Muhlenberg sisters Jen and Judith Manta are shy and quiet around most people.
But put a racquet in their hands and their feet on a tennis court, and their games speak volumes.
Jen showed her abilities last season by reaching the Flight 1 semifinals in the BCIAA Tournament and qualifying for the District 3 Championships in Class 3A. She was the No. 1 player for Muhlenberg and was voted to the All-Berks Team as a sophomore.
Then along came her freshman sister, Judith. Judith defeated Jen in a preseason challenge match and has been playing out of the No. 1 singles slot all season for the Muhls.
“We’re very competitive,” Jen said. “We play hard against each other.”
Against other opponents, they play just as hard.
Judith is 9-1 in singles matches this season, losing only to 2020 Berks Flight 1 champion Emma Perkins of Conrad Weiser in three sets. Jen is 10-0 at No. 2 singles, winning all her matches without dropping a set.
“Judith and Jen are power hitters,” said Muhlenberg coach Steve Simons. “They just demolish the ball. Most other players don’t have the weapons that Jen and Judith have. They just pound the ball.”
They’ve been doing it for a long time. Jen, 16, said she started playing tennis when she was 5. Judith, 14, followed in her big sister’s footsteps shortly thereafter.
“She used to always beat me,” Judith said. “Now we kind of go back and forth.”
Although Jen is a junior, this likely is the only season the home-schooled sisters will play together at Muhlenberg. Jen said she plans to graduate in the spring and enroll in college next fall.
But for this season, both sisters have stamped themselves as contenders for the Berks singles championship.
“I think both of them have a shot,” Simons said.
And there’s no telling what they can do in doubles. This season they have been paired in doubles just three times and won each match without dropping a set. In two of the wins, they didn’t lose a game.
“There are not many people that are going to hang with them in doubles,” Simons said. “Those two together I just don’t see who’s going to beat them. They’re just so dominant.”
But Simons said the sisters are focused on singles and plan to enter the District 3 Tournament as singles players. If one qualifies for the state tournament in singles, they would not be able to play doubles together in the District 3 or PIAA tournaments.
If one qualifies and the other doesn’t in singles, Simons said No. 3 player Monica Lopez would be a talented doubles partner.
“I’m going to put them in singles because they prefer singles,” Simons said. “If they qualify for states I think they would rather go to states in singles than in doubles. But doubles is kind of a fallback.
“They’re both very, very competitive with each other. In doubles they can work very well together. But if it’s tight some stress can come out and you can start seeing some things. But for the most part they can keep their cool and plod on.”
Source: Berkshire mont