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Girls doubles team fills out Brandywine boys tennis roster

"I've been to state a few times and so I know what an experience it is."

This week David Sidenbender leads the Brandywine boys tennis team into regionals to start the postseason. But while there is obvious motivation for success this week, the year as a whole has already been something special thanks to the make-up of the team.

"When they switched the season [from spring to fall] 10 or 11 years ago," said Sidenbender, "now you're competing with football and soccer, and at a smaller school it's tough to get enough guys out."

That problem opened the possibility for an interesting solution: completing the boys tennis roster with girls.

"We talked with Coach Sidenbender, and he brought it up, and we were like 'why not?'"

That was the simple response from both Kylie Mesecar and Maddie Bailey, both juniors who now enter their second season on the team.

While both are multi-sport athletes, the decision to play on the boys tennis team came from a desire to find a way to stay active year-round.

"Girls tennis is the same season as softball," said Mesecar. "We thought, 'why not?' If we have the opportunity, we should try to stay in shape."

"I thought, 'I don't do anything in the fall, so what can I do?' I'm not a volleyball player. I'm not good at it."

"They had never picked up a racket before," said Sidenbender. "They're just athletic. Once they got going in doubles and we taught them how to play the net and play back, they got really comfortable with it."

In their first year with the team, the two played doubles separately with a male partner. Now they play together.

Not only did they have to get comfortable with the new sport, but also with the idea of joining the boys team.

"I was very nervous," said Bailey. "For the first couple of weeks last year I wouldn't get out of the car until she got here. I didn't like being out there by myself. But after a couple of weeks, it doesn't matter. I know who they are and they aren't going to say anything."

Getting the team on board proved to be an easy task, but Sidenbender says there have always been questions when they hit the court against other schools.

"As long as they don't play girls tennis in the spring, that's the only stipulation," he said. "Once you explain that to the other schools, because they question it usually like 'oh you can't have girls.' Well, yes you can. [Those schools] just never thought of it because they never had to worry about it."

While they still deal with the questions before most matches, Maddie and Kylie simply try to have fun and get a victory.

"It's kind of weird," said Bailey. "They're like 'why are we playing two girls?' But it's nice. They don't expect it, but we're out here doing it just like they are."

So with the postseason underway, Sidenbender hopes a decent run would further prove that you can win, no matter who plays.

"It'd be pretty awesome for the school too," he said. "I think when the kids find out they play, they're just amazed. So if they went to state that'd be another notch."

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