Targeting areas of the court with the precision of an architect refining court dimensions wielding a wooden racquet rather than a pencil and a blueprint, Tracy Austin could transform a tennis court into a tennis treadmill in giving her opponents the runaround during her reign as the world's top-ranked player.
Times have changed, but the 43-year-old Austin still knows how to turn tennis into a heart-pumping, shirt-soaking workout only now she's sharing the endorphin rush that comes from participating in cardio tennis clinics.
Starting tomorrow, Austin will do her best to make you sweat on the court and help get you fitter in the process. The United States Tennis Association and Austin will present Cardio Tennis at three Washington, D.C. Metropolitan-area locations on March 10 and 11th. Cardio Tennis is an action-packed, drill-based program taught by a certified instructor.
Drills are used to elevate a person’s heart rate into the aerobic zone for a total-body work-out.
"Tennis has always been considered a great activity that is fun if you know how to play. Now, Cardio Tennis is a new way for anyone to enjoy tennis and get an ultimate full body workout," said Austin. "Everyone is constantly looking for new ways to lose weight and Cardio Tennis is a great way to get in shape, and have fun while doing it."
You can meet Austin and participate in the newest game in town at one of the five Cardio Tennis sessions set for March 10-11th in Washington, D.C.. The fee is $15 per Cardio Tennis clinic or free to USTA members who bring a non-USTA member. Sport & Health and Quince Orchard Swim & Tennis Club members may also participate for free if they bring a non-member guest. A reception for all participants will be held at 8:30 pm on Saturday, March 11 at Regency Sport & Health.
Tracy Austin Cardio Tennis Sessions
Friday, March 10th East Potomac Tennis Center 1090 Ohio Drive, SW Haines Point Washington, DC Phone: (202)554-5962
Warm Up: 5-5:30 p.m. Clinic: 5:30-7 p.m.
Saturday, March 11th Regency Sport & Health Club 1800 Old Meadow Road McLean, VA 22102 Telephone: (703) 556-6550
Session 1 Warm Up: 6-6:30 p.m. Clinic: 6:30-7:30 p.m. Free Play: 7:30-8:30 p.m.
Session 2 Free Play: 6-7 p.m. Warm Up: 7-7:30 p.m. Clinic: 7:30-8:30 p.m.
Reception for all participants will be held at 8:30 pm on Saturday, March 11th at Regency Sport & Health. Net proceeds will go to the Mid-Atlantic Tennis & Education Foundation. To sign up please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (301) 229-5401.
The two-time U.S. Open champion and BBC and USA Network tennis television analyst sat down with Tennis Week today to discuss her commitment to cardio tennis and provide her thoughts on the recent returns of a pair of former No. 1 players she knows well: Martina Hingis and her fellow USA Network analyst John McEnroe.
Tennis Week: Tracy, how long have you been conducting cardio tennis clinics?
Tracy Austin: Actually, this will be my first official cardio tennis clinic. I've been doing these workouts at my club, the Jack Kramer Tennis Club, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. A number of the drills we do are the same drills used in cardio tennis and while we don't use music at my club and don't call it cardio tennis it's the same kind of idea: an hour and a half of cardio tennis on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. It's great because it gives people a specific time frame to come in for 90 minutes and get their exercise. It's a lot of fun, it's still competitive yet it's social. Cardio tennis is a great concept because it works for people of every skill level — from beginners to advanced players — it's a great work-out, you hit a lot of balls and have fun too.
Tennis Week: How has the response been to the clinics you've done and what are the benefits?
Tracy Austin: People have really responded. The interesting thing is on Saturday and Sunday mornings, the workouts have expanded to four and five courts now. On our court, we usually limit it to six people per court, some courts will have eight people participating so you've got 40 to 50 people playing tennis, getting great exercise and getting the health benefits of a cardio workout. I still love tennis and you get a great workout with cardio tennis. We play a game called rotational doubles where you play points up to 41 with a pro feeding you the ball rather than the server to start the point. As soon as the ball is missed, the pro feeds the next ball so it's constant movement, constant hitting and you're playing as many as 80 points. Then you pick up the balls and start up again. There are a thousand official cardio tennis sites now and more than 20 countries are doing cardio tennis so I think it's really catching on. The music makes it fun and I think it's a program that is just going to get hotter and hotter. People, especially people with families, have less and less time. The great thing about cardio tennis is you take an hour or 90-minute class and I know I'm going to get a great aerobic workout, it's social, you're playing games so it's competitive and you're sharpening your tennis skills as well. It's great for working moms because you put a cardio tennis class in your schedule and you know exactly how long it lasts, you know you're going to get a great workout and first and foremost it is a fitness program. It's a great workout and so I'm really excited to come to the D.C. and Maryland area this weekend and meet the people participating and get the word out that cardio tennis is a great way to enjoy tennis and get fit in the process. I'll be at five different sites doing five clinics this weekend; I'll be playing and teaching so I'm really excited about it.
Tennis Week: Are your surprised by how strong Martina Hingis has been able to come back and how do you see Hingis playing the rest of this year?
