ST PETER — Four years ago, Mallory Shellum of St. James and Heather Annis of Mapleton were rivals on the tennis court.
They looked forward to playing each other simply for the opportunity to try to crush their opponent on the court. Neither will go so far as to say bitter rivals, but both admit there was not much love lost between the two.
“I definitely wanted to beat her in high school,” Annis said. “We weren’t in the same section, but we played each other almost every year in a nonconference meet and at the St. James doubles tournament and we were both pretty competitive.”
Shellum agreed: “She was a big rival for me. I knew she was one of the better players in the area, so I always wanted to go out and beat her.”
Fast forward to today and Shellum and Annis have become the veterans on a relatively young Gustavus Adolphus tennis squad. They’ve played doubles together for three years and also making an impact as singles players.
“It was different at first being on the same team in college,” Annis said. “We had to adopt a whole new mindset. We’ve gone from being rivals to being pretty close friends.”
Shellum also had to do her share of adjusting.
“It was weird, that’s for sure,” she said. “It was weird for my parents, too. They had to go from rooting against her in high school to rooting for the both of us in college.”
When Shellum and Annis arrived at Gustavus, they were part of a six-player recruiting class. Katie Allen of Pella, Iowa, was perhaps the most accomplished of the six freshmen coming out of high school, but Shellum and Annis remain the only two seniors on the team.
“They persevered; they stuck it out,” Gustavus head coach Jon Carlson said. “I knew Mallory was an amazing player in high school, but she didn’t know how to hit topspin at all. That was something we knew we’d have to develop with her.