playing tennis again:

I live in Carolina Apartments, in the Hilldale Area of Madison.  When it gets warmer – above 50° and this will begin happening more in late March – I want to find partners for playing on the nearby courts of Rennebohm Park.  I mainly want to have good rallies, don't want to play competitive games.  Why not?   I used to be a semi-excellent player (some details are below), am in excellent shape for age 73, can run well, have quick-and-skillful footwork, but... I want to avoid causing too much body-stress (with too many explosively fast changes-of-direction, quick starts & stops) that challenge my knees & hips & Achilles tendon, that could damage them (immediately or in the long run) — so I want a partner with good control, who can hit the ball consistently to a location near me, so I don't have to run long distances.  Probably I also will have good control, so I can return your shots consistently, because I was a semi-excellent player and still have some of my former skills.

update on March 14, 2022:  Since 1987, I've played on-court 4 times (once each in 1999, 2013, 2021, 2022) but... I "hit against a wall" a lot during Sep-Oct-Nov 2021, to practice my backhand & forehand.  When playing on-court today, my strokes were very good (at least in the rare times when I was well prepared, was "in position with good footwork" and watched the ball all the way to my racket) but two skills – footwork and eyesight – were horrible, so my consistency was horrible.  This is strange, because these two things should be natural, intuitive, automatically reliable.  Easy.  But they're not, and this is very different than 1963-68 (at my peak) when I could "run down" almost every ball, and consistency was my competitive specialty, one reason why I usually won.  But... wow!  Things have changed.  Now my main problems are not a deficiency in "seeing" or "running speed" or "footwork quickness & agility" because all are still fairly good.  But my functional tennis-eyesight and tennis-footwork are not very good.  I'm just not "connecting everything together" as in younger days.  My eyes-and-brain aren't "telling my feet what to do" like 54 years ago, and I rarely "keep my eye on the ball" until it hits the racket.  It will be interesting to see whether more practice brings back the two things that should be intuitive-and-reliable, my eyes & feet.

Craig Rusbult - - homepage.


I'm an enthusiastic educator (with PhD in Edu from U of WI), have taught tennis, juggling, physics, chemistry,...

I like to PLAY tennis, and THINK ABOUT tennis.   I was an instructor for City of Anaheim (home of Disneyland) in 1965-66 & 1970, have studied "Inner Game of Tennis" mental/physical strategies.  So if you also like to think-and-talk about tennis, that's an option.  But if you don't want this it's fine, because playing will be our main focus, it's what I mainly want.

EXPLORING POSSIBILITIES:  Currently I'm experimenting with two-handers on both sides.  So far, it feels good, looks promising.  In my early days (1963-68) I used the standard one-handed forehand & backhand.  I began playing handball my first semester at UC Irvine in 1966, so of course used a “forehand” with left & right hands.  In 1970 while recovering from right-hand surgery (due to a football injury at the end of UCI's intramural season, in the final play of the championship game we won) I played tennis with my left hand, especially liked the left-handed forehand.  In 1987 I again played a lot, and – partly to heal my tennis elbow (a new injury) but also because it worked well – I experimented with various backhand-options:  my original 1-hander (with right hand), forehand (with left hand), and many kinds of 2-handers, using different grips and with different emphases on the right & left hands, ranging from almost-backhand (with just a little “help” from the left hand) to almost-forehand (with a little “help”) plus in-between strokes with both hands equally involved.    /    Now... my left side {backhand} is 2-handed, ranging from mostly-forehand to "equally involved" and the right side is my trusty one-hand forehand, plus two new 2-handers by using a “baseball grip” like Pancho Segura (it's a standard two-handed backhand) and also a crossed-hand grip (like Monica Seles, Fabrice Santoro, and others).  Among the "others" is the #3 player for top-ranked North Carolina – that I saw at UW's Nielsen Stadium during the 2022 Women's National Indoor Championships, won by UNC – who uses a cross-handed forehand;  and UNC's #1 player uses a “baseball” forehand;  both players use the standard “baseball grip” for their two-handed backhand.  This provided additional evidence that both styles can work well, although there already is plenty of evidence for "baseball" (with all two-handed backhands) plus "cross-handed" (Monica, Fabrice,...).  Each style has reasons for why it can work well so I'll be trying both, to see what happens for me.

also:  in 1987, I bought a racket and “did things” to its grip, by making it totally flat on both sides – so it's easy to have an Eastern Forehand (left & right) – plus extending it 1" and building up the last 2" of the handle to make a Continental Grip easy, for backhand & serving, and (now) for a “baseball” forehand.  Sometime soon, this page will end with photos of the modified handle.


