Tennis: An Overview
Stan Reents, PharmD
05/06/2007 11:17 AM
Last Revision: 12/10/2018 06:01 AM
In 1979, I moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and played tennis as often as I could. Over the next 2 years, I saw Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Guillermo Vilas, Harold Solomon and many other top pros live. I also saw a match between former champions Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall. Even though it was just an exhibition, Laver still hit beautifully crisp topspin ground strokes and Rosewall had that amazing backhand volley.
Back in the late 70's and early 80's, tennis in the US was extremely popular. This was likely due to the fact that American players like Connors and McEnroe were not only the best in the world, but, also very "colorful" to watch. Jimmy Connors was my favorite player and I was lucky enough to see him and Bjorn Borg go at it in person when both were in their prime. Borg won that one in 3 sets that looked like they were trying to hit every single ball harder than the last.
Then, there was another wave of top Americans who all seemed to evolve from Nick Bollettieri's program in Bradenton, Florida: Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, and Jimmy Arias. Monica Seles and Mary Pierce also trained there.
Since then, except for the Williams sisters, James Blake, and Andy Roddick, Americans have not dominated professional tennis like they did back in the 80's. This is likely one explanation for why tennis has lost popularity in the US. Presently, the top players are coming from Europe and the former Soviet Union. Nick Bollettieri stated in a recent issue of Florida Tennis magazine (July 2006) that there doesn't appear to be a wealth of American talent on the horizon.
TENNIS AS AN AEROBIC EXERCISE
Tennis is an excellent aerobic exercise. When playing singles tennis, the average player burns about 7-8 times the calories used while sitting. Doubles tennis burns about 5-6 times the calories used at rest (Ainsworth BE, et al. 2000). According to Consumer Reports '05 fitness issue, tennis is the #5 ranked sport for most calories burned per workout.
If you're more concerned with getting in shape than competing in tournaments, and you like tennis, consider a Cardio Tennis class. Cardio Tennis (www.CardioTennis.com) is a concept that blends aerobics with tennis. It's certainly bound to be more fun than jogging. Please consult with your physician before beginning any new exercise program.
Practicing with a teaching pro can make a huge difference in your game. To find a tennis pro in your area, consult your local tennis club or pro shop. Or, go to the web site of the US Professional Tennis Association (www.USPTA.org).
If you are serious about taking your tennis game to the next level, consider one of the following tennis programs:
• Bollettieri Tennis Academy, Bradenton, FL (www.IMGAcademies.com): Anyone who has been following tennis for any length of time is familiar with Nick Bollettieri. But, you don't have to be a professional player to train here. The Academy offers 3-day and 5-day programs for adults who are serious about training.
• Human Performance Institute, Orlando, FL (www.MentallyTough.com): The Human Performance Institute (formerly known as "LGE Performance Systems") has been training pros and serious players. Led by Director of Tennis Lorenzo Beltrame, HPI has trained Jim Courier, Monica Seles, and Pete Sampras.
• Saddlebrook Resort, Wesley Chapel, FL (www.Saddlebrook.com): Harry Hopman was the coach of Australian greats Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, and John Newcombe. When Hopman came to the States, he set up his rigorous tennis program at Saddlebrook, just north of Tampa, FL. Although Mr. Hopman has since passed on, his program and philosophy remains. Jennifer Capriati and Martina Hingis have trained here. I trained here a couple years ago and I loved it.
If your son or daughter wants to pursue top level competitive tennis at the collegiate or professional level, they'll need good instruction beginning at an early age. Consider one of these tennis academies:
• Bollettieri Tennis Academy, Bradenton, FL (www.IMGAcademies.com): As described above, Nick Bollettieri is a legendary coach. The list of current and former touring pros that have trained here is very impressive, most recently, Maria Sharapova. The Academy, part of the IMG Academies network, offers a variety of junior programs.
• Harold Solomon Tennis Institute, Ft. Lauderdale, FL (www.SolomonTennis.com): This facility opened in January 2006. Harold Solomon is a former top-10 player. He has teamed up with Andy Brandi, the former tennis coach of the University of Florida Lady Gators. I have personally taken lessons from Andy Brandi and I really like his no-nonsense, practical coaching style.
• Hopman Tennis Academy at Saddlebrook Resort, Wesley Chapel, FL (www.Saddlebrook.com) (see description above).
• International Tennis Academy USA, Delray Beach, FL (www.itausa.com): This academy is for serious juniors and touring pros.
• Rick Macci Tennis Academy, Deerfield Beach, FL (www.RickMacci.com): Rick Macci is a 7-time USPTA Coach of the Year. He has trained Venus and Serena Williams, Jennifer Capriati, Mary Pierce, Andy Roddick, and other touring pros.
If you're looking for a tennis vacation, there are lots of options. Basically, they fall into 2 categories: tennis tours and tennis resorts.
A tennis tour is a vacation package constructed around attending a major tennis event. Generally, the tour operator takes care of hotel accommodations, tickets for the event, and travel between your hotel and the venue. Some meals are included, and some non-tennis activities may be part of the package. They may also be willing to arrange your airfare, and some might try to help you with individual side-trips.
Two of the better-known tennis tour operators are:
• Grand Slam Tennis Tours (www.GrandSlamTennisTours.com) (formerly, Topnotch Tennis Tours) in Stowe, VT. One of the appealing features of this outfitter is that they arrange playing time for their guests, a nice compliment to watching the action at a Grand Slam Event.
• Steve Furgal's International Tennis Tours, Inc. (www.Tours4Tennis.com) in San Diego, CA is another outstanding tennis tour company.
Attending a tennis resort is a way to blend some tennis lessons into your vacation. There are too many to list here. Instead, check out Tennis magazine's web site: www.tennis.com/travel/.
When you need tennis gear, check out these web sites:
FOR MORE INFORMATION
If you are a beginner who is interested in tennis, a good place to start is www.TennisWelcomeCenter.com.
Web sites for various tennis organizations include:
Books by tennis players:
- Martina Navratilova: Shape Your Self (2006)
- John McEnroe: You Cannot Be Serious (2003)
- Jimmy Connors: Don't Count Yourself Out: Staying Fit After 35 (1994)
- Ivan Lendl: Ivan Lendl's Power Tennis (1986)
(NOTE: Neil Gordon, MD, PhD, a highly-respected sports medicine researcher, was a significant contributor to Jimmy Connors' book.)
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EXPERT HEALTH and FITNESS COACHING
Stan Reents, PharmD, is available to speak on a variety of exercise-related topics. (Here is a downloadable recording of one of his Health Talks.) He also provides a one-on-one Health Coaching Service. Contact him through the Contact Us page.
Ainsworth BE, Haskell WL, Whitt MC, et al. Compendium of physical activities: an update of activity codes and MET intensities. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2000;32:S498-S516. Abstract
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stan Reents, PharmD, is a former healthcare professional. He is a member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) and a member of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). In the past, he has been certified as a Health Fitness Specialist by ACSM, as a Certified Health Coach by ACE, as a Personal Trainer by ACE, and as a tennis coach by USTA. He is the author of Sport and Exercise Pharmacology (published by Human Kinetics) and has written for Runner's World magazine, Senior Softball USA, Training and Conditioning and other fitness publications.
DISCLOSURE: Neither the author, nor AthleteInMe, LLC has any financial relationship with any of the products or services mentioned in this review.
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