The physical demands of professional tennis combined with high training/match loads can contribute to musculoskeletal injury. The objectives of this study were to (1) describe the type, location and severity of injuries sustained during a 12-month tennis season in a cohort of professional female tennis players on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tour and (2) prospectively investigate associations between training/match loads and injury.
52 WTA players competing at the Australian Open (2015) consented to participate. Injuries reported to WTA medical staff were classified using tennis-specific guidelines. Individual match exposure data were collected for all matches played at international level in 2015 and expressed per 1000 hours of WTA competition matchplay (MP) and 1000 match exposures (MEs). Variables associated with the number of injuries in the season and loss of time from competition were identified with regression analysis.
The injury incidence rate (IR) was 56.6 (95% CI: 49.5 to 64.6) per 1000 hours of MP or 62.7 (95% CI: 54.8 to 71.6) per 1000 MEs, although the IR of injuries resulting in loss of time from competition was lower (12.8 per 1000 hours of MP, 92 injuries/100 players). Lower limb (51%) and muscle/tendon (50%) injuries were the most common site and type of injury. Common specific injury site subcategories were the thigh, shoulder/clavicle, ankle and knee in order of frequency. Various measures of match load were significantly associated with injury.
This study prospectively analysed injury profiles, including severity across an entire season of professional tennis, and investigated the relationship between training/match loads and injury. These data may help medical professionals develop injury risk identification and prevention programmes.