Doctor serves at tennis tournament
Doctor serves at tennis tournament
Local orthopedic surgeon volunteers at Pacific Life Open
March 15 2003
By Laura Waskin
The Desert Sun
Dr. Lyle "Sam" Reber doesn’t just spend countless days each year on a real field of dreams. He’s also helped many of the world’s top athletes achieve dreams of their own.
The amiable doctor, who’s treated some of the most famous pros in the game, is also an all-around athlete and a former state diving champion in Wyoming. So Reber’s innate understanding of injuries is just what the doctor ordered.
"I’ve always loved athletics because I swim, play tennis and ski myself," says Reber, an orthopedic surgeon and the director of sports medicine at Desert Orthopedic Center in Rancho Mirage.
"So when I did my residency, I became very interested in sports medicine. It’s a lot of fun to work with athletes from multiple sports. And it gives you a chance to see a lot of people who are exceptionally gifted athletes."
This week, as he has for the past nine years, Reber is volunteering his services as medical director of the Pacific Life Open. Reber makes his daily rounds at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, where he regularly puts in 10-12 hours per day.
It’s one of the many professional sporting events Reber has worked since he and his family moved here from Los Angeles in 1991.
Reber’s patients have also included team members from the Lakers, the Dodgers, and the Angels, along with college and other sports teams.
During the 2003 Pacific Life Open, Reber was on hand to help contain the outbreak of stomach flu that hit a number of players last week.
And it’s not just the common tennis elbow or shoulder injury Reber regularly sees, but "tennis feet."
"Tennis players have the worst feet out of any sport I’ve ever seen," says Reber. "Because they do so much stopping and starting, it’s really hard on their feet. Tennis athletes have very gnarly feet with a lot of calluses. So they often need to be treated and wear appropriate shoes and padding."
The Pacific Life Open also keeps two or three other doctors on site during the matches, who treat fans and players for heat-related or other injuries.
CEO Steve Simon says Reber is an important part of the tournament family.
"He’s a tremendous orthopedic," says Simon. "And the athletes get a lot of injuries out there on the court, so you’ve got to treat them to get them back out there. Dr. Reber has put together a great medical team to look after both the athletes and the fans here … He’s also become a familiar face to the athletes and they respect him."
Some of the athletes Reber treats on the professional circuit are young adults, who often need a different kind of care.
"Even though these 18- or 19-year-olds are famous and travel the world as athletes, they’re still just kids," says Reber.
"People often expect them to have a maturity but forget they’re just regular kids underneath, who like to go out and play video games in the lounge. …
"But it’s different because they have to deal with pressures in the media and other areas -- especially in tennis and golf when they’re not on a team. But people shouldn’t forget they’re still young kids."
Reber says today’s professional athletes are much faster and stronger than their predecessors because of conditioning.
"Players now watch their diets, they exercise and strengthen other areas of the body than just those used in their sport," says Reber. "They know it’s preparation and eating well that helps them win the match. There’s a lot more science to it now."