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Decatur High's girls tennis program includes three sisters, sophomore Emily Suggs, left, senior Sarah Suggs, middle, and eighth-grader Annie Suggs.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
Decatur High's girls tennis program includes three sisters, sophomore Emily Suggs, left, senior Sarah Suggs, middle, and eighth-grader Annie Suggs.

Sisterly love at Decatur
Bond among Emily, Sarah, Annie Suggs gives a lift to Lady Raiders' tennis program

By Mark Edwards
medwards@decaturdaily.com · 340-2461

A day that Dede Suggs dreaded came early in the Decatur High tennis preseason.

Her two oldest daughters, senior Sarah Suggs and sophomore Emily, faced off in the Lady Raiders' ladder play. As the players do in that format, Emily challenged Sarah for her No. 4 spot in the singles lineup. If Sarah won, Emily would stay at No. 5, but if Emily won, Sarah would drop to No. 5.

"When they came home, I didn't ask who won," Dede Suggs said. "I waited for them tell me. Emily didn't say anything, but Sarah said, 'Well, don't you want to know who won?' "

When Dede said she did, Sarah replied, "Emily won."

But here's the kicker: "Sarah's fine with that," Dede said.

Besides, maybe revenge will come down the road. Oak Park Middle School eighth-grader Annie Suggs, the younger sister of Sarah and Emily, is playing for the Decatur junior varsity and could challenge Emily for a spot in some future tennis lineup.

For now, however, the Suggs sisters are providing a big boost to the Decatur High girls tennis program. They're competitive when facing other squads but not always with each other, since in this case blood is thicker than yellow tennis balls.

Sarah and Emily have helped the Lady Red Raiders to an 8-1 varsity record, and Annie is busy preparing for a future spot in the lineup.

The bond among the three sisters has made this a special season for them, especially the oldest.

"It means a lot to me because all three of us are playing," Sarah said. "This is the first year that I've gotten to do a school activity with Annie.

"Emily and I have gotten to do stuff together before, like tennis and student council, but Annie and I are far enough apart in age that we're never going to be at the same school. So the tennis team is something all three of us can do together."

It's also nice for their parents, Steve and Dede Suggs.

"It's easier on them because they don't have to go to as many places for us," Annie said with a smile.

As you might expect, the three have plenty in common.

They simply look like sisters — they're relatively the same height, with Sarah and Emily each about 5-foot-2 and Annie at 5-foot-01/2, and they have the same smile and same straight shoulder-length style of hair.

Although they have different colored eyes (Emily's are blue, Sarah's are brown/green and Annie's are green), they each seem to have the same look.

All three say they're dedicated to their schoolwork and made good grades. All three did other sports while growing up, including soccer, softball and cheerleading. Annie still is involved in cheerleading and has made the Decatur High ninth-grade squad for next fall.

And, yes, they practice tennis together. Often they walk to Walter Jackson Elementary School near their home and play on the tennis courts.

Sarah and Emily learned the sport when they were 5 and 4, respectively, from former Decatur High tennis standout Ginny Vickery, who is now Ginny Pylant and still lives in Decatur. Her sister, Morgan Coulter, is Suggs' coach now with the Decatur High varsity.

Annie said she picked up a racket at about 4 or 5, too.

But the three sisters possess different personalities.

All three and their mother agreed that Sarah is the most organized, and Sarah joked that some might call her a "Type A personality."

"She's the typical first child," Dede said.

They agreed that Emily is the quiet one, although Emily added, "I'm not that quiet."

Sarah added that Emily is more competitive than the other two, "even when we're playing putt-putt (golf)."

And Annie? "I bounce off the walls," she said, again with a smile.

Dede Suggs, who volunteers as an assistant for the Decatur team, said it's easy to see their personalities on the court.

"Emily never throws a racket and never curses under her breath," she said.

Dede Suggs said that one the girls' former tennis coaches said that Emily had perfect game face because "you never can read her emotions."

"Emily holds all that in," Dede Suggs said. "With Annie, she's the opposite. If she's losing, you'll know it."

Even so, no matter what their on-court styles are, they're almost always on the same page, as well as the same team.

That's a source of comfort for Dede Suggs that her children get along so well, especially since they're so close in age. Sarah, who will turn 18 on Wednesday, is only 20 months older than Emily, 16. And Emily is only 29 months older than Annie, who will turn 14 on May 26.

"I know this sounds corny, and they might not want me to say this, but we enjoy each other," Dede Suggs said. "They genuinely like each other. Sure, there are sisterly spats, but for the most part, they're friends."

And Dede Suggs figures long after all three leave Decatur High, tennis will remain part of the family equation.

"It's a family activity," she said. "I can see that as they get older, and we're on vacation, we can enjoy tennis, especially if they marry husbands who like tennis. It's a sport that lends itself to years of play."

The Suggs sisters at a glance

  • Sarah Suggs, senior:Has played in the Decatur varsity lineup for four years, including No. 5 singles and No. 3 doubles this season. Made Decatur Daily all-area as a sophomore and junior and honorable mention as a freshman.

  • Emily Suggs, sophomore:Plays No. 4 singles and No. 2 doubles for Decatur this year. Played No. 1 singles for the junior varsity last year, occasionally moving up to the varsity lineup when someone wasn’t available to play.

  • Annie Suggs, eighth grade: Plays junior varsity this year, most recently at No. 5 in the singles lineup.

    Mark Edward

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