ShareThis Page

Valley's Armstrong twins hope WPIAL tennis tournament is twice as nice

Bill Beckner Jr.
| Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, 12:27 a.m.
Identical twins Catherine, left, and Emily Armstrong compete for the Valley tennis team.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Identical twins Catherine, left, and Emily Armstrong compete for the Valley tennis team.

Valley's tennis team has opponents seeing doubles.

Or singles, depending on what juniors Emily and Catherine Armstrong are playing that day.

The identical twin sisters have surged into the WPIAL Class AA singles tournament for the first time and begin their championship quest Wednesday at Keystone Oaks.

Here's something twice as interesting: They'll pair up for the Section 4-AA doubles tournament that begins Sept. 25. They haven't played doubles since they were freshmen, their first year of competitive tennis.

Emily plays in the No. 1 spot, and Catherine at No. 2. Emily finished second and Catherine third in the section singles tournament.

Although they haven't played doubles in a couple of years — they went 14-0 together — their tendencies remain intact.

“We can know what we're saying without saying it,” Catherine said. “We just look at each other; stay in your alley. Our games complement each other.”

Once interested in volleyball, they serve and volley year-round, even practicing with the boys team in the spring.

Valley coach Rachael Link said the girls aren't playing doubles simply because they're sisters. It's not some gesture that seems appropriate. The Armstrongs can play.

“They're legitimately our No. 1 and 2 (players),” Link said. “They are very good players and keep getting better.”

Telling the girls apart is the challenge. Just ask former classmates from, say, second grade. That's when the girls pulled an April Fools' prank only twins could conjure.

Beating trouble to the punch by getting permission from the principal the night before, they switched classrooms. For hours, nobody knew the difference. Advantage: Armstrongs.

“Until our nemesis, this one boy, snitched,” Catherine said. “We had them going.”

“Em” and “Cat,” though, are different in a number of ways.

Catherine has shorter hair — “It's 9 inches shorter,” Catherine said — and their playing styles also differ. Catherine said she delivers a high-bounce serve, and Emily's comes in low. And while Catherine relies on her forehand, Emily thrives with her backhand.

“We're both good at volleys,” Emily said. “Credit that to Ms. Link. She is a net monster. Our team loves her.”

Said Link: “I have them both in AP English, too. They have different personalities.”

The girls' best friends, Nick and Matt Boehm, also are twins.

“They finish our sentences, and sometimes we finish theirs,” Catherine said. “Emily's the calmer one. I like to talk and get to know the person I am playing.”

Emily said the telepathic connection you hear about twins is real.

“One time we were sitting at the dinner table, and I told her to pick a number between 1 and 10,” Emily said. “She looked right at me and got it on the first guess. We did it several times and she kept guessing right. Then we did 1 to 100 and she kept getting that right, too. We did this for like a half an hour. Finally, she got one wrong. My number was 48. She picked 84.”

The Armstrongs have no other siblings, but Catherine said their golden retriever, Daisy, knows who's who.

“We love our dog,” Catherine said. “Her favorite toy is a tennis ball.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.