If they held a popularity contest at El Conquistador Golf & Tennis, the winner would be easy to predict – except for the fact that it probably would be a tie. Yes, Hannah and Raina Ports have a tendency to share a lot of honors these days.
The 12-year-old fraternal twins cause a lot of mini-celebrations when they roam the fairways of “El Con’s” two 18-hole championship courses located at the Oro Valley Community Center, or occasionally head nearby to the Pusch X9, the Town of Oro Valley’s other nine holes. But no matter where they play on this 45-hole property managed by Scottsdale-based Troon, there always is a lot of fanfare when it comes to “the twins.”
Erick Womack, Head Golf Professional for El Conquistador Golf & Tennis, is amazed at the source of never-ending pride at El Con.
“Hannah and Raina will light up any room,” Womack noted. “They are energetic, intelligent and extremely talented athletes.
“Our members and staff at El Conquistador engage them quite frequently when they’re on the course playing or practicing. They love to cheer the twins on and follow their success. Everybody loves how they hunger to be great.”
There’s been a lot of that lately, as the trophies have continued to pile up at the Ports’ home to the point that their dad, Michael, is thinking about renting a storage unit to hold the hardware.
“We live right on ‘El Con,’ and it’s just a big playground for the girls,” said their father, who spent 25 weekends last year shuttling the twins all over the country to play competitive golf.
“Recently, we purchased a used golf cart from one of our neighbors, and the girls have just taken to it in a big way. I have to say, El Con is so great with them, especially when it comes to making things fun in regards to their training.”
Michael Ports, who works for a cancer diagnostics company, moved his girls from Ohio to Arizona in 2012 just to give them more opportunities. And they have flourished in the desert sun, competing with the best young players in the SAJGA (Southern Arizona Junior Golf Association) and Junior Golf Association of Arizona (JGAA) ranks to the point that they’re now starting to play in the big leagues of junior golf, aka the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA).
“They’ll tell you there’s no rivalry between them,” the elder Ports said with a laugh. “But you can sense it.”
Raina is actually the “older sister,” and also plays soccer, a sport she has played since age one as compared to golf, which both sisters took up at the age of four. As far as accomplishments, Raina finished second in her age group at the 2015 National Drive, Chip and Putt competition held at Augusta National in conjunction with the Masters.
“That was my big moment,” said Raina, who is two minutes older than Hannah. “I did pretty good; my putting was OK, my drives were all in the fairway, and my chipping was great as I came within 1 ½ points of winning (the division).”
Raina, who works her shots with a draw compared to Hannah’s straight or fade shots, conceded that on any given day either twin can win.
“I guess I’m a little longer, maybe 10 yards off the tee, and she’s got a better short game, so that all evens out,” Raina said, adding mischievously, “But you could say I have a better mental game.”
That last attribute, the mental game, brings out a big laugh from Raina. And then Hannah gives her sister the needle right back with an equally big laugh.
“On any given Sunday, I beat her . . . and then she turns around the next Sunday and beats me,” Hannah explained. “We’re both really competitive, but not necessarily against each other. I guess she is a little more aggressive, going for the pin more than I do. I tend to play for the middle of the greens.”
Both 7th graders work with noted junior instructor Susie Meyers, who insists that the twins each play at least two sports in order to “keep it fun.” For Hannah, she loves to run cross country at Tucson’s Legacy Charter School, where both girls attend.
“We’re really lucky to be members here,” Hannah admits. “El Con is the best, we get in our golf cart and go out and play three or four or nine or 18 (holes) . . . and it’s always me and her.”
Hannah said her big moment came last year when the family went home for a reunion with her relatives and she ended up winning a U.S. Kids Junior tournament in Ohio.
“I (rallied) to win on Sunday,” Hannah reported.” But the big thing was it was my 11th birthday, and all my aunts and uncles and cousins were watching me, and they never get to see us play golf but they got to see that.”
As the members will tell you at El Conquistador, the twins are each other’s biggest fans. Case in point: Hannah said her goal at the moment is to “make it to Augusta someday like my sister did.” And both are eying the same colleges for the future – either Notre Dame or the University of Arizona.
Their father says he wouldn’t be surprised if their golf careers continue to parallel each other. Like recently, when both 12-year-olds tied for second while playing up in the 13-14 division of a JGAA tournament.
“They tied for second but Raina had the low score on Sunday and got the trophy, and Hannah wasn’t happy about it,” Ports said, laughing at the thought. “But that’s kind of how it goes; they tie a lot.”