This article is a summary of, “It’s Called a Season; It Lasts 11 Months,” written by Juliet Macur. To read the full article, click here.
The season unofficially begins with the Australian Open in January, and continues on for eleven months. For the players this means traveling, training, playing, and inescapable injuries. This eleven month season is physically and emotionally taxing on the athletes.
Rafael Nadal said, “You can’t make your body go to the limit for the whole year. It’s just not possible.”
The players do not have enough recovery time. They are not able to heal their injuries or recharge their bodies. Instead of responding to the pain in an appropriate fashion, e.g., rest, and relaxation, these players are suffering through it.
“Because of it, we will all have to retire when we are young,” said Nadal.
Jim Courier had to retire at age 29 due to sheer exhaustion, “If I had been given a proper schedule and stopped the season in October, could have played three, four or five years more.”
Many people attribute the increase of injuries to the increase in the speed of the game.
Since there have been significant increases in racquet technology, these racquets allow players to hit the ball at a fast-pace even when they are not trying too hard.
Twenty years ago, a hard-hit ground stroke was usually 60 to 70 miles per hour for men. For women, it was usually 50 to 60 miles per hour. Today, hard-hit ground strokes are often 90 to 100 miles per hour for men and 80 to 90 miles per hour for women.
Shoulder, knee, ankle, hip, pelvis and back injuries are all prevalent in professional tennis these days. Twenty years ago, the most common injury in professional tennis was tendonitis.
At this rate, professional tennis will be losing many key players too soon. If the schedule could somehow be changed, this may be able to be stopped. Like Courier said, “You’d rather change the schedule and, for the good of the game, see iconic players stick around longer, wouldn’t you?