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Sister Act: Stuhlman sisters provide motivation

staff writer

Published: Monday, February 17, 2014

Updated: Monday, February 17, 2014 21:02

Stuhlman sister

Kylee Larsen

Amber Stuhlman returns a shot from Weber State opponent in the Sport Academy in Logan.

The question doesnít even make Ashley Stuhlman flinch.

ìI would say Iím better for sure, and I guarantee you she says she is,î she said. 

Amber Stuhlman completely agreed with her twin sister, at least on the latter part.

ìItís really close and it comes down to like the third set,î she said. ìIn high school she beat me a bit more, but now maybe me.î

Itís hard enough competing with another player for a starting spot on any NCAA Division I team, but especially when you grew up doing everything with them. Ashley and Amber are twin sisters on the Utah State womenís tennis team and have helped the Aggies to a 6-1 start this year.

ìI think sometimes itís actually a tough dynamic, because theyíve been competitive their entire life together,î said USU head coach Sean McInerney. ìItís just hard to continue that.î

Although going head to head with a sibling can be difficult, there are definitely advantages.

ìWe just know what each other is going through,î Ashley said. ìItís not like youíre here by yourself. Itís someone you can go home to and talk to, and sheíll know exactly what youíre talking about and you donít have to explain anything.î

McInerney agreed it has been helpful for the twins.

ìItís a double-edge sword,î he said. ìYou do have somebody here, in good times and in bad times, thatís been with you your whole life, that you relate to, and you can help each other out. Itís helpful, especially in up-and-down college life.î

The Stuhlman sisters grew up in Palm Desert, Calif., one of the biggest tennis-playing communities in the world. However, Amber initially played basketball and Ashley did gymnastics, and the two didnít start playing tennis competitively until they entered high school. Playing together in college was a big draw to continuing.

ìWe were probably 15 or 16 when we were like, ëWe probably should,íî Amber said. ìWe got better really fast after starting late.î

Amber credited their fast improvement to how they were able to push each other.

ìItís nice because we always have someone to hit with,î Amber said. ìItís so hard to find a hitting partner if only you and your family play. She was always there, same schedule, we hit together every day; it was perfect. We got better because of that.î

As the two looked for colleges, there was one requirement that remained constant: They had to stick together.

ìIf there was only one scholarship that would be open, we wouldnít even look at it,î Amber said. ìIt had to be two Ö We got asked that quite a bit, but it was always together.î

USU assistant coach and former player Jaci West is also from Palm Desert and helped set up the campus connection for the twins.

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