STAMFORD — A group of families has served the city’s public high school tennis teams to a new level.

Names like Soifer, Pomerance and now Yaghmaie are earning medals on the court while elevating the tennis reputations of Westhill and Stamford high schools.

“These are kids who have a passion about tennis,” Westhill High boys tennis coach Patrick Vician said.

“Here at Westhill, I would say it is less about a program and more about a couple of families that really care about tennis. Stamford is not really a tennis town and we always have to beat the eight or nine country club communities right around us.”

Two of Vician’s players recently defeated one of those communities to capture the state doubles crown. Justin Soifer and Tyler Pomerance beat a tandem from Westport’s Staples High School to win Westhill’s sixth state doubles title since 2010.

On the same day at Yale University, twins Taylor and Devon Yaghmaie capped their freshman season with what their coach described as an unprecedented feat for Stamford High — a state doubles championship.

“In the whole scheme of things, it has been really hard for us to compete in tennis, so this happening and winning a championship is really big for Taylor and Devon, but I think it is possibly bigger for the school being not known for tennis at all,” Stamford High girls tennis coach Matt Gladstone said.

The Yaghmaie sisters, 14, had a nearly perfect 19-1 season. They began playing when they were 4 years old, and like many twins, do a lot of things in tandem — including on the tennis court.

“We’re in every class together, so we’re pretty much together all day and when we’re on the court, we’re together again,” Taylor Yaghmaie said. “We pretty much like being together all the time.”

Pomerance, Soifer and the Yaighmaie twins are part of a gradual but steady influx of standout Stamford players — often from the same families — that have boosted the tennis teams at the city’s public high schools.

Vician, who has coached the Westhill boys team since 2009, said players from North Stamford have elevated his team to the “upper-middle echelon” of the 16-team FCIAC. Staples, Greenwich, New Canaan and Ridgefield are among the conference’s perennial powers.

Soifer and Pomerance will continue playing this summer alongside family members at Long Ridge Club and Burning Tree Country Club. The boys say tennis is a tradition in their families that starts at an early age.

“It was just something I wanted to do,” Tyler Pomerance recalled of when he started to play when he was about 3 or 4 years old.

“I like playing different sports, but winning tennis tournaments is more fun than just playing soccer,” said Soifer, who stopped playing soccer in high school.

Justin Soifer said Westhill’s 11-4 team record this spring is evidence the Vikings can match up well against some of the FCIAC’s elite.

“We have a really good team, but we don’t have quite as deep a team as a lot of the surrounding towns,” Soifer said. “That doesn’t take away from our team, but a lot of the time our fourth or third best player would be on the second doubles team on their teams.”

Tennis tradition

Pomerance and Soifer come from families with rich tennis pedigrees.

Jordan Soifer’s uncle, South African-born Mark Kaplan, is a former professional player who was once ranked No. 117 in the world. Soifer’s grandparents, Denis and Joyce Kaplan, were teenage sweethearts who played league tennis in South Africa and introduced the sport to their three children before school, his mother, Louise Soifer said.

“We moved from South Africa when I was 16 in 1986 and halfway through my junior year, I joined the tennis team at Stamford High,” Louise Soifer said.

“As soon as we were 3 or 4, we were given a tennis racket and sent to the local tennis center in Johannesburg.”

Pomerance’s father, Mitch, played for the University of Texas at Austin in the 1980s.

“It was a situation where my father was our first coach,” Tyler Pomerance said.

Pomerance, 15, and Soifer, 16, each have older brothers who were former Westhill standouts. Brandon Pomerance won the state doubles championship in 2011 and 2012 and Daniel Soifer, 20, reached the state doubles final in 2013.

“Growing up, Brandon was somebody I tried to be,” Tyler Pomerance said. “When I played in USTA junior tournaments, I always tried to beat his rankings — and I did.”

“My brother thinks he is so much better than me, but I think I can beat him,” Jordan Soifer said of his brother, who is a tennis instructor at the Redding Country Club.

Brandon Pomerance, 22, who played on Westhill’s varsity team from 2009 to 2012 before playing at his father’s Alma mater, credited Vician’s coaching and leadership for establishing a positive mindset and focus on fundamentals.

“His passion for tennis and the team is really evident and everyone on the team buys into that passion,” Pomerance said. “It’s shown in the results for the last six years or so.”

’Elite’ effect

Until school district lines were redrawn several years ago, elite players like the Yaghmaies from Shippan would have attended Westhill High School, Gladstone said.

“Stamford High does not get a lot of kids north of the parkway. We have very few kids who can afford to play tennis year-round,” Gladstone said. “With the surrounding communities like Greenwich, New Canaan, Darien and so forth, it isn’t an even-playing field.”

The sisters were a big reason Stamford High improved to 5-11 this spring after posting just one victory in 2016, Gladstone said. In addition to their own performances, Gladstone said the twins have helped their teammates improve.

“There are a couple of different factors to our increased competitiveness, but when you have players that are elite, they rub off on the other kids who will pick up a lot of their habits and skills,” Gladstone said.

The girls train at Solaris Racquet Club in Glenbrook with tennis pros John DeFillippo, Todd Paul and Ryan Pena.

“This year, we didn’t really think about the outcome and just played every match the best we could,” Taylor Yaghmaie said. “I think in the future, we’ll try to keep following this path, and if we can play on a higher level in the future, we will.”

Devon Yaghmaie said their partnership is an extension of their bond as sisters, explaining they share nearly every experience from taking the same classes to sharing a bedroom.

“For us, it is more about fun,” she said.

mcassidy@stamfordadvocate.com