On the surface, Green High School twins Anne and Maria Zivick appear to be your average juniors who enjoy school, friends and various activities. But they also have a passion for tennis, and this past weekend they worked together as members the Bulldogs' No. 1 doubles team that finished runner up at the Division I district tournament to advance to the state tournament.
And in doing so they played two epic matches.
It started on Thursday when they played Demi Jhaveri and Ashley Michelich from Westlake. After winning the first set, 6-3, they lost the second one 4-6. Going into the final set, they were down 1-5, a very difficult position to come back from. But digging deep into their reserves of grit and determination, the Zivick's took charge of the match and eventually came from behind to win 7-5.
"It was kind of an emotional roller coaster," said Anne. "We tried not to get too down, and stayed focused. We really wanted to win this one."
"We really wanted it a lot," she said. "It was pretty intense and a pretty exciting day of tennis. This first match set the stage for us, it was a confidence builder."
"The girls started playing their own game that last match, " said coach Sue Ciccolini. "They started to dominate the play and you could see the other girls start to panic. Anne and Maria really wanted to win that match."
After this first victory, the Vivick's quickly defeated their next opponent, a duo from Walsh Jesuit. They handily won the match, 6-0 and 6-3, which earned them one of the four top spots in the district and a trip to state.
On Saturday, the girls returned to the court to face the team of Alessa Koinoglou and Hallie Hunt from Hoover, which had beat them the week before. In one of the longest matches of the year in the Federal League, Anne and Maria returned their opponents volleys shot for shot. They won the first set, 6-4, then dropped the second one, 6-7. In the final set, they hung on and scored a decisive victory, topping Hoover 7-6.
"That three-hour match was just great tennis," said Ciccolini. "It was the longest doubles the girls have ever played. They were determined, aggressive and consistent. They didn't give up and kept up the intensity of their play. They never let up and eventually wore the other girls down."
"In some ways, it was somewhat frustrating," said Maria. "We had some chances that we missed to win but we didn't give up and stayed in the game."
"It was definitely intense again," added Anne. "We were out for revenge after they beat us the week before. But now we knew their game and dug down deep to win. We were physically, emotionally and mentally drained after three hours on the court, with the only break coming when we had the minute and half changeover."
After winning this marathon match, the girls then lost to Canfield, 1-6, 2-6.
This the second time the twins have made it to the state finals. Last year, they finished fourth in the districts and were eliminated in the first round of play. This year, they hope to go farther in the competition.
"This year, I think we are more prepared," said Maria. "Last year, at the state finals, was our first time and it was overwhelming. This year, we feel a little more relaxed knowing what to expect."
"Making it to the state finals last year was what we had been working toward for ten years," added Anne. "So this year it is everything again that we have worked for."
"I think the girls are more mature this year in their game," said Ciccolini. "They are more confident and know what to expect. That will definitely help them."