By Nicholas J. Walz, USTA.com
NEW YORK -- The USTA and the US Open are teaming up with The Mount Sinai Medical Center to promote the health benefits of tennis and to ensure a lifetime of tennis for millions of players – professional and recreational – throughout the country.
Mount Sinai, located in New York City, home of the US Open, has been named the exclusive medical services provider and hospital of the USTA and the US Open. In addition to providing on-site clinical care for the professionals competing in the US Open, Mount Sinai’s team of medical experts will lead the development of policies around injury prevention and will conduct educational outreach to promote the health benefits of tennis.
This effort could impact millions of recreational players in the United States and potentially draw new players to the sport.
"There’s nothing more important for tennis players, no matter their age, than living a healthy lifestyle," USTA Player Development General Manager Patrick McEnroe said after an hour-long ceremony inside The Mount Sinai Medical Center’s Guggenheim Pavilion announcing the new partnership. "Establishing exercise and nutrition at an early age in a kid’s life is just as important as teaching proper technique on the court. Like tennis, good health is a lifelong pursuit that’s really worth going after because it makes everything about life more enjoyable."
Former Top 10 player and U.S. Davis Cup standout James Blake, a native New Yorker, closed out the proceedings by meeting and playing a pickup doubles match with young members of the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program (HJTEP) on a 36-foot court sized right for kids. The 33-year-old started playing tennis at age 5 as a HJTEP member with his brother, Thomas, and credits tennis with helping him in maintaining health throughout his life.
"Even if it’s hitting a ball against the wall in your driveway, you’re moving and also building up coordination that’ll make you a better tennis player and a happier kid," said Blake. "Tennis players aren’t invincible, even the elite ones, so it’s important to run, play and stay active to be as healthy as possible."
The new, national year-round partnership is believed to be one of the most in-depth relationships between a sports entity and a health care provider. Kenneth L. Davis, president and CEO of The Mount Sinai Medical Center, underscored the mutual commitment to health following the announcement.
"Tennis has multiple health rewards, whether you compete on the world stage of the US Open or play with family and friends at a local park," said Davis. "We admire the USTA’s work in promoting the health benefits of physical exercise, and we are pleased to lend our expertise to public education efforts while providing expert treatment and strategies for injury prevention."
In conjunction with the new partnership, Alexis Chiang Colvin, M.D., assistant professor of sports medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and a specialist in the surgical treatment of sports-related injuries of the knee, shoulder and hip, will serve as the USTA’s Chief Medical Officer. Colvin has worked with NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers and the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, as well as collegiate athletes, and she previously served as a consultant to the USTA for the US Open providing medical care to the players.
In her new role, Colvin will assist the USTA with initiatives across multiple divisions, including player development, community tennis, and diversity and inclusion. She will also serve as the medical advisor to the U.S. Fed Cup team. Colvin’s colleague, Dr. James Gladstone, will serve as the medical advisor to the U.S. Davis Cup team.
Together, the USTA and Mount Sinai hope to tackle such epidemics as childhood obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, all of which can be countered through the exercise tennis provides. Youth outreach will be an area of focus, and Colvin will be working with pediatricians in Mount Sinai’s Kravis Children’s Hospital as well as members of the Department of Cardiology to help promote tennis as a model youth sport.
"The vast resources of Mount Sinai will be a tremendous asset to the USTA," said USTA Executive Director and COO Gordon Smith, "especially as we seek to set the sports industry standard for maintaining the health and wellness of our players."
For more on the USTA's youth tennis initiative, and to find a program near you, go to YouthTennis.com