From our guest editor
Written by Milena Mirkovic
13-Jun-2024
Category: Editorial
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Volume 13 | Targeted Topic - Sports Medicine in Tennis | 2024
Volume 13 - Targeted Topic - Sports Medicine in Tennis

It’s easy to fall in love with tennis, especially growing up in a grand slam city like Melbourne, where every January the city transforms into a tennis paradise to host the Australian Open. Watching tennis professionals compete live at Melbourne Park while making the game look easy inspired me to play. My dad would say: ‘it can’t be that hard - you just have to hit the yellow ball over the net, inside the baseline and away from the opponent’. And so my tennis journey began from a young age, taking me to international junior and challenger events, short lived due to a series of injuries, which eventually led me to study sports physiotherapy and work with professional tennis players. 

Tennis is a sport that can be played by individuals of all ages, genders and abilities. Health benefits of regular participation in tennis are well established, from improved physical parameters, to positive cognitive and wellness benefits. This sport has seen a steady growth in participation over the years, and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) projects that 120 million people will be playing tennis by 2030. 

As well as higher participation figures, at a professional level, players’ competition seasons are becoming longer and more condensed to fit an increasing number of tournaments. Playing 20-30 tournaments and 100-120 singles matches in a 12-month period is not uncommon for a player who wants to climb up the ranks. Hence the training and competition loads are immense from an early age. The challenge to practitioners, especially to those working with adolescent players, is to not lose sight of the long-term player development plan. Careful load monitoring and adjustments are needed to help strike a healthy balance between competition schedules and additional physical development, to help develop players who are able to withstand the demands of professional tennis long term, in turn reducing injury risk.

Tennis is played on multiple surfaces throughout the year, and specific injury trends have been observed on each surface. In fact, with the Paris Olympic Games scheduled this year, in July alone most top professional tennis players will compete on three different surfaces: hard, grass and clay courts. It isn’t uncommon for a tennis player to continue competing despite experiencing a physical complaint, until it starts to significantly affect their performance, by which time multiple associated risk factors may play a role in persistent pain; from physical, to psychosocial, to biomechanical. As practitioners, we must think beyond pathology in players with persistent pain.

For those practitioners working (or planning to work) with wheelchair tennis players, an insight into comprehensive medical screening as well as wheelchair set up considerations, will provide a good understanding of this category of tennis.

We’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Emma Raducanu, a young professional tennis player and a grand slam winner, who sheds light into her journey of becoming a tennis professional, its rewards and challenges, and the importance of having a good sports science and medicine team supporting her.

It’s an honour and a privilege to have contributed to putting together this special edition of Sports Medicine in Tennis, which will help upskill, or at least offer a check-and-challenge approach to those clinicians working with tennis players, as well as to other team members who are involved in the health, wellbeing and physical performance of players. Thank you to the authors for their time and expertise across different spheres of tennis medicine and science.  A special thank you to Editor-in-Chief, Prof Popovic, and his team Ivan and Nasim for providing an opportunity to produce this targeted issue on tennis.

 

Milena Mirkovic PT(Hons), MPT(MSk), IOC Sports PT
Senior Physiotherapist

 


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Volume 13 | Targeted Topic - Sports Medicine in Tennis | 2024
Volume 13 - Targeted Topic - Sports Medicine in Tennis

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