If you’re heading over to the public courts for a quick rally or match with a buddy then don’t worry about what you bring with you (apart from a racquet and shoes) as there is no consequence for quitting early due to equipment malfunction or injury. However, if you are going into battle, so to speak, where winning might actually matter to you, you should have your tennis bag packed with a few just-in-case items. Obviously, preparing for every eventuality is impossible so don’t bother trying. Keep the following basics in your bag and you can feel comfortable that you have taken reasonable measures.
The List (in no particular order of importance — and, yes, I recognize that I can’t count. There are, depending on how you categorize these, 11, 9 or more items here):
Food and Water: It’s a pretty simple concept but one that people inexplicably fail to act on. Plain water and a banana (potassium) is good enough. But don’t forget water! If you’re really working hard then consider an electrolyte mixture (electrolytes are salts that help prevent cramping).
Over Grips: It is very easy to gunk up or otherwise ruin an over grip which, in turn, makes it harder to hold onto your racquet. Wouldn’t it be nice to simply change the grip so you don’t accidentally chuck your racquet over the fence (possibly striking and killing a small dog)?
Socks and an Extra Shirt: Your feet are important, and if you start to get a blister or your socks are too wet, you’ll want to change them out. A dry shirt is also one of those items that wouldn’t seem too important unless you’ve changed into one in the middle of a tough match. It feels soooo much better!
Sunscreen: Yeah, don’t look like a cooked lobster. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours if you aren’t sweating. If you are sweating then you need to reapply it every hour or so. Not that you’re going to play a 5 set match or anything, but consider that each set will take 1 hour.
A Hat and Sunglasses: If it’s cloudy and there is no glare you can take off the hat. If it’s sunny, you can put it back on — easy. Janko Tipseravic wears frames in which are transition lenses. When he plays indoors or in cloudy weather the glasses are clear, but if it’s sunny they become sunglasses. Now, if Tipseravic can wear sunglasses then so can you! Protect yourself out there.
If I’ve forgotten something obvious, let me know in the comment section!