When younger, I was a semi-excellent player.  That's why I say "probably I will have good control" because although I haven't played much recently, earlier in life I was a skillful player in high school and early college (1963-68) and played skillfully again later (1987).   /   a clarification: I was semi-excellent, but wasn't close to being the best (even locally), and never had any dreams of Wimbledon.   {if I had continued "working at it" after high school, maybe I could have played on a team like UW's, but would not have been the team's top player, and certainly not a national star)   I haven't played much since 1987, and recently (in summer 2021) I began playing a little on-court, plus lots of hitting against a backboard (at Shorewood Hills School) and my stroke-skills have improved, are getting closer to what they were 54 years ago!  And in my spacious living room, I've been mentally-and-physically practicing strokes & footwork.  Therefore, "probably... I can return your shots consistently."

some info about semi-excellence:  After our family moved from Iowa to California, I began playing in 9th grade (Spring 1963) and in high school our tennis team won the Small Schools Championship for Southern California (a large region) where a "small school" was less than 700 students in each grade, or 2100 in grades 10-11-12.  In my junior year (1965, a year before our title) I was co-MVP of our team, and got 2nd place in the Tennis Tournament of Anaheim. (home of Disneyland, current population 350,000)    Then although I played very little during the two years after our title, in 1968 I was 2nd in the intramurals of UC Irvine (it's a University of California, like UCLA & UC Berkeley but smaller) and was flown to Berkeley for an “Intramurals Festival” where I won 6 of 8 matches against second-placers from the other 8 campuses of UC.   /   In 1987, I got a 3-way tie for second in a “summer league” with 50 players from a large church in Seattle.    { yes, small 2nd places have been an individual specialty, but my all-time favorite was the BIG 1st place for our team! }

But that was many years ago when I had more skill, and ran faster (reaching almost every ball) with no worries about joint-stress and injuries.  Now I don't want to run as vigorously or as far, I mainly want to just enjoy hitting the ball back & forth.    {although I'm unusually fast for 73, I'm much less frisky than at 19 in 1968}


also:  There is other information – about how “I should have played better in high school” and why I played surprisingly well in 1968 and more – in a page about my Personal Sports-History as participant and spectator.   Also, photos from the balcony of my new home, and videos of my juggling and fluffy-and-happy doggy who now has a wonderful new home near UCLA & Santa Monica.  And my homepage has many links, to my bio-page (about "life on a road less traveled") and website about Education for Problem Solving, plus how I learned to juggle (in 12 years & 45 minutes) and swim (in 5 seconds) and didn't learn to ski (but then did), and more.



Below here, it's just my “thinking out loud” that you can ignore. 

REASONS (benefits) for three Two-Handed Grips

Above, my section about Exploring Possibilities ends by saying "each style has reasons for why it can work well so I'll be trying both, to see what happens for me."  Now I'm considering three kinds of 2-handed forehands:  • Cross-Handed with no change in grip-positions (this is "Cross-Handed ChokingUp");   • Baseball-Grip with the left & right hands "exchanging positions" so my 2-Handed Backhand and 2-Handed Backhand are exact mirror-images (this is "Baseball-Grip ChokingUp");   • right hand "stays in position" and the left hand moves down to the handle-end so the "reach" is about 4.5" longer than with no "choking up on the bat" (this is "Baseball-Grip NoChokingUp").  Here are some pros & cons of each grip-style:

• with Cross-Handed ChokingUp the grips don't change (simplicity, a big advantage that is especially useful for the quick exchanges of net play, thus with doubles) so there is a "similarity in feel" with backhand & forehand having the same combination of left-hand/right-hand;  but... the Left-Side & Right-Side are very different (maybe a disadvantage) although both seem to be very effective, so this probably will be ok.

• with Baseball-Grip ChokingUp there is the most changing (a BIG disadvantage);  but this has the most symmetry (a big advantage) with stroke exactly same on Left-Side (my L-Hand Forehand) & Right-Side (my R-Hand Forehand).

• with Baseball-Grip NoChokingUp there is (compared with the similar Baseball-Grip ChokingUp) more power but less control, so maybe less control-able power?  i.e. maybe less actual power?) (part of "better control with ChokingUp" might be due to being able to generate more topspin with ChokingUp, with a Shorter Grip)   /   NoChokingUp has more reach (but only 4.5") and has less grip-shifting (r-hand stays in place) that is a big advantage;  assymetric length (sweet spot? eye-brain-hand adjustment needed, lose some benefits of "same L and R"); C-H has same lengths but different for many other things --> two very-different strokes

bottom line:  all grip-styles can work well (e.g. Cross-Handed: Monica, Fabrice, UNC3,...) (Baseball-Grip: PanchoS, UNC1, many 2h-backhands)

Here is a summary of pros & cons for each grip-style:

(short grip, less R-Reach)
Not Choking-Up
(long grip, more R-Reach)  
 Cross-Handed     least L-R Symmetry
    {Cross-vs-BB, diff length}  
ZERO Grip-Changing
longer R-Reach (+power?)  
    (vs BBGrip/ChokeUp)
 Baseball-Grip TOTAL L-R Symmetry
   {same BB, same length}  
most Grip-Changing
    {L change, R change}
medium L-R Symmetry
    {same BB, diff length}  
medium Grip-Changing
    {L changes, R stays}
  more Control,
    { with more topspin? }
so more Use-Able Power?  
more Maximum Power,
   {but with less control}
so less Use-Able Power?  

most stress on R-Wrist



iou – By the end of March there will be photos to show my handle-modifications from 1987, still being used now.  Soon I want to buy (and modify) a new racket, probably the usual 27" length (if I'll use only a crossed-hands forehand) that I might extend some IF one stroke will be a baseball-grip forehand (and "Not Choking-Up) with the extra length used for my left helping-hand, so my right forehand-hand can be at almost-27" without extreme shortening.