Missouri Valley / Heart Of America

Children’s Mercy Sports Medicine Makes Tennis Safer

Jerod Fox | June 18, 2020

In honor of their 100th anniversary in 2020, the USTA Missouri Valley will be recognizing 100 deserving tennis providers, players, partners and more across our section throughout the year.


Selected nominees will be given a Gold Star award, recognizing them for the contributions they are making to support and grow the game in the USTA Missouri Valley based on specific program areas and attributes. 


One of the award winners from within the USTA Heart of America this June is Children’s Mercy Kansas City, represented by Dr. Brian Harvey, Nicole Fillingame and Todd Kober.


Children’s Mercy has officially been in partnership with the USTA Missouri Valley since 2019, providing educational resources, digital content, athletic trainers for event coverage, and aiding the Missouri Valley in making tennis a safer sport for all to play.


Harvey, who played tennis during his undergraduate career at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan., was one of the catalysts in making the partnership a reality.

“What sparked the idea was my passion for tennis and tennis medicine,” Harvey said. “I grew up playing tennis, and as a sports physician, realized that there was a niche for tennis medicine. As such, I wanted to give back to the game that I love and that treated me well for so many years.”


One of the greatest ways that Children’s Mercy provides for the USTA Missouri Valley is in its educational programs, which are offered to coaches, players and parents alike. The goal of these programs is to train in how to keep players safe while on the court and optimize their performance.


“We teach coaches to look for fatigue, whether that’s mental or physical. We’re teaching injury prevention programs that they can set up during practices. The educational side is definitely there,” Harvey said.


Recently, Children’s Mercy was key in the safe return to tennis among the COVID-19 pandemic. They collaborated with the USTA Missouri Valley to host a webinar series in May that gave instruction on how to make sure that when tennis returned, it was as safe as possible for all parties involved.


“We went through and identified a handful of things that we thought were important as we were getting back into tennis,” Harvey said. “We started from a general return to sports and also talked about what COVID-19 meant for mental health and nutrition. I think they went really well, there was good planning and thought process that went into them.”


Beyond education, Children’s Mercy is there for the tennis athlete in a physical capacity as well. They have a range of state of the art technology, which can help from rehabilitation to understanding the body and optimizing it for sport.


“We are blessed with a handful of PT gyms, we’ve got great physical therapists, our injury prevention programs, and a big motion analysis lab, where we can look at the athlete’s biomechanics from a computerized model,” Harvey said. “From a youth athlete standpoint, I think we complete the full package.”


The focus is not just on the physical side of a tennis player’s health, however. Children’s Mercy also recognizes the importance of an athlete’s mental health, and provides resources in that arena as well. 


“We work with athletes throughout a wide variety of mental health issues,” Harvey said. “It can range from performance anxiety to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to anxiety and depression. We help athletes navigate those waters.”


For all of the work that they do, Children’s Mercy is a worthy recipient of the Gold Star award, and the USTA Missouri Valley is made better by their partnership. 


“[Winning the Gold Star award] was a shock, and certainly a good shock to have,” Harvey said. “We’re honored and we hope that this is the start to a great relationship moving forward.”

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