Ellis and India Young had walked off the court victorious 38 consecutive times this season as Liberty Hill's No. 1 girls' doubles team entering the Class 5A state semifinals in San Antonio, needing only one more win to play for a state title.
Alas, the sisters' season-long quest for a championship came up short, as the Youngs finished third, but that didn't mean the journey to get that far wasn't just as enjoyable.
“At the beginning of the season, our goal was always to get to state,” said sophomore India Young. “When we got there, it was really exciting – my favorite part was seeing the look on our mom's face when we won our first match.”
Senior Ellis Young said the atmosphere in the Alamo City was different than anything they had experienced up to that point in the season.
“It felt good, like one of the USTA tournaments we've played in,” she said. “We saw a lot of the players we already knew and it was much more competitive.”
The sisters hadn't played doubles together before this season, having been strictly singles players and that – along with a propensity to act more like siblings than teammates on the court – proved to be challenging, despite the fact they kept winning, said Liberty Hill head coach Sherry Rhoden.
“I think it's pretty remarkable for two players that were trained in singles to be able to accomplish what they did this season,” she said. “Also, they're extremely different dynamics as individuals.”
According to Rhoden, there is a stark contrast between the court demeanor of the sisters.
“Ellis is more of an observer, as far as noticing everything that's going on outside the court during a match,” said Rhoden. “While India is usually more zoned in – like she's in her own bubble.”
But, that doesn't mean the pair won't engage in a verbal spat every now and again.
“Sometimes, I'll say something to her I wouldn't to a regular teammate,” said India. “Like I'll say 'Why did you miss that shot?' Which is kind of mean, I guess.”
However, the Youngs achieved the perfect balance of being teammates and sisters, which showed in their results, including victories over rival Georgetown's No. 1 doubles team in both the district and regional finals.
Ellis had already stopped playing USTA events last year and will now end her competitive playing days altogether while she attends Texas A&M University to pursue a business degree.
“I've been playing tennis for 14 years, so I need a break,” she said. “I don't have the desire to keep playing in college, but I'll play country-club tennis when I get older.”
India, though, will only be a junior for the Panthers next year and still has plenty to accomplish in Purple-and-Gold – although she admitted it will definitely be different without her older sister at her side.
“Growing up, we always had the same instructors and played together,” she said. “I'm just glad I was here this year to get to play with her because it was amazing.”