FISHERSVILLE – It was either rotten luck or someone playing a cruel trick on the Auds on Thursday afternoon.
Landon Aud watches her brother, Ryan Aud, return a ball during the Conference 36 tennis finals at Wilson Memorial, where they are both students, on Thursday, May 13, 2015.
With four courts in use in the semifinals of the Conference 36 tennis singles tournament, Wilson Memorial junior Landon Aud and her brother, Wilson freshman Ryan Aud, were playing at the same time on the two end courts with two courts in between them. Landon was playing on the court closest to the baseball field while Ryan was playing on the court closest to the softball field.
Mike Aud couldn’t sit still during their matches, walking from one court to the other and then back to watch his children play. Kelli Aud did a better job of staying in one place as she sat in her chair in between both courts as both Landon and Ryan won the semifinal matches.
“It was tough when they were on opposite courts and they were both down early,” said Mike. “You kind of go back and forth and see how one’s doing … once Landon kind of came back, I went down and caught the rest of Ryan’s. It’s tough when they’re separated like that.”
Of course, being separated by two courts is better than what happens in the regular season.
When the boys are at home, the girls are on the road and vice-versa. When they played on separate afternoons the parents would see both. When they played the same day, Mike and Kelli chose to stay in Fishersville for the home match.
Landon and Ryan began playing tennis five years ago at the Waynesboro Country Club during a summer tennis camp. The professional saw some potential in both and suggested that they pay a visit to Chad Reed, the tennis pro at Augusta Health Lifetime Tennis as well as the girls head coach at Wilson Memorial.
“That started their interest in it, and they’ve been playing ever since,” said Mike.
On Thursday, Landon Aud captured the conference singles title with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Buffalo Gap’s Reagan Coon. Ryan Aud wasn’t as fortunate, falling 6-3, 6-3 to Riverheads senior Freddie Roberts.
“I played pretty well,” said Ryan. “He hits a lot of things back, and he hits it deep and stuff. I just tried to get to the net, and it just really didn’t work out too well, but I’ll get him next time, maybe.”
As far as playing one another, Landon admits she hasn’t been able to top her brother too many times. She said it’s occasionally close, but more often than not her brother comes out with the win.
There’s even a digital photo out there somewhere — Chad Reed said it used to be on his phone, but a search on Thursday came up empty —showing the price that Landon had to pay for losing to her brother a few years ago.
The two played mixed doubles against one another and a bet was established — Landon claims she didn’t agree to it, but her brother is adamant that she did — that the loser would kiss the winner’s foot.
“I ended up losing,” said Landon. “So I ended up kissing his foot.”
The two haven’t played mixed doubles together recently. Ryan said his sister has a lot of better options when it comes to choosing partners. Still, Ryan is talented enough that when he plays against Landon she always picks up a trick or two.
“He’s just such a good player that it helps me in every way,” she said. “Moving around and getting those fast-paced balls and serves and everything. It’s just really nice.”
The two said it was a great experience to be near one another on Thursday as both tried to win a conference championship. Even when they were far apart in the semifinals, they kept tabs on one another.
“We were still yelling back and forth, though,” said Ryan.
In the finals, the two were on side-by-side courts. They talked to one another as often as possible, exchanging encouraging words. And that wasn’t all they did.
“She stuck her tongue out at me a few times,” said Ryan.
Landon said she enjoys watching her brother play so much she could do it for hours without complaining.
“I almost felt kind of bad,” said Landon. “When I was playing my semifinal match I was constantly like, ‘What’s Ryan’s score?’ and like ‘How’s he doing?’”
In between side changes when Ryan talked to his coach Scott Steele, the first question he would ask was the score of his sister’s match.
“He always told me to just focus on my match,” said Ryan.
Both Auds now head to the 2A East regional tournament. That will present a problem for their parents. The boys regionals will be at Battery Park in Richmond on May 26 and the girls tournament will be at Wilson Memorial the same day.
Even if the boys start playing earlier in the day, the Auds know they probably won’t see both of their children’s matches in their entirety.
Kelli thought about that for a moment, then thought about the distance between Richmond and Fishersville.
“We’ll get speeding tickets,” she said.
If both their children can earn a state berth, it might just be worth it.