Tag Archives: health hazards tennis

Out of Africa

No, this is not another blog posting on the hardships of the French and English teams at football’s World Cup. While the teams were slogging it out, another battle was also in progress, albeit involving two men on the tennis court back in Wimbledon, UK.

6'9" John Isner (left) poses with Nicolas Mahut and the Umpire after the longest tennis match in history, which ended 24 June 2010 after 3 days.

After 11 hours and five minutes, 183 games, 980 points, 215 aces and 126 badly bruised tennis balls, John Isner of the US ended the longest, strangest, darnedest tennis match ever played, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7(7), 7-6(3), 70-68 over Nicolas Mahut. The result was achieved on the third day. Even the scoreboard malfunctioned when the score reached 50-50, the programmers probably thinking that no tennis match will ever get this far.

The interesting question here: how many calories did the players use up? Using FitDay’s Activity Calculator, the estimated calories used by John Isner would have been 7,960 calories while Nicolas Mahut burnt 6,250.

Put in another way, Isner used up the equivalent of 15 Big Macs or 20 plates of Oriental chicken-rice (whichever you prefer). That aside, health risks abound. The common ones like dehydration and potassium loss are easily overcome, as one can see by the frequent takes of electrolyte drinks and bananas. Not to mention muscle tears and tendon ruptures which can occur anytime, even among pros. Psychological stress plays a big role, as mind-games predominate; so tennis pros get well-prepared by undergoing emotional conditioning.

Said Isner after the marathon session, he had only 6 hours of sleep in between the days and had “no skin left on my toes”. Indeed, the damage is not over immediately after the game. It may take a week for the body to recover fully depending on the level of players’ peak physical conditioning.

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