Carroll’s Lubbers sisters form formidable trio
Too many times, the Lubbers sisters’ late-night conversations about boys, school or clothes were interrupted by their dad telling them it was time to go to sleep.
They’d laugh and finally fall asleep, all three in the same room, the unlucky sister on the top bunk, where it was always so much hotter.
“It was a slumber party every night,” said Nicole Lubbers, a Carroll sophomore and the twin of Natalie.
Courtney, a senior, finally got her own room two years ago, leaving the twins behind. And while the space has been nice and she can sleep in the same bed every night — as opposed to switching each month between the trundle bed, the double bed and the top bunk — the tight-knit bond has not loosened.
The sisters will play in their final high school tournament together on Friday and Saturday in the Class 5A tourney at Arkansas City. Courtney wants a return to the singles title match, where she finished second in 2012, while the twins are looking for their first title together in doubles.
Carroll will try to defend its 2012 team title.
The twins know that when Courtney isn’t playing, she’ll be watching them. And likely cheering. Loudly.
“I’m pretty intense and I love to cheer,” said Courtney, who has visited Emporia State, Rockhurst and Washburn and would like to play college tennis and study nursing. “I’m definitely vocal when I’m watching them. I’m usually popping around on the bench whenever they’re about to hit the ball.”
Courtney (21-3) won the Goddard regional, while Natalie and Nicole were second at regionals and are 16-4. The twins each had different doubles partners their freshman seasons, and Natalie finished third in 5A with partner Paige Lauer.
“They are all very dedicated to their sport,” Carroll coach Darren Huslig said. “… Courtney is really focused and a smart player on the court. She understands to mix things up. Natalie and Nicole are two very strong tennis players. Individually they are very solid, and when you put them on the doubles court, with the groundstrokes they have, they make for a formidable duo.”
Courtney said she’s more of a composite of Natalie and Nicole. She’s got the same sort of humor — especially sarcasm — as Nicole, while she shares a deep competitiveness with Natalie.
All three have practiced together since they were young.
“Our grandpa (Doug Oxler) has a tennis court in his backyard, so when we were at our Grandma’s we’d be out there playing on the court,” Nicole said. “He played at Kansas State and then he coached my uncle Jack, who’s our assistant coach. (Grandpa) has coached us all at some point.
“He’s just so good at explaining everything. He’s very patient when we get upset about learning something that takes so long to learn. He’s never given up on us.”
Of course, the sisters don’t always get along perfectly well, which is usually most obvious when Natalie and Nicole are playing together.
Being sisters, they don’t hold back verbally.
“Especially when (Natalie) hits one in the net,” she said. “I’ll say, ‘Come on, pump yourself up.’ She says, ‘Don’t talk to me.’”
Natalie added: “It’s basically like we’re at home when we’re on the tennis court. We all really love each other. We’re all really competitive, though. If we played each other in singles, it gets a little bit intense. But we remember to come home and be friends again. It comes fairly easily; we don’t really hold grudges.”
Natalie and Nicole won’t get a chance to play high school tennis with their younger twin sisters, who are in fifth grade. So they’ve been enjoying the time with all three together.
“I’m going to miss Courtney a lot,” Natalie said. “We always have a leader on the team, and Courtney was one of the best leaders we’ve had for Carroll. Next year we’ll have good leaders, too, but we’ll miss Courtney because she kept us humble and made us work harder.”