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Seven Life Lessons I Learned from Tennis

Exercise and Nutrition
Author name: Lisa O’Neil, Lee Health System Director Marketing & Brand Management

Love, advantage, service, fault and more -- even the language is similar. Tennis is a pastime that combines the perfect blend of healthy exercise, competition, and social interaction. I can see why it has been called the sport of a lifetime.

As the U.S. Open continues in New York, I am reminded of a few things I have learned throughout the years:

1. Play to your strengths

For years, I was focusing on the weakest part of my game: my serve. Now, I appreciate my strong forehand and ability to keep the ball in play and be patient. I have taken a bit of the pressure off myself in having a strong serve, and this has helped my game.

2. Take one point (day) at a time

Like many sports, tennis is as much mental as it is physical. If you hit the ball in the net or out, shake it off and get ready for the next point.

3. Be proactive: Attack the net at times

Honestly, this is something I need to work on as I tend to be more of a backcourt and defensive player and like it when my opponents make mistakes. That statement made me laugh -- I guess I can be that way in life, too. I need to remind myself to be assertive on and off the court.

4. Critical thinking is, well…critical

I have learned that I always need to be in the moment and critically analyze the situation, making adjustments on the fly to achieve success.

5. Natural abilities and strengths can only get you so far

You might serve very well, but other people might have a strong backhand. But in the end, the person who wins is the person who uses his or her competitive strengths and works hard on other parts of their game.

6. Practice makes perfect (well, almost)

Tennis is not the type of sport you can pick up easily. It is similar to learning how to play the piano – seek the advice of an instructor and practice as often as possible.

7. Play your game

Don’t let what others think of you or their lack of support bring you down. It’s always nice to have people by your side. But sometimes, people will root for others. And that’s OK. Bring your “A” game anyway.


Lisa O’Neil is the system director of Marketing and Brand Management at Lee Health. She and her husband moved to beautiful SW Florida in 2017. When she is not serving at Lee Health, you most likely will find her on the tennis court, walking her dog, or planning a trip to visit her three grown children.


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