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Youth and Experience - Part 2
April 23, 2018
Talking with Blake Anderson and Mike Stulac, Part Two
Anderson and Stulac continue to discuss why they’ve found success on the APTA circuit together this season, despite, or perhaps because of, their age disparity.
Why can paddle players stay competitive at much older ages than tennis players can?
BA: The screens are a large part of that. Since paddle is played on a smaller court than tennis, it is easier to keep rallies going for a longer period of time. Typically the ball doesn't move as fast as a tennis ball does during a point. That's why I love the game so much, every player brings a different aspect to a match and each match is different than the others.
MS: Strategies such as I formation (one at net, one hitting overheads), and staying back on the serve reduce the amount an older player needs to move and the more one person can be dominant. Finally, the screens mean you don’t have to cut off all angles and you can let the ball to go side to back and move when you have a good opportunity.
Mike-You have had a lot of success for many years in this sport. What is it that drives you to keep playing at this level?
MS: That is an interesting question because some years the season ends and I think that’s it, I am done because it wasn’t fun and I couldn’t compete at a level that I was happy with. One of those years was before I played with Blake this year. I decided not to play Nationals and that year and was there to watch KD (Mike’s wife, Kerri Delmonico) and babysit our daughter Riley, but Scott Estes got hurt carrying me in the 45s and I played with Nathan Lefevre. We competed well in the Nationals and so figured if I could get a strong player, it would be fun!
This year was great from that standpoint. I ended the year thinking about how I can improve my overhead and my serve. Rumor has it I better talk to Jim Kaufman, given his success with Powers and Hughes. But I am also realistic. Blake is going to have a number of people knocking on his door to play next year so I may need to find another strong gun.
Most years, a pep talk with Cindy Prendergast over a bottle of red wine, gets me motivated to play another year. She is a great friend and we both love the game, are very competitive and she convinces me how much I would miss it.
Blake-You’ve been playing in tournaments for a few years. What does it mean to be competing now with a former National Champion? Does it change the way you approach/prepare for your matches?
BA: For years I have always had an open mind going into matches. I never get intimidated and try not to think ahead too much. Playing with Mike has brought my mental game to another level. Knowing that he knows what he is supposed to do and knowing that we have a game plan to follow it is a lot easier to rely on your partner. I love playing with a former National Champion. I want him to be back on top of the game again. For years I looked up to him as he was winning National Championships and I was winning Junior Nationals. To play together now is a lot of fun. I thought I would never find someone like myself who has the firepower and the determination to win a match, but Mike is the right guy who knows how to win a match and compete at any level.