Acclimatize. If at all possible, get used to the conditions by playing outside in the heat in progressively longer increments of time. Roger Federer is famous for his intense training in the heat of Dubai.
Hydrate. Drink 16 – 20 ounces of water or electrolyte-enhanced carbohydrate sports drink (one standard bottle) two hours before competition or practice. An electrolyte-enhanced carbohydrate sports drink should not contain more than 9% electrolytes and carbohydrates (19 grams per 8 ounces or 48 grams per 20 ounces). An electrolyte-enhanced carbohydrate sports drink with a higher % content may slow the rate of absorption. A sports drink with salt (sodium chloride) helps to replace lost salt due to sweating and increases thirst and voluntary fluid intake. Drink 4 – 16 ounces of water or electrolyte-enhanced carbohydrate sports drink during every changeover (or 32 – 60 ounces per hour). It’s important to drink consistently not just when you’re thirsty. Drink an electrolyte-enhanced carbohydrate sports drink for matches or practice sessions lasting more the 60 minutes. Avoid drinking beverages containing caffeine and carbonation. Beverages containing caffeine and carbonation are not as effective in replenishing body fluid loss. After a match or practice session, drink one 20 ounce bottle of electrolyte-enhanced carbohydrate sports drink for every one pound of body weight loss within two hours after completion of the match or practice session. The goal is to replace 120% – 200% of body weight lost during competition or practice.
Cover up. Wear a hat or visor. Wear UV protective clothing with a UPF rating of 30 or more. Liberally apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 15 or greater every two hours. Wear sunglasses which provide 99 to 100 percent UV-A and UV-B protection. Seek shade if possible during changeovers and between points.
Take your time. Pace yourself by taking as much time as possible between points and during changeovers. Judiciously take towel breaks and manage the tempo of play to your advantage.
Be smart. Avoid playing from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM when the sun is most intense if you’re not feeling 100%.
Get strong. On and off court conditioning is a must to be truly successful (and confident) in extreme heat conditions. Heat-related fatigue, sickness and cramping are viewed by the ITF and USTA as the result of lack of conditioning and are not subject to medical injury rules for timeout and treatment.
Shorten the rally. Play “first strike” tennis to end the point more quickly.
Extend the rally. Of course if heat is your thing, you may be better served grinding and extending the rally to wear down your opponent.
Be positive. Embrace the challenge and approach things from a positive perspective. Make the best of the situation and don’t waste precious energy by complaining or getting down on yourself. If conditions are bad for you, they’re just as bad for your opponent(s).
Play indoors. Avoid the intense mid-day heat and sun by playing indoors.