The Class 2A doubles bracket at the girls state tennis tournament has a very definite theme: Sisters. One-quarter of the 16 doubles teams are sisters, with three of those pairs positioned at the bottom end of the bracket.
The biggest story among all the sisters are the Aneys from Rochester Century. That’s because ninth-grader Jessica Aney, the defending state single champion, chose to play doubles this year with her sister Katherine, a junior. They are known simply as Jessie and Katie, and they defeated two other sister teams Thursday to advance to Friday’s semifinals.
The Aneys opened with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Laura and Cassy Finn of Delano, then defeated Taylor and Chase Shortly of Forest Lake. Both Aney sisters played singles Tuesday and Wednesday in the team competition, so they had to make a hasty switch to doubles.
“The first match was a little rough but I thought we played pretty well,” Katie said after Thursday’s quarterfinals. In Friday’s semifinals they will meet Meghan Herring and Kelly Reger of Edina. The other semifinal will be between sisters Morgan and Mackenzi Marinovich of Edina and the Centennial team of Kelly Jachymowski and Courtney Klair.
The Aneys (Jessie is pictured at right) have captured the spotlight based on two main factors: Jessie’s decision to skip a chance at a repeat singles title and the joy that they show on the court. The sisters smile frequently and share an abundance of high fives.
“Fun. That’s what it’s all about,” said Katie. “Jessie’s always been a singles player and I’m a doubles player. She won state last year in singles, so she thought it would be cool to try to do doubles. And we’re sisters, and best friends, too.”
Century coach Josh Heiden said the decision to play singles or doubles was Jessie’s.
“I think Jessie was a little nervous about it, thinking what other people would think,” Heiden said. “I think she sometimes thinks about that too much; ‘People come to the state tournament and I feel like they want to watch me play singles, and I’m letting them down.’ I told her, ‘You cannot think about that. If you want to play doubles, play doubles. If they were going to come and watch you, they’re going to watch you play doubles or singles.’ ”
A year ago, Jessie was an eighth-grader who blazed through the 2A singles tournament without losing a set in four matches. She was a prohibitive favorite to win another singles title this year, until she made the decision to play doubles with her big sister. Katie, who had never played at state other than the team tournament, laughed about how easy it was to agree to play doubles with Jessie.
“I said something like, ‘If you reallllly want to, I guess I could squeeze it into my schedule,’ ” Katie said with a big smile.
The Aneys also skate on the same line for the Century girls hockey team. “We’re together all the time,” Katie said.
Jessie said, “We’d been thinking about it for a long time and we thought it would be really fun. I love playing singles, too, so it was a really hard decision. But I love playing with my sister and we have a lot of fun together and work well together.”
--Singles and double state champions will be crowned Friday in 2A at the University of Minnesota Baseline Tennis Center and in Class 1A at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in south Minneapolis.
--To see photos from the girls state tennis tournament, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 224
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(*During the 2012-13 school year)
--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn