact Casey had with Milos.  However,I’ve not yet read an article that chronicles the countless hours of his own time that Casey put in to help Milos grow his game.  Casey seems to be the “go to” interview for all tennis reporters and is quoted in the Toronto Star more often than Judy Rebick, Buzz Hargrove and Naomi Klein combined.

Milos a Media Darling

Move over LeBron and Phil Kessel, the sports pages have been filled with stories about Milos Raonic over the past few weeks.  It’s outstanding how much the Canadian media has picked up on his success.  The attached link is an article about Galo Blanco’s belief in the potential for Milos to continue to progress.

First Run, No Fun

My first run of the year was the Tim Horton’s Half Marathon in Grimsby last Sunday.  It was a beautiful day and I felt ready to run a decent time.  I always find the drive out to the race very important.  If I hear great music along the way, I expect the race to go well.  If I am forced to endure a medley of Steely Dan hits, I know the race is going to be horrific.  The first song that came on radio as I backed out of my drive way was Paper Lace, “the Night Chicago Died”.  Great tune from the 70’s.  Driving down Highway 6 “LA Woman” by the Doors really got me thinking it was going to be an amazing day.  How can you not enjoy running with the lyrics “cops in cars, the topless bars, never saw a woman, so alone, so alone” looping through your head.  Unfortunately, minutes later while still listening to the 70’s on 7 I heard the song I knew would be stuck in my head the entire race, “Shadow Dancing” by Andy Gibb.  How can you maintain a proper pace when the lyrics “shadow dancing, baby you do it right, huh, huh” are stuck in your brain?     My first 10 K on the road went well, but once I hit the snow covered trails I tailed off quickly.  It was a disappointing performance, but on the bright side, the post race food line was tremendous:  apples, oranges, bagels, yogurt, and a large offering of donuts.  I was able to throw back about a dozen Honey Dips before the race organizer told me to move along.  Next up is the dreaded Around the Bay run in Hamilton.  Hopefully I get some good training in this month or it could be ugly.


Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, friends and spirit … and you’re keeping all of these in the air.

You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – family, health, friends and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for Balance in your life.

– James Patterson from “Suzanne’s Diary to Nicholas”


Yes, the tournament has begun.  I’ve taken feedback from you, the faithful WaW reader, and run it past a panel of experts to come up with the results for the first two rounds.  The SWEET 16 will take place late in March.


#1 Metallica vs #16 Soundgarden         A solid Soundgarden squad lead by Chris Cornell gets blown away by the overall brilliance of James Hatfield and teammates.

#8 Doors vs #9 Styx                             Styx pulls a minor upset.  Morrison loses points for being a fat 27 year old burnout.  Styx almost blows it with Mr. Roboto.

#5 Hendrix Experience vs #12 Grateful Dead      Jimi blows out the Dead Heads despite a career cut much too short.

#4 Nirvana vs The Steve Miller Band             Steve Miller get points for rhyming Abra Kadabra, but Nirvana is just too much.

#6 The Eagles vs #11 Green Day  Green Day shocks the talent laden Eagles.  Best songs by the Eagles (Paradise, Wasted Time) never get played on the radio.  Hotel California most overplayed song of all time.  Frey and Henley blame loss on Joe Walsh’s drinking.

#3 Pearl Jam vs #14 Poison                      Eddie Vedder leads an ugly beat down on Poison.  Bret Michaels has no answer for the grunge masters from Seattle.

#7 Van Halen vs #10 Motley Crue Overcoming sub par material and poor musicianship, the Crue topples Van Halen.  The Crue gets huge points for a level of debauchery only approached by Charlie Sheen.  Van Halen suffers from not enough Diamond Dave and too much Sammy “I can’t drive 55” Hagar and that other long haired dude from Extreme.

#    #2 Guns & Roses vs #15 Red Hot Chili’s     A solid effort by Flea on base is overcome by Slash and Axl.   The two most feared phrase of the 1990’s:  1.  The missiles have been launched.  2.  “Dad, this is my new boyfriend, Axl Rose”

2nd Round

#1 Metallica vs #9 Styx                         Pieces of Eight and Grand Illusion not enough as Dennis DeYoung and Tommie Shaw go down.

