The Aces and Double Faults of My 2016

As we move into the last week of 2016 I have been reflecting on the highs (that would be the aces) and lows (you guessed it, the double faults) of this past year. Looking back I can happily say that the highs far outweighed the lows, and I have finally found the perfect work-life balance thanks to my discovery of tennis and blogging.

Aces

My partner and I bought our first apartment and moved in at the beginning of the year. After extensive refurbishment we were able to create a clean, bright, modern space that I enjoy both living and working in. After 11 months we still haven’t bought lampshades for the light bulbs on the walls, but that is because we were distracted by all the other highlights of this year…

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Midway through 2016 I discovered the world of tennis and found a sport that gave meaning to my workouts, above and beyond simply staying in shape. When I take tennis lessons or play a match I don’t think about the effort I am making, as I am having so much fun running around chasing after a ball. And when I am doing a HIIT session and struggling to dig deep and complete 1 minute of jump squats, or mountain climbers, or push-ups, I just remind myself that it is all going to help me perform better on the tennis court.

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A month or so after starting tennis, I set up an Instagram account and started sharing videos and photos of my tennis journey (both progress and fashion), which led me to make lots of new tennis-loving friends around the world. You gave me constructive feedback on my poor technique, congratulated me on my progress and complimented me on my sense of tennis fashion. Thank you, all of you, for sharing my passion for tennis, fashion and fitness!

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I enjoyed micro-blogging on Instagram so much I decided to set up this blog which helped me rediscover my creativity, which had been lying dormant since my school days (probably because I decided to become an engineer!). I enjoy the whole process of thinking of ideas for blog posts, writing, taking photos, and getting comments and emails from readers (including one who wanted some advice on a tennis outfit to buy his wife for Christmas – btw, I hope she likes the tennis skirt I suggested!). I am immensely grateful that I also got to guest post for three amazing websites/blogs (SportStylist, Tennis Identity and Women’s Tennis Blog) and received my first blogging gifts, including my Idawen bag, a Lucky in Love outfit and some cute vibration dampeners from Romp Supply.

And for some reason I won loads of competitions this year! Ok, so I do tend to enter every competition I see on Instagram, especially if it is tennis or fitness fashion related, but I was still surprised to win a tennis tank from Freshdeuce, an Ellesse tennis dress, AlienPros overgrip, a Courtgirl team racerback and a Lucky in Love outfit for both me and a friend, all in just 6 months!

Double Faults

I really don’t want to dwell too long on the lows, and I’m pleased to say that there really weren’t that many, but the things that have got me down over the past year include being the victim of credit card fraud and having my new car vandalized (the whole inboard computer was ripped out, causing thousands of Euros of damage!).

But after the double faults you learn to appreciate the aces so much more, and I am definitely finishing this year on a high and I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings!

How to Look Preppy on the Tennis Court

For Black Friday I decided to buy myself some tennis apparel that I wouldn’t normally have chosen as it didn’t include a tennis skirt or dress. The reason was mainly because I wanted to start getting used to wearing clothing that covers more of my skin when playing tennis (given my concerns about exposure to the sun, as I also wrote about in my guest blog post for Women’s Tennis Blog).

In the end I selected the outfit in the photo above from Naffta, which is a Spanish tennis and Padel clothing company that one of my Instagram followers recommended to me. I have now played tennis a number of times whilst wearing the outfit (see video below) and I have been pleased to discover it doesn’t make me feel too hot, even inside an indoor heated tennis court. The leggings are also able to hold a couple of balls on each side, which is very handy but does perhaps lead to a rather lumpy silhouette!

What I really like about the outfit is the ‘preppy’ look of the white v-neck top, with navy blue and dark red stripes. Now, I might not be particularly knowledgeable when it comes to preppy fashion, but I do know the main features you need to incorporate to get the look, which are:

  • pleated skirts, polo dresses, tops with collars, v-neck tops (preferably with a stripe)
  • colours that are predominantly white or cream with stripes/blocks of navy, burgundy, dark green, and brown
  • a wooden racket (optional for playing with, but makes great photos for Instagram or Pinterest!)

How to Look Preppy

Here are three brands that can help you perfect that preppy look on the tennis court:

1. Tory Sport

Tennis. Shop by Sport.:

2. L’Etoile Sport

L'Etoile Sport tennis outfits http://www.letoilesport.com/tennis-collection/shop-all.html:

3. Lacoste

 

 

A Look Inside My Tennis Bag

If there is one thing that I am especially terrible at, it is cleaning out my handbags. Much like the drawers in my house, they are full of things I really should have already thrown away. If you delve inside any of the bags stored in my wardrobe you are likely to find most, if not all, of the following:

  • A number of scrunched up receipts
  • An old lip balm
  • At least one hard boiled sweet (probably stuck to the lining of the bag)
  • A couple of tampons
  • Coins (usually pennies from my last trip to the UK)
  • A USB key
  • About 5 or 6 biros, none of which work…

I am a bit better when it comes to my tennis bags, probably because they are new and I have only really used them to go back and forth to tennis or workouts. In fact I am quite proud of the contents of my Idawen tennis bags. So what’s inside my tennis bag?

