Friendships drive pairings for KSB Classic doubles brackets
DIXON – Everybody who plays in the KSB Tennis Tournament has known their various doubles partners for a long time. It’s through the Dixon Park District tennis lessons that most of the players have known each other for nearly their entire lives – and even through past generations.
But one mixed doubles team playing in Thursday’s 16 & under division has known each other even longer than most.
Jessica VanOosten and John Brechon, both of Dixon, were classmates at Open Sesame preschool.
While their mothers are friends, the two being paired together by Dixon tennis guru and longtime tournament organizer Emma Hubbs was completely by chance.
“I didn’t even know they had known each other that long,” Hubbs said. “Their moms had said something about them pairing up, and I sort of went with it.”
The two aren’t the closest of friends, but both agree that it’s pretty neat having someone to team up with who they’ve been familiar with and comfortable around for so much of their lives.
“I don’t really know how to explain it,” VanOosten said. “He’s just always been around.”
“It’s fun to play tennis,” Brechon added, “and it’s pretty nice to do it with someone you’ve always known.”
The duo placed second in their division Thursday, winning 22 of the 32 games they played. Both players were succinct when it came to the positives of their partner.
“He’s a really good all-around player,” VanOosten said of Brechon, “and that’s the kind of doubles partner you want to have.”
“It’s nice to play with a girl who’s not too bad at times,” Brechon said, eliciting a laugh from bystanders. “She does a good job.”
Not only can one find kids who have literally grown up together, but those lifelong bonds also make for a lot of older kids finding different faces to team up with. A lot of times, that involves high school players getting a bit out of their comfort zone and pairing off with players from other schools.
Dixon’s Hayley Kent and Newman’s Mary Alice Oswalt are the perfect illustration of that. Both Dixon natives, the two teamed up for the first time during last year’s tournament and fared so well that they did it again Thursday.
During the 16U mixed doubles portion of play, Oswalt teamed with fellow Comet Jacob Ardis and Kent joined Dixon’s Michael Gale. They played against each other in that division, with Oswalt and Ardis winning 8-0 en route to the division title.
But later Thursday evening, the two could be found playing together in the 18U division. They won all three of their matches in that round-robin bracket, scoring 21 points to claim first place.
Their partnership came about almost by accident through a bit of confusion and miscommunication, but it’s worked out well during the summer tournaments at Page Park.
“Hayley thought she was playing with Alyssa [Diehl] last year, and Alyssa thought she was playing with someone else,” Oswalt explained. “When I found out that Hayley didn’t have a partner, I told her, ‘I’m taking you.’ We had fun, and we’re happy to be able to do it again.”
Ardis, Oswalt’s mixed doubles partner, is another player who crosses school lines for the KSB tourney; he teamed with Dixon’s Sam Bratt to win the 16U boys division on Tuesday. Another Duke, Matt Kerr, teamed with Sterling’s Chandler Allen in the 18U boys division Thursday night; they placed third.
As for Kent and Oswalt, the girls agree that they’re both equally comfortable at the net and the baseline, making for a very complementary doubles team. Oswalt plays singles for Newman and Kent is a doubles player for the Duchesses, so they don’t square off very often in high school matches between the teams.
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t aware of the talents the other possesses – and the fact that they have equal amounts of fun playing as teammates and foes.
“Mary Alice is challenging to play against, because were pretty close [in talent],” Kent said. “She’s also a great doubles partner, and we play well together. Playing with her or against her, either way it’s a lot of fun.”
“I like playing with Hayley, because she’s talented and competitive,” Oswalt added. “She’s a lot more intense when you’re playing against her, so I know I’d rather play with her – but it’s always good practice for me to play against her. I’m glad I get to see both sides of it.”
Across school lines
KSB tourney doubles teams
• Jacob Ardis (Newman) and Sam Bratt (Dixon) – won 16U boys division
• Hayley Kent (Dixon) and Mary Alice Oswalt (Newman) – won 18U girls division
• Chandler Allen (Sterling) and Matt Kerr (Dixon) – 3rd in 18U boys division