Twin sisters Shriya and Saumya Shetty like the same books, the same music, the same movies, the same food, the same fashion and they are both working on completing their Gold Award for Girls Scouts. So it should come as no surprise that the Lawrence High School juniors both excel at the same sport: tennis. They play doubles, of course.
With lots of support from their parents, Jayashrei and Subray Shetty, the girls went from playing travel soccer in elementary school to playing tennis instead in fifth grade, never looking back at their decision. “We really liked playing soccer, but we wanted to play a sport that was not as risky, and one that fit into our busy schedule better,” Shriya said.
The pair liked watching tennis on television, and they also liked watching their brother Sujay, now a sophomore at the University of Michigan, play. They took their first tennis lesson together at the Princeton Racket Club, and they loved it.
The Serena Williams fans caught on quickly, and after seven lessons, Shriya and Saumya decided that this was going to be their sport.
“We had a lot of different instructors who taught us so much at the racket club,” Saumya said. “We learned how to prepare for tournament play, and by the summer before our freshman year, we were ready to try out for the team.”
The team, now 7-9, has a no-cut policy, but players have to earn a spot to play in matches. They were both first alternates as freshmen, but they wanted to earn a varsity letter that year, too. In order to do that, players have to compete in three varsity matches—and Shriya and Saumya reached the mark.
Girls’ tennis head coach Gregg Zenorovitz, a health and physical education teacher at the high school who is in his second year with the team, has watched the girls grow as players in their skill and strength.
“They are two of the most coachable athletes I have ever had,” he said. “They are so eager to listen and willing to learn. I give credit to their family and to the type of young adults that these girls are.”
Their “twin connection,” he added, contributes to their play.
“Maybe it’s because they’re twins or because they are sisters that their play is very similar, and they work together as one,” he said.
The twins once again started out last season as first alternates in doubles. After winning a mid-season challenge between members of the team, Shriya and Saumya took over the second doubles slot.
Though the girls have made many improvements over the last several years, they are still learning at every match and practice. Both girls said their mental game has gotten better since they were freshmen. They’ve also gotten stronger and faster over the last few years, which has given their timing a boost.
“We are really getting to know our opponents strengths and weaknesses, and our coach takes notes during the matches, so we can discuss what needs to be worked on at the next practice,” Shriya said. “We treat all schools equally, no matter what their record is, and we give 100 percent every time we play.”
After each match, they discuss any errors they made with Zeneorvitz.
“Even though they may lose a match, they implemented what they had learned the day before in practice, and it made a big difference in their play and the final score,” he said.
The team uses eight courts to practice between Lawrence Middle School and Veterans Park in Hamilton. The 37 girls who are part of the program all get along well, and they support one another, said Zenerovitz, and the twins exemplify that.
“Shriya and Saumya are very humble, they support one another and the entire team, and this makes it so enjoyable as a coach,” Zenorovitz said. “They are a great representation of our program, and I am so glad we have one more year with them.”
Shriya and Saumya are looking forward to these next two years, on and off of the tennis court. They plan to start looking at colleges soon, and for now, they are keeping their options open.
“We definitely want to continue to play doubles and enjoy the memories we are making with the team, and all of the wonderful friends we have made,” Saumya said. “It’s never too late to become a tennis player. Although I had a pretty late start to the sport myself, I managed to work my way up to where I am today within a short time frame.”