Resource Blog/Media/BHOC Saperstein 2023 Delray Open HERO


Treating Top Tennis Players in Delray Beach Tourney Takes a Team

Baptist Health Orthopedic Care

Over the past 32 years, many of the world’s top-ranked tennis players have battled it out on the courts of the Delray Beach Open. This year, they’ll be cared for by a team of specialists from Baptist Health Orthopedic Care. The team will be onsite to treat any injuries players might sustain during the 10-day tournament, which is one of just 10 ATP Tour events in the United States and the first North American hard-court event of the outdoor season.


Alan Saperstein, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon with Baptist Health Orthopedic Care who sub-specializes in sports medicine, will be working the tournament along with four of his colleagues: sports physician Alex Mafdali, M.D., orthopedic surgeon Matthew Motisi, D.O., sports medicine primary care physician Michael Yurubi, D.O., and orthopedic surgeon James Ross, M.D.


Dr. Saperstein treats professional, collegiate and recreational athletes for both traumatic injuries and overuse injuries related to sports and non-athletic activities. Although he plays some tennis, he is an avid runner who has competed in multiple marathons and suffered many overuse injuries himself. And he knows how even a minor injury can throw off one’s ability to train and compete.


Alan Saperstein, orthopedic surgeon with Baptist Health Orthopedic Care 


Most tennis injuries stem from overuse

Dr. Saperstein says the most common tennis-related injuries stem from overuse in the dominant upper extremity (i.e. the patient’s dominant shoulder, elbow and wrist). “Tennis commonly can result in overuse injuries in the dominant shoulder such as rotator cuff tendinitis, biceps tendinitis and labral tears,” he says. “Rotator cuff tendinitis and lateral epicondylitis, also known as tennis elbow, are particularly common in tennis.”


Professional tennis players are also susceptible to overuse injuries such as tendinitis, Dr. Saperstein says. “Most of them are well aware of this and are particularly diligent about pre- participation stretching in order to avoid a career-threatening injury.”


Occasionally, ligament tears including the ulnar collateral ligament occur, according to Dr. Saperstein. “Wrist injuries are somewhat less common but do occur from the repetitive overuse,” he says. “While injuries to the lower extremities are less common, they still occur including tendinitis about the hips, knees and ankles, meniscal tears in the knees and patellofemoral pain syndrome in the knees.”


Knees and ankles take a tremendous amount of abuse on a tennis court, especially when a player has to suddenly stop and shift direction. “Acute traumatic injuries occur more commonly in the lower extremities,” Dr. Saperstein says. “Knee ligament injuries such as a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament, or the ACL, can occur from a twist to the knee that occurs when the foot is planted on the ground while the player makes a sudden change in direction. Similarly, ligament tears about the ankle can occur with lateral movements.”


Standardized tennis balls could limit injury

Unlike other major sports leagues that standardize the balls used for competition, professional tennis varies the choice of balls on a tournament-by-tournament basis, according to Dr. Saperstein. He says this is a potential source for injury to players who may need to adjust the manner in which they strike the ball to compensate for differences in the aerodynamics of different balls.


“Standardization of tennis balls and playing surfaces could go a long way towards reducing injury,” notes Dr. Saperstein. “Professional tennis players already have to contend with playing on a variety of surfaces from one tournament to the next. Having to use different balls in different tournaments can lead to tendon, ligament, cartilage and bone injuries in the upper and lower extremities.”


Preventing injury by stretching before playing

Whether you’re a weekend warrior or one of the world’s top players, stretching is key to preventing injury, Dr. Saperstein says. “Stretching before competition loosens up the muscles, making them less susceptible to injury. Generally, an athlete should stretch at least 15 minutes prior to an exercise program. Some may find it helpful to stretch for longer periods of time.”


For recreational athletes, perhaps even more important than stretching is starting off slowly and gradually increasing the duration and intensity of your workout, says Dr. Saperstein. “Those who are just beginning an athletic program should do so incrementally. The most common reason for overuse injuries is trying to jump into a sport full force right from the start. Recreational athletes need to take their time in ramping up their level of participation in preparation for competition.”

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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