Tracy Austin: First and foremost, I will say that I was surprised she came back this quickly. She gets to the Australian Open quarters in her third tournament back and takes Clijsters, who is now number one in the world, to three sets. Then she goes out and beats Sharapova on a faster surface in Tokyo and that was a big surprise. Honestly, we were all concerned about how Hingis' second serve would hold up and whether her strokes would stand up to the pace and I think she's answered a lot of those questions pretty quickly. I think the best is yet to come for Hingis and I think we need to give her six months of solid playing before making an assessment on her. It is very exciting to see Hingis' type of style back. So many top players, and I don't say this as a cut to them, they play such a similar bang-bang or heavy topspin style. So it's really nice to see Hingis, who moves with such elegance and is such a great thinker, out there. In the middle of the point, she'll come in and hit a drop volley. At the Australian Open, seeing the way she thinks on court and seeing her change up in the middle of the point and show her versatility, float into net and execute a drop volley is impressive. First of all, most players wouldn't even think of doing it and secondly, many can't execute it. I remember at one point, she hadn't serve and volleyed the entire match so she suddenly serve-and-volleyed. One of the great things about watching Hingis is you're always wondering what she's going to do next.
Tennis Week: What are your thoughts on your USA Network broadcasting colleague John McEnroe partnering Bjorkman to win San Jose? Now, he's considering possibly playing a major in doubles. How do you think he'd do?
Tracy Austin: You know what's fun about John? That week he played San Jose, people my club were walking around saying 'Hey Mac's match is on at 8 p.m. tonight.' I can't remember the last time I heard so many people talking about getting home to watch a specific match. What's not to love about Johnny Mac playing? The fact of the matter is the guy is 47 years old, but he trains regularly, he trains hard and he plays a ton of matches on the senior tour so he's match ready. John loves the challenge and we all see he's up to the challenge. So it doesn't surprise me at all that John played so well. When we work together during the U.S. Open, I'm there doing the television and in addition to doing his commentary, John has a trainer who travels with him and he's there doing his workouts daily. And if he plays Wimbledon or the U.S. Open, I think it would be fantastic for tennis. People love watching him play and I would definitely go watch him.
Tennis Week: What's your assessment of women's tennis right now? On one hand, it's great to see the depth at the top of the game: eight different women have won the last nine majors, Mauresmo won her first Grand Slam title in Australia and is on the verge of regaining the number one ranking yet on the other hand there are stars like Serena and Venus who aren't playing much and injuries continue to be an issue.
Tracy Austin: There's not a Roger Federer-type dominant player on the women's side, which is good. In the past, we've had a dominant player at the top and I think the depth we're seeing now is great for tennis. You know, going into the Australian Open, there were six or seven different women, I felt, who were legitimate contenders to win the title. I heard Serena was mad at me because I didn't put her among the favorites for the Australian Open.
Tennis Week: How could you put her among the favorites? She hadn't played a match since September, she wasn't prepared and she wasn't in the shape she was when she won it in 2005.
Tracy Austin: The key is she fought so hard and was able to win it last year on sheer determination. But when you're not in condition to get to the ball and execute your shots it's too tough against the type of players she's facing today.
Tennis Week: Perhaps she could consider taking your cardio tennis clinic?
Tracy Austin: Exactly. What's so sad, to me, about Serena is she is still so young and still has so much ability. If Serena wants to come back in a proper way and really prepare, I believe she could still become number one again. It's getting to the point where it's either get fit and get ready to really make a proper comeback or don't dally in it. I think she might be taking a little time away now to think about that and decide where she wants to go. Because Serena is such a champion and a proud champion. She knows what she is capable of doing, and to see her not be able to chase down the ball against Hantuchova at the Australian Open — she just wasn't getting in position to hit her shots.
Tennis Week: When she was at her peak, she was one of the fastest women on the tour and she never gave up on a ball and that speed combined with her power gave her such explosiveness..
Tracy Austin: I always believed her best asset was her ability track everything down. It would be great for tennis if she could come back.
Tennis Week: Between raising your family and your career as a commentator, do you still have the opportunity to play a lot of tennis? I saw you recently played the mixed doubles exhibition in Memphis with the Bryan brothers and Anna Kournikova?
Tracy Austin: I play some exhibitions. I played one with Navratilova and I played the Wimbledon seniors with Jana Novotna and we won that. I hope to be involved with cardio tennis in the future. Playing with the Bryans and Anna was great fun. Tennis is something I do and something I love. I'll do the Wimbledon commentary for the BBC and do commentary for USA Network during the U.S. Open.I enjoy being involved with tennis — it's my joy.
Although the WTA Tour isn't Serena 24/7 and can do well without her, she is missed on tour and missed in the mix of the top players. IF we can just get everybody healthy, which seems to be impossible these days, there would never be a down point on the women's tour .
Jelena Dokic.Vera Zvonareva.Tatiana Golovin.Mary Pierce.Monica Seles.Martina Hingis.Anna Kournikova
The WTA tour needs both Williams Sisters back healthy, playing and winning. Does anyone know if Serena's knee is still hurting her? I agree with Serena that she should not play until she is over her injury...I think that's why she isn't playing. Is Venus also injured? Does anyone know what is wrong with Venus?