Sept. 17, 2013
By Kasandra Martinson
By Kasandra Martinson
FRESNO, Calif. --- After playing just one semester at Fresno State as freshmen, twins Sophie Watts and Anneka Watts earned a professional doubles ranking of 935 on Aug. 12, 2013 after competing in professional Britain tournaments over the summer.
As a part of his first recruiting class, second-year head women's tennis coach Ryan Stotland brought Sophie and Anneka onboard from Hitchin, England in January 2013 after his arrival to Fresno State on August 6, 2012.
The twin duo both excelled during their first year on the court as Bulldogs. Sophie recorded 12 consecutive victories from February to April and went 18-4 overall. She finished with a team-best 16-4 record singles dual matches.
Anneka competed in 12 dual matches in the spring. She recorded an 8-4 singles record and went 3-3 in doubles.
After finishing their freshmen seasons strong at Fresno State and being named to the 2013 Spring Academic All-Mountain West team, the Watts twins went back home to compete independently over the summer in professional tournaments in England.
In addition to the duo competing in independent singles matches over the summer, the two competed as a doubles tandem as well. That was something the two did not do during their freshmen seasons for the 'Dogs.
"Playing with other people throughout the year taught us a lot about what we do differently," said Anneka. "It's always better to play with different people to get experience, but I find it a lot easier to play with my sister because we obviously know how each other play."
Sophie and Anneka competed in six Britain tournaments as well as two national tournaments while they were home in England. Their success in the competitions helped them gain points towards their professional rankings.
All of their hard work paid off when the tandem was ranked professionally in doubles for the first time, coming in at No. 935. Sophie also received her first-ever professional singles ranking of 953.
"I was really, really happy when I first got that point, I actually texted Ryan to tell him I got the ranking," said Sophie. "It is what I have been building on for the past two years, so finally getting it was really really good."
The Watt's twins success shows that Stotland's coaching philosophy is proving to excel his athletes and is sending the women's tennis program at Fresno State in the right direction.
"It shows that if you come here you can compete, and you can get a world ranking," said Stotland. "A lot of players want to earn that professional status, and they have already done it in a semester. I think it shows that what we are doing here is right. We are improving our girls and showing them that if they want to work hard and if they want to accomplish their goals, they can come to Fresno State and accomplish that. Sophie and Annie are a great example of that."
Now, entering their sophomore seasons, Sophie and Anneka have a new sense of confidence on the court.
"I think it definitely increases our confidence that together we can compete with the best players," said Anneka. "There is no reason why coming back to the states should make a difference. We should still to be able to compete at a high level."
The Watt twins and the rest of the women's tennis team kick off their season next weekend at the Nike Cal Invite Sept. 27-29, in Berkeley, Calif.
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