FALMOUTH, ME and FAIRFIELD, CT - Friendships are usually built on trust and on the sharing of common interests.
Apparently, so too are successful doubles teams.
Ellyse Hamlin and Meghan Kelley have formed quite the dynamic tennis duo as of late, winning three National 14s doubles titles in 2011, the most recent coming in late May in Maryland.
"We've always been really good friends and we've known each other through tennis, so when we knew we'd be at the same national tournament, we decided to team up and it's worked out great," said Hamlin, a 14-year-old from Fairfield, CT who won USTA New England's Junior Improvement award in 2010. "In our first tournament, we had a pretty tough first match that we could have lost, but we pulled it out and just kept getting better with each match."
Kelley, 13, believes the pair's individual strengths make them tough to beat.
"We complement each other very well," said Kelley, a Falmouth, Maine resident who trains with coaches Francisco Montoya and Celeste Frey at the Manchester Athletic Club. "I'm consistent in the back court and (Hamlin) is really aggressive at the net."
Hamlin agrees with her partner.
"It's also a trust thing," Hamlin said. "I tend to play aggressively and go after a lot of shots. I don't get all of them, but I get most of them, and Meghan is willing to let me take those chances and it helps us as a team."
While Hamlin and Kelley are separated by geography, they maintain a near-constant contact through talking and texting.
Despite the distance, they do manage to train together on occasion when Hamlin heads up to the MAC or Kelley travels to Intensity.
"There are a lot of great players at the MAC, so you're always getting better by hitting against them," said Kelley, who received a sportsmanship award from USTA New England in 2009.
Kelley, who received a sportsmanship award from USTA New England in 2009, started playing tennis when she was just five years old, and got serious - lessons and tournament play - at about age 10.
Hamlin began as an 8-year-old, training with her father, Ryan Ginley, at Intensity in Norwalk, CT, where Ginley works as Senior Director of High Performance and Player Development.
"It's really cool being coached my dad," Hamlin said. "I'm learning a lot and getting better, but at the same time, he's still my dad, so we have a lot fun."
Kelley and Hamlin are hoping to keep their hot streak intact this summer, as they plan to pair up to play doubles in the USTA New England Junior Sectional Championships.