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Conference Report: The USTA Tennis Performance & Injury Prevention Conference

By Mark Kovacs, PhD, FACSM, CSCS

December 10th & 11th, 2011

Tampa, Florida

Bringing together some of the leading experts in tennis performance, injury prevention and linking with other major tennis bodies is what made this tennis performance and injury prevention symposium unique. All speakers were courtesy of the ATP, WTA, STMS, USOC, Cleveland and Florida clinic.

With 120 in attendance, the conference was opened by Dr. Mark Kovacs, who gave a summary of the purpose of the conference. The opening session focused on the applied biomechanics of tennis strokes and movement. As the audience was a mix of tennis coaches, strength & conditioning professionals, physical

therapists, athletic trainers, massage therapists and medical doctors, a strong overview of the demands of the sport was provided.

Dr. Ben Kibler (former STMS President) followed with an outstanding keynote presentation on the shoulder and the tennis player from an injury prevention perspective. The conference was then divided into a performance track and an injury prevention track, and Dr. David Dines (ATP) provided a presentation on elbow issues in the tennis player while Loren Seagrave (IMG Sped and Movement Specialist) provided a great practical session on improving acceleration and explosiveness for the tennis player. Liz Chafin (new medical coordinator for the USTA) followed looking at hip region of the tennis player while Rory Cordial (James Blake’s trainer) discussed metabolic conditioning for tennis. Dr. David Westerdahl (Cleveland Clinic Florida) reviewed growth and development in the young tennis player while Satoshi Ochi (USTA) discussed the best methods to train before and after tennis competition. To conclude the formal program on day one Dr. Randy Wilber, (Head Physiologist for the USOC) who has worked with elite US athletes for 6 Olympic Games, presented great data on training the elite athlete with emphasis on overtraining and recovery. A networking session followed which allowed all the participants to discuss tennis medicine, science and training; it was a unique mix of individuals from dozens of Universities, high schools, private tennis academies, sports medicine and physical therapy clinics all with a passion and interest in tennis.

To open day 2 of the conference Craig Boynton (current coach of John Isner) was interviewed by Dr. Kovacs and he provided a coach perspective on the physical aspects of the game and also how to work in a team environment with the medical and other support staff. This was followed by Dr. Neeru Jayanthi (STMS) providing a review of the latest data on injury rates in junior tennis players and Pat Etcheberry performing a practical session highlighting drills and exercises for improving the tennis player’s performance. Dr. Joshua Dines (US Davis Cup Doctor) presented on lower extremity injuries in the tennis player while the performance track had a panel discussion about resistance training for tennis. Dr. Michael Yorio (Director of Player Medical Services for the US Open) discussed the importance of nutrition during tournament play and Kathleen Stroia (WTA) provided a great practical taping session showing tennis specific taping techniques used at the professional level. On the performance track a detailed review and analysis of tennis movement was presented by Dr. Kovacs.

To close the conference Dr. Brian Hainline (Chief Medical Officer for the USTA) provided a historical perspective of medical care in tennis and the US Open specifically. He shared some unique stories from his experiences and expertly tied all the conference presentations together. The response to the conference from the participants was exceptional, and this unique event helped improve the training of tennis players while potentially lowering the rate of injuries in tennis players at all levels.


Mark Kovacs, PhD, FACSM, CSCS

Chair , 2011 USTA Tennis Performance & Injury Prevention Conference

Dr. Kovacs is a performance physiologist where he combines research and education to improve tennis-specific performance. He oversees the sport science area for the United States Tennis Association. He can be reached at

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