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THE RIGHT DIET HELPS YOU EAT UP OPPONENTS

It may seem hard to believe that warmer weather will soon be with us. It is also the time of the year when many tennis players emerge from winter hibernation. You will be playing outdoors where high temperatures and hot court surfaces will be the rule. Even if you have played indoors during the winter, your tennis diet and nutrition should be concentrated with high-energy foods and necessary hydration in the coming months.

Patty LaDuca has been a fitness director, certified personal trainer and weight management consultant at the Village Glen Tennis and Fitness Center for the past 18 years. She has focused on nutrition programs for tournament and everyday tennis players to optimize their performance on and off the court.

"Everyone has to keep their energy level up when they are playing tennis," LaDuca said. "They will become fatigued if they don't have enough nourishment. I work with quite a few tennis players, and each one keeps a food diary. I carefully analyze their notes and make sure that they are eating properly before they play, while they are playing and after they are done playing."

LaDuca states that the quality of food plays a large part in performance on the court. She advises that the day before you play 60 percent of your diet should be carbohydrates (potatoes, beans, rice or pasta), along with some fruits and vegetables, and 12 percent to 15 percent should be protein (tuna, salmon, chicken or turkey). There should also be less than 30 percent fat, and you should concentrate on fats such as nuts, peanut butter and olive or canola oil. Beverages should consist of water, low-fat milk, Gatorade or selected juices.

You should have breakfast at least an hour and a half before you play. Oatmeal and skimmed milk with a banana is an excellent choice. Depending on your caloric intake you may want to add some yogurt. You should also drink at least two cups of water before you play. If you are going to be playing in less than an hour, a bagel and peanut butter would be a good choice.

During play, water is a good choice. However, if it is extremely hot and humid, you would be wise to drink a sports drink such as Gatorade. It is quickly absorbed and used by your working muscles. Gatorade also replaces sodium and potassium that is significantly lost while sweating during long matches.

"If you are playing in a tournament and win your first match you most likely will be playing again within two to three hours," LaDuca said. "A protein energy bar such as Pro Max or Power Bar would be a good choice. Depending on your caloric intake you may want to add a turkey sandwich with whole wheat bread, a piece of fruit and water or juice. Coffee may be used as a quick energy boost, but only once before you play."

When you are done playing your last match for the day, you should have a bagel and peanut butter within 30 minutes. Later, you should have one of the following: spaghetti and meat sauce, lean meat or poultry with pasta or a potato, with some vegetables. Add juice, a sports drink, watermelon or grapes to complete your dinner. Your choices from the aforementioned should be determined by the time of day that you've finished playing.

"To be on the safe side don't try any new foods or foods that you may not be used to before beginning competition," LaDuca said.

Squash notes

Peter DeRose and Phil Barth were recently inducted into the Buffalo Squash Racquets Hall of Fame. DeRose won 10 city doubles titles and six city singles championships. His career highlight was winning the National Open doubles (the only Buffalonian to ever win the title) with Peter Maule of Canada in the 1980s. He was ranked as high as third in the United States in doubles in the 1980s and reached a high of 13th nationally in singles. He was a great shot maker and stayed in phenomenal shape. . . . Barth also won many Buffalo singles and doubles championships. One of his greatest claims to local squash fame was his phenomenal win that ended legendary the Rev. Bob Hetherington's streak of consecutive city championships at 13. He is a former Canadian National 40-and-over doubles winner and was a finalist in the United States Open doubles in 1997. He has always been known as one of the smartest players in the area and always seems to be in the right spot. . . . Gordon Anderson recently won both the United States National Singles and Doubles championships in the 55-over division.

e-mail: thegreatgar@cs.com