Siblings’ rivalry good for Fruita
Familiarity makes for grueling matches between sisters
Siblings tend to bring out the competitive side in one another.
The rivalry between sisters Andi Kirtland and Janine Kirtland has helped push the Fruita Monument High School girls tennis team to a 2-1 dual record heading into today’s match at Central at 4 p.m.
“We are both really competitive,” said Andi, a senior. “Not just with sports, it’s everything, friends, school, clothes, but the competition helps us keep our focus.”
Andi plays No. 2 singles for the Wildcats, Janine No. 3 singles.
This is the first year the sisters are both playing singles. Andi and Janine played doubles in the past, but worked their way up and are strong at the top of the Wildcats lineup.
“Both are really good at the net,” Fruita Monument coach Clint Davis said. “They are both real competitive, not throwing fits or anything like that, just very determined players.”
The most intense match for the sisters came before the start of the season, when they battled for the Wildcats’ No. 2 singles spot.
Growing up playing together, Andi said the familiarity made for a long, grueling match.
“The challenge match was awful,” Andi said. “I would say one of my strengths is mental toughness, but that went out the window when you are playing a sibling who is younger than you. It was intense and emotional, but when it was all said and done we both were happy, and knew we played our best.”
Davis said the sisters are so competitive with each other that he wasn’t sure how they would react after Andi won with a 10-8 tiebreaker.
“It was as close as it could have been,” Davis said. “We weren’t sure if there was going to be fireworks, but they came to the net and gave each other a big hug. It was kind of a sweet moment.”
Since establishing their spots, the sisters have played well.
Andi played No. 3 singles last year, and is 2-0 in dual matches at No. 2 this spring. Andi didn’t have her best performance at the Western Slope Invitational, but is building up steam in the dual season.
“I like that the Western Slope tourney was at the beginning of the season because I can improve from it,” Andi said. “It was a shock, but now that I’m into league play I think I have adjusted to the No. 2 spot.”
Janine, a sophomore, made the jump from No. 2 doubles, where she qualified for the state tournament last season. The left-hander is 3-0 in dual matches.
The perfect record includes earning the only victory in a 6-1 team loss to Grand Junction.
Davis said Janine has consistently improved since arriving at Fruita Monument.
“Janine came out of nowhere and improved really fast,” Davis said. “We went to a couple of tournaments over the summer, and it became evident that she would challenge for a singles spot.”
The sisters now play on adjacent courts during dual matches, and Janine said they encourage each other when they can.
“It is hard to cheer for each other since we are both playing at the same time,” Janine said.
“So we try to help each other during breaks and after games.”