Tennis twins share compassion for more than the game

By Gus Bode

Gisela Cairo, left, and her twin sister Ariadna, right, both freshmen from Tarragona, Spain, studying biochemistry, pose for a portrait Monday night by Campus Lake. The twins were ranked in the top 150 in singles play of the 2010-2011 season in Spain. Gisela said her strength is in her forehand while Ariadna said her hustle and defense earned her the ranking. The two said they came to SIUC because they heard it was a very nice university. “We saw it on the internet and said, ‘Whoa, it’s amazing!’â€� Gisela Cairo said – Brooke Grace | Daily Egyptian

While most of their peers deal with the rigors of being several hours away from the comfort of their home, Ariadna and Gisela Cairo Baza adjust to life in a foreign country.

“It’s been very good. Our parents came [to help us move in] and that helped,” Gisela Cairo Baza said.

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Coming from overseas to play for the women’s SIU tennis team, the newly recruited twins deal with more than just their forehand and backhand.

Ariadna and Gisela Cairo Baza, both studying microbiology, are from Spain and grew up south of Barcelona in Tarragon.

The duo said the transition has been easy, partly because they will experience college the same way they have experienced everything: Together.

Both are quick to point out they are not only twins, but also best friends.

“We do everything together … we are like one,” both sisters said with a smile.

Their bond is obvious, as both sisters feed off each other’s responses effortlessly and share many of the same sentiments on and off the court.

Both said the scenic environment that surrounds SIUC’s campus was a factor when they decided to play for the Salukis.

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The twins said they believe humility and respect are important characteristics for student athletes, and share the common goal to help their team improve throughout the season.

In addition to filling the roster gaps left from the 2010 season, coach Audra Nothwehr said she expects the twins to play a major role in the success of the team this season.

“We expect them to really help us with the top spots in our lineup,” Nothwehr said. “I’m guessing they’re going to be a very strong double’s team for us.”

Before they came to SIU, the sisters made the rankings in Spain. According to the Saluki Athletics Web site, Ariadna Cairo Baza was No. 64, while her sister Gisela Cairo Baza was No. 105 in the women’s open singles in Spain.

While Gisela Cairo Baza said she believes her forehand is the top strength of her game, Ariadna Cairo Baza said she attributes her success to her hustle and defense. Both said said they believe they have room to improve in every aspect.

As they grew up in Spain, both sisters said they began to play tennis by the age of 10. The twins played each other often throughout their childhood, and Ariadna Cairo Baza was quick to admit her twin sister usually got the best of her.

“When we were kids, [Gisela] would win more … however now I will win one and then she will win,” Ariadna Cairo Baza said.

As they now share a balance of competition between one another, Gisela Cairo Baza said they also share ethical principles and self-control.

“We are not cocky … we do not like that,” Gisela Cairo Baza said.

The dynamic tennis duo has just begun their academic and athletic careers at SIU, and the years ahead are riddled with the unknown.  Through the haze of uncertainty, one thing between Ariadna and Gisela Cairo Baza  remains certain: Whatever they decide to do, they will do together.

Cory Downer contributed to the report.

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