by Sam Katzman
UO Athletic Communications
Twin sisters Allie and Kadie Hueffner have always performed best when depending on one another. Their next chance to do so in competition for the Oregon women's tennis team could come as soon as Saturday.
The only Oregon natives on the UO roster, the Hueffners are using this season mostly for training, and acclimating to college tennis. But depending on the status of some teammates, Allie and Kadie are under consideration for their second appearance when the Ducks host Akron on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the UO Student Tennis Center.
The new Duck tennis duo has been doubles partners since the day they first held a racket.
“Kadie and I have been playing together since we were 7 or 8 years old, so we know what each other’s style is down to a T,” Allie Hueffner said. “It makes it a lot easier for us to communicate on the court.”
Graduates of Portland’s Lincoln High School, Kadie and Allie competed in three straight Oregon state championship finals in doubles play, winning both their junior and senior years. For the Hueffners, finishing as runner-up in their first state doubles championship appearance ignited a fire fueled by determination.
“After we lost, it was a huge incentive for us to come back the next year and win, because we knew we had the potential to do it,” Kadie said. “Winning those finals matches in 2012 and 2013 was probably one of the best things that has ever happened for me.”
Though the Hueffners cherish their first state title in doubles, both sisters agree their next championship was much more significant.
Allie and Kadie were close friends since childhood with former UO men’s tennis star and Portland native Alex Rovello, who passed away last spring after a cliff jumping accident. On the day of Rovello’s memorial service, the Hueffners honored their late friend with a fitting tribute.
“We won our second state doubles final the day of his funeral, at the exact same time it was going on. Had we not been playing, we would’ve been there―but it’s almost like we won it for him,” Kadie said. “His loss had a huge impact on us, so it was great to win it on that specific day.”
Their dominance in doubles also played an integral role in lifting Lincoln to four consecutive Class 6A team championships.
When Allie and Kadie began focusing on selecting a college, initially the twins thought it might be time to see what it’d be like to be apart. That idea, however, was short lived.
"When it came down to it," Kadie said, "there was no doubt we were going to the same school.”
For the Rose City residents, deciding where to attend college was simple.
“Kadie and I have always been pretty big Duck fans. It was kind of a no brainer when going to school at the UO became an option,” Allie said. “Our mindset has always been that we wanted to play at Oregon.”
Aside from their similar appearance, Allie and Kadie have something else in common―they are the only in-state members on this year’s women’s tennis roster.
On a squad traditionally known to scour the globe for talent, the Hueffners are among a rare breed of Duck tennis athletes. Over the past 14 seasons, there have only been three other Oregon-raised women who have played tennis at the UO.
“It was great for us to get the top couple of kids out of the Northwest,” UO head coach Paul Reber said. "The fact that they really wanted to be Ducks is fantastic."
The twins’ parents, Manna and Bill, have plenty of tennis to keep up with when the sport is in season. Their oldest daughter, Anastasia, a senior at the Air Force Academy, is captain for the Falcons’ tennis team.
Having sisters who play the same sport at the same level creates a friendly rivalry within the family, but mostly the siblings are each other’s number one fans.
“When we play against each other we’re pretty competitive, because you’re always comparing yourself to your sisters, especially your twin," Kadie said. "But in aspects of doubles, or if she’s playing someone else, there’s no way I’m not 100 percent supportive of my sister. I’m literally on edge freaking out during her match because I get so nervous cheering her on.”
This first season, for the most part, has been developmental for Allie and Kadie. The partners appeared in one doubles match, against Portland State, winning 6-3. They also played one singles match apiece this season, and participated in several doubles and singles matches during tournament play.
Currently, the twins are focusing on making the starting lineup consistently and improving where they’ve always been strongest ― doubles play.
“Any time you get siblings, or people who’ve played doubles together for a long time, they develop a certain chemistry and relationship on the court," Reber said. "They know what the other person’s going to do before they actually do it.
“That’s even more so the case for Allie and Kadie. A lot of times they know what the other one’s thinking, they’ll finish each other’s sentences, and they’ll have the same reaction when they make or miss a ball.”
The Hueffner twins’ approach when it comes to tennis is like a basic rule of mathematics: two is always greater than one.