Sisters. Friends. Doubles partners?
For rising juniors Anushka and Megha Dania, it’s a family affair each day on the Lehigh University tennis courts.
The twin sisters were instrumental contributors to the program last season, helping the Hawks win five meets, while recording identical 8-7 singles records to go with a 10-5 doubles record when paired together.
Their sporting journey began in Austin, Texas, where they started playing tennis with their father as kids. In elementary and middle school, both Anushka and Megha would frequently attend friendly tennis matches played between their friends and relatives.
“Our family and friends would ask us to come to the community courts to play tennis with them,” Anushka said. “At first, I didn’t really know what tennis was. We enjoyed playing, so then we asked our dad to bring us to the courts every day after school.”
The twins showed promise, so their parents enrolled them in a series of private and group classes to help them to develop their skills. Soon, they entered local tournaments, where the sisters found success in both doubles and singles.
“I think the best achievement that I would have to highlight is winning the B1 Grand Slam championship in doubles with my sister Anushka,” Megha said when discussing her early experiences with tennis. “It was the biggest Texas tournament of the entire year, and Anushka and I ended up winning it. It sticks out as a core memory, and it kick started our doubles journey together.”
After graduating from Lake Travis High School, the twins committed to play tennis for the Mountain Hawks. They made their decision based on many factors, but they emphasized that one of the main reasons for choosing Lehigh was the computer science and business major.
Anushka and Megha had limited playing time during their first season at Lehigh, with the sisters playing only one doubles match together — a 6-2 win against Loyola, Maryland.
They attribute their 10-5 record in 2022 to their strong relationship and communication. They were the only Lehigh doubles pairing to finish a winning record.
More than 1,600 miles away from home, the twins find solace in the fact that they have each other. Anushka and Megha live together, study together and train together. This constant closeness has provided them strength, but they also have a fierce competitive spirit that they use to push each other.
“It’s obviously really hard being so far away from home,” Anushka said. “Being away from my family has been pretty difficult, but one of the biggest reasons why it hasn’t been hard is because Megha and I attend college together, so you have someone from your family with you, and it doesn’t seem as bad.”
For the bulk of 2022, the Mountain Hawks struggled to field a full team as just five players competed on a regular basis. Despite this, the team showed fight — especially at home, where they recorded a 4-5 record. The Hawks finished 5-11 overall.
The twins say they are proud to be a part of the Lehigh women’s tennis team and have great admiration for their fellow teammates and coaches.
Lehigh coach Sarah Hendrix said the Danias have been an important presence.
“They’re just amazing, amazing people that are always really team first,” Hendrix said. “They bring so much energy to every single practice, and just every day, no matter what we’re doing, they give their heart and soul for the team.”
Likewise, the twins hold Hendrix in high regard. They spoke of her ability to advise them on matters involving tennis and life in general, as well as her approachable and relatable nature. They emphasized that Hendrix’s balance of hard work and fun has been instrumental in bringing the team closer together. They also joked that their shared love of Starbucks has been a great way to get to know each other better.
Anushka and Megha’s teammates are also full of praise for the twins. Junior team captain Junmoke James and first year Hamsa Javagal each noted their strong relationships with the Danias.
“Anushka and Megha are some of my best friends,” James said. “They have been such a positive influence on my life. I remember last year, I was really shy, but just because they are such positive people, so extroverted and always willing to help, they really brought me out of my shell a lot this year.”
Added Javagal: “They’ve become some of my best friends here. We hang out both on and off the court, and they just always make me laugh and make everyone laugh.”
The Dania twins will set their sights on another successful campaign next season.