Tommy's shoulder update
From the Bradenton Herald, comes this article published today (Dec. 12, 2002):
Return to court means little tennis for Haas
Haas shouldering heavy rehab load at IPI With an eye on upcoming Australian Open, tennis star works to recover from injury at Bradenton facility
Herald Staff Writer
BRADENTON - Tennis professional Tommy Haas never will be confused with the NFL's top quarterbacks.
But his coach, Red Ayme, was impressed by Haas' hard, accurate passes during a recent training session at the International Performance Institute on the campus of IMG Academies.
"A couple of weeks ago, Tommy didn't have the confidence to throw the football 20 yards," Ayme said. "He is getting stronger and gaining confidence."
Haas, 24, is seeking to recover from severe shoulder tendonitis that curtailed his effectiveness during the latter stages of 2002. His shoulder gave out in a semifinal loss against Greg Rusedski at Indianapolis in August, and the following week he was unable to take the court for a semifinal match in Long Island.
After winning four singles championships in 2001, Haas failed to win this year, although he finished 11th on the ATP Tour with earnings of $1,163,569.
"I took off the last four weeks, but that wasn't the best way for my injury to go away," said Haas, who hopes to be ready for the Australian Open beginning Jan. 13. "I actually have to work through it."
While rehabilitating to strengthen his shoulder at the IPI and the adjacent Bollettieri Sports Medicine Center, Haas is spending little time on the court.
"Tommy just started hitting about 20 minutes a day last week," Ayme said. "The tennis will fall into place in two or three days when the time comes.
"The real issue is getting ready for next year through rehabilitation and conditioning and making sure his body is prepared to handle an 11-month season."
Toward that objective, Haas is training 5-to-6 days a week with fellow Bradenton residents Max Mirnyi and Xavier Malisse, both of whom hope to break through in a big way in 2003.
Mirnyi, a 25-year-old native of Belarus, reached the quarterfinals of the 2002 U.S. Open, where he lost to Andre Agassi. Mirnyi won three doubles titles - the U.S. Open with Mahesh Bhupathi of India and Rotterdam and Moscow with Roger Federer of Switzerland.
Malisse finished 25th in the final rankings. The 22-year-old Belgian made the semifinals at Wimbledon, losing in five sets against David Nalbandian.
"Working out with each other helps us keep the competitive edge," Mirnyi said. "I think this is the main reason this place has been so successful. When you see another athlete training here, unintentionally you try to compete, and that is how you get better."
"Tommy and Max are great guys," Malisse said. "We have fun and laugh, which makes the workout more fun and time go faster."
A chunk of each day's "pre-habilitation" work is spent under the supervision of Dave Hogarth, a licensed physical therapist with the Bollettieri Sports Medicine Center and a certified performance enhancement specialist.
Hogarth, in consultation with the players' coaches and Nick Bollettieri, prescribes a regimen of physical therapy, rehabilitation and conditioning that is designed to get the players ready for championship competition.
"The tour beats up their bodies pretty hard throughout the year," Hogarth said. "Tommy has been dealing with a shoulder and elbow problem most of the year and never really had a set period of time to rehab it the best way. Max and Xavier have slight wrist and forearm problems from overuse.
"We do traditional physical therapy, such as ultrasound and massage work, as well as isolated joint exercises," Hogarth said. "But during this time the players also need to take advantage of the opportunity to get fit for Australia. So we incorporate that into performance training and provide an entire training package."
Hogarth designs workouts to increase flexibility and strengthen movement with tennis-specific exercises. He also tries to make it as fun as possible, which is where the football tosses come in.
"I can't think of a better place to be," Haas said. "I have all the competition I need here, a close friend and motivator in Nick Bollettieri and a great coach in Red, who challenges me 100 percent."
Bollettieri and Ayme believe the integrated approach can give Haas, Mirnyi and Malisse a leg up on the competition when the ATP Tour goes Down Under next month. Having the players train at IMG also affords Bollettieri the chance to watch each in action and recommend minor changes to their games and stroke patterns.
"I don't know that you would say they are behind because they aren't hitting a lot of tennis balls right now," Ayme said. "I would like to say they are ahead.
"We are putting injury prevention ahead of ever other aspect and by putting them together, they push each other a little more. Right now, Tommy is concentrating 80 percent on this and 20 percent on tennis," Ayme said.