Twin Bill : Belloli Brothers Holding Court as Servite's Top Players

Being fraternal twins hasn't curtailed the individuality of Jeff and Chris Belloli, Servite's top tennis players.

Jeff, the team's No. 1 player, performed as "Tigger" last summer in the Disneyland electrical parade and was voted the parade's most enthusiastic participant by Disneyland employees.

Chris, who is No. 2, was one of five Servite students selected to compete in an all-Orange County high school trivia bowl.

Their mother, Shirley Belloli, says these accomplishments illustrate her sons' personalities.

"While Jeff will just plunge into something or run out and hug someone, Chris will just sit back and analyze (the situation) and pick it apart."

They seem to switch roles on the court.

Chris' powerful serve-and-volley game once broke the strings on four rackets during a doubles set.

Jeff's patient finesse game includes a between-the-legs shot that once won a point in a United States Tennis Assn. sanctioned tournament.

Both approaches seem to work on the court.

Jeff and Chris finished 38th and 44th, respectively, in the 1986 USTA Southern California 16-and-under rankings. As a doubles team, they ranked fourth.

Jeff, who missed about 10 days after he injured his left hand last month, is 18-0 in high school sets for the Friars (11-1); Chris is 35-5. They do not play doubles together at Servite.

One characteristic they share is their motivation.

"They are hard on themselves, which pushes them, and they each push each other," said Jon Borowiec, Servite tennis coach. "If Jeff is down, Chris will try to pick him up and vice versa. It's nice. They're very close."

The Bellolis, who are 17 and juniors, have no other siblings. They began playing tennis at age 6 when they accompanied their parents to weekly mixed-doubles matches.

"It was being stuck in places where tennis was the only thing that we could do," Chris said. "So it was basically, 'You guys can sit out here and do nothing, or here's a cheap racket and you guys can go out and bat balls around.'

"We liked it. It's just that when you're 6 years old, you have better things to do than going out and doing something that your mom and dad do. That's the last thing that 6-year-olds want to do."

Unless their friends do it too. The Bellolis really began enjoying tennis in 1980 after their father, Dr. Robert Belloli, chairman of Cal State Fullerton's chemistry department, moved the family to England for his year-long sabbatical. Jeff and Chris discovered clay and grass courts and a neighborhood full of Wimbledon aspirants.

"They sort of caught the bug there," said Shirley Belloli. "We lived in a little village outside of London, and all of the kids played, so we got involved there."

When they returned, the Bellolis started taking weekly lessons and eventually began entering USTA tournaments. Jeff liked everything about the game, including practice. Chris still enjoyed playing baseball and had planned to play it when he got to Servite. Eventually, though, he came around to his brother's way of thinking.

Said Chris: "We had a lot of friends who played tennis that went to Servite, and since they were trying out for the team, I guess that was an extra incentive for me to try out too."

They rarely compete against each other. In their first USTA tournament, the 1983 North Orange County satellite tournament, Jeff defeated Chris 6-2, 7-5, in the semifinals. Naturally, they have different feelings about the match.

"We'd played each other so many other times, but in the tournament, every ball, we were yelling at each other," Chris said. "We didn't want to play each other, really, but we just didn't have a choice."

Jeff said: "It was kind of fun. He'd played a match right before me, so he was really tired. That's probably one of the reasons why I beat him."

They have not met since in tournament play, a tradition that Borowiec hopes to uphold.

"One thing I try to avoid doing is matching them up against one another for a spot on the team or for a ladder or ranking," Borowiec said. "It's just kind of a conclusion right now that Jeff might be better suited for a No. 1 position than Chris. But Chris can beat Jeff just as many times as Jeff can beat Chris.

"And if Chris pushed and said, 'You know, coach, I really want that shot at No. 1 at my brother,' then I would do that. But he hasn't pushed."

Said Chris: "It's not that big of a deal to me because everyone plays the same people. Jeff is definitely a fast starter and I'm definitely a slow starter, so it's good to let Jeff start off against the No. 1, and for me to play the No. 1 player after I warm up a little."

Last spring, for the first time since eighth grade, they began competing as a doubles team in USTA tournaments. In junior high, their parents had forced them to separate after a few loud, emotional tournaments together.

And in some ways, things haven't changed much.

Said Borowiec: "They know each other's movements so well and occasionally are as hard on each other as they are on themselves. They expect a lot from each other."

Said Chris: "When we're up, everything's smiley and everything, but when we're down, we seem to keep going down."

In the 1986 USTA Southern California 16-and-under sectional tournament last summer, they became the only team last year to defeat Anthony Cortez and Rob Grant, ranked No. 1 among 16-and-under players. Then they lost in the quarterfinals to Andy Pierce and Andrew Sheppert, ranked No. 2, who went on to win the tournament.

Said Chris: "I like playing together. We're a good doubles team, but sometimes the friction can make it not as much fun. Sometimes we just say things that you probably wouldn't say if you were playing with someone else.

"But, all in all, we're a good team."

Possibly a temporary team.

They haven't decided where to go to college, or whether they will attend college together.

Said Shirley Belloli: "When we talk about going to college, that's not a big issue with them. If they happen to find the same place, that's fine.

"But they would be comfortable going to different places, because they're secure enough with themselves as individuals."

Which is, after all, their most notable similarity.

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