Sophomores Cristina Mayorova and Dani Medvedeva each took their own path to Tigertown, but those paths happened to cross more than a few times. The now lethal doubles pair poised to make waves in the ACC began their journey that ends in a friendship as on-court opponents
At just 11 years old, the two faced off in what turned out to be the longest match of the tournament. The intensity of their battle was felt by all in attendance and set the tone for what has become a deep friendship between two self-described fierce competitors.
Medvedeva was playing in the tournament representing Russia, while Mayorova played under the Spanish flag. The two participated in an intense duel in which the pair of quadrilingual players were shouting at one another in the tongue of their opponent’s home to communicate before realizing they each spoke both languages, not to mention Catalan and English.
“Well, we didn’t stay in contact after that match, because it didn’t end on the best note” giggled Medvedeva. “We both wanted to win so badly and both of us are really competitive. When we’re playing, we really want to win so when the ball would go out we would argue with each other and our parents were screaming at each other it was very intense.”
Clearly the match left a big mark on the two as they can recall so much detail over 10 years later. This however was just the start of their on-court rivalry that ultimately developed into a deep friendship.
“Obviously that was the first time we met and it was a heated situation, but it’s not that there was beef or anything. It was just a really long match, probably the longest match of the tournament,” recalled Mayorova. “A few months afterwards though we played doubles together and we won.”
Medvedeva came out of that first match the victor, winning the tightly contested duel. It was actually Mayorova’s dad who convinced his daughter to stay in contact with her opponent and potentially compete together, as he knew the two were both extremely talented and would make a good pairing.
The friendship only blossomed as time went on and the two got to know each other on a more frequent basis. They competed either with or against one another at every single age group. Mayorova even stayed at the Medevedeva household on occasion so the two could commute and compete together.
“She came and stayed with me for a tournament” said Medvedeva before Mayorova chimed in, “for all of February.” The two claimed one another as each other’s valentines that year.
While the relationship between the two had of course grown and been cultivated over the years of competition, both agreed that their friendship was cemented at a tournament when they were 14.
“The doors locked at 10, because that was when we were supposed to go to bed,” said Mayorova. “Well we touched the door on accident,” claimed Medvedeva followed by a coy laugh from Mayorova. ‘It wasn’t even that late, and obviously it’s really tempting to touch it and we were just sitting downstairs and I’m just looking at it… I mean that door is calling my name. I was itching and I pushed the door and the alarm goes off.”
The girls and boys were separated at this tournament, but the alarm affected both buildings. Supervisors came running down to see what happened and the two troublemakers played off the whole incedent to perfection.
“We played the fool,” said Mayorova. “That was so bold of me, I love it for myself,” bragged Medvedeva. “It was literally as loud as the storm siren in Clemson and just me and Cris downstairs like, ‘hmmm what’s happening? I wonder who touched the door?”
When Medvedeva began looking to transfer after her freshman year at Oklahoma State, one of her first calls was to her friend Mayorova who was here in Clemson.
“I told her how we practice and how amazing the coaches are,” began Mayorova. “There’s nothing bad here. The girls are really nice. I told her what we do and how they take care of you and ask how you’re doing. Plus, you know, I was here so that’s just extra motivation for her to come.”
The sales pitch worked, as Medvedeva joined her European counterpart and the two have begun the season as the team’s top doubles pair. Having a decade of experience playing both with and against each other, their chemistry on the court is off the charts.
“I know what shot is coming depending on the ball that’s played, I just know her so well and when we’re playing, we both know what to do and how to make it work. We know each other too well that we don’t even have to talk much to know what’s coming next,” said Medvedeva. Mayorova nodded in agreement. “We just have a really good feeling and connection and we’ve known each other for so long that we feel each other so well.”
In just their first season together in Clemson, the two friends have already made their impact felt on the court and are looking to lead the team through a challenging ACC schedule. Having known each other as both teammates and competitors for 10 years, Mayorova and Medvedeva now get the opportunity to work together to take on the best players the NCAA has to offer, and it’s an opportunity they both relish in.