Over the past three seasons, there has been something unique and indistinguishable about the No. 1 doubles team for the Streator girls tennis team.
Identical twins Haley and Lora Berry have held that spot for the Lady Bulldogs since their sophomore year, and the seniors say they feel lucky they are able to finish up their high school careers with everything going on.
When asked to answer the question most people first think of when talking about identical twins, Haley, who is the eldest by four minutes, says it's pretty simple. At least in her eyes.
"I have the more full-frame glasses, curlier hair and dimples, but most people can tell us apart by our glasses," she said with a smile.
When it comes to play on the court, the siblings say the fact they are twins is a huge advantage, but also comes with its faults.
"It can be an advantage on the tennis court, but it also can be a disadvantage if it has us sometimes going for the same return or running to cover the same area, leaving the court wide open," said Lora.
"We know each other so well," added Haley. "We think the same and do the same things. We also can say things to each other, constructive, but at the same time maybe a little mean to each other that I wouldn't be able to say to just another partner. I don't know if I'd be comfortable yelling at someone else, but with Lora I can and know at the end of the day we'll talk it out."
Over the years of teaming up, each says she has tried to improve on the facets of game that the other excels at.
"Haley is so good with her serving, so much better than me," said Lora. "I have improved my serve over the past couple years from just watching her in practice and working at it. I just didn't serve hard, didn't have confidence, didn't put as much speed on my first serves and she did.
"I think that with us both improving on our weaknesses by watching each other ,we have gotten so much better as a team."
"In the past I really struggled with my backhand, and Lora was just so good at it," Haley said. "I learned from her, watched how she set up, her position before hitting the ball and worked to be as good as she is with it."
SHS head coach Kaye Tallier said that over the years she can tell the two apart just by their play style — Haley more of a forehand player, Lora normally opting for her backhand.
"I always joke with them that if either one of them had their serve going strong in a match they could just keep serving and no one would know the difference," Tallier said.
While the twins say they learned so much about the game of tennis over their high school careers, that time has also been about learning how to handle the relationship with each other on the court to be the best they can be.
"We have the habit of being mad at each other," Haley admitted. "But over the years, especially on the court, we know that isn't something we can have happening and still play well. We both know we have to just let go whatever is going on (off the court) when the match starts or it's probably going to be a disaster. To be successful, we have to play for each other."
"We have talked so much about this," Lora said. "Even Coach Tallier has told us that when she watches us play when we are mad at each other, it's like were playing two on three, against the two opponents and our sister ... and she's right."
Tallier said it has been very rewarding to see the sisters grow on and off the court. She added that whether they know it or not, they have been solid leaders for the program.
"What makes them both good leaders is they are not showy, not cocky, not know-it-alls, but very chill," Tallier said. "They get along with everyone, they are fair and the other girls migrate to them. They lead by example in their own ways, and I'm not even sure they know they are doing it.
"They have been such a special part of the Streator program and a pleasure to be around and coach."
Haley and Lora each say there have been a few times, whether after a tough match or practice, that they had short thoughts of not being partners anymore. However, they know the bond they have together on and of the court isn't something they could let go of.
"I can't imagine having another doubles partner," Lora said as Haley shook her head in agreement. "I can't see myself playing with someone else and looking over to the court next to me and seeing Haley doing the same.
"We've never tried it, but we also both know we are better and stronger when we are together."
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