Min It to Win It

Senior Varsity co-captains Elly and Sally Min have a distinctive relationship that shapes their games.


Daniel Cho

Senior Varsity co-captains Elly (left) and Sally Min (right) use their unique bond to excel on the tennis court.

As Elly and Sally Min, seniors, hustle around the hardcourt, the twins seem to share a single mind, communicating through quick glances and synchronized movements. With complete confidence in one other, Elly and Sally, doubles partners, pull off another win, bringing the twins one step closer to CIF-SS Division III semifinals.

Last season, the girls went 3-3-1 in North Hills League, had an overall record of 8-9-1, and eventually succumbed 2-6, 0-6 against Canyon High School and 4-6, 1-6 against Alisa Fang and Amber Reynoso, another Wildcat doubles team during CIF-SS Division III semifinals on Oct. 27, 2017. This season, varsity tennis has showcased their veteran leadership and singles and doubles talent in a 3-2 record (at press time).

On Sept. 10, Elly and Sally dominated Rosary Academy, winning their match 6-4, 6-1, and 6-1, to help propel the team to a 16-2 rout. These lopsided scores are not uncommon — the twins went 6-0, 6-4 against Santiago on Sept. 12 after going 6-0, 6-1, and 6-2 against Sonora High School on Sept. 6. Their success is partly attributed to the many hours they spend training off-season, but it’s also result of what separates the two from other duos in doubles tennis: their relationship as twins, which allows them to focus more on technique than on compatibility.

“It’s easier to work with [Elly] because we never take our frustrations out on [each other],” Sally said. “Our support for each other is also a lot stronger than that of other players who have only known their partner a few months.”

Despite their aptitude for the sport and their success as members of the Wildcat tennis team, Elly and Sally did not originally participate in tennis. Before discovering their talent and passion for tennis, Elly recalls that she and Sally “dabbled in a couple solo sports” such as golf, swim, and ice skating before settling on tennis. “It was a bit more our style because it involved working (or should I say, against) someone else, and our aggressive nature really kept us going on the court,” Elly said.

Elly confesses that her love for tennis stems from “how independent the sport is.” Her confidence derives from the connection between her and her life-long partner, with whom she can just focus on herself without having to “rely on multiple girls on [the] court” during matches.

This connection between the twins is apparent when they are both on and off the court, as they work together to ensure good sportsmanship with each opponent and teammate. The “support and energy” they gain from other team members is what keeps them going during tough matches through temperatures of 100 degrees.

“My teammates are so supportive of one another. I’m glad that I get to spend countless hours with them,” said Elly. As team co-captains, their ambition on the court is no surprise. According to Kayla Gil, senior and varsity tennis player, the twins frequently engage in unique strategies such as making “crazy eye contact” and “speaking in Korean” to thwart their opponents.

Since joining varsity tennis two years ago, the team has “lost lots of great players (and friends),” like co-captains and CIF participants Alisa Fang (‘18), Makaila Slife (‘18), and Tiffany To (‘18).

As doubles team number one, the sisters compete up to grueling nine sets a week to maximize team wins, according to Sally. They also put in hours of practice during the off-season to meet the demands of the varsity tennis season. “We’ve had lessons during sunrise, night lessons until the lights turned off, training in the mountains, and field trips to professional tennis matches,” Sally recalled.

The twins also credit their success to the coaches that have worked with them for years.

“Coach [Bob] Walton has shown me to not let emotions cloud my judgement. My personal coach, Barry Nguyen, has spent tireless hours to compensate for our physical shortcomings,” Elly said.

The sisters’ efforts in tennis have given them a lifetime of experiences. From sweet instances of victory to bitter moments of defeat, the twins have learned to step over with confidence. With unrelenting faith in each other, they plan to grow alongside tennis in appreciation for what the sport has brought them.

Girls’ varsity tennis next faces the El Modena Vanguards on Oct. 2.