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#TGW: Yin-And-Yang Duo

Feb. 12, 2014

By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word

Megan Kurey chose to play tennis for Georgia Tech in part because of Kendal Woodard recruited her, which was a hint of the chemistry they’ve built upon to become the No. 1-ranked doubles tandem in the nation.

That’s where the sophomores have landed as their 3-0 start to the spring season has propelled them to the top of the ITA Division I rankings. They’ve won 13 consecutive matches dating to last fall.

They’ve know each other for several years, although they played together in doubles just once in juniors before becoming teammates at Tech.

“[Woodward] committed to GT before me, and she was calling me, and saying, `You should come,’ ” Kurey recalls of being recruited. “I just realized how good a team we could have.

“I think the great thing for us is that we get along so well on and off the court. We’re best friends off the court. We weren’t that close before [becoming teammates].”

They knew one another, however, and were friends prior to arriving. They’re roommates now, and in sync to the point where they often appear to think as one on the court.

“You have to have great communication,” Woodard said. “And I think we have that. Once we started playing, I don’t know, we just knew that if we worked hard and kept practicing it would come together. We’re really good friends, and that helps.”

The No. 21-ranked Yellow Jackets (2-1, 0-0 ACC) have something of a Yin-and-Yang pairing playing at No. 1 doubles.

Kurey is 5-foot-3 and from Atlanta’s north side – Alpharetta. Woodard is 6-1 and from the southside – Stockbridge.

Both are business majors, yet their playing styles are different and that likely is a big part of how they’ve built an 18-3 record together dating back to the fall season. Of greater importance may be their friendship.

Kurey said. “We’re always relaxed, and we try not to get worked up. Our games complement each other. She’s a big hitter, and I’m more of a set-it-up type player.”

Woodard and Kurey did not play together much in the fall of their freshmen seasons. By the spring, however, head coach Rodney Harmon paired them for good and they’ve taken off since.

“I don’t think we really knew right when we started playing together because honestly we didn’t not start that well,” Kurey said. “But freshman spring we started playing really well. We realized we could do well. We really wanted to get into the NCAA Tournament.”

That didn’t happen because the pair did not achieve a high enough ranking to earn a bid, in part because they didn’t have enough matches together.

They played a couple summer tournaments together, however, and when they won the 2013 ITA National Collegiate Summer Circuit Championship they earned a bid into the main draw of the ITA All-American Championships last fall.

Later, they won the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships doubles title.

When they’re clicking, Kurey rules from afar and Woodard is a menace up front.

“Megan sets me up from the baseline so I can make things happen at the net,” Woodard said. “Megan’s ground strokes are just so solid.”

The Jackets play at No. 27 Tennessee Saturday (if weather permits travel), and then will play at Notre Dame (Feb. 21) and vs. Georgia (Feb. 23) before opening ACC play Feb. 28 at Florida State.

“This spring, we believe we can compete with anyone,” Kurey said of the Jackets. We’re really excited for this season. We’re getting into it. The ACC is such a tough tennis conference that you never have an easy match.”

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