Like just about every event since the pandemic, the Miami Open tennis tournament at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens isn’t the same in 2021. Running through April 4, attendance at the event is capped at 800 to 1,000 per session. That’s a far cry from the usual 300,000 fans that pack the courts and concession areas over the two-week event.
But one thing that hasn’t changed: Baptist Health’s Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute is the official healthcare provider for the Miami Open again this year, with many of its physicians looking out for potential injuries, sprains, strains and other physical mishaps among the world’s best tennis players taking part.
(Watch now: Hear from Maria Kyriacou, M.D., a primary care sports medicine physician at Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute, on common medical issues that arise during the Miami Open. Video by Steve Pipho.)
“It’s an incredible feeling being back out here again, especially for the Miami Open,” says Maria Kyriacou, M.D., a primary care sports medicine physician at Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute, and one of the Institute’s physicians providing medical services. “During the pandemic, a lot of things have been restricted. Now that we’re having the ability to be back out again — and seeing the fans and the players — it’s one of the most amazing feelings in the world.”
The most common injuries among professional tennis players include shoulder overuse injuries that can be due to poor conditioning; stress fractures from training too rapidly; muscle strains that can occur from quick and sudden moves, and various degrees of strains or worse to the knees and ankles.
And then there’s the most widely known among players at every level: “tennis elbow.” That condition involves inflammation or minor tearing of the tendons that join the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow. It is also the muscle most used when the tennis ball impacts the racquet.
Dr. Kyriacou emphasizes that poor conditioning or incomplete rehabilitation from previous injuries is a major factor that can disrupt or derail a player’s game.
“When it comes to conditioning or being prepared for a sport as competitive as tennis, many times players can have an injury and if they don’t rehab appropriately — or if they come back too quick or too intense — they’re at a very high risk of re-injuring themselves,” explains Dr. Kyriacou. “So, having that guidance by their athletic trainer and being up-to-date with the proper conditioning is extremely important.”
The aim of the Institute’s Miami Open team of physicians is to keep the players going if injuries are minor. And to quickly ascertain if a player’s condition that flares up is serious enough for further testing or treatment off the courts.
“As a primary care sports medicine physician here at Miami Open, our goal is to reassure the players that if they have an acute injury that is not major, such as a mild strain, then they can continue,” says Dr. Kyriacou. “It it’s something more serious and the injury is impairing their ability to perform, we have equipment, such as an ultrasound, to really assess the injury and further progress their treatment management.”