Braxton W. Byrd, Blaine S. Lints, Alexa J. Chandler, Harry P. Cintineo, Bridget A. McFadden, Shawn M. Arent, FACSM. Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.

BACKGROUND: Muscular power and endurance are both important for tennis players due to the power-endurance nature of the sport. Physiological testing can aid coaches in making training decisions on athlete readiness and adaptations. The purpose of this study was to evaluate baseline physiological and performance characteristics of tennis players and identify relationships between parameters. METHODS: Collegiate tennis players (male [M]: n=7, age = 20.7 ± 1.3 y, height = 186 ± 4 cm, mass = 82.2 ± 4.5 kg; female [F]: n=10, age=19.6 ± 1.3 y, height = 166 ± 5 cm, mass = 65.3 ± 9.2 kg ) participated in preseason testing to assess body composition, reaction time (RT), muscular power, and aerobic capacity. First, body composition (body fat percentage [BF%], fat-free mass [FFM]) was measured by air displacement plethysmography (BOD POD), followed by cognitive (Dynavision D2) and whole-body dynamic (Trazer System) RT. Muscular power was assessed by maximal countermovement jump with hands-on-hips (CMJ) method and aerobic capacity was determined via maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) testing. Data are presented as mean ± standard deviation and relationships between metrics were assessed using Pearson’s correlations (r) with an alpha-level of 0.05. RESULTS Average BF% and FFM were 10.8 ± 4.0 % and 73.3 ± 3.6 kg for M and 21.6 ± 6.2% and 51.7 ± 6.7 kg for F. Cognitive RT was 0.7 ± 0.1 s for both M and F and dynamic RT was 0.5± 0.0 s and 0.5±0.1 s for M and F, respectively. Average CMJ was 56.4 ± 6.2 cm for M and 41.9 ± 4.4 cm for F and average VO2max was 57.1 ± 5.1 ml/kg/min for M and 47.3 ± 5.8 ml/kg/min for F. BF% was inversely related to both CMJ (r=-0.72; P<0.01) and VO2max (r=-0.77; P<0.01). CONCLUSIONS: Overall, this sample of athletes was lean, although M were relatively leaner than F based on normative data. While RT was similar between sexes, future research should investigate how these parameters relate to on-court tennis performance. CMJ and VO2max should be monitored consistently to assess athlete-readiness and response to training programs. Correlational findings suggest increased BF% may hinder both anaerobic and aerobic performance, as athletes with higher BF% had lower CMJ heights and cardiovascular fitness. Decreasing BF% and increasing FFM may improve overall athlete fitness and therefore positively impact tennis-specific performance.

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