For Isabella and Simone Flodin, tennis is a family affair.
“I’ve been playing since I was nine years old, and Simone’s been playing since she was seven,” Isabella said. “We moved here from Los Angeles, and my mom and dad both played there in high school. Once we got to Dallas, my mom took tennis back up and she signed us up for classes. Our whole family plays, really.”
Isabella is a ninth grader at Dallas International School, while Simone is in seventh grade. The sisters recently competed in separate TAPPS tennis tournaments over the past week at the University of Texas at Dallas. Simone won the middle school IAA singles tournament, competing against a field of players from nine other area schools, while Isabella beat out players from 12 other schools to advance to the high school state tournament in Waco, along with classmates Julian Rueda-Rojas, Noor Siddiqui and Hailey Archer. That tournament will take place April 12-13.
But before the girls took the court for their respective matches, they were a mix of emotions.
“Before I went on court, I was kind of nervous, because I didn’t know what to expect,” Simone said. “But once I got on there, I felt good and I knew I was going to win.”
“I just had to dominate, because I didn’t want to give my opponent a chance,” Isabella said. “I didn’t want the match to be close. I just really wanted to win.”
The Flodin sisters had each grown up playing various sports, but they both fell in love with tennis, albeit for different reasons.
“I’ve done a lot of sports in my life, but I like individual sports,” Isabella said. “I like being in control of the competitive aspect. It’s so intense, and I love that. I love the physical challenge and the mental challenge. All of that is really fun.”
Simone’s take is a bit different.
“I actually love teams,” Simone said. “I’ve been playing soccer since I was three, and it’s just so fun. I just enjoy going out there and competing. I just think tennis is fun. Even just hitting the ball, I find so much joy.”
Last year, when both Simone and Isabella were in middle school, they even competed against each other in the IAA tournament.
“Let’s just say that Simone is not a fan of playing me,” Isabella said.
“She’s mean!” Simone replied, laughing.
Both sisters received extra motivation for their matches from their coach, Jesse Llamas. Besides instilling in them a love for competition and a drive to win, coach Llamas offered some additional spoils if victorious.
“All I really wanted was to play dodgeball for gym class, so I asked coach Jesse if I won the whole tournament, could we play dodgeball on Monday?” Simone said. “He said yes, so when I won the tournament, I was so excited because I knew we would be playing dodgeball.”
Coach Llamas has seen the Flodins improve not only in their athletic skills, but in their competitive attitude as well.
“They have always been fierce competitors with amazing tennis skills, but what I have seen develop over the years is their true enjoyment of the sport,” Llamas said. “They were amazing to watch. They compete with style and class. They are exactly what Dallas International School student-athletes are all about.”
Both sisters have lofty goals for their future tennis careers.
“I want to play in college,” Isabella said. “If it takes me further, then great, but that’s ultimately what I want to do.”
Simone, however, has her sights set only on one thing.
“I want to beat Isabella,” she said.