Lee sisters thrive on, off court
By Rich Palzewic
SUAMICO – Bay Port High School seniors Gabrielle and Isabelle Lee are quite accomplished on the tennis courts, but their off-court accolades are equally as impressive.
“We want to be more known for putting our best effort forward with our studies,” said Isabelle, who scored a perfect 36 on her ACT college entrance exam. “Tennis is great, but we know our future lies in our academics.”
Gabrielle wasn’t quite perfect on her ACT like her twin sister, but her 35 wasn’t far behind.
“My science brought me down a little,” said a smiling Gabrielle. “If I super-scored my result, it came out to a 35.25.”
Isabelle currently holds the No. 1 class rank at Bay Port, while Gabrielle is No. 2.
The two played tennis for Bay Port during their freshman year but then went the United States Tennis Association (USTA) route.
“We both wanted to keep playing tennis at Bay Port, but the USTA tournaments require a lot of traveling and time,” said Gabrielle. “With the ultimate goal of playing college tennis, playing in USTA tournaments is a good way to get our name out there and get recognized by college coaches.”
During the 2016 high school season, Isabelle finished runner-up at the WIAA Division 1 individual state tournament, while Gabrielle won her first two matches.
With such good grades, the girls, who are both looking at possibly entering the medical field, are keeping their options open for college.
“We are looking at a whole bunch of different schools because we want to do tennis,” said Isabelle. “We are deciding whether we want Division I or Division III, so we are looking at some Ivy League schools. We would go to the same school if it happens, but it’s not the sole thing we are looking at.”
Despite their strong academic and tennis background, it doesn’t make attending an Ivy League school a lock.
“It’s very competitive, but we have to keep the money in mind,” said Gabrielle. “We are looking at getting an academic or an athletic scholarship, so we have to weigh this, too. We watched a documentary about a prospective student who played piano in front of the President of the United States and still didn’t get into a college they wanted.”
Both girls said a lot of the Division I colleges they have talked to do not offer athletic scholarships for tennis, but they are moving the money to financial need.
“If it comes down to the nitty-gritty, I would cut back on my tennis,” said Gabrielle. “I love the sport, so I’d love to give it a shot my first year in college for sure. I won’t know until I get into it.”
As good as the two are on the court, they laugh at the idea of being good enough to turn professional.
“Oh, no,” laughed Isabelle when asked if she’s good enough to turn pro. “We could maybe do a couple of money-prize tournaments for fun. I’ve played against some girls who have played in such tournaments, and I’ve won a couple and lost a couple.”
Gabrielle took it a step further.
“You won’t see us playing in Wimbledon or anything,” she laughed. “The difference between our tennis and the pros is unbelievable. I recently played a girl who I was comparable with strength-wise, but she could put a winner anywhere on the court.”
The girls have been to San Diego, California, and Rome, Georgia, for USTA tournaments.
They partnered together and finished second at the Rome tournament in the doubles competition.
“It would be something to go to the same school and play doubles together,” said Isabelle. “It’s a completely different game. Gabrielle likes doubles more than singles.”