The looks identical twins Ben and Sam Dufton have received from opponents over the years must have been priceless. One can imagine the double takes by opposing players looking across the net at the other side of the tennis court and wondering if they are suffering from double vision. That’s because the Duftons look remarkably alike, wear the same long hairstyle and even the same sneakers.
“They smile,” Sam said of opposing players. “It’s funny. I think it’s kind of cool, too.”
If ever there was a natural doubles partnership, this is it.
Ever since they were seventh-graders, the Duftons have played tennis, mostly as doubles partners. Now they are the only two seniors on Mattituck’s team, positioned at second doubles. “That was always our plan, to be doubles partners,” said Ben.
As Ben sees it, Sam is the best doubles partner he could have.
“You know, you definitely have some like, yeah, twin-like telepathy, you know?” he said. “Am I going to get that point? Is he going to get that point? So, it’s definitely an advantage and it’s pretty fun to play with him.”
The Duftons were smiling and clearly having fun Tuesday when they won their doubles match in Babylon. Babylon took the Suffolk County League III team match, 5-2, but the Duftons prevailed in their doubles contest, 6-2, 6-1, over senior Luc Dellaris and junior Coleman Schubart. They played well, outpointing the Panthers, 53-29, and putting away 26 winners to 17 by Dellaris and Schubart. They were steady, making only six unforced errors to 14 by the other side and were more effective with their first-serve percentage, 52.4%-38.1%.
“It was a pretty fun game,” Ben said. “I think we played pretty good. I think we worked well together calling shots and stuff.”
The Duftons brought their season record to 4-3.
Mattituck’s other team point came from the first-doubles pairing of Mike Finnegan and Kevin Koch, 6-1, 6-3 victors over Jameson Howard and Drew Scheriff.
Babylon (6-4, 6-4) swept the four singles matches in two sets each. Luca Giammarino defeated Erik McKenna, 7-5, 6-3, and his brother, Nico Giammarino, beat Tommy McGunnigle, 6-2, 6-1. Josh Whitlock topped Phoenix Samolewski, 6-0, 7-6 (7-5), and Matt Heffer won, 6-1, 6-1, over Jude Januzzi.
Babylon’s fifth team point came in third doubles, with Jon Chin and Gianni Giorgini prevailing against Aidan Webb and Connor Williams. The scores were 7-6 (7-3), 3-6, and 7-4 in a tiebreaker in lieu of a third set.
Mattituck is 1-8, 1-8.
So Sam, what is it like playing doubles with Ben?
“I would say it’s probably fun, and I like the joke aspect,” he said. “I usually don’t take ourselves seriously on the court. It’s never stressful.”
The Duftons think of themselves as musicians first, tennis players second. “We’re pretty big into the music thing,” said Sam.
They even have a band, Audawind, that plays country rock and popular music. Sam is the producer, their older sister, Shelby, handles the business side of things and Ben is the songwriter. The band will perform in three weeks at the Montauk Music Festival.
“We don’t like to do sad songs,” said Ben, holding his tennis racket as if he was strumming a guitar. The Duftons prefer a happy, positive vibe, the same approach they bring to the tennis court where they like to laugh and keep it light.
Mattituck coach Cory Dolson said: “They like playing together, you know. When I split them up, they don’t like it. They play well together, so I know they got the twin thing going for them. So, they’ve been having a pretty good season.”
And seem to be having a good time, judging by the identical smiles on their faces.