In their first year as a doubles team, Nazareth senior Addie Doyle and junior Abby Shannon are playing together as if they’ve been longtime partners.
This doesn’t come as a huge surprise.
While the two are separated by a year, they both grew up and still live in Western Springs.
Both attended St. John of the Cross and have developed a rapport from competing together for the Roadrunners in other sports. Shannon and Doyle have been teammates on Nazareth’s basketball and soccer teams, which helped their transition when they became a doubles team this fall.
“We’ve been teammates for a really long time, so I think we know each other well,” Shannon said. “If one of us gets down, we know how to pick the other one up.”
“Being partners in all our sports for so long has helped us develop as a team and perform so much better,” Doyle said. “We’re also friends off the court so it’s even more fun.”
Of course, being friends and playing together in other sports aren’t the only reasons for their success as doubles partners. What makes them so effective is how their strengths form a cohesive team.
“Addie is really consistent with her forehand and her backhand,” Shannon said. “She hits it low and is really good at the net, being aggressive and snapping her wrist.”
“Abby is very good at the net and really powerful, so powerful that a lot of other girls can’t get it back,” Doyle said. “She has an awesome serve, too.”
Their 7-10 record has more to do with the level of competition they’ve played than their performance.
Shannon is also working her way back into top form after suffering a torn MCL in her right knee in April.
“Once we got over that, we started getting in a groove and we’re playing better,” Shannon said. “Now we’re just working hard to be ready for sectionals.”
The duo are set to compete in the Lyons Sectional on Saturday. The path to state won’t be easy, especially with the host Lions — one of the best teams in Illinois — likely to earn half of the sectionals’ state qualifying spots.
Though Doyle and Shannon lost on Oct. 7 to Lyons’ No. 2 team of Joie Reisch and Paige Allison 6-1, 6-0, the lopsided defeat provided some experiences to learn from.
“I think it’s a real good match to play right before conference and sectionals to get us going,” Doyle said. “Playing better people always makes you better. Some of the games against them we made it to deuce, so we showed we could keep up with them, we just need to finish.”
“I told them playing these types of players are only going to make us better,” Nazareth coach Lisa Straface added. “Better people tend to bring out the best in you and as much as we’d like the win, we’re using it as a learning experience.”