They’ve got 12 years of tennis under their belts and two more left at the high school level, but Chloe and Ellie Kuckelman have just committed to four more on the court.
The 16-year-old identical twins from Blue Valley North are headed to Lincoln to play for the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ women’s team when they finish their high school careers.
“From the beginning we knew we wanted to go together,” Ellie said of their decision.
“We had a list of about 35 schools,” Chloe said, “but from the moment we went to Nebraska, we definitely thought that was our number one choice.”
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For those 35 schools, it was not hard to see their talent on the court. The hardest challenge, perhaps, will be telling the two apart, as there is little deviation between their accomplishments.
Chloe is aiming to repeat as the Kansas 6A singles champion. Her 30-1 record led Blue Valley North to a state title a year ago, the school’s second in a row, and motivates her to repeat this season. She is currently ranked No. 78 in the country and second in the state of Kansas for the class of 2019, according to tennisrecruiting.net.
Ellie’s latest ranking has her up to No. 73 in the country and No. 1 in Kansas. Her latest accomplishment came this past weekend in the UTSA Missouri Valley Supers Tournament, where she defeated her sister for the Girls 18’s singles title. The two also teamed up to take home the tourney’s Girls 18’s doubles championship.
While Ellie had the upper hand in the most recent matchup between the twins, and Chloe is left-handed while Ellie is right-handed, there is no true underdog when they take to opposite sides of the court.
“It’s very back and forth,” Ellie said. “It just kind of switches off.”
Despite facing one another on highly competitive stages, the sisters still enjoy being able to play each other.
“I feel really lucky to be able to have a twin to play with,” Chloe said. “We are kind of competitive, but when we play against each other I feel like there is less pressure. I just like having her there with me.”
The two could meet up on opposite sides of the net again soon, as both hope to reach the Kansas singles championship match at season’s end.
Ellie has yet to make it that far, as she was forced to sit out the conclusion of last season with a back injury. Now she is fully healed and anxious to return for the Mustangs.
“I’m excited to get back and play in the state tournament again and just experience the team bonding,” she said.
The twins’ talent isn’t limited to the tennis court. Both spend their four off-months from tennis playing for the Blue Valley North girls basketball team.
Chloe plays point guard, Ellie shooting guard. The two received all-league and all-state honors as sophomores.
Basketball might be their secondary sport, but they take it no less seriously than tennis.
“I get really pumped up for games,” Chloe said. “It really brings out my competitive side.”
“I’m definitely just as competitive as I am in tennis,” Ellie added.
The twins’ competitive streak stands out to Blue Valley North tennis coach Tracey Johnson, who is able to tell them apart thanks to a few personality differences.
She appreciates them both.
“They are both very unique,” Johnson said. “Although they are identical, they each bring something different.
“Ellie has a bit more of a competitive side, like, ‘I’m going to eat you for dinner,’ and Chloe is a really strong hitter and has a pretty heavy ball. She’s got the fight in her as well.”