WESLEY CHAPEL — Most days you won't find Wiregrass Ranch's two biggest stars at the school's tennis courts.
They are often excused, allowed to practice with a private coach or travel to various tournaments around the country.
They once trained at the Southeast Tennis Center in Washington, D.C., where Serena and Venus Williams often would visit, and were once subjects in a National Public Radio feature, Tennis' rising stars share their passion, in 2007.
Seasoned and experienced, Sarah and Elizabeth Means are expected to give the Bulls a huge boost in 2010 and might leave a lifelong watermark on their teammates.
"They're amazing," Wiregrass Ranch coach Jewell Fye said. "… The first time I saw them play was for tryouts. They were just rallying, then the serves. Oh my gosh, they're amazing."
The Meanses have made an impact in just the few weeks they've been Bulls.
Their inspiring play and fresh ideas have helped fuel teammates, making them more focused at practice and eager to raise their game.
"They come in with a lot of good ideas about teamwork," Fye said. "They have words for the week. It's energizing for the whole team. They have us all excited."
The Meanses help lessen the loss of standouts Sidney Simpson and Amber Fahrner, who are no longer with the team.
Hannah Still and Katie Bonti, who would have been the Nos. 1 and 2 players had the Meanses decided not to play, but said there was no animosity about dropping to lower spots and that the team all but rolled out a red carpet.
"They work harder and they are better than me, I have to say," Bonti said. "The better person plays and I'm fine with that. No. 4 is a great position. I'm still on varsity and I'm going to play with the team. The main thing is just to have fun."
Bonti then whispered with excitement that the biggest benefit to welcoming the Meanses is a potential state berth.
The Bulls finished second at districts and regionals last year. A state berth would be a school first.
"That would be nice," Bonti said. "We're hopeful."
Izzy Gould can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 421-3886.