Tennis Industry magazine


Your Players: Shady Dealings

Keep your players, and your teaching pros, healthy and on the courts by offering products to protect from the sun.

By Robin Bateman

With summer around the corner, many of us will step up our outdoor activities and increase sun exposure. The blue skies and warmer weather mean tennis tournaments, day camps, morning leagues, round robins and drills with students and members of all ages.

As temperatures rise and the sun gets higher in the sky, it should be an automatic reminder to grab the sunscreen and lotion up. But the truth is, we should pursue sun protection all year round, not just in summer.

According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, 5 million Americans are treated for skin cancer annually, with more new cases reported than combined incidences of prostate, lung, colon and breast cancers. Think skin cancer is reserved for those over the age of 50? Think again. From 1973 to 2009, pediatric melanoma averaged a 2 percent increase per year.

As facility managers and tennis coaches, we should add the “sun protection” lecture to our lesson plans. After all, tennis players find themselves in the sun during the course of an entire weekend. The tennis court isn’t exactly sun-protection friendly (although, as much as possible, you should have shaded areas near and between courts). It’s not only on court when your skin is at risk, before the match or practice, on the trip in the car, your skin takes a hit. UVA rays can pass through glass.

Players aren’t the only ones who should practice sun protection. Coaches and spectators need to protect their skin, too. The nature of tennis doesn’t allow everyone to avoid the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., as guidelines suggest. So, what can we do?

Sunscreen: recommends using a “broad spectrum water resistant SPF 30.” You should apply 30 minutes prior to exposure and reapply every two hours. “Sunscreen is a must,” says Huntley Sanders, a physician assistant at Georgia Dermatology and Skin Cancer Clinic. “If you’re riding in your car, walking to your mailbox, you need sunscreen.” And not just in summer, adds Sanders. “You should wear sunscreen every day, regardless of weather or the season.”

Coaches can really impact players’ habits in this area. Virginia Lane, a 25-year-old coach’s assistant, makes a show of putting it on in front of the 8 & Under kids in her program. “I never hit the court before reapplying,” she tells the kids as she slaps it on her cheeks.

Clothing: While SPF is used to rate sunscreen lotions, when it comes to fabric, look for clothing with a higher “Ultraviolet Protection Factor,” or “UPF.” A shirt with a UPF of 30 means the fabric allows only 1/30th of the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays to penetrate the skin. If the fabric says “SPF,” that means protection against UVB only. A number of tennis apparel manufacturers make clothing designed to block UVA and UVB rays. Look for garments with a high UPF rating, such as 40 or 50 and above.

Players and spectators — and tennis teaching pros — should also use wide-brimmed hats, UV protection sunglasses, umbrellas, towels and Frogg Toggs to help aid them in their fight against skin cancer. Remember, typical baseball-style hats provide no sun protection for the ears and neck, which are particularly vulnerable and often overlooked.

Also keep in mind, standing near surfaces like water or glass can increase the intensity of exposure because UV rays bounce off these surfaces.

Pro shop owners should keep a well-stocked shelf of water-resistant sunscreen of at least SPF 30. Don’t forget to add umbrellas, hats and UPF clothing.

It’s not just your players who are at risk, but tennis pros and coaches, parents, fans and spectators, too. Keep the products handy that will keep them out on the courts longer.

Comparison Between UPF and SPF Ratings

This chart is from the American Melanoma Foundation

UV Protection Rating %UV Blocked
Very Good UPF 25, 30, 35 96.0% - 97.4%
Very Good SPF 25, 30 96.0% - 97.4%
Excellent UPF 40, 45, 50+ 97.5% - 98.0%
Excellent SPF 30+ 97.5%

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About the Author

Robin Bateman is the site coordinator for the Tattnall Tennis Center in Macon, Ga., where she coordinates tennis program and leagues, is a tournament director, serves as a team captain, and assists junior teams competing at district, regional, and section events.



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