Seniors Anastacia Simons and Melanie Delsart have known each other for four years. They lived in the same residence hall since they were freshmen and now share an apartment together.
They also share the achievement of being the second doubles pair in Saluki history to earn a national rank from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
According to the ITA, the duo is ranked No. 5 in the central region and No. 36 nationally.
The two have chemistry off of the tennis court, and they use that chemistry to trump the competition on the court. Delsart and Simons have won 11 of their first 12 season matches.
Coach Audra Nothwehr said Simons and Delsart have become very familiar with each other, so it didn’t take any time for the tandem to play well as doubles partners.
“It usually takes doubles teams at least a whole fall semester to get that chemistry that they had,” she said.
Nothwehr said it took the duo a couple of matches, and she knew they would excel after they started to play better competition.
“After the first couple of matches I was like, ‘Wow! This is really going to work,’” she said.
Simons credits their four-year SIU experience as a reason they have played so well this year.
“As you play matches, you learn more of what you are doing wrong and what you are doing right,” she said. “Then you can apply that to your practice and hopefully learn from that as you go forth.”
Simons said the two complement each other well on the court. She said one player thrives in a quality the other might lack, which makes them a very dangerous combination.
“I know Melanie is very aggressive from the back and she likes to hit power shots from the back,” she said. “I like being up at the net and trying to finish off the point, so we kind of set each other up.”
Delsart also earned a singles ITA regional ranking for the second consecutive year. Delsart, the 19th ranked tennis player in the ITA central region, said the two are close and their friendship corresponds with how well they play on the court.
“We’re like sisters,” she said. “We fight, we argue, but then the next day we just laugh about it.”
Senior Jennifer Dien has played with Simons and Delsart for four years and is also roommates with the two.
Dien said the duo’s success has set the tone for the rest of the team to play better.
She said the pair has given the rest of the team a good image to imitate, making the team hungry to share the same success as Simons and Delsart.
“They both are very hard workers and they both are determined and committed to what they want to do and how they want to make themselves better and the team better,” Dien said.
This is Simons and Delsart’s last season at SIU and their goal is to finish their career with a conference championship.
The two will continue their quest for a conference championship Friday at Lindsey Wilson College in Louisville, Ky.