There have been iconic duos throughout sports history. Tandems like Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, and John Stockton and Karl Malone come to mind when someone thinks about great twosomes in the world of athletics. For the U’s women’s tennis team, the names of Margo Pletcher and Brianna (Breezy) Turley can be added to a list of great duos in sports. For sophomore Turley, and junior Pletcher, this season could be momentous for putting Utah Tennis on the map.
For many great duos, coming together requires a lot of luck. For Pletcher and Turley, coming together was a process of coaches seeing their strengths and aligning them like puzzle pieces.
“I have always specialized in doubles, and in many ways preferred it to singles — my coaches knew that going in,” Turley said. “Margo and I have very similar games, but we also complement each other well. She has a big serve, and I love to be around the net.”
Pletcher emphasized the importance of bonding with Turley on the court so the duo could pose a bigger threat.
“We struggled a bit in the fall, but once you start clicking, you start to know where the other person is on the court, and good things start happening.”
Despite their youth, good things did start happening for the pair. Both players mentioned they had some anxiety heading into the season, especially Turley, who had just began her college experience, and as if being a new freshman wasn’t hard enough, Turley had some big shoes to fill. She was taking the role of doubles player with Pletcher, whose previous partner was the number one player on the team.
“She struggled with nerves a lot,” Pletcher said. “But as we made it through the fall season, she was able to learn to better control the nerves and play really good tennis.”
This was not made more evident than at the Pac-12 Championships this past spring. In the Round of 16, Pletcher and Turley drew the number two doubles team in the country: California’s Maegan Menasse and Denise Starr.
“We had to go out like it was just another tennis match,” Turley said.
They did just that, and they shocked the tournament by beating the Bear’s tandem by a score of 6-3.
“That was a big win not only for us, but for our program,” Pletcher said. “For five years in the Pac-12, Utah tennis really wasn’t that great, but that victory gained us a lot of respect.”
The two eventually lost 7-5 in the semi-finals to Arizona State, but not before making waves in the world of women’s tennis.
Coming into the 2016-17 season, expectations are high for the pair. Lack of experience is no longer an issue that can be used as an excuse when it comes to performance. As Pletcher returned home to California and Turley remained in Utah, the pair trusted that there would be no let down.
“We promised each other we would work hard over the summer, and that we would get a lot of work in,” Turley said. “We weren’t worried about not playing together all summer, because we both knew that we would put in the work.”
So far, they have shown that they put in the work. In their first tournament back together, they won the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Summer Circuit stop at Azusa University in California. The two are now inseparable on the court, becoming hitting partners for singles work, and they are eying a much bigger payoff than being Pac-12 semi-finalists.
“I see us making the NCAA championships this year, and we should both make All-American,” Pletcher said.