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Bevan Wilson at Queen's Club and Boodles Tennis
We are pleased to announce that James Avery, Partner of Bevan Wilson will again be working as physiotherapist at the Aegon Championships at London's Queen's Club and also at The Boodles Tennis exhibition at Stoke Park Club.
This will be James' second year at Queen's Club and his eighth at The Boodles, having also worked with the LTA at the National Tennis Centre over the past four years
During the tournaments James will be tweeting with information and updates. You can follow him @Godalmingphysio
We will also be adding pictures and information on our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/BevanWilsonPhysio
You can read his blog below:
Well it's that time of year again when most of the UK becomes tennis mad, if only for a couple of weeks, whilst die-hard fans try and contain themselves as the likes of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Williams (x2!), Sharapova and of course Murray put on a feast of tennis....in between the rain breaks of course!
Twenty-twelve was to be my ninth year working as a physio in elite tennis and much has changed since 2003 when I was thrust head-long into the world of the tennis professional. My employers at the time sent me off to the 2nd Boodles Challenge event at Stoke Park in Buckinghamshire to work with the likes of Philippousis, Nalbandian and Lepenti which was ‘in at the deep end' to say the least!
Prior to my tennis career I had worked in football with Arsenal FC academy and in Basketball with the London Towers so I was used to working with elite athletes but had not played tennis since my teens and like most of the UK watched Wimbledon and maybe the US or Australian open but that was it!
The thing about elite sports physio is that unlike the majority of the coaching staff most of the medical and support team probably don't play the sport in question and if they do then they probably play very differently from the elite players that they work with! So it is not unusual to have to learn about the sport as you go but frequently this would involve working up from county or junior events prior to working with the elite players. So I've had to learn on my feet but the advantage of this is that you're learning from the very best and are not hampered by your own bad habits or poor technique.
The reality is that for a physio working in sport being able to play that sport can be helpful but it doesn't necessarily make you a great sports physio. Having been privileged to work with some excellent sports physios such as my mentor and friend Graham Anderson (ATP & physio at Wimbledon Championships) I believe that there are many qualities that a sports physio needs to be great including:
- Excellent clinical skills and knowledge.
- Excellent team worker and communicator.
- Confidence in own ability but aware of limitations.
- Calm, logical and assertive under pressure.
- Creative mind, adaptability and lateral thinker.
I believe that this is reflected in the fact that most of the sports physios that would be considered as world-class have worked in several if not many different sports learning what they need to from players, coaches, videos, books and colleagues to enable them to effectively treat and rehabilitate their athletes.
Since 2003 my role in tennis has altered significantly from the early years when The Boodles was my only elite tennis work. I have worked for the Lawn Tennis Association on a free-lance basis covering National Championships, Junior Fed-cup and also working as one of the physiotherapy team at the National Tennis Centre. This NTC-based role became fairly intensive between 2009-11 and so it was fantastic to be able to share the role with two of my Bevan Wilson colleagues, Scott Barclay and Helen Jermy.
Over the past couple of years I have been privileged to add the Aegon Championships at Queen's Club to my CV and as my first major ATP tournament it has provided a greater insight into the nomadic life of the tennis pro and the range and variety of injuries that they suffer.
Queens's and The Boodles 2012 like every tournament came with their fair share of players suffering with both acute and more chronic injuries. The trouble with tennis is that the players have very few weeks off a year and therefore have to make the decision between nursing their injuries through tournaments or losing ranking points and income by withdrawing from tournaments. An injury in one tournament could put a player out of action for as little as a few days to as much as several years.
Thankfully for players on the ATP tour, there are a dedicated, if surprisingly small number of excellent physiotherapists who travel around the world covering the events so that players can be assessed and receive treatment, both during matches and in the treatment room. The number of physiotherapists at a tournament depends on the draw size and also on the calibre of the event so at Queen's we have two ATP physios and two LTA physios, although this year we were lucky enough to also have Steve Bedford, an excellent sports masseur who also works at Wimbledon. This was particularly pleasing for me as the number, frequency and intensity of massages at Queen's 2011 came as quite a shock to me, particularly when I awoke mid-tournament with my hands clenched shut as my forearm muscles had tightened due to the workload!
To dispel any myths that the life of a tennis player is all glamour and luxury, at Queen's our treatment room is ‘The Billiard Room', thankfully minus the table! It is just big enough to squeeze all the physios and treatment couches in, is next to the Dr's room and also the men's locker rooms. Sadly although it has windows they do not overlook the courts so we rely on a television scoring grid and the BBC coverage to keep us up to speed with on-court events (although inevitably the Euro 2012 coverage featured strongly as the event progressed!). You can imagine how delightful a room crammed with 5 staff and between 5-10 players can get particularly with wet or sweaty clothing, deep heat cream, and a few nervous stomachs! I need say no more.
At Queen's and I believe all ATP tournaments, the ATP physiotherapists cover all of the court calls and a large chunk of player treatments whilst the ‘local' physiotherapists provide the remaining physio cover and the majority of the sports massage. Needless to say there is generally more than enough work to go around particularly during rain delays and at the beginning and end of the day when fewer players are on court. We've experienced this at the 2011 and 2012 Aegon Championships with a couple of complete wash-outs and many rain-delayed or interrupted days.
Physiotherapy treatment may include joint mobilisation or manipulation, stretching, sports massage, acupuncture, shaving dry skin, cleaning wounds, taping joints and occasionally some frank discussions about injury, the need for good quality rehab and treatment. A sports doctor and ultrasonographer are also on hand to assess any injuries that need medical input or investigation and when there is time we try to squeeze in some rehabilitation exercises and player advice.....making for a very busy day! Generally speaking we would arrive an hour before play and leave somewhere between thirty and ninety minutes after end of play to allow players to be treated post-match. Commuting from Godalming each day this invariably meant a physically demanding 14-16 hour day, every day for ten days!
