Baptist Health Hosts Youth Tennis Event at Miami Open (Video)

A special event held at the Miami Open this week gave a group of local children the opportunity to practice their tennis skills on courts next to where some of the world’s top-ranked professional tennis players compete.

Baptist Health South Florida, the longtime sports medicine provider for the Miami Open, sponsored a tennis clinic for about 20 participants from First Serve Miami, a not-for-profit organization that teaches tennis, life skills and academic readiness to children from economically-challenged communities in Miami-Dade County.

Luis Rodríguez, M.D., a primary care sports medicine physician with Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute, welcomed the children and their parents on behalf of Baptist Health. He spoke to the young athletes about the importance of being active and preventing injuries.

(The Baptist Health South Florida News Team hears from Luis Rodriguez, M.D., of Miami Orthopedics & Sports Institute, speaking to youth tennis players at the Miami Open about being active and preventing injuries. Video by Alcyene Almeida Rodrigues.)

“There are a lot of benefits of playing an organized sport like tennis,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “Playing the game and other types of physical activity are very important to living healthy and preventing diseases later in life.”

The children, who were on spring break from school, enjoyed an hour of play with their coaches, entrance to the tennis tournament and lunch, courtesy of Baptist Health. In existence for more than 40 years, First Serve Miami partners with public schools and parks, local companies and other community organizations to impact more than 600 children, ages 5 to 18, each year. John Uribe, M.D., orthopedic surgeon and medical director of Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute, serves on the organization’s volunteer board of directors.

“This is a great opportunity for the kids to play, learn about preparing for a match and making sure their bodies are in top shape to compete,” said Christopher Champion, director of tennis at First Serve Miami. “Health and wellness for any sports athlete is critical for growth. The kids heard a lot today that they’ll be able to use in their tennis career, and we’re extremely thankful to Baptist Health for having us out here.”

In talking with the young players about avoiding injuries, Dr. Rodriguez emphasized the importance of paying attention to their developing bones and muscles and getting the right medical attention when needed. Although there’s always potential for injury when playing sports, he said, the benefits will always be greater than the risks. It’s important for kids their age to take a break from playing during the year, he encouraged.

“Studies of young athletes show those who give themselves time to rest are less likely to have an injury,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “Most major professional athletes, like LeBron James, didn’t specialize in their sport until later on, at college age. For where you are right now in your development, it’s important for you to develop a multitude of skills.”

Nick Bollettieri, legendary tennis coach and founder of IMG Academy, joined Dr. Rodriguez on the court to offer his advice for young athletes and give each of them a copy of his book, Changing the Game.

“Kids, you only have one body so be sure to take care of it,” Mr. Bollettieri said. “Understanding what it means to build good ‘character’ is also very important. Always remember to say ‘thank you’ to your coaches and parents and those who help you with your tennis.”

Renowned for his passion for excellence and the game, the International Tennis Hall of Fame member also stressed the importance of perseverance and believing in oneself – messages he once shared with Andre Agassi, one of the 10 top-ranked players in the world who he coached.

The Baptist Health News Team joined Dr. Rodriguez and First Serve Miami courtside at the Miami Open to learn more. Watch the video now.

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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