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Rule the Court Like Tennis Star Sloane Stephens

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The tennis season might not have started for some who are still living in polar-vortex conditions, but it's in full swing for the pros like Sloane Stephens, who will feel right at home playing in the 2014 BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California's Coachella Valley, which is less than two hours from her L.A. home.

The 20-year-old USANA Health Sciences brand ambassador and No. 12-ranked player (she's the highest-ranked American after Serena Williams) is looking to shake things up at this year's event, though she won't have to beat No. 1-ranked Williams as she did at the 2013 Australian Open to make it to the semifinals. 

You don't need to be at Indian Wells (which ends the 16th) to take notes on how to rule the court. To psych out your opponent and send them some “love” (AKA, zero points), follow these hard-hitting tennis tips from Stephens.

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1. Get tennis-fit. The not-so-secret tip to getting (and staying) fit is doing something active every day. For folks who don't have the luxury of time, Sloane recommends trying to fit in just 35 minutes of exercise per day: 10 minutes on the treadmill, 10 minutes on the bike, and 10 minutes on the elliptical, followed by 50 squats.

2. Serve better. The real power behind your serve is in your legs. Stephens suggests adding a jump to give it the extra oomph it needs to send the neon ball screaming over the net. [Tweet this tip!]

3. Find the sweet spot on the court. Stephen's go-to position to return fast-moving balls is right behind the baseline, directly kitty-corner to her opponent, at the back of the court.

4. Don't get strung out. Whether you're resurrecting your childhood racket or just dusting off the one that you bought last year, re-stringing your racket can make it feel like new and give your balls more bounce, Sloane says. Our pick: Wilson Gut Extreme strings ($3.50,

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5. Stay in the game. Stephens relies on prehab exercises every day to avoid any sidelining injuries. Her favorite move for her shoulders is an internal and external rotation with resistance bands: Hook one end of the band to something secure, such as a doorknob (close the door), and then grip the other end with your right hand. Keep your elbow close to your body and bent at 90 degrees and your forearm parallel to the ground. Slowly move your right hand toward your body and then slowly move away from your body. Repeat on the other side.

6. Use a friendly rivalry to fuel your workout. Defeating Williams in 2013 was such a huge breakthrough moment for the tennis phenom, who admits that “always having someone who you want to beat is good.”


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