At SaltStick, we are proud to sponsor top athletes in the fields of triathlon, running, tennis and jiu jitsu. We are inspired by our athletes and admire the hard work and time they dedicate 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 Kaitlyn Christian, a professional tennis player with 10 ITF Pro Circuit Titles under her belt.
Kaitlyn’s tennis journey
A soccer player during childhood, Kaitlyn was introduced to tennis at the age of 8 through the tennis courts next to her soccer arena. With no family history of tennis, it was happenstance that she found a new sport that she enjoyed, and for a while, Kaitlyn played both tennis and soccer simultaneously, before ultimately choosing her current sport.
She continued playing junior tennis in Southern California and later competed at the collegiate level for the University of Southern California for four years. Today, she competes professionally on the pro tour as a doubles player with fellow SaltStick athlete Sabrina Santamaria.
As a doubles player, Kaitlyn’s competition schedule is packed, but on the rare occasion she has a full week to train, she heads to the court twice a day for a few hours at a time. These efforts are supplemented by 60- to 90-minute blocks of general conditioning, which is essential for performing well during a match. Kaitlyn usually spends this time on a track, working to improve her endurance and her short, quick bursts of speed, both a requisite for her sport.
“The mental aspect of tennis in my opinion is the most important part of the game once you’ve hit a certain level,” says Kaitlyn. “I believe the mental game is what separates the top players from players ranked in the hundreds. At that point, the game is 95 percent mental.”
Additionally, for Kaitlyn and her peers, tennis is a lifestyle. Constant travel can take a toll physically and emotionally, and even when not traveling, Kaitlyn spends most of her time preparing for the next match. Sometimes, competitions do not go as expected, which adds an additional layer of frustration.
“Tennis is very much a game of managing yourself on your worst days, and then doing your best not to have those days turn into weeks or months,” she says.
Despite the tough nature of the sport, Kaitlyn is in it for the long haul. A passion for the game and a thirst for competition keeps her coming back day in and day out. Even after 18 years, she enjoys the court and derives motivation from the fact that she gets to do something she loves.
“The traveling aspect is also fun,” she says. “Getting to see a new place every week and meeting new people and experiencing different cultures is also exciting for me. Every little section of the world has something new to teach us, and I count myself fortunate that I have the opportunity to travel and explore so much.”
To Kaitlyn, nutrition is both an important and difficult aspect of the sport, especially with her high volume of travel.
“Going from country to country every week and trying to find appropriate things to eat can be a challenge,” she says. “Sometimes people don’t speak English and some menus don’t have pictures, and all you can manage is a simple bowl of rice.”
To ward off potential challenges, she packs oatmeal packs, power bars, nuts and protein shakes whenever she goes someplace new.
How SaltStick helps Kaitlyn: Tennis matches can often last for hours in the heat, draining players of crucial electrolytes stores that are needed to compete at the highest level. As a result, competitors can find themselves dealing with low energy levels or — even worse — cramps that hamper performance. SaltStick replaces the four electrolytes lost through sweat in a form that the body can easily absorb, keeping Kaitlyn ready to work hard on the court.
“Before every practice or match I take one SaltStick Fastchew (orange is my favorite flavor) and in humid and hot conditions I’ll have one SaltStick Cap as well as one more Fastchew half way through,” she says.
“As nutrition is a very important part of the sport, SaltStick products always keep me on top of my game and keep the cramps away while maintaining high electrolyte levels,” she says. “Traveling most of the year to hot and humid places, it helps me stay healthy while pushing my boundaries!”
Advice to new athletes
As a professional, Kaitlyn notes that the sport is not easy. Similar to endurance sports, it is ultimately up to the individual athlete to improve, train, prepare and compete, opening the potential for a lonely lifestyle. “It’s a lot of ‘you time,’ and you are the only person who can figure things out for yourself on the court,” she says.
Still, for novice and experienced athletes alike, it provides avenues for all ages. For instance, through her tennis career, Kaitlyn had the opportunity to play a stunt double for Emma Stone in the 2017 film Battle of the Sexes.
“Tennis is the sport for a lifetime,” Kaitlyn says. “It’s a great sport to pick up at any age, and if you’re younger, tennis can be a great avenue for scholarship opportunities in the future.”