I have spent many years playing tennis and I know just how painful a sprained ankle is and just how long it takes you to recover from a sprain and an ankle reconstruction. Therefore I am so fanatical about not having tennis balls lying around on or just behind a tennis court.
You can imagine my fears then, when at Sunday pennants and tennis tournaments last year I would see kids put the spare ball just behind their feet whilst they hit their first serve. If they missed their first serve and had to use the second ball this was ok, but for those that got their first serve in they then had to play the point out with a ball directly behind the baseline, which is a recipe for disaster.
I would also see kids hit their first serve into the net and leave the ball in the middle of the court. Once again, this is a recipe for disaster. Stepping on the tennis ball or rolling your ankle over the tennis ball can cause a serious and painful ankle injury.
Whilst this was more prevalent in Orange and Green ball level, it is particularly important that we teach tennis kids of all ages to keep the court clear of any balls. When buying boys tennis clothes it is important that the shorts have pockets and that the pockets are deep enough to hold a tennis ball. It then needs to be reinforced that the boys use the pockets to put the spare ball in. When buying girls tennis clothes it is important that the skirt or dress has bike/compressions shorts underneath or if they prefer shorts that they either have pockets or the same bike/compression shorts underneath. The girls then need to be taught to put the ball up their bike/compression shorts.
Whilst it is impossible to avoid all injuries when playing tennis, it is important that you do everything possible to reduce the risk.