Freshman Alyssa Tobita’s first impression of her current doubles partner, freshman Nia Rose, was less than ideal. It was the women’s tennis team’s first practice of the year and Rose was already late.
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. Who is this girl on our team? She can’t even make the first practice on time,'” Tobita said, laughing.
The two describe themselves as opposites and on paper, they couldn’t be more different. Rose comes from the Big Apple, Tobita from Hawaii. Rose is laid-back and goes with the flow, but Tobita likes schedules and calls herself anxious. Rose studies psychology. Tobita came to Oregon as a physics major.
After their first match together, however, it was obvious that the doubles pair was meant to be. Instantly, they clicked and became friends. While their polarized personalities balanced each other out, their humor brought them together.
“I think some of the girls on the team think we’re weird when we’re together because we have jokes that no one else understands,” Tobita said.
And they also finish each other’s sentences.
“Doubles is a lot about having a connection and trust with your partner,” started Tobita.
“And just knowing how to handle each other’s moods,” continued Rose. “And making sure we’re on the same page physically and mentally when we approach matches. It’s important to be friends, but also respect each other.”
As the case with many best friends, their relationship is full of loving jabs (their caller ID’s are the ugliest pictures they could find of the other person), but also true support for one another.
“She makes me wanna be better in school and in tennis,” Rose said. “She really pushes me. We have the same values. We want the same things. We want to be a successful team, so we push each other.”
“That’s why we’re such great friends,” Tobita said.
Their connection extends beyond the courts, but as their bond strengthens outside of tennis, their chemistry increases in-game. It’s something that teammate Marlou Kluiving describes as vital for success.
“Having that communication on and off the court is really important in order to be a good doubles couple,” Kluiving said. “You have to be comfortable and feel good on the court (to be successful). And the only way to do that is to be comfortable with your doubles partner.”
Tobita and Rose have combined to make a formidable pair. They’re currently 16-5 in doubles this season and, despite the constant laughter between them, the two are an aggressive powerhouse competing in Oregon’s No. 1 doubles position.
“We make doubles matches very physical,” Tobita said. “It’s tough for doubles players to play us when we’re controlling from the baseline…”
“…but moving forward and being able to control too,” Rose finished. “We can beat people many ways. We’re very dynamic.”
The two have set the goal of making the NCAA and All-American Championships together. And with two months of play left in the season, their future as a tandem looks promising.
“They’ve been playing better and better every match,” Kluiving said. “I’m excited to see what’s going to happen this season.”
Follow Anne Yilmaz on Twitter @anneyilmaz.