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Sister Act

by Anthony Wilson
Athletic Communications Intern

Megan and Shannon Rowe grew up playing tennis in Winchester, Mass. Since they were small children, both girls had racquets in their hands, chasing after a felt ball at the clay courts just two minutes from their house. In the winters, they would move inside and continue to chase. When Megan, two years Shannon's senior, went away to college, it was natural for her younger sister to chase after her.

Two years after Megan decided on Lafayette as her college of choice, Shannon came to the same conclusion. Now the sisters fill the No. 1 and No. 3 singles spots on the women's tennis team, and they wouldn't have it any other way. Megan is typical of many student athletes at Lafayette: she wanted an excellent education and the chance to play Division I athletics. Lafayette is perfect for her.

Shannon's choice, however, wasn't as easy. Many of her friends insisted that she not go to the same college as her older sister. They claimed that the duo had spent a lot of time together in high school, living in a small town and playing tennis so much together. They said that it was too far away from the little town just outside of Boston, and Shannon tended to agree, preferring a college "more like two hours away." Two things finally swayed the younger Rowe's decision to Lafayette: Megan would be in London during Shannon's first semester, giving her time to create her own niche in Easton, and money.

"A lot of people said that I was following my sister and that I shouldn't go, but Megan wasn't even here the whole first semester," said Shannon. "That, and it's good to have Megan here, especially when I need money. She's always good for 20 bucks."

Megan was ecstatic over Shannon's decision. The elder Rowe tried to be unbiased and stay out of Shannon's way when it came to her college choice. At times, however, it was extremely tough.

"I love it here at Lafayette," says Megan. "I knew Shannon would too."

After Megan's first semester session abroad, the two sisters set about to adjust to being at the same school together. But they found it wasn't that hard to adjust. They came from a small town, where graduating classes rarely reach 200, and had played tennis with and against each other for years. It was their teammates who had to adjust.

"The first couple of practices our teammates thought 'This is weird,'" says Megan. "I'm so used to making fun of Shannon on the court because she's my sister and it doesn't really matter. I wouldn't do that to another teammate."

Despite the proximity of age and each other's constant presence, both sisters insist that no sibling rivalry is present. During their playing days in Winchester, the two years between them (Megan is 21, Shannon, 19) was enough to preclude them from playing against each other, putting them in separate age categories. The two met just once through their high school years. It is in college that the competition has begun.

Although both sisters vehemently deny any competition, a look of jealousy is evident on Megan's face when Shannon speaks of her No. 1 singles ranking on the Lafayette team, as opposed her own No. 3 singles ranking. Megan excuses it as merely being a product of her not being able to play as much in London as she would have liked. She adds that she "worked a lot" last summer, giving the younger sibling more time to prepare for this year.

"In high school, I would've never let her be ranked ahead of me," Megan remembers. "I was No. 1, and she was No. 2. In our town, tennis was important, and I wouldn't let my younger sister outdo me. Now, I think I must be getting old or something."

Although Shannon has the upper hand in tennis at this point, Megan maintains the lead in the academic realm. She cites her added experience as the cause of this edge, and insists that Shannon will soon be at Megan's "Mostly Bs, a few As" level of grades. Shannon, however, is thankful that Megan is around for encouragement.

"I came here at first and thought 'Wow! This is really hard'," recalls Shannon. "But I see Megan doing well academically after she struggled her first year, and I know that if she can do it, so can I."

Even if one has the edge in tennis and the other the classroom, they both agree on one thing: Tennis has been good to them, and they will continue to play. Together. For the rest of their lives.