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Tennis Health: Florida USTA League Player Beats 'Widowmaker,' Back on Court

December 17, 2010 10:37 AM
by Rick Vach, ustaflorida.com

You rarely, if ever, see a tennis player back on the court after encountering "The Widowmaker."

Or see them anywhere else, for that matter.

But Polk County resident Sara Margeson survived, and the health benefits of tennis is what she attributes with saving her life and quickly getting her back on the court.
Sara Margeson (right)
For those unfamiliar with the heart attack parlance, "widowmaker" is a nickname used to describe one of the main coronary arteries of the heart becoming abruptly and completely blocked, causing a massive heart attack that usually quickly leads to death. Even a small amount of a cholesterol plaque rupture can cause an attack, for reasons not entirely understood. When a widowmaker hits, there is usually only a five-minute window to get to a hospital or receive emergency care.

The widowmaker felled the active then-46-year-old Margeson 'out of the blue,' as she had no history of high cholesterol, or high blood pressure, or other symptoms normally associated with heart attack victims.

"The attack came as a surprise to all," Margeson said. "It was a 'widowmaker' with complications after the double by-pass surgery. I was helicoptered to Tampa General and put on the heart transplant list as my heart was so weak. I was 46 at the time, and turned 47 in the hospital. Thankfully and miraculously my heart began to revive, and now there is only a little bit of muscle damage."

These days Margeson is playing in a miraculous seven (7) USTA leagues, and says she is playing the best tennis of her life. In November 2010 she was one of 75 senior players participating in an introductory USTA Senior Fun Day Tri-Level League event at the Oak Street Park Country Club in Kissimmee, Fla.
Tennis seemed a far-away option as she recovered in the hospital, but she took solace in the fact that her doctors attributed tennis, and her overall good physical condition, to surviving the attack, and to her subsequent recovery.

"When can I get back on the court?" said Margeson of the first question she asked her doctor. "He made me wait until my sternum had healed up, but I was back on the courts 2-1/2 months later! It took a while to get back to full speed, but I'm an even better player now than I was before."

Margeson is the captain for her local Polk County USTA 3.0-level Adult League team, and also plays 3.5 Adult, 3.5 Senior Adult, Combo League 5.5 (where she is the captain) and 6.5, Senior Combo 6.5, and now the USTA Tr-Level League, where three different levels of doubles players/teams can play on the same team. Three of her teams this season won their regional USTA League championships and advanced to the USTA Florida Adult League Championships, held at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach, where they play for the opportunity to represent Florida at the USTA League Nationals.

"Sounds like a lot but I love it. Tennis helps keep my heart healthy, my muscles strong and my cardiologist is very pleased," said Margeson, who has actually increased her court time since beating 'The Widowmaker.' "I played tennis two or three days a week at the time. Now I usually play 5-6 days a week. It keeps me in shape and I don't enjoy other fitness programs as much as tennis, which is an all-round wonderful sport for health."

Aside from the exercise and friendly competition, Margeson says USTA League tennis has introduced her to "the best of friends" and is truly "the sport of a lifetime."

"Tennis is a wonderful way to stay fit, socialize and have fun all at the same time," Margeson says. "It also keeps your mind sharp...I don't know what I would do without it."

For league and other upcoming Play Day opportunities in Florida, go to www.ustaflorida.com and click on the "leagues" tab on the left-hand side.






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