Seeing double double: Grain Valley's boys tennis top six feature two sets of twins
Randy Draper can be excused for seeing double every time he coaches his Grain Valley High School boys tennis team.
The veteran coach doesn't need an eye exam. Everyone associated with the Eagles sees double because four of the top six singles players are two sets of twins.
Seniors Connor and Collin Smith are the Eagles' No. 2 and No. 5 singles players and juniors Carter and Kade Compton are No. 3 and No. 4 respectively.
"I have to be honest with you," Draper said, "the only way I can tell Carter and Cade are their shoes. If they ever switch up their shoes, I'm in a world of trouble."
The Smith twins have been hanging around the Eagles tennis program for years as their older sister Kayelee is a former Examiner Player of the Year and is the No. 1 singles player at Baker University.
"I can recognize Connor and Collin because they've been hanging around our summer camps and matches since they were the little kids playing with trucks in the dirt outside of the fence," Draper said with a laugh. "I'm glad they're inside the fence now – they're good, real good.
"And so are the Comptons. Something happened in our challenge matches that I tried to avoid but couldn't – they had to challenge each other, and it was so close, but Carter won the challenge.
“That's why Carter is No. 3 and Kade is No. 4 – and next year they'll be moving up and still contributing to our team."
Unlike Draper, assistant coach Ryan Adams – who jokingly calls himself "Coach Draper's liaison" – has no problem recognizing the Comptons because they were a part of his junior varsity basketball team.
"I recognize Kade and Carter because they really did a great job playing basketball. They are such great competitors and they bring that competitive drive to tennis," Adams said. "Now, if Connor and Collin want to play a cruel joke on me, they can come to a match or practice in different shoes. I wouldn't have any idea who they are."
The four twins, who have helped the Eagles to a 3-4 dual record so far, grin and give each other a knowing wink or nod when asked about pranks they have pulled on their friends, teammates or coaches.
"The only time we ever switched seats or clothes was in fifth grade," Collin said, as Connor nodded in agreement. "The funniest thing about it was that Kade and Carter's mom was our teacher."
Getting a bit more serious, Connor added, "We've had so much fun playing tennis, especially this year since we didn't have a season last year. We fell in love with the sport watching Kayelee play, and she was the best big sister. She'd go out with her little brothers and hit the ball around with us and it turned out to be our sport, just like it was hers."
The Comptons, who also played No. 2 doubles together, shrugged off a question about the challenge match.
"We're competitive, really competitive," Kade said, as Carter politely interrupted.
"Especially when it comes to food," Carter quipped. "You don't want to get near us at mealtime – it can get ugly.”
Carter continued, "We're best friends and each other's biggest supporter – No. 3 or No. 4 doesn't really matter to us because we're playing tennis on the same team and we're having more fun that you can imagine.'
While the Comptons said they have never really done anything to play with their friends' minds, Carter said, in parting, "Someday we have to show up with different shoes – just to freak everybody out."