NORMAN — Kathryn Phillips and Maggie Marcum had already explained about being best friends.
The Nos. 1 and 2 tennis players at Norman High, just freshmen and set to begin play at their first state tournament this morning at Will Rogers Tennis Center in Oklahoma City, answering questions about themselves appeared to be a new experience.
Yet one question had them laughing.
What are they like together?
Phillips may have begun to answer, only to have Marcum finish the sentence. Anyway, at the same time, they had the same words on the tips of their tongues.
“We’re, like, exactly the same,” they said.
Well, they don’t look like one another, but in other ways, sure.
“We comment on exactly the same things,” Marcum said. “And we say things at the exact same time, sometimes.”
Also, they’re both competitive, they both love the sport, they’re both on the ground floor of their prep athletic careers. And, even if it doesn’t hit them in a profound way, they both know they’re sort of making history, because nobody seems to remember the last time Norman High sent two entrants to the state tournament.
“I’ve asked several of my faculty members,” said NHS coach Beth Lewis, “and nobody knows.”
But they’ll be there.
Phillips plays No. 1 and advanced by finishing third at last week’s regional at the Kickingbird tennis complex in Edmond. Marcum plays No. 2 and also finished third.
They prefer not to play one another, but have with Phillips getting the best of it, though Marcum has also won her share.
They may understand that, fueling one another, NHS girls tennis, taking a great leap forward this season, is bound to only get better and better on their watch.
“I think it’s a big deal that we’re kind of making tennis a thing at Norman High,” Marcum said, “but I don’t really think about it because I don’t really think about things like that.”
Phillips might think about it more.
“It’s really exciting because we’re just freshmen,” she said. “It’s a huge thing.”
Lewis feels very fortunate to have both of them in the program.
“I’ve played myself, so I’ve seen a lot of girls with attitudes. They throw temper tantrums. It’s really unfortunate they have such poor sportsmanship,” she said. “But these girls have nothing but sportsmanship. They never bang their racquet, they have poker faces when they play, they make great grades, they’re modest and they go out to win. They’re serious about it.”
Phillips has been playing since she was 5 years old, but doesn’t sound remotely close to burning out.
“I love it because I’ve always played,” she said. “I really don’t know any different.”
Marcum also began when she was five, but quickly abandoned tennis for other sports. She didn’t begin to play regularly again until the seventh grade.
“When I started playing again, I liked it a lot more than when I was younger,” she said. “I guess, because, there was just more competition. I’m really competitive.”
Lewis believes they could both place in the Class 6A bracket. That would put each of them finishing in the top half of their 16-player draw.
“I’m just hoping they can go out there and do their best,” she said. “From the way they’ve played this year, I have high hopes they can place.”
It would be a terrific ending to what appears to only be the beginning.
Clay Horning 366-3526 firstname.lastname@example.org