Overuse Injuries; Deadline for Early Decision Looms

As I celebrated another birthday this past weekend, we start to think about the passage of time.

      First, on the pro tour, with the U.S. Open history and the Tour moving to Asia, how many of you are following the results from China, Japan and other locations?  Pro tennis these days takes a backseat to the baseball playoffs, pro football and the start of the basketball and hockey seasons.  But one item being talked about in the various tennis media columns is the number of injuries this fall which have forced players to default out of pro tournaments, especially at the last moment.  The blame is placed on the virtual year round scheduling of tennis tournament--there is seemingly no rest period if you are on the tour.  Then when a pro may have a week or two "off", what happens?  They play a big money exhibition in Dubai or some other exotic location.  With this wear and tear, unless the WTA and/or ATP take action, these injuries seem destined to continue indefinitely.  The WTA has taken the more aggressive posture on this: a few years back, two-time past Tennis: Europe player and then President of the WTA, Larry Scott, set up a study of how to reduce the tournament calendar to have a substantial off-season and now the new incoming WTA Director may pursue this further.  Let's hope they do and are joined by the ATP Tour. Tennis needs a shorter season with some breaks in it to avoid continuous injuries (and fan fatigue).

     Then we turn to junior tennis, which has the same problem.  The USTA and other federations encourage juniors and award them with more points per round for playing more tournaments.  You could be 12 wins and 1 loss and another player 12 and 30: guess which player will get the higher USTA ranking?  Not the 12-1 -- that player did not enter enough tournaments and complete enough matches--hence the penalty in the rankings.  The USTA has even said they desire all American juniors to play between 60 and 85 tournament matches per year.  As one parent told me, sitting at a practice session: "When are they supposed to go to school?"  That problem has also been solved: the latest trend among the top juniors -- they don't go to school, and are either home-schooled or take classes/school on the computer.  Is it a coincidence that about 50% of teenage tennis players are injured at any one point in time whether it be shoulder, knee, lower back or something else.

     The USTA's fallback position of course is that parents and coaches should determine a player's tournament schedule as they wish...but then the tendency is to overschedule to get more points per round and not miss a week and loss of even a few points.  Even if USTA bases all rankigns on just 8 tournaments and only counts your top 8 results.  For the long haul, is overscheduling best for the player?  Something to think about, since the fall season after school tennis finishes is one of those times of year when you can "take a break" from all the tennis to relax and even get into other sports and activities.  I have always felt that if you cannot get a good ranking about playing AT MOST 15 to 20 tournaments per year,playing an extra 5 or 10 tournaments is not going to improve that ranking.

Then as we approach November, high school seniors, especially tennis players, are into 
"crunch time" for early decision applications.  The college coach tells you he/she can be of most help at the admissions' office if you apply early decision, which is binding on the school and YOU.  But you can't seem to decide if you have an overwhelming first choice, so is it still wise to go early application and if accepted, you are committed to attending that one school?  There are many pros and cons to early versus regular decision -- ED may help improve admission 10-20% and combined with a coach who wants you, even more.  It can also relieve the stress of waiting until April's regular decision.  We advise you to visit or revisit your top choice or two between now and ED deadline in early November. See the coach, stay in the dorms with tennis team members, attend classes, talk with the students.  Then go through your notes taken during your visit and talk with your parents.  If you decide to apply early decision, be certain you leave enough time to complete the application, not just the Common App., but also the additional essays many schools ask you to write in addition.

      We wish you good luck in your scheduling of tournaments and for senior class readers, in your decision on whether to apply early !

Reminder:   Our all new 2016 Tennis: Europe Brochure has just been completed, and placed on-line.  We are sending out on-line brochures (attachments)--just ask us to do so.  And we have a hard copy paper brochure if you would like us to send one to your postal mailing address.  And as a special bonus for early sign-ups: until October 31, we offer a discount of $ 200. to anyone signing up for any of our teams.  Just phone us at 1-800-253-7486 anytime at our office.  You might say even Tennis: Europe has its own early decision advantage !

Martin Vinokur, Co-Director