As an avid tennis player, I am always trying to be in tip-top shape- on AND off the court. A large factor in athletic performance is diet and hydration, so it is important to know what to eat before, during, and after a match in order to succeed. Tennis is a sport that may take hours, and keeping a steady intake of water, electrolytes, and complex carbohydrates, just like the pros do, is the most important step to a 6-0, 6-0 win.

Don't worry- I splurge on an occasional Cookout milkshake here and there. Everything in moderation, right?

Before a Match 

Pre-workout foods for a tennis player need to be high in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, low in fiber, and low in fat. Stick with foods that you are familiar with and can digest easily- we don't need a digestive fiasco right before you are set to destroy your opponent. Try and eat your meal or snack at least 90 minutes before your match. That way, your body has digested the macronutrients and placed them in storage for you to utilize on the court.

Fresh Fruit

Fruit consists of water and carbohydrates- the perfect duo to fuel you for the match. A little fiber is okay here, but too much fiber will take a long time to digest and disrupt your game. Aim for berries, an apple, or sliced banana.

Granola Bars

Who doesn't love granola bars?! They are packed with complex carbohydrates, which your body uses to store as glycogen. Glycogen is the main energy source for anaerobic movements, which make up a majority of the sport of tennis. Maintaining a high carbohydrate-fueled diet is key to squashing the competition.

Low Fat Yogurt

Consuming low fat dairy products for breakfast helps fuel your energy stores so that you are ready for anything once you walk on the court. For a quick, easy pre-match meal, I whip up a a yogurt parfait, a mouth-watering combination of creamy yogurt, crunchy granola, fresh fruit, a sprinkle of chopped nuts, and a drizzle of honey. Voila- the right blend of carbohydrates, protein, and fat.

Fruit Smoothie

If you aren't feeling a meal before your match, why not try a fruit-filled drink instead? Smoothies are rich sources of vitamins and minerals, not to mention all of the carbohydrates that will fuel your glycogen stores. I love to stick with the classic strawberry smoothie before playing tennis. Drink up!

During a Match

Many times, players have no idea how long their match could take. Some matches can be over in 45 minutes, while others can last over 3 hours (great job, Serena!) Not to mention men's tennis, which has had matches go on for over 11 hours (Yikes!). Moral of the story, we need to be prepared for whatever is thrown at us when we are competing. It is crucial to remain well hydrated, so try and sip a few ounces of water every 15 minutes during your match to stay at the peak of your game.


While it may be a no-brainer, consuming plain water is extremely important in hydrating cells. Aim for 5-10 ounces of water every quarter hour to maintain peak performance. Many players shrug off the need for drinking water if they aren't thirsty, which can be dangerous. Thirst is not an adequate monitor for hydration, so drink even if you aren't thirsty. Your body will thank you.

Limit Caffeine

While caffeine gives us the energy to pull an all nighter for final exams, it may not be the best source of energy for a tennis player. Studies have shown that a small quantity of caffeine may be beneficial in terms of stamina or recovery, but keep the dose to a minimum. Why? Coffee and caffeinated drinks, which are also high in added sugars, can cause extra fluid or urine loss during the match, which can lead to dehydration (or unnecessary bathroom breaks, which nobody likes). Swap out the caffeinated drink for a piece of fruit or electrolyte-filled drink.

Gatorade Mixed with Water (50/50)

As you probably know, sports drinks are not the cure of everything. Electrolyte based drinks such as Gatorade and Powderade are beneficial in smaller quantities, since they are loaded with excess sugar and salt. To minimize this, try blending half Gatorade and half water for the perfect balance of electrolytes, sugar, and water.

After a Match

Congratulations, you made it through another tennis match! Wipe the sweat off your brow and get ready to chow down on a post match meal. Try and consume a well balanced, high calorie meal within 30 minutes of walking off the court to maximize benefits. Your main goal is to replenish sodium and carbohydrate levels, which can take up to 48 hours post match. Happy eating!


That's right. Load up on all those carbs, baby. Pasta is a great source of complex carbohydrates, which help repair glycogen stores. Add salt to the water when making pasta to bump up your sodium intake, which is the goal post-match! Check out these pasta recipes that are sure to satisfy your athletic appetite.

Lean Meat, Rice, and Veggies

Ah, one of my favorite go-to meals. Chicken, rice, and vegetables will always have the key to my heart. This well balanced meal contains the perfect ratio of lean protein, fat, carbohydrate, and essential vitamins and minerals. There are so many ways to spice this meal up, so get cooking! 

Breakfast for Dinner

Who doesn't love breakfast for dinner? I'm talking pancakes, waffles, eggs, ham, potatoes.... you get the idea. Pancakes and waffles are high in complex carbohydrates, eggs are a moderate source of protein, lean meats supply protein and fat. Potatoes are an excellent source of carbohydrates, potassium, and fiber, so order go ahead and those hash browns. Limit excess fat, high caffeine, and added sugar foods to stay on track.

The Takeaway

Tennis is a high-demanding sport that requires impeccable concentration and physical fitness. As Bjorn Borg put it, "Tennis is like a thousand little sprints." The body must adapt to the quick changes in pace and direction, and diet is a huge component of overall performance. Consume a high carbohydrate, low fat snack or meal pre-match to fuel your glycogen stores. During your match, ensure you are well hydrated by drinking water, limiting caffeine, and sipping an electrolyte-infused drink. Post match, consume high quantities of complex carbohydrates, sodium, and lean protein to repair muscles and recover for your next match.