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The athletic prowess and elite fitness of Tommy Paul

The athletic prowess and elite fitness of Tommy Paul

On the ATP Tour, many players quietly admit that Tommy Paul might be the fittest player in their ranks. That's high praise for the Boca Raton-based player. And it could fuel further victories at the Delray Beach Open this year.

Coming off a title at the Dallas Open, Tommy just dispensed of 19-year old phenom Alex Michelson, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(4), in a tight match yesterday. Michelson, the younger player, showed signs of fatigue towards the end of the match — spraying backhands as the pressure mounted. Tommy, on the other hand, looked calm and composed. His elite fitness level may have played a role.

A glance at Tommy's brutal workouts with trainer Franco Herrero could put fear into the heart of any competitor. Florida Tennis sat down with Tommy earlier this week to learn more about his approach to training. He explained, "I know that I can normally last a long time on-court and I try and use it to my advantage."

Living and training in South Florida's searing heat definitely helps. Reflecting on his grueling sessions at the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, Tommy said, "I mean you like to walk on-court with the idea that you've worked harder than your opponent... I like to walk on court thinking that, so I think it does help." 

Above: Tommy Paul chasing down every ball. Photo: Andrew Patron /  Delray Beach Open.

When it comes to fitness, I asked Tommy what he recommends for younger tennis players. His answer was surprising. He said hoops can help: "I'm a big believer that playing a lot of sports when you're young helps. Like playing a lot of basketball. The lateral movements are pretty similar and in a lot of ways it helps overall agility — with basketball you need it."

So what's the secret to Tommy's training now? He told me, "Ladder drills, sprint work, all of it is so important, but I can't stress enough that you can't do that stuff over and over without taking care of your body. When it comes to physio work or stretching, you need to do that stuff. It's the most annoying stuff in the world. I hate doing it. It took me forever. People [were] just telling me, in my ear non-stop, that I need to start doing it. And I finally bought in and it's made a huge difference in my career."

In addition, Tommy told me he uses cold therapy for recovery: "I go through phases where I'll do a lot of ice baths... I now have one at my house. I just got one called The Plunge. And I've been using it a bit. I'm not like one of those people that do it every day, but I'll use it and I do think it helps."

I caught up with Natasha Pyka, co-owner of Boca Cryo and former college tennis player, at the DBO prior to Tommy's match. Pyka told me Tommy also uses the cryotherapy chamber at Boca Cryo to help speed recovery.

As Tommy Paul moves on in the Delray Beach Open draw, look out for his elite fitness training (and chilly recovery methods) to play a key role late in matches. Even after winning the Dallas Open last week, Tommy remains dialed in.

"Obviously coming off of a title is a great feeling. But it's crazy how quick you have to turn around and get right back to work and start over,"  Tommy said. "And that's what we're going to do."


Written by Florida Tennis' Executive Editor and Publisher Matt Pressman. Top photo: Andrew Patron /  Delray Beach Open.


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