Double the Trouble: Ku sisters hit and win

A Hy-Vee paper bag of balls, matching rackets from Target and a tennis-loving dad; these are the ingredients needed to make the perfect little tennis-playing girls. With that power puffed fail-safe recipe, the Ku sisters began their journey toward tennis greatness in the summer of ’07. “Our tennis life is very interesting…” freshman Ann Ku said, “Our dad bought some cheap rackets and we just started playing. He started by feeding us balls and we’d hit them back very badly." “When we were in the center court, it was bad because our balls would roll onto the other courts, so we always tried to get the end courts so we wouldn’t bother other people,” elder sister Paizen said. “At first we’d hit too hard, and then we’d hit too soft, and he got angry and we’d feel bad about it. [But] we just know he cares and wants us to be better.” After playing for only three years, both sisters have already made it onto the girl’s varsity tennis team. For Paizen, this is now her third year, and for Ann, her first. As a sophomore, Paizen played a critical match against a girl twice her size (which although sounds scary is actually not atypical) at the state team finals. Had she lost, the Ames High Girls Tennis team would’ve no doubt continued its illustrious record of second best. Thankfully, Paizen did not know at the time how important her match was and pulled through. “I didn’t know that I had to win, or else we would’ve gotten second,” Paizen said. “No one told me, but if someone told I’d be really, really nervous. So I guess [that was good], don’t tell someone they have to win, just tell them to do their best.” Even after helping Ames High win its first tennis team championship, Paizen is aware that there are a lot of good players out there and doesn’t let the thrill of victory overcome her better judgment “I never thought…I don’t even know how I made it to state…” Paizen said. “We’re still not that great and still need tons of practice.” So what does a typical day of practice look like for the Ku’s? What’s the secret to their success? How does one go about making the girls varsity team, given only two years of previous experience? “We [practice] more in the summer because there’s no school, or snow,” Paizen said. “We stop practicing whenever we get hungry or when we run out of water, or if the lights go out, whichever’s first. So, three or four hours?” “I remember I was so tired of hitting so many balls,” Ann said. “I just thought, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore.’” And what is it that drives these two to such extremes? “Usually it’s our dad,” Paizen said. “We’re just like, ‘Oh, we’ve got stuff to do!’ and he’s like, ‘No, just go for an hour!’ But, yeah, it’s fun too. You feel refreshed after you play; it’s good exercise. I was mostly on the team just to get exercise.” Although just another unassuming, serious-minded hard-worker, Paizen has already amassed a small, passionate and (almost) exclusively girls-tennis-based fan club. “I love Paizen, she’s so cute.” Junior Hea-Won Yoon said. “Sometimes I can’t tell [her and Ann] apart. I’ll see them from the back and they look the same but you get closer…and Paizen’s shorter. It’s okay though, she’s really good at tennis.” Kung-fu Ku, Pai-Money, Amazin’ Paizen, these are but some of the nicknames bestowed upon the fun-sized wonder. Even her little sister has jumped on the Paizen-loving bandwagon. “My dream is to play doubles with Paizen!” Ann said, grinning, as Paizen laughed embarrassedly in the background. “My sister is my best friend. [She’s] my inspiration!” “I hope to play tennis with Ann for my whole life/forever.” Paizen said, returning the love. “I enjoy playing with Ann.” So look out world; what may be the Asian version of the Williams’ sisters has finally debuted on the Ames High girls tennis team.