26 Sep 2013

Educating juniors for a future in tennis

News Article

By Sandra Harwitt

Photo: Susan MullaneCarly O'Hara speaks at the players' forum at the 2013 Junoir Davis Cup and Fed Cup

It wouldn’t be a surprise if many people thought the 2013 Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Finals was solely about the action on the court. But anyone of that opinion would be wrong.

This event is considerably more than just playing tennis. It’s an opportunity for the juniors to socialize with peers from other parts of the world. There’s an effort to make sure the teens all have a good time with not only a Player Party, but also a Farewell Party.

But it’s not all about fun. It’s also about educating junior players for their future life as tennis pros. This might not be the fun part of the week, but it certainly is considered a very important function at the event.

And to that end, the 9th Annual Players’ Educational Forum was held on Wednesday night for the players.

This year’s Forum featured five presentations, as well as an introduction and welcome talk from Luca Santilli, Head, ITF Juniors & Seniors. Part of Santilli’s intro was to explain to the juniors the role of the ITF in the sport of tennis.

Santilli was followed by Carly O’Hara, a member of the ITF staff in the Anti-Doping department. O’Hara actually gave two brief talks during the Forum. The first lecture featured an overview of the Anti-Doping Programme and how it relates to every player who plays the game. O’Hara also gave the final talk of the evening in which she highlighted information about steroids, stimulants and suspicious supplements.

One of the most imperative messages that O’Hara wanted to get across was that very often a player will ingest something that he thought was designed to help him/her without remembering to find out whether it contained a banned substance. For instance, many over-the-counter supplements do have substances that players’ are not allowed to take.

To that end, O’Hara distributed a wallet card that lists all the substances players need to avoid and suggested that whenever a player goes to take something they check with their doctor and/or pharmacist to make sure it doesn’t feature a banned substance. She also explained that on the possible occasion you are advised to take a medication that might contain an illegal substance there was a process a player needs to follow to receive special dispensation to take the drug prescribed.

Well-known tennis photographer Susan Mullane explained to the juniors why photos are taken of them, what makes a good photo, and how players should take note of their appearance to make sure that they’re comfortable to have their photo taken.

Nutritionist Fernanda Aguilar provided players with information related to the importance of eating well to perform well. She mentioned how muscles need to be fueled every four hours and that a balanced diet containing carbohydrates and protein, fruits and vegetables, etc. is ideal. She also offered little tips such as how chocolate milk is a great recovery drink after a match.

And the final chat was offered by none other than the writer of this article, who spoke about Media In Tennis. I described how the media helps make an athlete a star by covering them, how it’s important to think about how you want to answer questions, and that a good attitude related to doing interviews helps a player come across well in the media.

In concluding the Forum, every player received a tee shirt and ice cream as they headed back to the hotel. After all, Thursday was just a night’s sleep away and there were more matches to be played.