From January to December, there is no lack of action on the Hologic WTA Tour. How are the tournaments structured? How do players spend their days at these events? Here's everything you need to know.
How do players decide which tournaments to enter?
A number of factors go into a player’s schedule on the Hologic WTA Tour.
The first consideration is whether a player’s ranking will earn them a place in either the main draw or the tournament’s qualifying draw. Other factors include rankings points and prize money on offer. With all things being relatively equal, players can then choose their destination based on which city they would prefer to play in.
How many levels of tournaments are there?
There are four levels of tournaments -- three on the WTA Tour, plus the Grand Slams.
The WTA Tour includes 250, 500 and 1000-level events -- the categories denoting the number of rankings points awarded to the champion. Grand Slams award 2,000 points to the winner.
What are the different surfaces players compete on? How is the nature of the game different on each surface?
Tour events span hard courts, clay courts and grass courts.
Hard courts are generally a more neutral surface. Clay courts, with their slower and higher bounces, lead to longer baseline rallies. Grass courts, with lower and faster bounces, often produce quicker points.
Even within each surface, court conditions can differ from tournament to tournament. You will often hear players discussing the changes in speeds as they travel from event to event.
Do some players have more success on a particular surface?
Most players have a favored surface, some to a greater extent than others. Power hitters typically prefer hard or grass courts, while baseline grinders are often stronger on clay.
I've seen players compete indoors and outdoors. Why?
The WTA and ATP Tours offer both indoor and outdoor events, with the bulk of the indoor tournaments taking place late in the year during the winter months in the northern hemisphere.
Each player makes her own decision as to which events to prioritize, based on her preferred playing conditions.
What does a player's day look like at a tournament? What resources are available to players on site?
After arriving on site, there are a number of ways for players to spend their time before and after competition. They can eat at the player dining area, relax in the player lounge, work out in the fitness center and much more. Medical staff are also on hand for any necessary treatment.
Just like the many spectators that flock to events, many players are tennis fans, too. It is very common to see players supporting their friends and countrymen from the stands, often in the personal box of the player they are supporting.
What do players use ice baths for?
Like in any sport, recovery is a crucial part of success in tennis -- and that's where ice baths come into play. While they may be unpleasant, postmatch or post-workout ice baths can help reduce inflammation and swelling in the body, relieve sore muscles and increase blood flow, among other benefits.
How do players practice?
There are a number of ways to practice, and each player has a routine that works for them. Common activities include rallying and playing practice points, as well as hitting drills with a coach feeding balls.
A practice session during a tournament week will look much different than one during the offseason or during a training block, with the players seeking to preserve as much energy as possible during competition weeks.
How do players mingle with each other at tournaments?
Players can spend time behind the scenes and out of the heat of competition in the dining and lounge areas, where the relaxed vibe belies the high-stakes nature of the on-court action.
Do players ever spend time as tourists in different tournament cities?
Tournaments may be business trips, but that doesn’t mean there’s no time to be a tourist! Players often take advantage of the WTA Tour’s worldwide nature by exploring various cities when time allows, typically on off days before or after an event.
Who do players travel with on the road?
Each player has her own traveling team, which can change depending on the week. Aside from family members or significant others, other members of a players’ travelling party can include tennis coaches, fitness coaches, physiotherapists and mental performance specialists.