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McPherson High tennis players Peter, left, and Ryan Horton, finished third in tennis doubles a year ago.

McPherson High tennis players Peter, left, and Ryan Horton, finished third in tennis doubles a year ago. Bo Rader/ The Wichita Eagle | Buy this photo

Boys tennis: McPherson twins make last state appearance

Published May 15 at 5:37 p.m. | Last updated May 15 at 11:42 a.m.

There is a competitive burn within McPherson seniors Ryan and Peter Horton. It’s constant, whether they’re trying to see who can eat the fastest, eat the most or jump the highest.

“Pete and I, as twins, we’re compared in everything in life,” Ryan Horton said. “There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t get compared for more than one thing. We just have to be better.”

Peter and Ryan have often been better and head into Friday and Saturday’s Class 4A tennis tournament as favorites to win the doubles title.

Since May 2013, the Hortons finished third in doubles in 4A, finished third in 4-1A in soccer and won the Class 4A-Division I basketball title.

They’re also members of the National Honor Society and were named All-Class 4-1A by the soccer coaches association. Peter was All-AVCTL Division III for basketball, while Ryan was second team.

“It’s been really fun,” Peter said. “It’s been a good year. We expect to win, and when we don’t, it’s disappointment. We don’t think we should lose any game.”

The focus on winning is intense, but not nearly as much as the desire to avoid losing.

“We hate losing more than anything,” Ryan said. “Winning’s nice, but losing’s so much worse.”

The competitive drives comes naturally to the twins, extending to their parents, Michael and Susan, and their siblings, Shelby and Cory.

“Everything is a competition,” Peter Horton said. “Gosh, I don’t know if I should tell personal stories. Those might be embarrassing. When Ryan and I play one-on-one basketball, very rarely did it end up civil.

“It’s everyone in the family. Even card games and board games, there’s arguments, trash talk. It’s pretty fun.”

Winning comes naturally, too.

Shelby played on McPherson’s 2007-08 Class 5A champion basketball team. Cory played on the 2010-11 5A champion basketball team, and won a doubles title in the spring of 2011.

Their mom, Susan, played basketball and volleyball at Hutchinson High and played volleyball at Kansas State.

“We grew up playing a lot of different sports,” Peter said. “We’d go to practice with Cory and play with his team. We’d all go to Shelby’s practices and play.

“Our dad was the coach, and he coached us in every sport. He was our soccer coach from preschool on, and then in high school, he was an assistant coach.”

While Ryan and Peter, both 6-foot-4, love to play sports together — and win — it is difficult finding differences in their games.

So what does Peter do better than Ryan?

“I’m not going to say jump balls because he won one all year,” Ryan said with a laugh. “He did have a better post game than I did. But I like to think I’m better at soccer than he is. We were both first-team all-state, so it’s hard to make that comparison. I like to think I am. I’m definitely a better passer with my left foot.”

There’s no doubt they’ve made each other better.

“It’s an advantage to have a twin,” Peter Horton said. “You always have someone who wants to practice.… We played football in the front yard for hours. We’d play basketball every day. We’d play soccer. It got really competitive, and it’s a big advantage.”

The Hortons’ skill on the tennis court is partly due to their size, as well as their athleticism and intensity. Ryan pushes Peter on the court, riding him if he makes a mistake, and Peter brushes it off.

“Their serves are very tough to break,” Brown said. “They’re very good at holding serve. It helps to be 6-4, so with a nice, high toss, they can hit down on the ball better than a kid who is 5-8, 5-10.

“They both seem to like to hit from the baseline, too. They have great ground strokes and hit well from the baseline. As tall as they are and as wide as they are with their wingspan, we’d like to seem them both at the net. It’s intimidating when they’re both up there.”

When this weekend ends, so will the Hortons’ sports careers. They’re both going to Kansas State. Peter plans to study accounting with a possible double major in finance, while Ryan plans to study industrial engineering.

But there’s still plenty of sports they’ll be doing together this summer. They’ll be giving lessons in McPherson, play six-on-six soccer at McPherson College and in a summer basketball league.

And at Kansas State, there’s intramurals.

“We’ll probably do soccer, basketball, tennis, badminton, as many sports as we can,” Peter said. “… We’ll minor in intramurals.”

Their competitive burn? It won’t die out anytime soon.

Reach Joanna Chadwick at 316-268-6270 or jchadwick@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @joannachadwick.