Australia’s Samantha Stosur is one the very few tennis pros that wear sunglasses on the court. Why is that?
The general belief is that the naked eye is best for tracking the ball, but that notion couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only that, but it’s dangerous! Thankfully, performance eyewear has come a long way in both fashion and protection.
What you should look for:
PROTECTION. The absolute, hands down, number one reason you should wear sunglasses on a tennis court (or anywhere else during daylight hours), is to protect your eyes against glare and the long-term damage caused by the sun’s harmful UV rays. The American Optometric Association recently reported the very real consequences of UV radiation and the findings weren’t pretty: cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, photokeratitis (eyeball sunburn) and even skin cancer. And ladies, let’s not forget about those dreaded wrinkles that form from squinting.
To keep your eyes properly protected, your on-court sunglasses should
- block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation;
- be polarized to fight glare
- be a wrap-around design to protect your eyes from the sides as well
PERFORMANCE. With proper lenses, you will see the ball more clearly in bright sun and be able to react to it more quickly. Sunglasses also preserve energy, as they reduce squinting which is tiring and headache inducing. For ultimate performance, sunglasses should also be lightweight and have rubber nose and temple pads to prevent slipping. They should also be ventilated to prevent fogging up when you sweat.
The best lens colors for optimal performance are:
- Gray: preserves color while reducing brightness and glare
- Brown: enhances color, especially the bright hue of a tennis ball
- Yellow: improves the contrast on overcast days and when playing indoors
STYLE. Look like the player you want to be by wearing eyewear designed for tennis. Anything designed for leisure/fashion will fog up, slip and generally deter from your game – street style just doesn’t cut it.
One last thing…since old habits are hard to break, starting the younger players early with on-court eyewear is smart. They do this in Australia which is why you see quite a few Aussie pros (like Sam Stosur and Bernard Tomic) sporting their on-court shades.