CITY LEAGUE PLAYERS TO WATCH
East – Kim Mingee, jr.; Cassidy Steward, so.; Dranise Brown, sr.; Aditi Joshi, so.
Heights – Liz Kennedy, sr.; Tierra Johnson, so.; Lexie Love, jr.; Cyla Huefgen, jr.
Kapaun – Carmen Mindt, sr.; Livia Ciccolari-Micaldi, jr.; Lauren Boleski, sr.; Audrey Arterburn, sr.; Kelly House, jr.
Northwest – Karly Matsler, sr.; Brooke Peggs, jr.
South – Ariana Garcia, sr.; Yarahia Sosa, sr.; Emilia Winterhalter, jr.
Southeast – Jaden Boyd, jr.; Cierra Hill, so.; Helen York, so. Jordana Tucker, so.
Many athletes consider their teammates to be a family, but that has literally become the case at Bishop Carroll.
Seniors Natalie and Nicole Lubbers, fraternal twins, and sisters Breckyn (senior) and Brittany Steven (freshman) are the latest links in their family’s heritage with the Golden Eagles.
Lubbers sisters have been on the Carroll varsity since their freshman year in 2012, along with their sister Courtney (now at Western Illinois) and cousin Maddie Oxler. That team captured the Class 5A title.
As different as they are in appearance – Natalie has brown hair, and Nicole’s is blond – so too are their tennis games.
Like Courtney, Natalie is more comfortable at singles but finished third in doubles at state in 2012 with Paige Lauer.
Natalie said the past three years have sped by.
“I’ve loved it,” she said. “It’s so much fun having your sisters on the team. It’s been the best three years so far – and I’m excited for this one.”
After competing in doubles as a freshman and sophomore, Natalie said although doubles is fun, she prefers playing singles. Courtney also helped her with that from time to time, she said.
“I’ve grown up hitting with her, so we always hit together, and she’ll tell me what I need to work on,” Natalie said.
She said it’s nice to have Nicole on the team with her.
“We want to push each other to get better,” Natalie said. “And, she’s funny – so we always have a blast.
“Nicole is always the one who wants to have fun, and I’m the one who says, ‘All right, time to practice – let’s get serious.”
Nicole seems better suited for doubles, and teamed with her sister as sophomores for a third-place finish at state. Last year at state, when Carroll finished second to Andover, she teamed with Breckyn Steven to finish second.
Nicole said her game has refined and she has become more comfortable with it in the past three years.
“I’ve become a lot stronger, and I’ve become more comfortable with the players,” Nicole said. “Also, my relationship with everyone on the team has grown – it’s a bond now.”
She said she really enjoys having Natalie as a teammate.
“It’s awesome, because even off the courts, I have someone to practice with, and we both excel when we have each other. It helps us a lot in the long run.”
A state title is among her senior-year goals, and Breckyn said she’d like to play tennis in college, although she is still undecided where that will be.”
Her younger sister Brittany is just joining the varsity, and like Natalie Lubbers, her preference is to play singles. But Breckyn’s playing led to her decision to take up tennis, Brittany said.
Carroll coach Darren Huslig, who returns a lot from a team that went 8-0 in City League duals a year ago, is enthusiastic for the season.
“The talent and experience coming back is huge,” he said. “With Natalie taking fourth in singles last year, that’s a great accomplishment. Nicole and Breckyn taking second in doubles, points-wise, that’s a lot of points coming back.
“And then you add the incoming freshmen who have made varsity, the talent level they have. The future looks good for this season.”
And the pipeline is far from dry. Another set of Lubbers twins – identical ones – are seventh-graders this year.