For the last year, St. Helena twins Allura and Maribella Zamarripa have traveled the world in pursuit of their dreams of becoming top-class professional tennis players.
The duo made the jump to the pro circuit in late September last year and have since competed in tournaments in Hawaii, Florida and Bogota, Colombia, to name just a few locales. They’ve also experienced their fair share of success along the way, playing both singles and doubles in the lower-level professional tournaments they’ve entered and qualified for.
Allura currently has a career professional record of 12-4 in singles, and while Maribella is only 2-3 in the same category, the two are 18-4 in doubles play and have won two doubles tournaments since making the jump last year.
But everything that they’ve have done up to this point will pale in comparison to what they have approaching next week.
The twins, 17, will play in the 2019 Junior US Open, running Sept. 1-8, in New York, the largest tournament and stage they’ve encountered to date.
“It’s just really exciting and we’re just very grateful for this opportunity we’ve been given and we’re just so thrilled to be going,” Maribella said. “This is our first Open, so I couldn’t be happier.”
Maribella will once again team up with her sister for doubles play, while Allura will also compete as an individual in singles. As of Thursday, they don’t know exactly when their first matches will be but they’ll find out in the days before play begins.
The Main Draw for singles play begins on Sunday while doubles play gets going Monday.
While the twins have met success at every stage they’ve played at so far, the jump to playing in their first Junior Grand Slam a year after making their pro debuts came as a bit of surprise.
“Initially we weren’t expecting to make it this stage this quickly,” said Dave Zamarripa, their father. “We were thinking that 2020 would be the year that we try and really make a push for the Junior Slams. We were just going to try to keep doing the smaller professional events and hope for a breakthrough there but you just never know. Things can change on a dime.”
One standout tournament or result can change everything for a player, he added.
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“Look at Coco Gauff,” he said, referring to the 15-year-old American phenom who rose to prominence after an impressive run at Wimbledon this year. “Last year she played in San Diego at the Juniors, playing 18s, and now she’s playing Wimbledon and nothing but higher level professional events. So it can turn on a dime; you just never know when it’s going to happen.”
For the twins, this appearance at the Open creates a similar opportunity. They’ll get to showcase their skills against some of the top junior players in the world on one of the biggest stages in junior tennis.
While they’re certainly excited they’ve come this far, this is by no means the highest point they want to reach.
“It is a great opportunity to get here and not many people can say that they’re going to play in a Junior Grand Slam, but I wouldn’t say that this is what I’ve been trying to reach for my entire life,” Allura said.
Maribella agreed with her sister.
“I would say that this is definitely a big accomplishment but I’m definitely not satisfied,” she said. “It’s good to be successful at this level but I aspire to be one of the top pros in the world, so this does not satisfy me, no.”
Regardless of how they fare next week, they recognize this as just one more step in the process of building strong tennis careers. After all, they’re not exactly veterans of the pro circuit yet.
“It seems like every time we jump up to the next level, there’s always a little bit of doubt and we’re not sure how they’re going to do, but it seems like they’ve just jumped right in and seem to be doing very well, almost at every single level up to the 60K, they’re competitive,” Dave Zamarripa said. “But they’ve done really, really well. They’ve just turned 17 so there’s still plenty of time.
“It’s very exciting because there’s always a little bit of doubt in the beginning, you can see when they’re warming up maybe they’re a little nervous or a little tight, and then as soon as they relax a little bit they’re right there with a lot of these girls that are very experienced and have a lot of matches under their belt at this level and the twins are hanging with them just fine.”
As for how their experiences have been over this last year of travelling the world, well, the twins wouldn’t trade it for anything.
“This year has been crazy,” Maribella said. “We’ve been given so many opportunities to play high-level tournaments and we’re succeeding so it’s super exciting for us. I’d just say that it’s awesome and I love it so far.”