To examine the heart-rate (HR) response and court-movement variables during wheelchair tennis match play for high- (HIGH) and low- (LOW) performance-ranked players. Analysis of physiological and movement-based responses during match play offers an insight into the demands of tennis, allowing practical recommendations to be made.
Fourteen male open-class players were monitored during tournament match play. A data logger was used to record distance and speed. HR was recorded during match play.
Significant rank-by-result interactions revealed that HIGH winners covered more forward distance than HIGH losers (P < .05) and had higher average (P < .05) and minimum (P < .01) HRs than LOW winners. LOW losers had higher average (P < .01) and minimum (P < .001) HRs than LOW winners. Independent of result, a significant main effect for rank was identified for maximum (P < .001) and average (P < .001) speed and total (P < .001), reverse (P < .001), and forward-to-reverse (P < .001) distance, with higher values for HIGH. Independent of rank, losing players experienced higher minimum HRs (P < .05). Main effects for maximum HR and actual playing time were not significant. Average playing time was 52.0 (9.1) min.
These data suggest that independent of rank, tennis players were active for sufficient time to confer health-enhancing effects. While the relative playing intensity is similar, HIGH players push faster and farther than LOW players. HIGH players are therefore more capable of responding to ball movement and the challenges of competitive match play. Adjustments to the sport may be required to encourage skill developmental in LOW players, who move at significantly lower speeds and cover less distance.