the exacting toll of competitive tennis

As a kid growing up in a suburb of Cincinnati, I have vivid memories of Mom dragging me and my siblings to the local YWCA where she would play tennis and where we would ragtag around. I started to play some tennis as a teen and while my serve is just awful I do love the game. I love watching it more. And by it I mean Grand Slam tennis. My favorite tournament is Roland-Garros (pronounced Row-lawn Gare-rohs), otherwise known as the French Open, which is currently underway. (Vamos, Rafa! Go, Del Potro, go!)

Au tennis

I had the chance to attend the U.S. Open some eight years ago and while I love the players that the U.S. Open symbolizes–Arthur Ashe, Billie Jean King (both heroes in my book), I wish we’d do away with this tournament altogether. The players don’t compete at the U.S. Open. They straggle and flame out. It’s difficult to watch.

Turns out competitive tennis and hard court play take a wicked toll on players’ bodies–elbows, wrists, knees, ankles, shoulders, back muscles, and on. How much can competitive players withstand and why do we (the fans) support this?

A writer at The Conversation authored an incisive article on tennis’s toll. He or she wrote:

Today’s players are reaching 10,000 games on hard court nearly five years earlier than players from several decades earlier.


Hard courts, the surface considered most stressful on the body, make up 60% of the highest-level events in the men’s tennis season, and the disparity between accumulated games played on hard court across generations is even greater than all surfaces combined.

Source: The Conversation: The Terrible Toll Tennis Can Take on Top Players Who Play Too Much.

Last August writer Frank Pingue authored an article titled “Tennis – Relentless Schedule Taking Toll on Big-Name Players,” which you can read up here.