The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Sophomore Standouts: Lelani and Zoe Laruelle

Exploring the experiences of twins Lelani and Zoe Laruelle in their tennis journey
Sophomores+Zoe+and+Lelani+Laruelle+pose+after+winning+a+tennis+match.+Photo+courtesy+of+Zoe+Laruelle.+%7C+Used+with+permission.
Frederic Laruelle
Sophomores Zoe and Lelani Laruelle pose after winning a tennis match. Photo courtesy of Zoe Laruelle. | Used with permission.

As children, sophomores Lelani and Zoe Laruelle experimented with a variety of sports. However, the one they enjoyed most was tennis. Their dad, Frederic Laruelle, a former tennis player himself, enrolled the two in lessons when they were 5 years old. 

According to Zoe, her tennis journey did not begin smoothly. She recalls old videos of herself crying on the court and blindly swinging at the ball. Yet more than a decade later, she and her sister are still playing tennis together, competing in interscholastic competitions locally and nationally.

In addition to traveling for competitions throughout the year, the two spent their time training with the ProWorld Tennis Academy in Delray Beach, Florida, during the summer of 2023. Though Zoe notes that it was a picturesque place, she also admits that the summer was no vacation for the two. 

“We would train for four hours a day and then we would do one hour of fitness and it was like that all summer,” Zoe said. “Then on the weekends, we would usually play a prize money tournament.”

With all of the traveling and training, the twins decided to find their balance between tennis and school. This year, they adapted to their training schedule by opting for free first and fourth periods. 

“In the mornings, [we] practice for a couple hours, and then [we] go to school and then usually practice or do fitness after,” Zoe said. “[That way we have] time to do homework.” 

Granted the twins can often be found bickering off the court, nevertheless, they both say their small arguments serve as fuel for their competitive spirits. Since they are constantly practicing with each other, their drive and motivations to win increase every day. 

“Usually when we practice together, the outcome isn’t always the best because we usually end up fighting with each other,” Zoe said. “But I think it’s very helpful that [we] have someone that [we] can always practice and compete with, even if [we’re] a little bit emotional when [we] do.”

Varsity Tennis Head Coach Gene Fortino believed that through their teamwork, the twins were able to persevere in their doubles matches throughout the school season. In just their first season with the team in 2022, the twins contributed to a CCS Championship, winning second place in the NorCal Championship and an overall third place in league finish. 

“They were funny, you know,” Fortino said. “They didn’t win every match because they were always playing the top players, but they won [all] their shared matches [together].” 

In addition to teamwork, Fortino says the twins enjoy high school tennis due to the feeling of camaraderie among the team. Lelani agrees, noting that playing in high school is a lot different than competing in USTA club tournaments.  

“I really like to play on the school team because you have more of a team around you,” Lelani said. “[Since] tennis isn’t really a team sport, on a school team, you’re together [as a team] and you support each other.”

In addition to continuing to play for the school tennis team, the twins also hope to continue playing competitive tennis after graduating from high school, with both Zoe and Lelani seeking athletic scholarships. Furthermore, the two have also sparked interest in the possibility of playing professionally as they grow in the sport. 

“I think they’re just gonna keep growing and getting better and better,” Fortino said. “There’s no doubt in my mind [that] they work hard, not just in tennis, [but] conditioning [too], they really work very, very hard. The sky’s the limit for [them].”

About the Contributors
Leah Desai, Staff Writer
Leah is currently a sophomore and a staff writer for El Estoque. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends, listening to music and playing volleyball.
Aidan Ruan, Staff Writer
Aidan Ruan is a junior and staff writer for El Estoque. In his free time, he likes to bike and take naps.
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