Elmira-born siblings Ian, 14, and Izzy, 12, Speiran, put their skills to the test last week at the Southampton Tennis Championships, both winning U14 singles, the brother-and-sister championship, and Izzy taking home the win for the girls’ doubles.
The finalists gathered on August 24 for Cups Day where they competed in different categories for the championships. People come from all over Ontario and there are even competitors travelling from across the border to compete in the events.
The brother-and-sister duo accomplished more than just a few wins: Izzy set a new record during the wall challenge with 2,073 non-stop hits, beating the last record by nearly 700 hits.
“This year when I did it, I knew it was going to be my last. All the times I’ve done it so far, other girls show up and they watch for a little bit and then they end up leaving without having the chance to even hit because I’m at the wall so long.”
“I wanted to give the chance for a younger girl to win it, so I knew I had to go out with a bang,” she added.
Of all the events during the day, the brother-and-sister championship was the most exciting event for the siblings, who posted an 8-0 victory.
“This is our second time winning, we won two years ago as well. This year was easier, we played really well but probably just because we’re better now,” said Ian.
This was the first year Izzy qualified to play in the girls’ intermediate doubles, competing with a partner who was two years older than her. Going up against 16-year-old competitors was a bit intimidating.
“It was a big challenge. I always just trust that if I play well and if my partner plays well and we’re cooperating with each other then it’ll all turn out OK.”
The siblings started playing tennis at an early age while vacationing in the area, with their first foray into lessons coming at the Southampton Tennis Club, where they discovered a new passion for the competitive sport. Every summer they return to practice and part take in the lessons.
“It’s really fun competing against everyone and you get to meet new friends and people from different places,” Ian said.
Their parents are a big part of the reason why they got into tennis and they always motivate the two to practice outside of lessons, explained Izzy.
To get better at the sport the siblings work together each day to train and rally. Every day they play at least three matches, said Ian, while working hard and taking lessons helps them to improve their skills.
A typical day for the pair consists of setting up matches and challenging each other, as persistence is what brings these young players such success, Izzy noted. Having each other as tennis partners allows them to improve on their communication skills but also teaches them how to support each other.
“We have a good system – we try to help each other out,” said Ian.
Both of the athletes enjoy other sports as well: Ian plays hockey for most of the year and considers tennis to be his summer sport, while Izzy spends much of her time training for competitive swimming and enjoys tennis equally.
“Someone told me this weekend I should quit hockey and just play tennis,” Ian said with a laugh.
With juggling other sports, both players are not ready to just focus on one sport, and they still hold a commitment to each other and to their yearly summer sport of tennis.
“We just play quite well together. Ian takes on the leadership role because he’s older and a better player than me, so he keeps me motivated on the court. Regardless if we win a point, hit a good shot, we’re always there to give out high-fives to each other.”