In contrast to this set-up, at The Boodles I am ‘the' tournament physiotherapist and my only colleague is an event paramedic to cover any emergencies. Obviously with only one match court and only six or eight players involved each day the workload is much more manageable for one however it can have it's moments for example when there is a court-call whilst I'm treating a player inside! The other main difference to Queen's is that as a boutique sports event with a relatively small crew (many of whom have worked together for most of the 11years) we all tend to muck in. I can find myself escorting a player onto court or to a press interview, liaising with catering regarding the players food or with transport regarding their chauffeur-driven Jaguar event cars to ferry them back to Wimbledon. Many of the players at Boodles are World Top 10 and so may have their own trainer with them which makes my role less busy but more varied. It also means I get to sit court side for some of the time and actually see some tennis! This was invaluable this year as I had three court calls in two hours although they were ‘easy' calls to adjust strapping or for a quick stretch.
The Boodles is an amazing, intimate, boutique tennis event which I would highly recommend to any fan. This year saw Murray play Djokovic and Cilic add to his Queen's trophy in a tournament featuring Tipsarevic, Del Potro, Simon, Isner, Verdasco and Nalbandian. I'm still impressed by the event after nine years of working there!
One of the questions I get asked a lot is ‘Don't the players have their own physiotherapist?' This is one of the changes that I have seen since 2003 and I guess shows how the sport has developed. At my first ‘Boodles' I discussed this with Mark Philippousis who was in the top 20 at the time. He explained that some players had hired physios to travel with them but that the travel, accommodation and other expenses on top of their salary had made it fairly cost-prohibitive. Many players therefore opted to use the tournament physios but with perhaps one or two ‘trusted clinics' that the player might use when injured and not competing. In 2012 this is significantly different with many if not all of the World Top 20 players having their own physio or perhaps a ‘trainer' who is able to fulfil most of their daily stretching, massage and taping needs' so that they only require physio when injured. That said, at a large tournament with singles and doubles there are plenty of other players who need assessing, treating, massaging or taping and some of the Top 20 remain frequent visitors to the treatment room.
People always want to know who I have treated, what injuries players have sustained and what treatment we do with them. It would be great to share all our unique experiences however unfortunately this information is very sensitive and often confidential. Some players are very open about their injuries and the treatment they receive whilst others like to keep it close to their chests so generally speaking we stay tight-lipped! That said tennis injuries are a mix of over-use and traumatic affecting the upper and lower limbs, trunk and very occasionally the head. In terms of elite players we see lots of acute muscle or joint strains and sprains, low back pain as the players adapt from clay to grass, shoulder pain or impingement and foot and ankle injuries caused by impact but also twisting, turning and pushing-off.
Over the years I have been lucky enough to meet many of the World Top 100 players including about 45 of the current Top 50 although sadly so far Mr Federer has eluded me! As in all walks of life the players vary enormously in terms of personality, physique and politeness! On the whole they are very professional and a great bunch to work with. Some in particular are real personalities such as Andy Roddick or doubles player Robert Lindstedt who always keep the room entertained! I obviously haven't worked with all of these players but it has been a privilege to treat those that I have and I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity.
To round up this article I thought I would highlight a few 2012 tennis injuries that give an insight into the trials and tribulations that an elite tennis player and their physio might encounter:
Julien Benneteau suffered a broken elbow, wrist and ankle sprains against Andy Murray in Monte Carlo (Look out for my friend Graham - the ATP physio!) yet tried to continue the match before finally withdrawing. He recovered in time to play at Roland Garros several weeks later! http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=WOe32vI5www
Andrea Petkovic sprained her ankle in Stuttgart, April 2012 in her comeback tournament after a 3.5 month break, following a knee injury. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6Ozj1cmNiY
It's not always the court surface at fault. British No. 1 Anne Keothavong ruptured her ACL and damaged her meniscus during a match in Stanford, USA when she crashed into advertising hoardings at the side of the court and more recently many of you will have witnessed the bizarre events at Queen's 2012 when David Nalbandian kicked out at a advertising board which broke and hit a line-judge's leg, injuring it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXrI0EUw34Q. The line judge's injury was thankfully only minor but sadly for both David and the crowd he was disqualified from the final handing victory to Marin Cilic in possibly the strangest end to a major tournament.
Everyone seems to have an opinion on the Queen's incident but having met David many times and having seen him at Queen's and also a week later at The Boodles all I can say is that he is a very nice, genuine, laid-back guy who made an unfortunate, regrettable mistake.
Finally I will leave you with an inspirational story of determination, self-belief and triumph over injury. I had the pleasure of meeting American Brian Baker who was knocked out in qualifying at Queen's (providing no hint towards his Wimbledon success to follow) allowing him time to get his body into the best shape possible. Having been junior World No.2 Brian suffered a whole string of injuries and had numerous operations which effectively seemed to end his career before it had ever really taken off. Having left the tennis tour to become a university tennis coach he decided to enter some low-ranked competitions as he was feeling fit and well for the first time in six years. He won a tournament and was suddenly back into the World rankings (ranked over 700). Following a wild card into Roland Garros where he reached the second round he won through Wimbledon Qualies reaching the fourth round of Wimbledon and entering the World Top 100! You can watch his interview with the BBC here or read about his remarkable resurgence here.