Mavs’ sister act
Sera twins the engine that makes Mesa tennis team go
Twin sisters Kaitlan and Kelleen Sera do just about everything together.
The Colorado Mesa University seniors are studying nursing, play tennis with the same racket model — and they win together.
“I remember when I first recruited them,” CMU coach Dan MacDonald said. “They were the missing pieces to get to nationals. They provided the depth I’ve been seeking.”
The sisters from Hawaii lead the Mavericks into the RMAC tournament Friday at Gates Tennis Center in Denver. The Mesa women (16-8) are the No. 2 seed and play No. 7 Montana State-Billings in the first round at 11 a.m. Mesa is ranked second in the region and could receive an at-large bid to regionals.
The Mesa men are the No. 7 seed and play No. 2 Montana State-Billings at 8 a.m. Friday at Gates.
The men’s and women’s RMAC tournament champion receives an automatic berth to the NCAA Division II Central Region tournament next week.
So far, the Sera sisters have led Mesa to three NCAA regional berths, one regular-season RMAC championship, one RMAC tournament title and one NCAA Sweet 16 berth.
Kelleen, the RMAC preseason player of the year, is 64-43 in singles, mostly at No. 1. Kaitlan is 88-17 in singles, mostly at No. 2 or 3.
“The competition is way tougher,” Kelleen said. “I feel like I play better against the better players. It brings out the best in you.
“I was intimidated at first, but now I’m used to it. I’m more familiar with the competition.”
“She does well at No. 1,” Kaitlan said. “She can handle the stress better. She can be more aggressive.
“She is strong. She has a good combination of both aggression and consistency.”
As successful as they’ve been in singles, the sisters are even better in doubles with an 89-23 record.
“We don’t need to communicate (verbally),” Kelleen said. “It flows. I know what she will do.”
“They’re not the nicest people to each other, but they’re used to being siblings,” MacDonald said. “They are both really good doubles players. They have sound instincts.”
The rest of the team has complemented “The Twins,” as MacDonald calls them.
Sophomores Kaylee Davis and Shannen McNamara have competed at No. 3 and 4 singles and No. 2 doubles. Junior Skyler Nelson has played No. 5 singles and No. 3 doubles with freshmen Kristyn Wykert or Rachel McLaughlin.
“Shannon (McNamara) and Kaylee (Davis) have stepped in where Kate (Lowder) and Victoria (Sargent) left off,” MacDonald said. “I thought replacing them would be hard. The strength of our team has been one through four (singles). Kristyn Wykert has been a big surprise. She came to our tryout camp and has developed well.”
Freshman Jordan Lyden(12-2) has led the young men’s team.
“I’m just excited to play college tennis,” Lyden said. “I like practicing and working with the team.
“I didn’t think I’d be doing as good as I’ve been doing.”
The Mavericks (8-15) will need to win the RMAC tournament to qualify for the NCAA regionals.
“The men’s team is young,” MacDonald said. “We haven’t had the depth and experience I thought we would have, but the effort is there.
“We haven’t all clicked and played well on the same day. We need to win two of three doubles because of our youth.”
Lyden, who won 11 consecutive matches this season, didn’t join the team until the spring semester.
He was going to enroll last fall, but decided to wait. When he did try to enroll, the dorms were full. He could have stayed in a hotel off campus until a dorm room opened up, but didn’t want to do that. Instead, he finished earning an associate’s degree in his hometown at Dixie State (Utah) College.
“He’s got an all-court game and has good feel for court position,” MacDonald said. “He’s played a lot as a junior. He’s been great in the weight room and in practice.”