If McKenzie Davis and Kallie Sperry seem pretty in sync, don’t be surprised.
Their strategy, their positioning and their chemistry has been a work in progress over the course of a dozen years. It gives Utah State’s top doubles team an edge over most of the competition they face: It’s pretty tough to battle a duo that has known each other pretty well on and off since they were eight years old.
McKenzie Davis, junior » 12-2 in first singles
Kallie Sperry, sophomore » 9-5 mostly in second singles
Sperry and Davis » 12-3 in first doubles
"They’re definitely one of the best parts of our varsity," coach Sean McInerney said. "They’re both very aggressive personalities. They balance each other off emotionally, and they have the ability to calm each other down."
Oddly, the now-20-year-olds find themselves in the position of behind the elder statesmen of a young Aggie tennis program. Davis is the only junior, and Sperry is one of only three sophomores under first-year coach McInerney.
That hasn’t hindered the team so far, as the group has rolled to a 7-2 record so far this year thanks much in part to Davis and Sperry, who compete in both singles and doubles. Individually, they’ve been pretty tough to beat: Davis is 12-2 and has won her last 10 matches in No. 1 singles with only one win in three sets. Sperry is 9-5 playing primarily No. 2 singles.
But as a team, Davis and Sperry are one of the best in the Mountain Region, and they’ve racked up a 12-3 record. Their leadership in practice and in matches has helped the team roll early in the spring season.
It dates back to when both were in elementary school, and their parents knew each other through the Fort Douglas Swim and Tennis Club. They hit together a few times, played each other in matches when they were 12, and have been running into each other on the court ever since. They played once in a state tournament in 2009, with Davis powering past Sperry when they were in high school. Davis went on to win a 5A first singles title in 2010 for Cottonwood, while Sperry achieved the feat in 2011 for Jordan. Going against each other has never really driven a wedge between them.
"We never had that whole rivalry thing," Sperry said. "It wasn’t a problem. I beat her a few times, she beat me. It was good to get that experience."
But even back then, the best results came when they teamed up. In 2007, they played doubles on a junior tennis team from Salt Lake City that won the UTSA under-14 national championship.
They haven’t quite reached that level of prestige in their days at Utah State, but the wins are piling up. They also spend a lot of time together at campus athletic events, grabbing a bite, or playing sometimes intense ping-pong tournaments.
That chemistry carries over, McInerney says. They’re also partners in leading the youth-heavy program.
"I consider myself luck to have that kind of good leadership, which is kind of the basis of any program trying to turn around," he said. "I appreciate the ability they’ve had to work hard and get the team to adapt to their personalities. They’ve done a remarkable job in their willingness to lead others."
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