STAMFORD — Like most twins their age, Devon and Taylor Yaghmaie have the same circle of friends, occasionally fight over clothes and are often inseparable.
That penchant for close proximity extends to the tennis court.
The freshmen play No. 1 doubles for the Stamford girls tennis team and have made a stunning instant impact. The Yaghmaie sisters are 12-1 and have been the talk both at their school and around the league.
“I didn’t really think we were going to do as well as we are right now, especially with teams like Darien and New Canaan and Ridgefield,” Devon said. “They are all hard but we knew those would be a lot harder.”
With a three-set loss to Staples the lone blemish, the idea of winning a state title has become a realistic goal.
“I have never had players of that caliber on the Stamford High team, so when they came along it’s really the first time anything like this happened with regard to elite players,” said Matt Gladstone, who is in his ninth season as the Black Knights’ coach.
The sisters played at the varsity level on the school’s field hockey team and on the junior varsity level in basketball. Despite their tennis background, the girls said they did not make the decision to play the sport over lacrosse until two days before practice.
“We were back and forth every day,” Taylor said. “Our private club told us we had a good chance going far in states, which gave us a push to play tennis, but it was a hard choice.”
Lacrosse was not the only activity erased from the Yaghmaies’ schedule: the girls last year also were involved with soccer, cross country and volleyball, fitting homework in between one sport in the afternoon and tennis at night.
It is one reason, the two agreed, they gravitated toward doubles even though elite players usually compete in singles.
“We like team sports better so playing doubles gives us that team, so we’re not alone on the court,” Taylor said.
Gladstone said the girls are natural partners.
“They are balanced,” Gladstone said. “All parts of their game are really strong and it is hard to isolate a weakness.”
The Yaghmaies made a stunning debut, with consecutive wins over Fairfield Ludlowe, Ridgefield and New Canaan, all top programs. They produced the lone victory against Darien, which returned half of its defending state champion doubles team.
“We played most of our hard ones early on,” Devon said. “With Darien we thought we were going to lose. I thought we were going to get killed.”
In the match against Staples, the sisters overcame a 6-0 loss in the first set to win the second by the same margin. The Wreckers won the final set, 6-4.
“At the beginning of the year, before anyone knew we were good, I think they thought Stamford was an easy team to beat,” Devon said. “I think some teams didn’t take us seriously. Going into Staples, I think they were.”
While Devon and Taylor have similar skill sets that have been a big part of their success, they agree their temperaments differ.
“Taylor gets mad at me all the time,” Devon said. “She’s more intense than I am and she just gets angry easily.”
Added Taylor, “Not really frustrated, but when I get mad I think it makes me play better, but I take it out on Devon. I’m kind of the loud one. I am walking down the halls in school and you can hear me from a mile away so I guess I’m more outgoing.”
It will be interesting how the Yaghmaies’ short- and long-term futures play out. They have viable championship hopes.
“I really like their chances in the state tournament in doubles,” Gladstone said. They showed they can stay with and defeat the top teams. They show an intensity I haven’t seen on the court at Stamford High.”
Yet while the girls said they prefer to stay as a pair going forward, Gladstone said he would not be surprised if at some point that changes. Each sister has won her lone singles match this season.
“I am waiting to see,” Gladstone said. “They are freshmen. Their desire to stay at No. 1 doubles will change. I think they will want to lead the team and they will come to play singles as well. I think they are reluctant because they are so strong at doubles they want to stay where they have had success for them. From my experience when something is working you don’t change it, and they are very comfortable where they are. I don’t want to mess with that.”
Because they are twins, freshmen and top athletes, the Yaghmaies have achieved a strong following in the Stamford school community, yet have remained remarkably grounded.
“They’re really nice kids, they have really good personalties and the general buzz about them is they are fun to be around,” Gladstone said. “They come from a great family. Their parents are wonderful and very devoted and they have worked extremely hard.”
One thing is certain: Devon and Taylor won’t be sneaking up on anyone going forward.
“I feel like next year we are going to have more pressure,” Devon said.
Inevitably right now they are already faced with a question they are not yet prepared to answer: What about playing in college?
“Everyone asks us that,” Taylor said. “We don’t think about playing in college yet, but we think if we can we will.”