Game, Set, Match

To celebrate the U.S. Open, I was invited to the Manhattan Plaza Racquet Club on West 43rd Street in New York City. The event was to introduce Babolat’s new Pure Drive, the professional player’s racquet of choice. Indeed, it is purported to be the world’s most iconic “power” racquet, made to boost the shot-making ability of both the top pros and club players, who demand power with precision.

Like me! Just kidding—I haven’t played tennis in years. Any court sport, for that matter! Unless, of course, you consider watching NBC’s Law & Order a court sport. So while I had the opportunity to actually volley with one of the Babolat Pro Players, I instead was more than happy to talk with the two major stars who were there that afternoon for the racquet’s launch: 2017 Wimbledon Champion Garbine Muguruza and International Tennis Hall of Fame Inductee, and former #1 ranked, Kim Clijsters.

Interviewing sports stars has a special meaning to me. In my first book, Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner of Champions, I focused on more than a hundred of the biggest stars in ten professional—and also Olympic—sports, and chronicled what they ate and how they trained. I figured, since their careers depended on stamina, speed, consistency and power, their advice would help not only every aspiring or weekend athlete, but those of us who just wanted to increase their energy on a daily basis.

Pro Tennis, as we all know, is a grueling sport in every way. One has only to look at this year’s U.S. Open champ, Rafael Nadal, to see the intense effort it takes to win. With every swing—-of his Babolat racquet, obvi—as one sports writer noted, he makes a noise like he’s “lifting a Steinway up a stairwell!” That said, figure that a sprint lasts seconds. Somewhat longer races on land and water, plus the occasional boxing match, might take less than a minute or two, while most team sports go for around an hour of game time and usually two to three hours in total. The major tennis tournaments, however, generally require at least two weeks of matches–-often singles, doubles and mixed doubles—that can easily go on for hours. Therefore, it is no surprise that world class tennis players have to be as fit as any athlete in any sport. Perhaps even fitter.

In between playing that afternoon—without me, alas—the ladies gave me some super quick tips that I’d like to share:

Kim drinks a glass of warm water every morning, in which she puts 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a half a lemon. She doesn’t eat dairy, drinks copious amounts of water and snacks on kale chips that she bakes herself. Her anti-stress secrets are yoga and TM meditation. She suggests something as simple as inhaling deeply for 2 counts, and then exhaling for 6, as an instant relaxation technique.

Garbine believes in a big breakfast to keep her going all day. This consists of oatmeal, eggs, avocados and fruit. Right before a game she’ll have some chocolate for energy. And right after, a carbohydrate, like rice and a protein, to restore her strength.

At the end of the afternoon, I left the club with a beautiful new Babolat Pure Drive Racquet. And while I couldn’t claim any victories on the court, as I walked down the street with a tennis visor pulled low over my forehead and the racquet swinging by my side, I was secretly hoping that passersby would at least think that I did. Or, better yet, confuse me for that other Babolat fan, Caroline Wozniacki!!

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