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Get Out! Fall Exercise Tips for Fresh-Air Fun

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Be a Tennis Ace

Bring Your A-Game: Venus Williams reveals how you can rule the court.

  • Go in for a tune-up. Whether you're just dusting off that racquet you bought last year or hitting the courts with it each weekend, it may be time to take 'er in to be restrung. "You should get your racket strung once every two to four months or every 15 times that you play," says Williams, who recommends Wilson Synthetic Gut Extreme strings ($4, amazon.com).
  • Polish your serve. "Having a high ball toss in front of you is key, as is having a fluid motion," she says. To watch how it's done, go to essentialtennis.com for free online videos.
  • Stand in the sweet spot. After you serve, stand in the center of the baseline -- on or just behind the line. "Being on the baseline allows you the flexibility to move side to side and forward toward the net," Williams says. "Don't hang too far back," she warns of a common rookie mistake, "so that you can't come in and be aggressive."

Dodge Tennis Elbow: Surprise -- despite its name, this bummer strain begins with the wrist. We consulted Jennifer Solomon, MD, a team physician for the United States Tennis Association (USTA), on how to save your game.

  • Master a proper hold. Grip the handle as if you were giving it a light handshake (leave a finger's width or so of wiggle room in your grasp). When you grip too firmly, you're forced to use your wrist muscles to control all the action.
  • Do a postmatch stretch. Dr. Solomon's go-to soother: Extend your dominant arm -- the one you hold the racket with -- in front of you, palm down. Use your other hand to pull the fingertips down and toward you so that the palm is facing your body. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
  • Ice your elbow. If your elbow starts to feel sore or tender while doing everyday activities like turning a doorknob, ice the area for 20 minutes and do the stretch. If the pain persists, see a doc.

How Not to Look Like a Poseur: When it comes to courtside fashion, white minis have given way to everything from capris to catsuits. And sweatbands? You won't catch many in-the-know pros wearing the 1970s Bjorn Borg variety; Williams opts for a visor from her Eleven by Venus line. But there's one accessory a true player would never toss. "I wear wristbands to keep the sweat off my hands," Williams says. Yours can double as something to dab your brow with.

Get Going: Whether you're a novice or the next Serena, you can easily find your ideal opponent at tennisround.com. This website helps connect players of all levels (the site has 16,000-plus registered members) and find courts in more than 2,200 U.S. cities. If you need a hand with selecting the right partner, let the site's new Flex League program suggest a suitable player for you. Looking for a league? Find one near you on the USTA website, usta.com/adult-tennis/usta-league.

Next:  Go for a Spin

 

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