Julia Drury is the No. 2 women's squash player at Dartmouth. Last year she was ranked 15th in the nation in collegiate squash and was a second team All-American. This year the 21-year-old is ranked 12th and is on the cusp of breaking into the top 10, which would make her an automatic first team All-American.
Lauralynn, Julia's 20-year-old sister, has been playing fourth through sixth singles for the University of Pennsylvania. Both Buffalonians starred at Nichols.
Their father, Dan, got them started in the game when Julia was 11 and Lauralynn was 9 1/2 . He had a passion for the game and was an avid player. He felt his daughters would develop a love for the game if he got them playing. His assumption has proved to be correct.
From the start it was evident that both had a talent for the game. They enjoyed the matches, the workouts and the camaraderie. Later they enjoyed the social aspects of the game.
At first, the girls were simply adjusting and learning the game under their dad's tutelage. As they progressed, Dan had them take lessons from Bart Chambers, the Buffalo Tennis & Squash Club's head pro, and Mark Sachvie, the squash professional at White Oaks in St. Catharines, Ont.
As they improved, their father and mother, Lynn, started taking them to junior tournaments around the East. Their improvement each year was startling.
Mike McGorry is one of the area's finest doubles players and an excellent singles player.
"Almost from the beginning I would play against both girls," McGorry said. "At first, I would keep the ball in play so each of the girls would get a workout and not get discouraged. As they progressed at Nichols School it was evident that they had improved by leaps and bounds."
When the girls were in high school, McGorry would frustrate them by slowing the game and hitting shots that they weren't used to.
"Two years ago, when Julia was a sophomore at Dartmouth, she beat me for the first time. Now, it's a completely different story. She wins most the time, and at times I actually have to struggle to win points," McGorry said.
Going into this weekend's play, both sisters have 7-2 collegiate records this season. Julia, who went 12-3 last year, is 36-21 for four years. Lauralynn is 12-6 over her two seasons.
Julia's 2005-6 season has been marked by her victories at the Montreal Open in December and the Dartmouth Snow Flake Invitational in January. She is contemplating playing a few pro stops after graduation.
"Julia enjoys the sport so much and is a delight to have on the team," said John Power, the women's squash pro at Dartmouth. "She plays and practices all year, always striving to improve her game. She is one of our three co-captains, has a great discipline, and is a wonderful role model for our team members."
Lauralynn was also an outstanding lacrosse and soccer player at Nichols. Her squash game is based on her court movement, speed and fitness. She has great touch, control, and concentrates on wearing down her opponents.
"Lauralynn is amazing," Penn squash coach Jack Wyant said. "She plays her best squash on match days. She is a great teammate and is very family oriented. Although she is only a sophomore she is an independent thinker, instills discipline in the rest of the team, and has taken a leadership role at a young age. Her work ethic has been instrumental in having our other freshmen and sophomores work harder," Wyant said.
The sisters are inevitably asked, "How do you cope when you're playing against each other; either in practice, matches, or tournaments?"
"We haven't really played an official match against each other since the juniors," Lauralynn said. "We often practice two, three hours a day during the offseason, doing drills and rallies. Realistically, Julia has always had a slight edge. However, I'm still improving and think that I might have a shot at beating her at least once in the future."
"We have always pushed each other and have worked hard to improve our games," Julia said. "At first, it was hard trying to compete and beat each other.
"Fortunately, Lauralynn and I are blessed to have wonderful parents. They gave us the opportunity to take lessons, compete, play in tournaments, and have a chance to travel all over the country."
Right now, Julia has a slight edge on her sister. Next year, the results could be different.
Even though they are on different teams, they always root for each other when their teams are playing and will continue to be best friends, on and off the court.