While the temperature read 87 degrees at noon on Saturday, the relatively low humidity pushed the heat index to over 90 degrees, which should have made the second day of the Mizzou Invite at Mizzou Tennis Complex increasingly difficult to compete in. But because of the team’s preparation, the Tigers did not let the heat hurt their performance.
Facilitated by associate director of athletic performance Dawn Malone, the Tigers have undergone extensive fitness and endurance training, according to coach Colt Gaston. The team has put an emphasis on ensuring that on days in which they are playing in the heat, they are physically prepared.
“[The heat] was kind of an advantage,” junior Mackenzy Middlebrooks said. “Going into it I knew that we had put in the work and that I was strong enough to get through it just because of everything we’ve done in training.”
Playing for over four hours in the heat, the Tigers started the day playing doubles matches against pairs from Memphis, Tennessee and Denver, going 1-3 over four matches. They then transitioned to eight single matches against the Pioneers, winning six of the eight.
“The start in doubles wasn’t the best,” Gaston said. “[But] one of the things we’ve been priding ourselves on is our finishing, and they did a great job in coming out and responding the right way, and finishing matches better in singles.”
There were two instances in which the athletic trainer was called out, but it was assured that those issues were not caused by the heat and that they were minimal. Both athletes went on to finish their matches.
The coaching staff is also training their players to know how to push themselves, even when they are fatigued.
“Coach Malone pushes them to understand how they can raise their bar everyday,” Gaston said. “[She shows them] what to do when they’re tired and still be at an exceptional level, and that takes time. That’s what the fall [season] is all about.”
Missouri will travel to Fort Worth, Texas, next weekend for the Big 5 Challenge at TCU.
Edited by Bennett Durando︱firstname.lastname@example.org