In Brief

Tennis and Mono: A Love Match?

tennis playing fitness
Credit: Dreamstime

Professional tennis players are among the world's most finely trained athletes, with bodies that are honed to laser precision to compete in multimillion-dollar matches. Why, then, are so many top-seeded tennis players falling victim to mononucleosis, or mono, the "kissing disease"?

Naturally, when you get a pack of red-blooded young jocks together, a certain amount of kissing is going to happen off-camera. But when Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Robin Soderling, Jelena Dokic, Mario Ancic, Andy Murray, Marion Bartoli and other big names are forgoing a season — or, in some cases, their entire career — something seems amiss.

A grueling intercontinental travel schedule can tax even the healthiest players, reports. Add to that the intense physical and mental stress of the game itself — plus the frequent sharing of water bottles, towels and other equipment — and conditions are ripe for catching mono, which is spread by saliva, coughing and sneezing (and postgame make-out sessions).

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Marc Lallanilla
Live Science Contributor
Marc Lallanilla has been a science writer and health editor at and a producer with His freelance writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and Marc has a Master's degree in environmental planning from the University of California, Berkeley, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin.