Duane and Dylan Davis, twins from Dix Hills, are the most successful high school tennis doubles partners in Suffolk County. They are more alter ego than mirror images. Duane is fire; Dylan is ice. They sizzle on the court with cool efficiency. There is one more element that has factored into the Half Hollow Hills West High School pair's success.
"We're a team and Mom is the captain of the team," Duane Davis said before their victorious opening match Thursday in the state championships held at the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows.
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Mom is Altagracia "Miggy" Davis, who is a workers' compensation attorney with a practice in Huntington Station.
"I bought them T-shirts -- Superman for Duane; Batman for Dylan," Miggy Davis said last week while watching her sons win the Suffolk County championship.
Miggy, a tennis player herself, juggles her office and court time -- with cooperation from understanding associates and judges -- to attend many matches. "I'll be preparing papers and my secretary will say, 'You can do them tomorrow. The matches are today.' "
Because of their size, most people don't think the boys are tennis players. Dylan is 6-3, 220 pounds; Duane is 6-1, 225.
"A lot of people think that we're football players," Duane said. "When we tell them we play tennis, there is a mixed reaction. Some are like, 'I can't believe they play tennis,' and some are like, 'that's pretty cool that they play tennis.' "
Dylan said he enjoys the curious comments. "I'm just glad they're calling us athletes. A lot of my friends play other sports and think they're better athletes, but when they get on the tennis courts with us, they're sweating, they need water," he said.
The 18-year-old seniors won their first two doubles matches in the state meet to raise their record to 18-0 before falling, 6-3, 6-4, to the Mamaroneck team of brothers Hope and Courage Crawford in the semifinals. They beat brothers James and Jeremy Wei of Chappaqua Horace Greeley Saturday for third place.
Having played together for four years at Hills West and training together before that, their games mesh smoothly and so do their personalities.
"Sometimes [Duane] lets his emotions get the better of him and I'm there," Dylan said, then added with a sly smile, "Especially since I'm the older brother, even it's only by a minute. I have to keep him in check sometimes."
But once in a while, that becomes a job for Mom. At a recent match, Duane uttered an expletive and Miggy let him know in no uncertain terms that such language was unacceptable.
"She definitely gave a little talk after that," Duane said with a grin. "That's why we're so well-mannered. She puts us straight."
Dylan said he and his brother have "a natural chemistry from the fact that we play with each other so often. We just know where we're going. It's more like muscle memory from all the drills and all the matches we play together."
Duane acknowledged that occasionally he wonders if there is a sixth sense between the twins on the court. "It's kind of weird, but at times, I can actually predict what Dylan's going to do. And then it actually happens."
Their lock-step tennis performances will continue at Bates College in Maine, though there initially was some uncertainty about that. "For a while I thought we'd be going to different colleges and we'd split up for the first time in our lives," Dylan said. "But when college tennis coaches started calling, we thought maybe we should stick with this. This is our ride to the future."
Their past wasn't always as easy as one of their routine straight-sets victories. Their father, Duane Sr., died of lung cancer when the twins were in first grade. Miggy Davis recalled, "Just before he passed away, when we knew the end was coming, the one thing that he said was, 'Take care of those boys.' "
Now those boys, Superman and Batman with rackets, are about to take off for college. Wonder Woman is ready. "I know I'll be an empty-nester, but a lot of my friends are empty-nesters. It'll be an adjustment, but I've always been able to let them go," Miggy Davis said.
Then she hedged just a bit. "I already checked out their schedule," she said, delightedly, "and I booked some hotel rooms."
The captain will be following her crew.