#5 Hendrix vs #4 Nirvana        Jimi was pissed about the war and civil rights.  Kurt was just pissed.  One started a genre of music, another changed music and also came up with a whole new take on the way to perform the Star Spangled Banner.  The winner in overtime:  James Marshall Hendrix.

#11 Green Day vs #3 Pearl Jam   Pearl Jam comes out on top because of their love for basketball.  The original name for the band was Mookie Blalock (star guard for the U of Oklahoma).  “10”, their monster selling album is Mookie’s jersey #.

#10 Motley Crue vs #2 Guns & Roses      The party lifestyle of each group cancels out.  Tommy Lee gets points for his film making ability and internet popularity.  In the end, it comes down to the music and GnR November Rains all over the Crue.


#1 Led Zeppelin vs #16 Tragically Hip   How many hauntingly beautiful songs have the Hip given us?   Plus they coined the word “killerwhaletank”.  Still, not enough to beat Zeppelin.

#8 Journey vs CSN & Y                   Journey’s one shining moment is Tony Soprano listening to “Don’t Stop Believin” before getting whacked.  That is overcome by the overall brilliance of Mr. Neil Young.

#5 Aerosmith vs #12 Bad Company The Toxic Twins are taken to the edge, but Bad Company’s RocknRoll Fantasy can’t last, and Aerosmith moves on.

#4 Guess Who vs #13 Foreigner           No one sold more albums in 1972 than the Guess Who.  Lou Graham gets no sugar tonight.  The Canadian contingent moves on to round 2

#6 Boston vs #11 Steppenwolf            Steppenwolf has Canadian content.  Boston’s key performers attended M.I.T. which has great academics, lousy b-ball.  Steppenwolf moves forward.

#3 Rush vs #14 Cheaptrick               Mommy’s all right, Daddy’s all right, but Cheaptrick gets decimated by the power trio.

#7 Bon Jovi vs #10 KISS                 Bon Jovi is not even the best band in New Jersey.  Remember those dances in grade seven when you played “Beth” 20 straight times?  KISS WINS.

#2 E Street Band vs STP                 The Stone Temple Pilots give their best but wind up wounded, not even dead, tonight in Jungleland.

Round 2

#1 Led Zep vs CSNY                      The levee breaks and not even Neil Young can slow down Jimmy Page and Bobby Plant.

#5 Aerosmith vs #4 Guess Who            You don’t see Burton Cummings on American Idol.  The Guess Who wins based on more Grey Cup appearances.

#11 Steppenwolf vs #3 Rush              Too much depth and talent in the Rush arsenal to be upset by “Born to be Wild” and “the Pusher”.

#10 KISS vs the #2 E Street Band        If only Ace Freely and Peter Criss had never left.  The Boss from Jersey drops a pink slip on the boys from Detroit Rock City.


#1 Rolling Stones vs #16 Kansas         Kansas was great, but their best songs were all a little depressing (how many times was “Dust in the Wind” played at a wedding?).  Stones roll.

#8 CCR vs #9 Black Sabbath              With either Ozzie or Ronnie James Dio, Sabbath crushes John Fogerty into Centrefield.

#5 AC/DC vs #12 ZZ Top          The Thunder from Down Under blows through Texas and destroys some sharp dressed men (with beards).

#4 Allman Brothers vs #13 Genesis       Peter Gabriel leaves at halftime.  Even without Duane, the Allman brothers ramble into round 2.

#6 SR Vaughn vs #11 Iron Maiden Stevie Ray sends Maiden running to the hills with a coldshot.

#3 Lynyrd Skynyrd vs #14 Tom Petty      TP and Heartbreakers start free falling early and are never in the game.

#7 REM vs #10 Def Leppard               A poor man’s Led Zeppelin versus a true original.  Originality is overrated.  Leppard moves on.

#2 Pink Floyd vs #15 Fleetwood Mac      Two bands where no one gets along.  “Rumors” was huge, but I think “Darkside” was on the charts until last week.  Floyd cruises.

