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Sports

Girls Tennis: After leading Glenbard West to fifth at state, Lopez sisters set for swan song together

Glenbard West's Sienna Lopez (right), a senior, and her sister Shannele, a sophomore, led the Hilltoppers to a fifth-place finish in the Class 2A state tournament last season.
Glenbard West's Sienna Lopez (right), a senior, and her sister Shannele, a sophomore, led the Hilltoppers to a fifth-place finish in the Class 2A state tournament last season.

Glenbard West senior Sienna Lopez and sophomore Shannele Lopez learned tennis together from their father at ages 6 and 4.

For their last season as high school teammates, they hope to be playing together on the final day of the state meet.

“We’ve always been together throughout the tennis years. We’ve never been separated,” Sienna said. “It’s really nice to have her as part of my team and as a sister. I can see her developing as she grows, maturing with her tennis game.”

In 2018, the Lopez sisters were part of the Hilltoppers’ fifth-place Class 2A finish – their third straight top-six finish in the sport’s first three two-class state tournaments.

They reached the final 12 in singles before the consolation bracket was halted by bad weather. The Hilltoppers finished two points from their first top-three state trophy.

“I definitely want to get higher with the team,” Shannele said. “[Last season] I felt really welcome by the girls. It’s really nice to see the girls hyping and cheering me up even though I’m frustrated. That makes me happy to see that I’ve got a lot of people by my side.”

Both doubles teams also reached state. The No. 1 duo graduated and the No. 2 team of senior Ashley Samuta and junior Emma Chirila won one consolation match. Senior Sophia Hanna and sophomore Elizabeth Fausey also return from the regular-season lineup.

“We’re excited to see how everybody does,” third-year Glenbard West coach Kevin Graham said. “Very lucky to have both [Lopez sisters], for sure. They’re both very fierce competitors. When they come into those big matches, they are going to fight.”

Sienna and Shannele received unique first names with an S from their mother, Vilma. Their full initials (SVQL) are the same as older brother Seigfried.

Santiago Lopez taught his daughters to practice and enjoy tennis until they found the right instructor. For more than six years, they’ve trained with Gus Fernandes at Eola Tennis Academy in Aurora.

“We play very similar. There are times when I can be a little more consistent, but match-wise she can beat me,” Shannele said.

Their court demeanor, however, usually differs. While Sienna often smiles, Shannele remains more stoic.

Shannele also wears Nike and Adidas visors, usually color coordinated with outfits. Her black-and-white Nike visor is a particular favorite.

“She’s serious and tries to focus on her game,” Sienna said. “Mentally we’re different. I like to bring myself up and be able to fight for every point. She also does, too, but game-face wise, I’m happy, sometimes.”

Sienna reached the top 12 at state in 2016 and top 16 in 2017.

Sienna and Shannele finished 1-2 in singles at the 2018 St. Charles East Sectional. At state, Shannele was 5-1 and reached the final eight by winning her last consolation match, an eight-game pro set. Sienna lost in that same round to finish 3-2 after losing in the championship quarterfinals to St. Ignatius’ Tyra Richardson, who placed third.

“I wasn’t really expecting to get as far as I would because I knew there was a lot of great players,” Shannele said. “I expect a lot from myself. I just wasn’t expecting that much.”

The Lopez sisters spent most practices as hitting partners, but they never competed as a doubles team.

That could change this year, perhaps even for the state tournament.

“Maybe this year. We’ll see. We’ve talked about it,” Sienna said.

“This is my last year and I want to make it the best one yet with everyone on the team. I would like to be able to do something different, but if not, I’ll try and reach my goals.”

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