My ace in the hole for the 2023 season

It’s the offseason, and I’ve been getting my prep work for the 2023 Bassmaster Elite Series season done so I’m ready to roll. Part of that prep work has been filming for my television show, Mark Menendez BassTV, getting caught up on office work and rigging my new Skeeter/Yamaha tour boat. I’m also ordering next year’s supply of Thunder Crickets, Tour Grade Tungsten from Strike King, my new Elite rods and reels from Lew’s and restocking my Seaguar Fluorocarbon and Smackdown braid and Gamakatsu hooks. This type of prep work is taking most of my time.

I do make sure to get a little time to get on the water this time of the year because it rejuvenates my desire to catch a bass. I’m finding some time, as the weather allows, to fish my favorite time of the year. Now is when I’m working on new techniques and breaking down areas by idling around watching my Lowrance units. It’s keeping my fishing skills sharp.

One thing I’ve realized as I’ve aged, and as the years continue to stack up on my career, is that my body needs to be taken into consideration in the offseason as well. If you’ve followed my career, I’ve suffered some injuries, both acute and from repetitive use over the years.

I’ve wanted to find a way to work on my physical self without getting bored. It occurred to me I had something in my past that could be just what I needed; I played tennis in high school and college.

While it’s been 35 years since I have seriously chased my favorite chartreuse spinnerbait colored ball, I have always followed the sport. But I stopped playing because of a fear of major injury. Seriously damaging a knee, an elbow or an ankle could take me away from my job as a professional angler.

However, I now see the court quite differently. I’m finding that not only can it make me stronger physically, but the mental challenge makes me sharper and can make my mind more open to solving problems on the Bassmaster Elite Series. Three days a week, I’m hitting 700 balls from the ball machine. I’m also playing on a weekly men’s night and attending a Saturday morning clinic to get my fix. My wife, Melissa, will train and play with me, and our youngest son, Sam, is also a player, so this gives us some additional family time.

I have a few more weeks of tennis training available to me before we start traveling to events. I’m going all-in and getting as much time as possible on the court with a tennis pro. On top of that, I’m planning on adding more cardio as soon as I finish rigging, breaking in and wrapping my Skeeter Boat.

Playing tennis doesn’t come as easy as in my teens or twenties, but it’s making me move and accomplish some goals in the offseason — and that I love – see what I did there?

It won’t be long until I’m serving up some Red Eyed Shad and Rage Craws to some Okeechobee bass, and tennis will have been one of my aces in the hole for getting ready.