Thank you for your feedback.
I trained about 4 hours a week with the coach, and spent more time practicing at work where we have a table. I practiced serves, built a return board, bounced the ball on the table and tried various spins and hits. Basically whenever I found a bit of time, I worked on something.
Expense wise, it is very difficult to estimate what I have spent, but it must have been a small fortune not regarding coaching, but tournament fees and travel. That was my biggest expense, although I could see coaching being another. Some coaches charge a lot of money and their incentive becomes very financially focused, which I think is the biggest issue in the US. I also feel that some coaches simply "milk" their students for cash and only show them material that will improve their game, when they get truly frustrated in not advancing. I dedicated a whole chapter in the book regarding maintaining relationship with a coach. Players need to demand certain results and set proper expectations from their coaching, otherwise, its like throwing money away.
Regarding Rakza. I really liked it at one time. I think I switched to it after Baracuda. But over time, I started to dislike one very interesting detail in this rubber. It does everything great, but if you get a long rally going - making 3-4 loops in the row from various places, I found the the ball would slide off the blade somehow. It would just not be able to spin the ball. I can't quite explain it, but it is something that was reported elsewhere and I did not really pay attention, until I began to experience the same feeling. I have no clue what may be the case, but basically eventually after several loops, I would roll the ball into the net - like all of a sudden that arc that the rubber is supposed to produce disappears and I have not altered the stroke!
Also, I found Acuda S1 and S2 being more suitable for my game. That's what I play with now ( actually I am a little low on cash, so I do have Rakza off my spare blade on the backhand, which I used to play this past weekend - beating two 2100s, bunch of 1700,1800, and 1900s and ... drumroll.... loosing to a 1600
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