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Tennis: How sweet it is

On April 9, 2014

The Utah State men’s and women’s tennis teams have found a way to hit the sweet spot this year. Although many things have changed since last year, USU has found some consistency between the two teams.

Both teams have first-year head coaches, Clancy Shields for the men’s team and Sean McInerney for the women. Both teams are in their first year playing in the MWC, and both came into the season with high hopes and big expectations.

However, the sweetest of connections comes with the addition of freshman Katie Sweet to the women’s team. Katie’s older brother Matt plays on the men’s team.

“We’ve worked hard ever since we were little,” Matt Sweet said. “It means a lot to both of us.”

The Sweets are local products, coming to USU from Salt Lake City. They played tennis at Cottonwood High School.

“It’s been a dream of both of ours since we were little kids to play Division I college tennis. To be able to get here, to live that dream is pretty cool,” Katie Sweet said.

The Sweet siblings attribute their success to their parents’ support and hard work.

“They do a lot for us, and we couldn’t be here without them,” Katie Sweet said.

Matt Sweet echoed Katie’s sentiments.

“They’ve been everything. Our father is a tennis pro, so that’s how we got into it,” Matt Sweet said. “They are definitely our biggest support.”

While family support is important, personal skill is equally, if not more, important in the world of sports. Matt, who has the size and experience advantage, generally comes away the victor over his smarter sister when they play each other.

“I will admit, he’s probably the better athlete,” Katie Sweet said.

Katie may get the credit for being smarter, however, being named academic All-State in high school, though Matt earned academic All-WAC honors in 2013 after his sophomore year.

“She’s way smarter than I am,” Matt Sweet said.

Whether on or off the court, the Sweets maintain a great friendship.

“There’s a lot of things we have to do with the team,” Katie Sweet said. “Sometimes there isn’t time to get together and really pump each other up.”

Amidst busy class schedules, practices and team travel, they still manage to spend time together. Breakfast has now become a bit of a tradition for the two, with visits to IHOP being a common occurrence.

“She cooks for me, that’s nice. I go over to her apartment, chill out, eat her food,” Matt Sweet said. “We go to breakfast together a lot.”

Working together, both Sweets have brought their best to the courts so far this season.

As a team the men are 9-10, and the women are 12-8. But Katie Sweet has gone 5-7 in singles play and has a 4-4 record in doubles. Matt Sweet is now 9-9 in singles and 8-8 in doubles on the year.

As the college tennis season ends, both players have a chance to make a big impact next season, going into their senior and sophomore years. It will be the final chance for them to live out their dream together.

“To me, it doesn’t really matter where you play. One through six, a point is a point,” Matt Sweet said. “I’m going to work hard and let the chips fall where they may.”

Whatever spots they end up playing next year, one thing is certain: It will be a season filled with Sweet moments for Utah State tennis.

“You play where the coach wants you to play, where the best matchups are,” said Katie Sweet, who will return to the team with valuable experience for next season. “You play wherever you play and hope to do well at that spot.”

Twitter: @kalen_taylor

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