The idea was to talk about how twins Lydia and Gabriela Venditti ’19 helped propel the Colby women’s tennis team to its best season in several years, playing first and second singles and first doubles, and gritting out some long matches against tough competition. But first the sisters from Mercer Island, Wash., talked academics.

Lydia plans to study neuropsychology and is working as a research assistant in the neuroscience lab of Associate Professor of Psychology Melissa Glenn this summer. Gabriela Venditti is planning to major in government and psychology, and has great things to say about her classes with Associate Professor of Government Walter Hatch and Goldfarb Family Distinguished Professor of Government Cal Mackenzie.

“There are a lot of great schools on the East Coast that have opportunities for Division III athletes who want to focus on academics,” she said. Added her sister Lydia, “A small school for undergrads is really nice because there are more opportunities, not competing with graduate students.”

Gabriela Venditti

Gabriela Venditti

After all, as Gabriela put it, “Tennis was just a supplement for us, something we can do for fun.”

And fun it was last season, not only for the Venditti twins but also for Coach Jason Cohen and his very young team. Made up mostly of first-years and sophomores, the team posted a 12-4 record, scored victories over Trinity and Bates, finished the season ranked 16th in the Northeast, and graduated only one player, captain Holly Bogo ’16.

“Wins come from all parts of the lineup,” said first-year coach Cohen. “The times [the Vendittis] have not been able to win, the other players have picked up the slack.”

Competing in one of the toughest conferences in Division III (the top five NESCAC women’s tennis teams are among the top 10 in the country), the first-year sisters pulled out big come-from-behind wins (vs. Bates for Lydia; Amherst for Gabriela), and helped elevate the level of doubles for the team, Cohen said. “They’ve played so much with each other and they know each other’s games. They don’t hold anything back.”

It’s been that way since the 7-year-old sisters passed on ballet (their mother is a choreographer) and picked up racquets. Their games developed differently, with Gabriela mixing in some slice on both sides and Lydia hitting heavier topspin. Intense competitors, they won the Washington State high school doubles championship three times before deciding to let their tennis careers follow them to college.

“I think they were definitely interested in Colby as a school first,” Cohen said, “before tennis.”

Lydia Venditti

Lydia Venditti

The sisters talked about their hopes for next season and the one after that, hoping that future recruits “see that Colby is a good school academically … and that they can be part of an ascendant team,” as Gabriela put it.

Meanwhile, Lydia hopes to explore history and environmental science this year, in addition to neuroscience. Gabriela is pursuing her interest in psychology, taking abnormal psychology with Assistant Professor of Psychology Erin Sheets and a research methods class with Associate Professor of Psychology Christopher Soto.

Her sister and doubles partner gave the psychology folks high marks. “All of the professors in the department are doing their own research,” Lydia said. “Their classes are interesting and they’re all knowledgeable.”

In the classroom, like on the court, it’s game, set, match.