Aaron and Emma Joe picked up a tennis racket at the age of five and have never looked back.
“Our parents came to the United States from China,” Aaron Jo said. “They were both graduate students, both played on the tennis team at Bordeaux Club and met on the tennis court.”
Tennis came naturally for Aaron and Emma, who both started playing from a young age.
“I was five years old and I just went with my dad one day to the playground and they fed me balls and I fell in love with the sport,” said Aaron Joe.
As for Emma, she fell in love with tennis after trying different sports like dancing, football and gymnastics.
The Gu brothers decided to take tennis seriously at the age of about eight.
“When we were younger we used to do it just for fun, but as we got older we realized this was something we could really be good at, so we decided to do it year-round and totally stick with it,” said Aaron Jo.
Tennis was not just a hobby for the Gu people, but it made the siblings get closer and become close friends.
“Having someone I can handle any day or any time I want, it’s a real luxury,” said Aaron Jo. “I am really grateful to have her here.”
“I’m really grateful, too,” Emma Jo said. “I’m really lucky to have a batting partner built in. A lot of times, if I go to a tournament on my own and need to train or just vent, I text him.”
When Emma was a student at Harrison School, she reached the state championship. Emma was undefeated, winning 30 consecutive matches ahead of the States.
Emma said she’ll never forget when Aaron brought a group of his friends to the championship match to cheer her up.
Aaron was also there for her when she was down.
“There was a particularly bad match,” Emma Jo said. “I was crying and called him. I think we talked for an hour and a half on FaceTime. It made me feel better.”
Aaron said he doesn’t spend more time with anyone else than his sister.
“Over the past summer, we were probably spending 10 hours a day together at home, on the field, or at the gym,” said Aaron Jo.
When asked if they were tired of doing everything together, they laughed and said no.
Since Aaron is a year older than Emma, he knows he needs to cherish the time they spend together before he leaves for college.
Aaron will take his talents to the US Naval Academy. He said he had been looking into other academically top-ranked schools, but decided to choose the Navy after entering campus.
“As soon as I made my visit to the Naval Academy, I fell in love with the place,” said Aaron Jo. “Everyone out there is supportive of each other. It’s just one big family.”
Emma has started researching the college and recently made an official visit to the Naval Academy.
She is excited to visit different schools and make her decision, but she admits that she would like to be close to her brother in college.
“Aaron really wants me to go there,” Emma Jo said. “The men’s and women’s team together did a fair amount there, so we’ll already have some practice together. But I want to take my time making my decision because that’s the next four years.”
Although the Gu siblings are each other’s number one fans, there is clearly some friendly competition.
“When we play, sometimes we’re at each other’s throat and the next day we’re best friends,” said Aaron Jo. “Emma loves to hit the ball as hard as she can. She used to try to hit the winner with every ball. Most of the time she was three or four feet behind the baseline.”
Emma said if you put her and Aaron against each other on the court, 99% of the time Aaron would win. However, her tennis recruitment page is higher than his.
“I like to play smarter and pick the points individually,” Aaron said. “I love to serve and shot.”
Both Aaron and Emma’s favorite tennis player is Roger Federer. They were in school when they learned of his retirement.
“He’s the greatest player of all time,” said Aaron Joe. “He’s just so creative. There’s nothing he doesn’t like about a guy. I like his style of play.”
Aaron said he also loves designing his game after Rafael Nadal.
“I really like how Nadal fights for every ball and gives 100% on the court,” said Aaron Joe. “That’s the mentality I want to have in court.”
Aaron and Emma joined forces last July in the mixed doubles tournament. There were 16 teams and the Gu brothers played four matches and won all four matches.
“It was honestly the most fun I’ve had on the tennis court,” said Aaron Jo.
Outside the tennis courts, Aaron and Emma love to play pickle ball. They played in the Lafayette pickleball tournament together and enjoyed it because it’s like tennis.
Emma is also the manager of the Harrison Boys tennis team. She loves to train every day with the boys’ team, and gets nervous next year when so many of them graduate.
“I’m scared because it’s my senior year and Aaron won’t be able to experience my last day of school or anything else,” Emma Jo said. “It’s also sad because I don’t know who I’m going to hit with.”
What are the things that make Emma excited? Get in the car as soon as Aaron leaves.
Now, Aaron will compete with the Harrison High School team in a segment play.
Harrison hosts IHSAA Boys Tennis Sectional #56 on September 28, 29 and 30.