(The information in this article was taken or adapted from the High Performance Coaching Program Study Guide.)
After a match, a tennis player’s primary nutritional interest should be restoring fluids, electrolytes, and carbohydrates. If the next match is scheduled to begin soon (e.g., within 1 to 2 hours), re-hydration and carbohydrate intake (about 50-100 grams) should begin immediately.
High-carbohydrate sport drinks, along with sport bars, gels, and other carbohydrate-rich foods with a high glycemic index (e.g., bagels, crackers, certain ready-to-eat cereals, white bread, and jelly beans), are good choices to get the process going. Research also suggests that a carbohydrate and protein combination might be better than just carbohydrate for rapid carbohydrate replenishment and total muscle recovery including protein rebuilding. Several commercial high-carbohydrate sport drinks and sport bars available that provide appropriate amounts of carbohydrate and protein for this purpose. Otherwise, certain combinations of breads, cereals, and dairy products, for example, can provide similar ratios of carbohydrate and protein.
If a second match of the day begins 4 to 5 hours or more after the completion of the first, players should generally follow the pre-match meal guidelines described in the article on Pre-match Nutrition. If smaller quantities of food are preferred, 50-100 grams of carbohydrate, for example, ingested immediately after play, and again every two hours, can be effective as well for replenishing one’s carbohydrate stores. The more time a player has to eat between matches, the more variety a player can have in choosing foods (including carbohydrate and proportionately more fat and protein as time permits to be digested).
Energy stores are most effectively replenished if the player can consume a high-carbohydrate meal within the first 2 hours after a match. The longer the player waits to eat, the longer it will take to replenish the body’s energy stores.
Importantly, any remaining fluid deficit should be replaced by about 150% of that deficit. For example, if you weigh 1 pound less after playing, you still need to consume about 24 more ounces of fluid with appropriate other nutrients (especially carbohydrates and sodium).