ARLINGTON — Grace Prep’s Joshua and Jonathan Sheehy are nationally ranked junior tennis players.But don’t ask their parents — both of whom are tennis pros — which one is better. They’re not about to get involved in that argument.Joshua points to the facts: He has never lost to Jonathan in the handful of sanctioned matches they’ve played. But Jonathan, who is 18 months younger, wants it known that he is drawing closer to his older brother.“I took a set off him in district last year,” Jonathan said.“But that’s the only set ever,” Joshua, who won the match 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, quickly counters.The only thing not open for debate is their record together, as partners: Grace Prep’s top boys doubles team recently finished an undefeated high school season. They went 4-0 in district and then won the 4A TAPPS state championship with a 4-0 record at the state tournament, where they never lost a set. The Sheehys beat the Tyler All Saints team of Nicholas Booth and Tom de Boer 6-2, 6-4 in the state semifinal. They beat Parish Episcopal’s Brent Friedman and Davis Plummer 6-2, 6-4 in the final.“It was fun, different,” said Jonathan, a sophomore.The brothers had not been doubles partners in almost two years before district play began. “We had some rough patches,” Joshua said. “But it turned out OK.”Both reached the semifinals in singles at the state tournament last year. Jonathan lost to Friedman 6-2, 6-2, and Joshua lost to Karim Arem 6-3, 6-4. They shared third place.The boys decided to play doubles this year, expecting Friedman to return in singles. Joshua, who is left-handed, played the backhand. Jonathan played the forehand.“We thought it’d be more fun to win state as a team than individually,” said Joshua, a junior. “Then we could both win.”Their state medals hang in the living room, while their many other trophies and medals line shelves in their bedrooms.“I was excited they would play together,” said their father, Jack Sheehy, a teaching pro at River Crest Country Club in Fort Worth. “I knew they have so few opportunities to do that, and I knew they’d be able to look back on it and be glad that they did. “It wasn’t so much about the title as it was playing together.”Jack and Laurie Sheehy both played college tennis and became teaching pros. Laurie works at Rolling Hills Country Club in Arlington.The boys’ first memory of swinging a tennis racquet is at age 5 or 6, but both started much earlier. Joshua was 15 months old when his career began. Jonathan started even younger while trying to keep up with his brother.Joshua was given a choice when he was 12: He could either help his dad work the desk at a zonal advancement tournament, or ZAT, which is a beginner-level United States Tennis Association event, or he could play in it.He lost in the second round in his first tournament and then won the next, up 6-0, 4-0 in the final before giving up a game. Jack brought home a USTA tournament schedule for the year and set it on the counter without a word. Three days later, Joshua decided he was ready to play tournaments. “It’s been nonstop since,” Jack said. Joshua became a champ at the USTA super level the same year he started. Jonathan followed close behind.The boys practice 2 1/2 to three hours a day when they aren’t playing matches. They regularly can be found hitting at River Crest, Rolling Hills or T Bar M.A couple of weekends a month, they travel somewhere in-state for tournaments. They are familiar with all the Sonics and Subways in Waco, College Station, Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Wichita Falls and Corpus Christi. Joshua, 17, is ranked fourth in Texas and 243rd in the nation in the 18-year-old division. He is close to qualifying for the boys national tennis championship in Kalamazoo, Mich., this summer. Jonathan, 15, is ranked ninth in Texas and 238th in the nation in 16s.Both expect to play college tennis.First, though, they hope to meet in the state championship in singles next year. Along with the first-place medal would come a lifetime of bragging rights.
Charean Williams, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @NFLCharean