Serving the best

Australian physiotherapists play a crucial role on the world stage. Here, Victorian Branch Council Member Sam Rosengarten, APA Sports Physiotherapist, speaks with Milena Mirkovic about her role as physiotherapist for the London-based Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).

From an early age, Milena harboured a strong passion for tennis. Once a talented player, her sporting pursuits ended early as a result of injury. It was this initial exposure to injury, and its effect on athletic performance, that subsequently motivated Milena topursue a career in physiotherapy. Her connection to tennis was further strengthened when her sister, Marija Mirkovic, entered the professional tennis ranks.

After completing her Masters at the University of Melbourne in 2009, Milena took on a role with LTA in 2010 and made the move to London.

Despite extremely long work days, often up to 12 hours in duration, and limited time off, Milena notes that the opportunities to travel and attend matches made it all worth it.

'I love the sport and working in tennis has its perks,’ she says. ‘As players rely on you for their injury management, it’s to their advantage to have you at their games watching them play.’

This perk of the job recently saw Milena watch British player Heather Watson face off against US champion Serena Williams at this year’s Wimbledon Championships. Milena was invited to sit with Heather’s support team during the match to observe her movement and look for ways to improve her treatment off the court. And it’s not just Wimbledon that Milena is involved in—her role with the association extends to providing physiotherapy service during other tournaments, most recently in Nottingham. ‘This role is different because you are required to provide physiotherapy service to any player competing in the tournament, which is up to 60 players in this case,’ Milena says.

‘You are also on alert in case there is a ‘court call’ to attend; if a player calls for a medical time-out, the attending physiotherapist has three minutes for assessment and evaluation and then a further three minutes for treatment. You then have two more opportunities to treat of 90 seconds each. Then there’s the pressure of the umpire who wants to keep the game going and the crowd watching closely. This is where you have to be at your best.’

Her advice to aspiring Australian physiotherapists is clear: ‘If you really want to work in a particular field, follow it and don’t let go. You are a lucky person when your work is also your passion.’