Round 2

#1 Stones vs #9 Black Sabbath           In a close contest, the Stones overcome Mick’s duet with Bowie and Keith Richards performance in Pirates of the Caribbean.

#5 AC/DC vs #4 Allman Brothers CBS’s Gus Johnson is still screaming as Angus Young tips the ball over Greg Allman for the winning basket.

#6 SR Vaughn vs #3 Lynyrd Skynyrd       The Freebird is still flying as Skynyrd wins this battle of superstars who perished due to air travel crashes.

#10 Def Leppard vs #2 Pink Floyd        Too much bickering between Waters and Gilmour, as well as an over reliance on lasers, dooms the heavily favored Floydsters.  While Floyd lacks harmony, Def Leppard shows true teamwork, choosing not to replace their drummer even after he loses an arm.


#1 Beatles vs #16 Sex Pistols   Malcolm McClaren’s boys are no match for the Fab Four.  Johnny Rotten fouls out after 3 minutes.

#8 Dire Straights vs #9 Jethro Tull     Ian Anderson’s flute is awesome, but Mark Knopfler wrote the music for “the Princess Bride”, one of my all-time favorites and Straits was banned by the CRTC.

#5 Cream vs #12 The Kinks       Great match-up with Ray Davies coming hard to the rack with longevity and Lola, however, Cream still rises to the top with Clapton, Bruce and Ginger Baker.

#4 Police vs #13 Yes    Not even Sting’s moodiness can stop the Police from slipping by Yes into the 2nd round.

#6 The Who vs #11 The Scorpions The Who has a lot of blemishes on their record, but I loved the rock opera Tommy, so they squeeze through.

#3 Queen vs #14 Deep Purple     Freddie Mercury is fabulous and Queen wins big.

#7 Clash vs #10 Whitesnake      No way Joe Strummer loses to a homeless man’s Robert Plant.

#2 U2 vs #15 Judas Priest       You’ve got another thing comin if you think U2 loses this match up.

Round 2

#1 Beatles vs #8 Dire Straits   The Sultans of Swing take their best shot, but can’t overcome John, Paul, George, & Ringo.

#5 Cream vs #4 Police   Another couple of bands with constant internal conflict.  The groups had similar success, but as individuals, Cream finishes on top.

#6 The Who vs #3 Queen  Royalty is on a role.  King’s Speech wins the Oscar, Queen takes down the British bad boys.

#7 The Clash vs #2 U2   The Clash pull the upset.  Bono spending too much time saving the world to focus.

Here is your SWEET 16

#1 Metallic vs #5 Hendrix       #1 Stones vs #5 AC/DC

#3 Pearl Jam vs #2 GnR  #3 Lynyrd Skynyrd vs #10 Def Leppard

#1 Led Zep vs #4 Guess Who      #1 Beatles vs #5 Cream

#3 Rush vs #2 E Street Band     #3 Queen vs #7 the Clash

That is it for a couple of weeks.  Look forward to touching base when I return.

A deeper dive into second serve statistics

The two most widely reported second serve statistics in professional tennis are the number of double faults a player hit, and their second serve winning percentage. If we’re trying to understand the effectiveness of a particular player’s second serve, relying only on those statistics has significant drawbacks. Article by Michal Kokta.

Yves Boulais: No Excuses… Get Working

Yves was proud to work with players including Greg Rudsedski, Patricia Hy, Oliver Marach, Eugenie Bouchard and Rebecca Marino, who achieved excellent results on the world stage. He was an Olympic Coach in Barcelona 1992 & Atlanta 1996, and Captain of the Canadian FedCup Team 1998 – 2000.

Update on UK Tennis Situation with Master Louis Cayer

I would like to share a mindset I instil in all the players I coach, one I believe has greatly influenced all of the player’s performances; “whatever happens, I can handle it.” This mindset is achieved through a systematic, tactical development process, so that whoever the opponent, whatever the surface, regardless of the environment, or scoring, the players can, and will rise to the challenge as it is presented.