Not every tennis player makes a good doubles partner. The chemistry and skill required for a duo to move around the court and essentially play as one well-oiled, powerful machine, takes time to develop and likely some patience.
That was never a problem for the Idaho Falls No. 1 girls doubles team of Rachel Harris and Whitney Black.
“I think our personalities on the court really clicked,” said Black. “Our game style complemented each other.”
“We clicked from the beginning,” added Harris.
In their first season as a doubles team last year, Harris and Black advanced to the state tournament and placed third. After such a successful start, expectations were high this season. Harris, a former singles player, and Black, a former mixed doubles player, have their sights set on another state tournament run.
That journey begins Monday as the Tigers open the 4A District 6 tennis tournament.
“Whitney and Rachel are such a great team because they find the joy in the game,” coach Cami Black wrote in an email. “While they work very hard all year long on their tennis skills, they are always having a good time together on the court. As coaches, we knew that their personalities would mesh well and that they would be able to motivate each other during matches in different ways, which is an excellent skill to have as a doubles team.”
The duo has lost just one regular-season match in their two seasons together. In key tournaments this year, Harris and Black reached the championship match of the East Idaho Tennis Tournament, eventually losing in a third-set tie break to powerhouse Century. At the Capitol Tennis Tournament featuring teams from Idaho and Washington, they placed top-4, falling in a semifinal match to defending Idaho 4A state champion Middleton in a third-set tiebreaker.
“Last year we didn’t know if we’d be good or not,” said Harris, a senior, adding that the pair’s confidence grew as the season progressed and the victories piled up.
“This year it’s going to be really fun,” said Black, a junior.
Century has been a nemesis for the I.F. duo, but the Diamondbacks will be playing in a different district tournament due to this year’s 4A classification realignment, so any potential meeting won’t be until the state tournament.
Even so, this week’s district tournament won’t be easy. Most of the players have competed against each other for years, so there’s not a lot of new strategy involved on the court.
“We have some teams that know our strengths,” said Black, noting that advantage works both ways.
Staying positive is also a trait that helps them power through a tough match.
“They are smart players that require very little coaching,” Coach Black wrote. “They have a way of figuring things out on the court and adjusting their game to get the win.”
The district tournament is Monday and Wednesday, with championship matches being played Wednesday at Bonneville High.