MEDICINE HAT, AB – Ahead of the biggest tournament of their lives, the McElroy-O’Driscoll siblings share a nervous excitement representing Medicine Hat.
Both 17-year-old Dannan and 15-year-old Quinlan will take to the court at the Medicine Hat Tennis Club as two of the four local representatives at the 2019 Alberta Outdoor Junior Open.
It’s a monstrous tournament not just for the competitors, but for the entire local tennis community according to Quinlan.
“I’m so happy that it’s here,” said Quinlan. “It just makes it so much more of a community thing, lots of people cheering for me, lots of people who I know will be watching me. It’s just a sense of pride for Medicine Hat.”
The McElroy-O’Driscolls have been two of the fastest rising stars on the local tennis scene, competing with many at the adult levels over the past year.
Last month, Dannan made it to the finals of the City Singles Open tournament before falling in a marathon three-set match to Libby Bourassa.
Quinlan also has been able to improve on his game over the past 12 months, coming off a men’s intermediate title at the 2018 Medicine Hat Open.
“Fifteen is an age where kids really grow up,” said Quinlan. “I’ve really been taking advantage of it, I’ve been playing a lot. So, it’s really cool to see my game improve.”
As for the older Dannan, she said her attacking skills have received the most attention in getting ready for this tournament.
“I’ve been focusing a lot more on more slicing and focusing on my serve this year,” said Dannan. “But, I think I’ve grown as a player.”
The Alberta Outdoor Junior Open is the culmination of years of training and practice for the pair, who have been competing against each other for as long as they can remember.
And it’s safe to say Quinlan still remembers some of those early matches against his sister.
“For a long time she would beat me whenever we’d play,” said Quinlan. “It would get frustrating at times, but we’re close. It’s great to see her improve in her game and me improve in my own.”
That competitiveness is something that Dannan embraces however, which allows her to grow as an athlete as well.
“We’re really competitive, so if he wins a match it’s going to make me want to win a match,” said Dannan. “My dad really pushes us to practice, so it feels like the whole family is into it.”
Dannan will compete for gold on the U-18 girls side, while the younger Quinlan will play his provincial matches in the U-16 boys division.
He says for as much as they push each other, there’s no one else that he’d rather compete for a provincial medal with.
“This is a sport that we both share a passion for,” said Quinlan. “It’s something that I’ve grown up with her, we’ve just been getting better together. It’s really cool that we get to take this tournament on together.”
Opening round matches at the Medicine Hat Tennis Club will be held at 2:00 pm on Friday, with the Alberta Outdoor Junior Open tournament running until Sunday afternoon.
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