A few high school boys tennis players take “double trouble” to the next level.
It’s an intricate family tree that somehow sprouted a multitude of tennis players with tremendous talent.
From Thomas Jefferson High School, sophomores Kana and Pona Rosa are fraternal twins and the No. 1 seeded doubles partners for the Raiders.
From Decatur High School, juniors Elden and Jacob Buchan are fraternal twins and the No. 1 seeded doubles partners for the Gators. Their brother, Jonah Buchan, is a freshman at Decatur and plays No. 2 doubles.
But the twist is that all of the players are also cousins — a family rivalry at its finest once the match begins.
“I know they would rather not play each other in a competitive situation because they want to support each other,” said Andrew Buchan, uncle to all five boys tennis players and also the Thomas Jefferson High School tennis head coach.
Both sets of twins battled for the No. 1 league spot in doubles last Friday, snagged by the Buchan’s from Decatur with a 6-2 match victory.
Although, TJ’s 3-2 win as a team over Decatur on Friday, Sept. 21, places TJ first in the league with a current 8-0 record and Decatur in second with a record of 7-1.
Andrew Buchan has been coaching tennis at TJHS since 1990 and said Decatur is TJ’s toughest competition this year.
“Elden and Jacob want to root for Kana and Pona, and Kana and Pona want to root for Elden and Jacob,” he said with a laugh. “You can’t root for them if you’re playing against them.”
Love for the sport is deeply rooted in the family, making it a fun family rivalry, he said.
“They play other sports, too,” he said. “But tennis is sort of the thing they all do.”
The reality of the situation is that all four players have incredible talent, so the competition is inevitable, he said.
“They’re all best friends,” Andrew Buchan said. “But they’re all very competitive.”
Once the boys stepped off the court, they immediately fell into conversation and easily rallied jokes back and forth.
“It was fun because we got to play against our cousins,” TJ’s Pona Rosa said. “They got us this time. They’re really good.”
As sophomores, it’s Kana and Pona’s first year playing No. 1 doubles, and Pona said while they’re winning often, the left-handed duo is also learning from each match.
The goal is to do well in postseason, and make it to districts or even state, said Kana Rosa.
“I was nervous at the beginning,” said Decatur’s Jacob Buchan about facing his cousins on the court. “But it lessened as the match went on.”
Staying positive will be the most important factor for Decatur doubles duo heading into postseason, which they’re hoping to make it further than last year, Elden Buchan said.
The tennis talent comes naturally, he said, probably influenced by their dad and their uncles during childhood.
Kana and Pona Rosa are the youngest of five siblings. Their older sister, Mia, is a senior at Thomas Jefferson and has made it to state the past two years for doubles in girls tennis. The family rivalry also stems into the Cascade division where junior Kaden Buchan, No. 3 doubles, and freshman Evan Buchan, No. 2 singles, also play tennis. Kentwood boys tennis is currently 8-0 and in first place of the division.
The Buchans and the Rosas spend a lot of time on and off the court together. The summer agenda generally consist of family vacations, hanging out at the lake house, or training at Andrew Buchan’s summer tennis camp.
For any player, training in the off-season contributes to success during the season, said Decatur boys tennis head coach John Cassens.
Both teams have strong players this year, which makes for quality competition, he said.
“It was cool to see all first cousins playing each other in a match that actually matters,” Cassens said. “I was happy that our guys, who are a little older, were able to handle the moment and win the match. It’s always kind of nerve wracking playing a family member like that.”
In his 13 years of coaching at Decatur, Cassens said this season is the best boys team he’s ever had.
As playoffs loom, each high school team has their eyes set on the state championship.
“Whatever happens, happens,” said Andrew Buchan. “They will all be good sports about it. It will all be forgotten the next day and they’ll be ready for round two.”
Redemption, and nabbing the league lead, is possible as Decatur faces Thomas Jefferson again on Oct. 11 at 3:30 p.m.