Abby and Julia Svor will be feeling right at home when they compete in this weekend’s state singles tournament, but the company they will be in will be abnormally unfamiliar.
The senior twin sisters will be hosts of sorts, with the tournament taking place at the Lewiston High School tennis courts, starting Friday, but their third time playing in the tournament pits them against a field they know the least about.
“Especially this year the tournament is tough since there are a bunch of new girls that I’ve never seen play,” Abby, the No. 8 seed, said. “Sophomore year I had a general idea of who everyone was by being able to watch their matches, but with the gap in between seasons there are more unknown players to me.”
Abby will first face off against either Mt. Desert Island’s Taber Allen or Greely’s Luna Smith-Mejia, and 11th-seeded Julia’s first opponent will be the winner of a match between Caribou’s Livia Bouchard and Lincoln Academy’s Olivia Nixon.
“This tournament is going to be tough this year,” Julia said. “Because of COVID, a lot of the places where Abby and I usually train are closed. I know most of these girls practice all year round in clubs and facilities in their town. This year’s tournament is going to be a challenge.”
The twins are veterans of the tournament, having both qualified in their freshmen and sophomore seasons (last year, their junior season, the spring sports season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic). Abby advanced to the quarterfinals in 2018 and the round of 32 in 2019. Julia made it to the round of 32 as a freshman in 2018 and the round of 16 the following year.
That this year’s tournament will be on their home courts isn’t much of an advantage, the twins both agreed.
“Just the familiarity of the layout of the court and the surroundings,” Julia said.
Abby called this year’s tournament bittersweet and Julia said it’s “really surreal how this is our last singles tournament experience.”
“I’ve never thought it was going to be over so soon,” Julia added. “I still have not processed this is going to be our last year.”
Abby said the finality of their high school careers, which will last until the Blue Devils’ team season ends, hasn’t yet hit her, “but I’m sure it will after my last match.”
Julia said she isn’t worried about the outcome of her tournament run, only that she wants to play to the best of her abilities and hopefully advance farther than she has in previous years.
Abby, first and foremost, just wants to have fun.
“I think with everything going on this year it’s a great opportunity to go into the tournament with an open mind and just play how I normally do, with no worries,” Abby said.
Lewiston coach Anita Murphy said the twins have improved as players since the postseason two years ago — which concluded with the Blue Devils winning the team state championship — but losing last season has affected their growth, somewhat, due to the lack of facilities open and available to them over the past year-plus.
“I’m hopeful they will both make it to Round of 16 and go from there,” Murphy said. “They both can advance if they are on top of their game.”
The girls have been at the top of the Blue Devils’ lineup since they entered high school — Abby as the No. 1 singles player and Julia No. 2 when they were freshman, then they flipped spots as sophomores.
Abby returned to the No. 1 spot this season, and Julia is playing No. 2 singles.
Both said they put a lot of stock into their spots on the team’s placement ladder, and their sisterly duels for the top spot, when they were freshmen, but they have since grown, Abby said, “to understand that one match didn’t define who was better than the other.”
The sibling rivalry has helped in their development because they challenge each other.
The two are so good at preparing each other that Murphy hasn’t had to interject much with them during practices.
“They are self-starters and work on their own skills, etc., allowing me to concentrate on much-needed assistance with the less-experienced players,” Murphy said.
Despite that hands-off approach, Murphy called the Svor twins “silent leaders,” and she said they two will leave a definite void next season.
“They’ve inspired the new girls on the team to work hard and continue to learn the game; they impress their teammates every day,” Murphy said.
Murphy said she will surely miss the twins, who she has known since they were 5 years old and starting out in the Lewiston Rec. program.
She’s not done watching them play, however. And not just this season — after the singles tournament, which runs Friday and Saturday before concluding with the semifinals and finals Monday, comes the the team state championships next month — but beyond. She has plans to go watch the twins play together at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.
The twins both plan to major in Biology, but first they are looking for some longevity in the singles and team tournaments. And they’re happy to keep the chemistry between them going for a little longer in their high school careers.
“It is so special to be able to spend time and practice together. I wouldn’t want another hitting partner,” Julia said. “It’s been amazing over the years and we strive to make each other better.”
Abby said playing alongside her sister her entire high school career has been special.
“She’s been with me throughout the ups and downs of my career and we constantly strive to make each other better,” Abby said. “I couldn’t ask for anyone better to be my teammate and built-in best friend.”