|Patricia Shanander - 2012 HOF|
Sibling rivalries can be intense, and for former Idaho tennis player Patricia Shanander and her older sister Cathy, that was certainly the case.
Separated by only a year, the two were best friends off the tennis court. They even shared a bedroom at home. But when they stepped on opposite sides of the tennis court, all bets were off.
“It was pretty heated,” Patricia said, recounting her memories of facing off against Cathy. “We would get into some battles. Not verbally or anything, just never-say-die battles, because nobody wants to be going home with the second-place trophy.”
The talented sisters seldom faced each other without first place on the line. It happened twice in the Washington High School State Tournament. Patricia’s sophomore year she even beat her older sister to win the state title. And the next year, after beating her older sister in the sub-district and district tournaments, Patricia found herself one win away from a second consecutive state title. But again, Cathy stood in her way.
“I can remember telling her after I had beaten her at the sub-districts and districts of her senior year before we left for the state tournament, ‘Don’t worry about it. We always end up having battles, you’re a great player, you have so many weapons,’ ” Patricia said.
That advice may have been just what Cathy needed, as she went on to beat Patricia in the state final.
“When I lost to her at the tournament, I was so mad,” Patricia said. “I was like ‘Why did I build her up?’ But it was a good thing.”
Their dad, Ron Shanander, who also happened to be their coach at Sedro-Woolley High School, knew to simply stay out of the way when Patricia and Cathy squared off.
“If one wins over the other one it was a pretty tough night,” Ron recalled. “I couldn’t say anything to the winner and I couldn’t say anything to the loser. And when I watched the match I had to pretty much stay out of sight, because I didn’t want one of them thinking I was favoring the other one.”
It wasn’t long after high school that the rivalry turned to camaraderie. The sisters, who had been doubles partners since Patricia was 11, became college teammates when she joined Cathy at the University of Idaho in the fall of 1987 – and began her Hall of Fame career.
“That was our goal all along. We really, from the get-go, had our hearts set on playing for a college with a scholarship,” Patricia said. “We knew that we wanted to go to a college together, Cathy and I did. When she was looking for a place to attend we all toured together to the different universities.”
Ron could tell from early on that the two were going to reach their goal.
“You could tell by each of their freshman years that they could reach that goal,” Ron said. “Their USTA results were real good, they were always in the top four, and in doubles they were usually number one. You could tell during their USTA experiences that they had a chance to play beyond high school, so we just followed their dream.”
As a college freshman in the spring of 1988, Patricia won the Big Sky Championship at No. 2 singles. The following year she earned the first of her three first-team All-Big Sky honors. Her junior season, along with Cathy, she posted an undefeated doubles record en route to claiming the Big Sky No. 1 doubles championship. With a 75-21 career singles record, Patricia ranks third in program history with a .781 winning percentage, and her 75 singles wins ties for third in the school record books. For good measure, Patricia also posted an 80-10 career doubles record, with most of that coming alongside Cathy. When it was all said and done, Patricia earned a spot on the Big Sky All-Decade Team from 1982-1992.
However, it didn’t always come easy for Patricia. She remembers making the adjustment from the high school ranks to college, and is happy her sister was there to help with that transition.
“It was a big change for me,” Patricia said. “The practicing throughout the fall and getting ready, that was no big deal. I was intimidated of the other teams a little bit, but I never wanted to show it. Having her there was a huge help to me, confidence-wise, to say ‘Hey, I’ve been through it a year. I know the ropes. You just have to go out there and get it done. This is what you’ve been training for.’ So for me it was a huge encouragement to have her there. It was a big difference from high school.”
Though it’s been two decades since closing the book on her tennis career at Idaho, Patricia said her college experience still sticks with her.
“You give four years of your life somewhere and you’re bound to have some pretty fond memories,” she said. “I stay connected with a lot of the people from my sorority and I stay connected with a couple of gals from the tennis team on Facebook and that kind of thing. I like to go back and see what’s changed on campus.”
When the call came to inform Patricia she was being inducted in the Idaho Athletics Hall of Fame, along with her sister Cathy, she said it was quite a surprise.
“When they called about this one and I said ‘What? Excuse me?’ This was a real shock,” she said. “It’s really neat. We loved playing tennis together so to me it’s pretty special that we get to get recognized together too.”