June 26, 2016

Partly sunny

Girls tennis: Highland team has two sets of twins

Fans of the Highland girls tennis team don’t see double when they look at the team picture.

They see double double.

The Highland tennis team has two sets of twins in its seven-player varsity lineup. In back, from left, are identical twins Natalie and Nicole Wiswesser and Macie Petrich. In front is Macie’s fraternal twin, Madeline. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY RON SCHWANE)

The Hornets have two sets of twins in their seven-player varsity lineup — identical twins Natalie and Nicole Wiswesser and fraternal twins Madeline and Macie Petrich — but neither of the siblings form a doubles team because their games are too similar.

“The biggest challenge,” 11th-year coach Lisa Reynolds said, “was learning how to tell them apart. They’re all great kids, but both sets look a lot alike, especially the Wiswessers.”

The Wiswessers are 16-year-old juniors, while the Petriches are 17-year-old seniors. All four girls take honors classes and have grade-point averages of 3.7 or better.

Natalie Wiswesser is 5-foot-6 and 100 pounds, while Nicole is 5-6 and 115 pounds. Both have brown hair, though Natalie’s is slightly longer. Natalie also has a small mole on her cheek.

“I think we look different,” Natalie said, “but I can see how people get confused, especially if they don’t know us.”

Madeline Petrich is 5-3 and weighs 95 pounds. Macie is an inch shorter and also weighs 95 pounds. Though not identical twins, the Petriches also look remarkably similar. Both have long blonde hair, though Macie’s is slightly shorter. Like the Wiswessers, the Petriches have the same build, with the one noticeable difference being a freckle on Macie’s neck.

“People mix us up a lot, but I don’t think we look alike at all,” Madeline said. “I see us as looking very different. I have a longer face.”

“Sometimes,” Macie added, “I’ll be wearing something that covers my freckle and people will look really confused.”

All four girls mention their twin sister as their best friend, and both sets have the same circle of friends and plan to room together in college. The Petriches are interested in pursuing physical therapy or something else related to the medical field, while the Wiswessers, a year younger, aren’t sure what they want to study.

“We’ll have a lot of fun with it,” Madeline Petrich said. “It will be nice to not have a roommate I don’t like. I will know all her habits and I won’t have someone wake me up in the middle of the night.”

The twins are also very similar personality-wise. The Wiswessers are quiet and reserved except, they say, when they are alone together. The Petriches are a bit more outgoing, but also tend to be pretty laid back.

“It’s like being born with your best friend,” Nicole Wiswesser said. “We’re really close. We do almost everything together.”

“We think the same things a lot,” Natalie added. “We say the same thing at the same time. We do that a lot, but I can’t read her mind.”

The Wiswessers have two younger brothers, 15-year-old Steve and 13-year-old Charlie. The Petriches have no other siblings.

Nicole Wiswesser was born six minutes ahead of Natalie and weighed 4 pounds, 2 ounces at birth. Natalie weighed in at 4 pounds, 7 ounces.

Madeline Petrich is older than Macie by a minute and weighed 5 pounds, 5½ ounces at birth. Macie weighed 4 pounds, 9½ ounces.

“All the time growing up, we were dressed the same,” Macie said with a laugh. “Around 10 years old, it got a little old.”

All four girls are right-handers with solid skills, but despite often claiming to know what their twin is going to do, neither the Petriches nor the Wiswessers have enough differences in playing style to form a great doubles team, in Reynolds’ eyes.

The Petriches played together some last year, when Madeline earned honorable mention All-Gazette honors, but they had more success when paired with someone else.

“You want to have doubles teams that have shot variety,” Reynolds said. “These girls hit very similarly to one another.”

Madeline Petrich, currently 6-7 in non-tournament matches while playing mainly second singles, is probably the most talented player of the four at the moment, though not much separates any of them.

“I definitely like singles better than doubles,” she said. “I like relying on myself rather than someone else. I just like playing singles a lot better.”

Natalie Wiswesser is 5-6 while playing mostly third singles, while Nicole is 10-3 while playing second doubles with Megan Bowers. Macie Petrich is 7-6 and plays first doubles with 2012 All-Gazette pick Claire Cressman for the Hornets, who are 8-5 overall but won’t repeat as Suburban League champions when the league tournament is held Saturday at Medina.

“In doubles, it’s good to have two players that have different strengths,” Nicole Wiswesser said. “We hit the same way, and we both like what position we play now. It would be cool if we played together, but I understand why (Reynolds) doesn’t want us to.”

“We liked playing together last year,” Macie Petrich said, “but the problem was we hit the same type of ball and the same pace. We had to get split up. It was best for the team.”

The twins don’t stay apart very long. As soon as their matches are over — or just about any time they’re not playing, for that matter — each girl is usually hanging out with her twin.

“It’s nice if we go somewhere and don’t know anyone, because we’re never alone,” Madeline Petrich said. “It’s nice to always have someone there for you.”

Both sets of twins say they get along great almost all the time, and both frequently share clothes with their twin.

“We rarely get mad at each other,” Madeline Petrich said. “It’s just little things, like if Macie takes my clothes without asking. And she takes them a lot.”

Perhaps most important, each of the four girls is her own person, but all are extremely grateful to be so close to their twin.

“Really, I don’t know what it’s like to not have a twin,” Natalie Wiswesser said. “It’s all I’ve ever known.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @RickNoland.

Rick Noland About Rick Noland

Rick Noland is the Cavs beat writer for The Gazette and the author of "Over Time," a compilation of stories he's written in more than 30 years as a journalist. He can be reached at 330-721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.