Calling the Shots in Tennis
Combining fashion and function on the courts
Tennis fashion has dramatically evolved since the early 20th century, when men sported trousers and cotton cable-knit sweaters and the ladies showcased lace-up corsets, skirts or dressers, slippers, and, occasionally, even a fur. Players today have the luxury of a large variety of technologically advanced clothing to choose from that helps manage weather conditions and increase comfort. When deciding what to wear while playing tennis, practical and comfortable considerations should trump fashion—but that doesn't mean players must look frumpy. With the summer Austin weather in mind, I've compiled a list of wardrobe tips for men and women for those too-hot-to-handle days:
When I, an amateur, think about playing tennis, I always focus on keeping cool. I know this is a concern for most tennis players out there, whether they are men or women. Most women choose to wear shorts or a tennis skirt while playing, since these give the ability to move while providing breathable comfort. In other garments as well, the main wardrobe factors are comfort, practicality, and freedom of movement. Sports bras and racer-back tanks are other essentials for women, as they combine athletic support with comfort.
The primary concerns for men are, similarly, moving freely and keeping cool. Avoid 100 percent cotton shirts, they retain sweat and stick to the body, which causes much discomfort. Most tennis shirts these days are made from synthetic fabrics that offer the comfort of cotton without the worry of sweat and clinging fabric. Dri-Fit and ClimaLite are two of the most popular brands that enhance movement and have a lighter feel without soaking up sweat. Most sporting good stores or tennis clubs carry a large selection of clothes made from these materials or brands that are very similar. Unlike pants worn 'way back when, today's shorts have a more practical element to them—remember to select a pair that has pockets for storing spare balls while serving.
Footwear and Sweat Prevention
Another important part of your tennis wardrobe is footwear. Besides choosing the perfect racket, this is by far the most important decision you will make in your equipment. When considering a tennis shoe, look for durability, comfort, support, and ventilation. Players are constantly running, stopping, sliding, diving, and dragging. Think about whether you neeed a shoe with more ankle support or one that can accommodate a brace (if you use one). There are brands the manufacture shoes designed specifically for tennis, but common running or athletic shoes can definitely get the job done. Socks with extra cushion can be very helpful. Socks can become very sweaty, and lack of cushioning can increase the likelihood of blisters—and no one wants that! Sweatbands, worn on the wrist or forehead, can be used to keep perspiration from the eyes when serving or preparing to receive serve, though players may choose to wear hats or visors instead.
Meet the Models
An introduction to the people-and location-of this month's LOOK
Tennis players in Austin can rejoice that rain and heat can be a thing of the past, thanks to the new Edgar O. and Melanie A.Weller Tennis Center (2210 University Club Drive). The new University of Texas facility allows tennis players (and aficionados, as there is seating for some 600 spectators) access to six new indoor courts-the first in Austin-in addition to four outdoor courts overlooking the beautiful hills of Steiner Ranch and the rolling fairways of the UT Golf Club.
The tennis center opened on March 2 under the direction of Steve Bryan, a two-time All-American at UT, NCAA champion, and Associate of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Tour player for nearly a decade. Bryan returned to Austin for this "great and exciting opportunity" and has been "blown away" by the enthusiasm of the tennis athletes in the area, particularly the Ladies' League of and active Junior program members. Membership at the club, which is limited to 250, is close to capacity.
The models for this photo shoot are active members of the tennis club. Rick Ebbert has played tennis his "whole life," though he said he took "about 25 years off" before coming back. He takes lessons from Bryan and participates in the morning men's group, which is a combination of tennis lesson and fitness workout. "This facility is incredible," Ebbert said. "I've never played played indoors until now and it's been great being able to work around the rainy spring weather we've had this season."
Janna Stokes, who's been playing tennis for about six years, says it's been "amazing to have access to indoor courts" and, as a mother, she's "especially happy" with the reduced drive time now that her 12-year-old son can take advantage of the youth tennis practice in the neighborhood.
Now that you are fully dressed to go out and kick some butt, why don't you watch one of your favorite annual matches to get some tips from the pros? Here are some tennis events coming up on the calendar:
Professional Tennis Tournaments:
- French Open (May 26 - June 9)
- Wimbledon, the oldest tennis tournament in the world (June 24 - July 7)
- US Open (August 26 - September 9)
- Australian Open (January 14-27)
Can an iPhone make you a better tennis player?
Check out some of these portable training apps that could improve your game:
- Tennis Trakker — Free to $12.99
- MyTennisTracker — $2.99
- Sports Tap — Free
- Tennis Games — $0.99 - $3.99
- The Tennis App — Free
- iExercise — $2.99
Did You Know?
The Whaling/Synder Indoor Courts are named after Graham Whaling and Coach Dave Synder. Whaling, who lives in Houston, played tennis at UT from 1972-1976, where he compiled a 44-25 singles record and served as team captain during his senior year. Coach Sunder is the second-winningest men's tennis coach in NCAA Division I history, with 697 collegiate victories and 28 victorious year as Head Coach at Texas. During that time, he coached two NCAA singles champions, one of whom is the club's Director of Tennis, Steve Bryan (shown).