11. Irina Lykina: Oklahoma University tennis player talks about her competitive tennis experience, trusting the journey, accepting the situation you find yourself in, and pursuing your happiness


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Irina Lykina, originally from Kazan, Russia, played lines 1 and 2 for the University of Oklahoma's women's tennis team between 2003-2007. During her time at OU, their team was ranked #15 NCAA Division I. Irina's best NCAA D1 singles ranking was #63 and was named All-Big 12 Women's Tennis Singles Player in Spring 2005, a four-time member of the Academic All-American ITA Team, and four-time Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll member. Before college, during her Juniors tennis career, Irina was ranked in the top 300 in the world and achieved #1 ranking in Russia 16 and under in 2000. Between 2005-2008 Irina was also traveling with and coaching her younger sister, Ksenia Lykina, whose highest junior ITF ranking was #4 in the world during their joint work. Ksenia Lykina became a professional tennis player, achieving a career-high ranking of 171 in singles and 108 in doubles. Irina now works as a CPA but has kept her tennis passion alive, competing at different USTA tournaments and playing invitational tennis exhibitions. During her time in the Cayman Islands for work reasons, Irina won the Cayman Islands Championship in women's doubles in 2016 and mixed doubles in 2014 and 2016.

Key topics discussed in this episode:

  • Tennis game and mindset: what does it mean to be a tennis player, exploring all aspects of the game
  • Differences between being a competitive college tennis player and playing professionally
  • How does one choose a college tennis team and the benefits of playing college tennis
  • How do you find resilience and stay positive through injuries and find the courage to go back to the sport that hurt you in the first place?
  • The mindset and things Irina has learned when playing tennis that helped her excel in her professional career
  • Fear setting: The power of living through the worst-case scenario and how you can use it for growth
  • Creating boundaries and structure during COVID, gratitude, and choosing to focus on things that you can control and that bring you joy
  • Trusting the journey, finding your passion, confidence, purpose

Some of my favorite quotes:
"You can't control everything in tennis. You have to react very fast, and adjust, and continue to be challenged."
"In tennis, you can't replay things the same way, every point is a new page, and you don't know how it's gonna go, and that adds challenges to staying fit and injury-free, that element of needing to react."
"That sense of togetherness is

Thank you for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with a friend, and consider leaving a review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or any other podcasting platform. This will help me immensely. You can submit your feedback directly on my website. I enjoy hearing from you.
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I appreciate you and your support!
With a grateful ❤️, Klara.

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