In Mickey’s case, there is a good chance that he did not budget his time well the previous evening before his big semi-final tilt. More than likely, he got off his pre-match schedule and stayed up too late. By not sacrificing a particular activity, (going to the movies or doing another social event) he was ill-prepared for the early morning start time. But, there are many more factors a young upstart must consider if he wants to collect a lot of winning hardware. In order to maximize one’s physical and mental talents, it all begins with the proper diet. So, without a doubt, if you wish to be a high performance tennis player, be prepared to sacrifice with your meal choices. Once the aspiring tennis player eats well, he is on his way to train for hours on end. And, in succession, once the well-trained tennis player digests the proper fuel, he will have the energy to strike hundreds of balls each day and then be able to rest well each evening.
In order to follow this strict daily regimen, the teenage tennis player must continue to sacrifice: Socializing with friends must be curtailed. In other words, most well-traveled sectional-ranked tennis players constantly miss out on school events like Homecoming and Prom. In order to be able to handle the intense Florida heat and humidity, players must focus in on plenty of hydration. In order to cope with our hot and sticky weather, a player must consume plenty of water throughout the day and night—caution: Do not just drink water during the match. With the Florida State Closed in mid-June and the Super Nationals in mid-July (at Delray Beach), players must practice in the heat of the day as many matches are scheduled during the afternoon when the sun is toughest to handle. Therefore, it is my recommendation that all Florida tennis players must hit balls, run and jump rope; work with a medicine ball, and many other imaginative drills—outside in the hot and humid conditions. Fit tennis players plan well hours before each match and pack their bags with the following equipment:
- Extra clima-cool shorts, shirts, and underwear
- Several towels to cope with the excess sweating
- Numerous double-wrist bands and grip tape
- Several bottles of water and Gatorade to deal with the loss of bodily fluids
- Replacement tennis shoes
- Extra sets of strings
- Hats and sunglasses
When we analyze those at the top of their game, just about every player strokes the ball with ease. So, in order to gain an edge and zoom past the pack, it is vital to be in top physical condition. Remember, if the other tour players recognize your fitness, word will spread, and you will now gain the mental advantage. Good luck.
Doug Browne is beginning his 26th year as Director of Tennis at Hideaway Beach Club on Marco Island. He has been associated with the USPTA for 25 years, and has been playing, talking, and teaching tennis for most of his life.