At SaltStick, we are proud to sponsor top athletes in the fields of triathlon, running, tennis and more. We are inspired by our athletes and admire the hard work and time they have dedicated to achieving success.
Because we hope our athletes’ performances will serve as motivation as you pursue your own fitness and life journey, we enjoy sharing their stories. This week’s blog post features Will Grant, who this past summer finished third at the prestigious boys national championship in singles and won the doubles, giving him the chance to compete in his first junior US Open, both singles and doubles.
Will’s journey into tennis:
Born in London with four older brothers and sisters who played tennis, Will was constantly around the local tennis club. However, it was after his family moved to California that his tennis really started to grow. Quickly outgrowing the competition in his area, Will decided to make another jump to Boca Raton, Florida, with the USTA National Training Center down the road.
Later, Will transitioned through another jump when he won the prestigious “gold ball” event at the 14-u USTA Clay Court National Championships in 2015. He now competes in the 18-u ITF circuit, traveling around the world playing high level tournaments — in the US to South America and Europe. Based mostly in the Florida area and occasionally Barcelona, Spain, Will’s goals are to continue being not only the best athlete he can be, but the best person and to reach his ultimate goal: to play professional tennis.
This past summer, Will took his tennis game to the next level when he finished third at the prestigious boys national championship in singles and won the doubles, giving him the chance to compete in his first junior US Open, both singles and doubles.
Like endurance athletes, Will operates on an annual calendar, structuring his season around key tournaments in which he wants to perform well. In the pre-season, he operates on a relaxed schedule, spending several weeks in a row training before playing in four or five consecutive tournaments. By blocking tournaments together, he can avoid the disruptive routine that results from extensive travel.
This schedule looks somewhat similar during peak season, but instead his focus is shifted to just two or three tournaments at a time, usually in the same geography to avoid travel.
In Will’s offseason, he focuses on non-tennis activities that promote cardiovascular health, only picking up a racket after the first few weeks.
One commonly-overlooked aspect of tennis, according to Will, is the mental game that is required of athletes. As Will is only 16 years old, he lacks the experience of tennis veterans that allows them to remain calm under pressure.
“Everyone can hit a ball hard, but finding the consistency in your routines, habits, and attitude is what makes the difference between average and great,” Will says. “With me being 16, I struggle with these types of things every day and really try to focus on my mental side more than many people think.”
Will is strongly motivated by the opportunities he sees in the sport of tennis.
“Being able to train and sometimes live with some of your best friends, but also competitors, is a huge inspiration where everyone feeds off each other,” he says.
On off days, Will reminds himself that difficult times are part of anyone’s training program, and he recognizes that the majority of the time will not be spent “in the zone.” Instead, he focuses on trying to maintain consistency in training and mental attitude.
“It’s all about training your mind to accept and figure out ways to pull through that extra practice or long match,” he says.
Will is a self-proclaimed picky eater, so he does not change his nutrition significantly throughout the year. During training and competing, he focuses on replenishing electrolytes lost through sweat and consuming enough protein.
Following matches or hard training days, Will seeks out a protein shake or a meal with chicken or steak to help fuel his recovering muscles.
How SaltStick helps Will train and compete: Will is a heavy sweater, so he has to constantly stay on top of his nutrition routine to ensure he is replacing electrolytes lost through sweat.
“SaltStick is a key component in my hydration strategy,” Will says. “Usually in matches I take a SaltStick Capsule every changeover depending on the environment. It keeps me fresh and energized and has helped me control the fluids I lose during hot and humid matches.”
Will’s advice to people considering tennis:
Tennis can be a grueling sport, and Will’s advice to novice athletes is to stay focused on enjoying the game and having fun.
“A lot of times players get caught up in winning and losing, however at the end of the day it’s just a sport,” Will says. “Focusing on the process and end product is more important than winning a match. Even I myself struggle with stuff like this, and so do top players, so it’s a common challenge everyone faces.”
Will also advises players to focus on the bigger picture, which can allow them to improvise when the time is right.
“As I’ve gotten older and traveled the world I’ve started to realize how little margin of error there is from winning and losing,” Will says. “A single line call or missed shot can change a match, but the greats improvise and find a way to deal with it.”
His favorite thing about the sport? “The friendships and opportunities from tennis are endless!” he says.
Thank you, Will!