Maties tennis player Lisa Yssel’s key lessons learnt on the international front in 2023

Maties tennis up-comer Lisa Yssel has had a promising 2023 on the international stage. She recently competed for Namibia at the Billie Jean King (BJK) Cup in Kenya (June) and was later again selected to represent her country’s senior national team again at the Kikuxi Villas Open in Angola (August).  

Having participated in array of sporting codes including tennis, netball, athletics and swimming – it is clear that from a young age Yssel had a passion for sport. As she moved to secondary school she was faced with the difficult decision to choose one sporting code to focus on.  

“It was at first a tough choice for me to choose between tennis and netball when starting my studies at Stellenbosch University as I have represented Namibia in both sports for six years already. But eventually I chose tennis, knowing I still have so much more I can accomplish and work towards in my career. Tennis has been a part of my life since I was 6 years old. I have always had a passion for it. Most would describe it as “love-hate relationship” but somehow the love and the thrill of playing has my heart and always will,” she explained.  

Yssel who is currently in her second year studying BCom Logistics and Supply Chain Management admits that it is tough to find a steady balance between sport, her social life and studies. However, she has found her balance through proper planning, execution and self-discipline saying: “Knowing when to prioritize something, meeting deadlines, always staying prepared for unexpected changes that might happen and being able to adjust to them but most importantly staying on top of everything.”  

When asked how Maties has played a role in her development and progression, she was filled with gratitude in saying: “Maties has given me the platform and facilities to develop my tennis career whilst building my profession. The past year and a half has been some of the best tennis I have ever played, and I never imagined to have improved so much in such a short time.”  

She further describes her training this year as “specialized and intense” which concentrated specifically towards her game and physique and helped her immensely in the preparation for the BJK Cup in June. “The BJK Cup was an amazing experience for me. I was able to test my limits, gain exposure and walk away with a few wins. It has motivated me for the remainder of the year as well as future similar events.” 

Yssel speaks through a clinical lesson she has grasped since working with Dr. Brendan Thomas (Maties tennis coach) in the past year which any student-athlete can also take learn from. “He said to me that tennis is a game of emergencies. You are constantly adapting, changing and working around your opponents, surroundings and environment. In the past few years of my tennis career, I had to adapt to unusual surfaces, living environments on tours, and play so many different opponents. It enabled me to learn a set of skills and abilities which I intend on using to carve not only my future in tennis but also with life in general,” she expressed.  

The 20-year-old gives credit to her family for being her biggest motivator. “They have been with me through every up and down, every small or big event in my life, whether it is tennis related or life related. My parents inspire me to work hard, be grateful and strive to always give my best. My brother is my biggest inspiration – he is also an aspiring tennis player with determination, self-discipline and so much drive. He is my biggest supporter, my motivator and my backbone. He is the reason why I continue to give my best and keep reaching for my goals – not only for my sake but to also set an example for him.”  

Her future hopes are already paved for the year and beyond as she attests, “I hope to further prepare for the summer USSA’s with my team and hopefully, represent Namibia again at the Region 5 Youth Games at the end of the year. I hope to one day also make the team for the World University Games to further represent Maties, be captain of the Namibian Women’s team for future BJK Cup Tours and obtain a world WTA ranking in the top 500. Overall to go as far as I can and be the best that I can be with my God-given talent for His glory.”  

By Kimara Singh