Tennis with Tissues: Staying Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

I’m home sick with a cold today and couldn’t help but think about a time when I was 11 years old and played in an outdoor tennis tournament in frigid February with pneumonia. You must think that any parent who would allow their child to play tennis with pneumonia is insane, but the fact is, my parents weren’t aware I was that sick.

I had developed a cough the week leading up to the tournament and as I stepped out of the car that chilly morning for my first round match, my dad asked me again: “Are you sure you want to do this?” I nodded stoically then stepped on the court. I proceeded to lose — badly. After wheezing my way through the second set, sniffling between every sluggish stroke, you think I would have withdrawn from the tournament, but no. There was a consolation bracket and I was determined to keep playing. I’m not sure if it was the deep hacking sound that distracted my opponents or that they truly felt sorry me, but I ended up winning the consolation draw.


After the tournament, my mother promptly took me to the doctor at which point I was diagnosed with walking pneumonia. More like running pneumonia, I thought (haha). I missed two weeks of school and slept continuously during that period, which really wasn’t too terrible in my mind.

We’re approaching cold and flu season, which means you need to know how to keep yourself or your child healthy enough to play tennis. Even though I got a good story out of it, I would advise staying off the court if you’re struggling to breathe. Here’s some tips to help you avoid having to play tennis with a box of tissues by your side:

Get a flu shot

No appointment necessary at many pharmacies. You might get a cold afterward but it’s better than getting the flu later.


Take a break

Don’t force yourself to go to a tennis lesson if you’re feeling under the weather. Pushing yourself could make you feel worse.

Drink up

Fluids are one of the best remedies for colds because they clear out your sinuses. Drink lots and lots of water (especially on the court) as well hot tea, sports drinks and chicken broth.


Be courteous

If you’re playing tennis with others and start to feel a cold coming on, be careful not to pass your germs to someone else. Cough into the crook of your elbow, not your hand, and avoid shaking hands. And definitely don’t share water bottles!

Stay active

While you don’t want to push yourself when you’re sick, exercising is an excellent way to prevent you from getting there. Our favorite way to stay active? Tennis lessons, of course!



I grew up in a tennis family with three younger sisters as doubles partners. If you enjoyed a blog post of mine or want to know more, feel free to email me at Thanks for reading and staying connected with MyTennisLessons!
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