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So nothing really surprising, except perhaps the tripod. I’m not sure how easy it is to find tripods for iPhones where you are, but I asked in quite a few shops in Italy and couldn’t find what I needed. So in the end I improvised and created my own by combining a standard cheap camera tripod with the head of a selfie stick, e voilà!

So tell me, what’s inside your tennis bag?

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Why I Prefer Running in the Winter

Have you ever gone for a run in winter? If not, why not – is it the cold that puts you off, or perhaps the dark mornings/evenings? Before I went for my first run in the winter, I was a bit apprehensive. I knew I hadn’t enjoyed doing sports at school during the winter and I couldn’t see why it would be any different now. But I wanted to go running, as it is so easy to put on a pair of trainers, step outside the door and run. From getting my kit on to stepping out of the shower after a run, it usually takes out no more than 1 hour from my day (that’s only about 4%!). Now, whilst research might indicate that it is more efficient to burn fat from body weight exercises and lifting weights, I still think that the challenges that running brings to your body and mind are worth it, regardless of whether you burn more or less calories. As I wrote in a previous blog post, I find running difficult, and that is exactly why I do it. Overcoming this difficulty is part of the strength I want to build in my body, even if it is more mental than physical.

Anyway, coming back to running in winter, before I went for my first run I made sure I was well equipped with the right gear. That is probably the biggest change to exercising in winter that has taken place since my schooldays. Not only do I now get to choose what I wear, today’s sportswear is typically made from high-performance fabrics that provide thermal insulation and moisture transfer. And there are some really stylish garments out there!

Running in the winter
Running in my trusty black Oysho leggings (with ankle zip detail) , Kipsta keepdry base layer and Oysho seamless sports jacket. (Despite taking hundreds of photos in burst mode, I still couldn’t find one without crazy hair…).

So once I had acquired the right kit and stepped out for my first run on a cold, winter evening last year, I discovered that I actually prefer running in the cold. In the summer, I find the sun and heat absorbs all my energy and I hate the way my head gets hotter, and hotter, and hotter, and I end up with a beetroot face that drives me crazy! Instead, when running in the cold, my body temperature is just right thanks to the right kit, and the cold air makes me feel like I have an air-conditioning unit directed at my face, regulating its temperature. And as a consequence I find it easier to keep going.

If you have never tried running in the winter, then I would definitely encourage you to invest in some warm running kit and give it a go. If you run during the dark mornings/evenings in winter, keep in mind the advice in the video below from This Girl Can Run on how to keep safe:

And here are a few final tips from personal experience:

  • I often wear wireless around-ear headphones to listen to music and keep my ears warm at the same time.
  • Even in winter, if I run during the day, I wear a high SPF sunscreen on my face to protect my skin (I usually wear the Avène SPF 50 tinted compact all year in place of traditional foundation).
  • I make sure I drink lots of water as even though I feel less thirsty compared to when I run in the summer, I do sweat a lot under my layers of running kit.

Do you like running in the winter? Share you experiences with me in the comments below.

Christmas Gift Ideas for Tennis Lovers

I am a bit rubbish at buying Christmas presents. I have given up trying to think of imaginative presents for my mum, 3 brothers and their other halves, 6 nephews/nieces, my partner and his 2 kids…and so most of them get a bottle of Italian wine (not the kids), some handmade pasta or an Amazon gift voucher.

However, I do like to try and treat my partner with a special present to thank him for putting up with me all year. Now that we are both tennis lovers, I have been thinking about the best tennis-related gifts that I could get him (hoping he won’t read this), that he could get me (hmmm, actually hoping he will read this!), and how I could instead treat us both this Christmas.

So read on for my Christmas gift ideas for tennis lovers.

For him

1. TopspinPro. We may already have one of these, but this is something that I would have bought my partner in the past for Christmas, had I known about it. You can pick up one from my affiliate link.

2. Eprius London weekend bag. Like me, my partner dislikes those enormous branded tennis bags in garish colours, and so I think he would really appreciate this large stylish bag to take to tournaments.

3. Under Armour Wristbands. I love the length of these wristbands, and they look so good on Andy Murray…

4. TheraBand FlexBar. In my recent post on the steps to a more powerful tennis serve I mention the importance of pronating the arm. These flexible bars are great for strengthening the forearm, and are apparently also useful for treating tennis elbow.

For her (i.e. me!)

5. Idawen Bocce Lubn tennis bag. Yes, I know I already have two tennis bags, but as I keep trying to explain to my other half, you can never have too many (tennis) bags! Idawen are having a 20% off Black Friday sale, but if you miss this don’t worry as I have two more 20% discount vouchers that I will be giving away on Instagram in December/January.

6. Tory Sport Performance Visor. I think white visors are so classy, and so necessary to protect your face from the sun.

7. Monreal London Signature Drawstring Dress. Another tennis dress that can easily take you from the court to cocktails!

8. Emily Austin String Blings. I discovered these racket vibration dampeners made with Swarovski crystals on Women’s Tennis Blog, and was immediately enchanted.

For both of you

I would also love to treat both of us to a week in an adult tennis camp for the New Year, in a place that would allow us to get away from the foggy, cold climate of northern Italy. If you would like to do the same, take a look at these organisations that can set up tennis holidays for you:

Happy Christmas Shopping!