- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Megan Moulton-Levy and Lindsay Lee-Waters have been playing doubles together for just over a year now. Watching them rip through their first match of the Citi Open in College Park on Wednesday, though, you would think they’ve been together for ages.

After cruising to pick up the first set 6-2, the American tandem confronted adversity late in the second when they were down 6-5 to Madison Brengle and Gabriela Dabrowski. That’s when chemistry kicked in. The duo that has braved challenges in tournaments all over the world together exchanged words of motivation, resulting in a new level of energy that vaulted them to a 6-2 edge in the decisive tiebreak.

“I think we established that we were just going to get our energy up and try to bounce in between points to keep us loose and not get too stiff or too tight because obviously we were pretty nervous in that last set,” Moulton-Levy said. “Just keeping that constant energy level was what helped us.”

This week’s event at College Park marks one of many stops in a whirlwind summer that has presented Moulton-Levy and Lee-Waters with many obstacles and little rest. The globetrotting tandem embarked on an ambitious circuit April 8 that took them from Johannesburg, South Africa to Birmingham, England and eight cities in between. The world tour was capped in June with a trip to London to play at Wimbledon. Although they only advanced past the first round in three of those 10 tournaments, both came away from their journey battle-tested and ready to reapproach their domestic challenges with renewed vigor.

“The tournaments didn’t always go our way, but we just kept working hard day after day, and things just started clicking,” Lee-Waters said. “That’s the biggest thing is that the wins and losses don’t matter. We just keep working, and things are going to go our way eventually.”

The story behind their formation as a team is hardly captivating. After playing against each other in a few tournaments, they simply decided to give playing together a try. The result has been far more compelling. They have played in more than 30 tournaments together in a relatively short span, compiling several impressive finishes and one victory in the process.

While Lee-Waters, 34, balances her doubles duties with a career in singles, Moulton-Levy, 26, has shifted her sole focus to doubles. When Lee-Waters is busy with singles, Moulton-Levy plays alongside other players in doubles tournaments. Her true teammate, however, remains Lee-Waters, who helps keep her teammate’s head above water when difficulties arise.

“It’s been a growing experience because I function better with a team,” Moulton-Levy said. “To be out here on your own it’s like me, myself and I, and it’s really hard for me to stay motivated and for me to be my own team.”

The duo has its sights set on a berth in the U.S. Open, a goal that would be achieved if they were to win this week’s tournament. Before they get to New York, however, Moulton-Levy and Lee-Waters must continue to nurture the bond that continues to strengthen with every challenge they meet.

“We have each others’ back out there,” Lee-Waters said. “You’re not going to have the greatest day every single day and you’re going to be tired some days, but we feed off each other very well. We try to push each other to get better, and I think that’s why we’ve done so well so far.”

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