One of the best parts of tennis is it’s a sport that can be enjoyed together as a family, and for Linda and Marco Ziets-Segura that is exactly the case.
The twin siblings began playing tennis together when they were five years-old, and now, as high school freshmen, have become two of the top junior tennis players on Long Island.
“Our parents took us to a park every weekend when we were about five- years-old where there were tennis courts,” recalls Linda. “Marco was a natural and could have a rally with my dad right away. I remember sitting down on the court and crying because I couldn’t even hit the ball.”
But Linda would certainly pick the game up, and soon after the twins were taking tennis lessons together.
“We also played other sports fun for us to play together. So our parents signed us up for group lessons.”
While the two didn’t always take lessons together throughout the years, they often play matches against one another, and this year started training together once again. This year, of course, was a little different however due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so they were unable to continue their training with clubs and facilities closed in the spring and early parts of summer. Therefore, they spent some time down in Florida to continue improving on their games despite not being able to compete in matches and tournaments.
“I really wanted to work on my backhand. It’s always been solid but it’s a shot I didn’t have a lot of confidence in, so I wanted to make it more consistent,” said Marco. “That as well as my serve, because that’s a shot you need to get some easy points in matches.”
For Linda, it was making sure she stayed consistent and maintained her confidence.
“The pandemic was tough, but without tournaments, I had time to focus on improving my game and my confidence.”
Now back in New York, the two have continued their training at Glen Head Racquet & Fitness under the club’s director Adam Lee, a place that has helped their development and given them a comfortable home to play tennis at.
“They treat us and everyone else like family,” said Linda. “I feel very grateful to have the opportunity to work with Adam because he is a very fun person who shows me he cares about me, and he also works very hard and pushes me to be the best player I can be. I’m always excited to go train with him, and I leave there feeling I’ve just improved my game.”
“Adam is such an amazing coach because he makes it fun to work hard, and I always feel like I’m improving. Of all the coaches I’ve ever had, Adam is the one who has shown me he really believes in me which has given me so much confidence. This helped me to improve so much in such a short time. I wouldn’t be the person I am now without him.”
That confidence and conformability has been integral in the success of both players, and now that USTA tournaments returned to the schedule for junior players in the middle of the summer, they are putting that training and self-confidence to the test in competitive matches once again.
Linda had a stretch where she won back-to-back titles in July, at L5 and L6 events, and then followed that up by winning the L5 Elevate Fitness Junior August Championships the next month. And just last month,
Marco came out victorious in the L6 World Gym Challenger with four consecutive wins in straight sets en route to the title, and earlier in the year, he reached the singles final and captured the doubles title at the L5 Sportime Schenectady Championships.
The competitive world of junior tennis can be difficult to navigate and hard to bear in a sport that can be so individualistic, so it helps both Linda and Marco that they have each other for support.
“Marco and I are always pushing each other to the next level,” said Linda. “And he is the only other tennis player in our family, so he understands and supports me in ways that no one else can.” In addition to the mental and emotional support, they always have a hitting partner and person to play with, which only helps to improve their games.
“It definitely helps having my twin sister being such a good player, because I always have someone to hit with,” said Marco. “She even likes to come watch my matches, and we usually warm each other up before tournaments.”
And while they used to have their arguments like all siblings do, as they have gotten older their relationship has only strengthened.
“I used to find competing in tennis stressful, but as I’ve progressed, it’s become my favorite part of the game,” Marco added. “Linda and I used to fight whenever we played each other, but only recently we started practicing together every day, so we play against each other all the time.”
Both players possess a strong work ethic which has fast-tracked their games, and set a foundation for sustained success. The two have goals of playing collegiate tennis and beyond, and will continue putting in the training in order to achieve those goals.
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.