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Pleasant Grove stars eye fall double

Robinson, Wilson hope to add volleyball title to tennis title

Pleasant Grove's Kortney Robinson, left, and Allyce Wilson are unique two-sport athletes who play tennis and volleyball \— in the same season.
Pleasant Grove's Kortney Robinson, left, and Allyce Wilson are unique two-sport athletes who play tennis and volleyball \— in the same season.
Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News

PLEASANT GROVE — In an age where athletes begin specializing in sports in grade school, Kortney Robinson and Allyce Wilson are a couple of throwbacks.

The pair of Pleasant Grove High School seniors not only play multiple sports, they're among the best in the state in two of those sports. Making them even more unusual is the fact that they play those sports simultaneously.

Wilson and Robinson won their second consecutive first doubles tennis title a month ago and this week they're gearing up to lead the second-ranked Vikings volleyball team to its first title in four years.

"It's our goal to win state (titles) both in the same year," said Wilson, who is also the Vikings' starting shortstop in softball. "Last year we won tennis, but came in second in volleyball. . . .They're such different sports. Volleyball is so loud and a team sport, and tennis is so quiet. It's just me and Kortney."

Playing varsity tennis and varsity volleyball requires the stamina of a marathon runner and the organizational skills of an emergency-room triage nurse.

"It gets kind of crazy," Wilson said. "When we get home we're so tired we don't want to do homework sometimes. But we do."

The schedule is brutal. Volleyball practice as soon as school's over until 5:30 p.m. Then tennis from 5:30 until 7:30 or 8 p.m. Then home, dinner and homework. Then twice a week there are volleyball games and once a week tennis matches.

"It's crazy," Robinson said. "I try to get my homework done in school, or get up early to get help."

Both girls boast GPAs of 3.75 or higher. Robinson said her grades suffered last year during the winter semester.

"I didn't schedule my time as well," she said. Her parents thought maybe she'd choose to focus on just one sport in her last year of high school, especially since she's already had college scholarship offers in volleyball, as has Wilson.

"They kind of hinted at it," Robinson said with a laugh. "They hardly ever see me because I'm so busy. But I can't choose. I love them both. I love different aspects of each sport."

The girls say they could not play both sports without the help of their coaches and parents.

"Without our coaches and our whole tennis team, we couldn't do this," Wilson said. "Our parents are so supportive, and not just letting us play, but buying us rackets and shoes, and coming and watching us."

Not only do the girls have to do some major juggling in their own lives, they had to convince their tennis teammates — and opponents — to do the same.

"We had to call all of the coaches in the region and ask them to schedule our matches around volleyball practices," Wilson said. "They really worked hard to accommodate us. . . . We always give our opponents little treats for playing us early or late."

Pleasant Grove tennis coach Russ Mayo said not everyone was happy about the special treatment Wilson and Robinson required.

"It's caused a little controversy sometimes," Mayo said. "It's hard for the players from other teams, more than ours, and it would be nice if they could miss volleyball practice for a match sometimes. I mean, they are state champions, but their teammates here are pretty supportive of them."

Wilson and Robinson said they're not allowed to miss volleyball because it's a team sport and without Wilson, the team's setter, and Robinson, the team's outside hitter, practice is diminished significantly. They were both first-team all-state players last year in volleyball.

Most of their opponents accommodated their requests without complaint. Their only losses, however, were due to forfeits to Mountain View both times they were scheduled to play the Bruins this season.

But other coaches in the region said some of their willingness to bend was because of the way Wilson and Robinson approach the matches.

"If they were both prima donnas, it might be less appealing," said Lone Peak tennis coach John LaCognata. "But they're great players and they have great attitudes, so I don't have a problem trying to accommodate them. They're a lot of fun to watch, and they're great sports off the court."

In fact, he feels his own doubles teams benefited by playing the matches, even if they were at a different time.

"The way you get better is to play a team like them," he said.

Coaches agree it's not unusual to have student athletes involved in multiple sports, but playing them in the same season is very unusual. And to be among the top players in the state, especially in 4A and 5A classifications, is even more unique.

"I know 20 or 30 years ago it was common," said Mayo. "But lately it's almost unheard of. . . . I'm amazed they can be so good at two sports."