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Conference Report: STMS North American Conference Hilton Head, NC

Updated: Mar 12

February 8-9, 2020

Neeru Jayanthi, MD and Kayla Fujimoto Epperson, PT, DPT

The STMS hosted their annual North American Conference earlier this month in conjunction with the Professional Tennis Registry International Symposium at the Shipyard Van Der Meer Tennis Center on Hilton Head Island.

We had a number of tennis-loving attendees from various backgrounds including physicians, physiotherapists, chiropractors, athletic trainers, nutritionists, researchers, and students.  Dr. Neeru Jayanthi and his team from Emory did a wonderful job organizing the event, and Julie Jilly from PTR went above and beyond to make accommodations for the STMS.  Overall it was a great weekend of sharing research and information on managing the tennis player from a health care perspective.

Saturday kicked off with how we can best manage different types of individuals who play tennis with specific evaluations and medical interventions.

  • Dr. Walt Taylor from the WTA presented on Comprehensive Care of the Professional Tennis Player

  • Dr. Paul Caldwell was unable to make it due to some weather and travel issues, but Dr. Jayanthi presented his slides on the fly on the adult tennis players and common injuries and injury risks

  • Dr. Jayanthi talked about managing the junior tennis player and when to intervene or allow them to continue playing

  • Dr. Cassidy Foley Davelaar who works at the USTA National Training Center presented on the female tennis player and female specific evaluation and treatment

The morning session ended with a touching tribute to the late Ollie Stephens by his wife, Milena, from PTR.  We were all reminded just how short and precious life is and to cherish the little things that bring us joy.  Ollie was an impactful member of the tennis community, especially in his work with youth athletes.  We will always remember his passion and character, especially during his challenging battle against cancer.

The afternoon was split with two different knowledge tracks: 1) Tennis-specific rehab and 2) Return to Play Decision Making.  On the rehab side, we had very practical lectures and demonstrations from Aylin Seyalioglu, Dr. Robyn RIce, Jeff Vajay, and Randy Gootzeit.  I was also honored to join the rehab session!

During the Return to Play (RTP) Symposium, the concept of Acute to Chronic Workload ratios and management when making RTP decisions was a hot topic!  Presenters included Dr. Lorena Martin, Dr. Gary Windler, Dr. Natalie Myers, Dr. Ben Kibler, and Dr. Jayanthi and Tony Tran.

We put on our tennis gear, grabbed our rackets, and headed to the courts for the remainder of the afternoon and evening.  Dr. Kibler presented on serve mechanics and stroke analysis discussing common mistakes and injury risk patterns.

Dr. Jayanthi performed an impromptu on court evaluation and discussed RTP stroke modifications with a player from Van Der Meer Academy.

Ted Borgerding got everyone warmed up with his on-court dynamic warm up and education on important components to include no matter what time constraints you may have.  I think it was the most warmed up I have ever felt before hitting some tennis balls in the last 5 years!

Sunday morning was another packed day of tennis information and discussion.  The morning medical session included presentations from:

  • Dr. Robert Gallo on Return to Tennis Following Knee Surgery

  • Dr. Kibler on Shoulder Injuries in the Tennis Player

  • Dr. Matthew Pombo on Hamstring Injuries in Tennis

I was also very honored to share the floor that morning for my talk on Backhand Wrist: A New Tennis-Specific Diagnosis.

The conference ended with two tracks: 1) Research and Cases and 2) Practical Applications in Tennis Medicine

Research and Cases:

  • Dr. Robyn Rice: Risk Factors For Lower Limb Injuries (hip & foot/ankle) In Elite Junior And Professional Tennis Players

  • Adriana Acuna: Hip Pain In Adult Tennis Player: Hip Scope, Resurface, or Replace

  • Dr. Rajiv Kumar Verma: Young Athlete Injure Outcome Study (IOS)

  • Alexandria Render: Heat Myths In The Tennis Player: Case Based Approach

  • Dr. Natalie Myers: Determination of Normative KJOC Scores In College And Junior Tennis Players

  • Berkley Van Dyke: Low Back Pain in a Junior Tennis Player

  • Dr. Robert Gallo: Identifying Differences In Elastographic Properties Of The Achilles Tendon Across Subsets Of Tennis Player

Practical Applications:

  • Dr. Sarah Gibson: Comprehensive Pre-participation Evaluations Of Elite USTA Tennis Players

  • Dr. Walt Taylor: How to Assess & Treat Fatigue in the Elite Tennis Player

  • Dr. Jana Upshaw: Making Medical Decisions At Tournaments

  • Page Love: Managing the Vegetarian Tennis Athlete's Sport Nutrition Performance Planning

  • Dr. Jayanthi, Adriana Acuna, Tony Tran, Ted Borgdering: Setting Up A Local Tennis Medicine Program To An STMS Center of Excellence

It was an amazing conference full of discussion, networking, education, and collaboration.  I think the biggest takeaway is to find your passion and then do everything in your power to pursue it.  As healthcare professionals who are passionate about working with tennis players, we all have a unique opportunity to share our knowledge and expertise with our colleagues while also educating the general public, parents, players, and coaches on tennis-specific management and injury prevention so we can keep players healthy and playing throughout the lifespan.  There is also SO much room for growth in tennis research, so we can have more sports specific data and information to reference.  As we know from the research, tennis is one of the healthiest sports you can truly play lifelong.  Let’s keep it that way!

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