Like many younger siblings, Jackie Sy always wanted to be like her older brother. As a child, she would often play the role of copycat whenever big brother Jon found a new hobby. So it is no coincidence that Jackie and Jon Sy both landed at Temple to study biology and play tennis.
John, a junior, has seen action in singles and doubles matches for the men’s team this season, while Jackie, a sophomore, has also seen time in the early going for the women’s team.
Ever since Jon first picked up a racket at the age of 12, Jackie immediately wanted to join him on the court.
“I was always sitting on the side watching Jon play, and I just said ‘why don’t I start playing?'” Jackie said. “He definitely got me interested in tennis because I wanted to be like him.”
The Sys, who hail from Toronto, both excelled at tennis in high school. Jon participated in the Canadian Nationals and the Canadian-American Games, while Jackie ranked in the top 25 for under-18 players in Ontario and qualified for the under-18 Indoor National Championships.
Despite all of their success, both knew they would have to come to the United States if they wanted to continue to pursue tennis, as schools in Canada did not offer sports scholarships. Jon knew Temple was the perfect fit, because the urban landscape made him feel at home.
“I got a good scholarship, plus Temple is in the city. Most of the other schools were in the suburbs and that scared me a little bit,” he said. “I lived in the city all my life so I can’t stand the suburbs.”
While having John on campus was one of the reasons Jackie chose Temple, she admitted it was the same reason that almost deterred her from North Broad Street.
“When I first looked at schools I didn’t want to go to the same school as Jon,” she said. “Most people wouldn’t want to see their brother on campus. But it really isn’t that bad, and I can’t imagine being in college without him.”
Jon and Jackie make it a point to see each other at least once a week. And whenever they get a break in their hectic schedules, they will take to the court for a friendly match.
“We play whenever she wants a beating,” Jon said. Both of them respect the other’s game, but Jackie won’t deny who’s better.
“He easily beats me. His serve is so big, I’m scared of it,” she said.
Because they’ve been playing for so long, Jon said tennis is more of a job. So whenever he and his sister play, it is strictly for fun. When Jon started at Temple he was on his own, so he tries to let his sister be as independent as possible. When it comes to tennis, Jackie will look to Jon for some advice.
“I don’t correct him because he is better than me,” she said. “Over the summer he became my unofficial coach. He gives me tips that really help on the court.”
While the two had their differences growing up, as any brother and sister would, the sport ultimately made them closer.
“We used to fight a lot when we were kids, but tennis brought us together because we used to play all the time,” Jon said. “It gave us a more competitive relationship and we have both benefited from that.”
Jon and Jackie have ambitions of becoming doctors, so they take their schoolwork very seriously. The steps they have taken in tennis and toward their future have more than pleased their parents.
“Unfortunately, the distance and their work keeps them from watching us very often, but they absolutely love that we’re down here,” Jon said. “We are really living our dream. That’s what playing in high school was all about, getting to America to play tennis.”
Jonathan Campbell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.