Identical twins Leslie and Madeleine Gill are usually indistinguishable. But when they step on the squash court this weekend, it will be clear where their allegiances lie.
Madeleine and the No. 6 Stanford women’s squash team will compete against Leslie and the No. 3 Penn squad, reuniting a pair of twins who opted to wear different uniforms and compete on opposite coasts.
Currently, the sisters only sit one seed away from each other in their teams’ lineups, with Leslie playing at No. 7 and Madeleine at No. 6 on their respective teams. If Leslie were to pull off an upset in a challenge match Thursday afternoon and move into the No. 6 spot, a Gill versus Gill contest may be in order—a match-up that is all too familiar to the twins.
The twins last met on the court in an official competition April 10, 2011, at the U.S. Junior Women’s Playoff, where Leslie came away with a 3-1 victory.
However, Leslie hopes fate will not once again stack sister against sister, primarily because it would be nothing new to them, or their parents.
“I don’t think my parents want to watch that again,” Leslie said. “They’ve sat through enough of those matches.”
Since their father introduced them to the sport around age six or seven, Leslie and Madeleine have competed and improved together.
“I think that made us both a lot better, because you never want to lose to your twin sister,” Leslie said.
Though the Gill twins play for different squads and on different coasts, they are also strategically distinct, as they each approach the game in their own manner.
“I tend to be more aggressive. She’s more consistent and just keeps the ball in play, where I attack more,” Leslie said. “I wouldn’t say that one’s better than the other. They’re just different.”
In addition to challenging each other on the squash court, the twins competed academically and teamed up as standout field hockey athletes.
When it came time for their college search, the twins from Darien, Conn., were ready to assume new and distinct identities and made a decision to attend different schools.
“We really just wanted to be apart and have people recognize us as individuals, not as twins,” Leslie said.
Leslie set her eyes toward Penn and Philadelphia, which is home to her grandparents. Meanwhile, Madeleine had hopes to attend Stanford, where their mother attended graduate school.
Both twins agreed to not apply to the other’s dream school, leaving their competition behind them on the squash court.
That competition will be rejuvenated this weekend, but for the first time, the Gill girls will be playing against one another on different teams entirely, unlike when they collaborated on the Darien High School squash and field hockey teams.
Though Leslie may not want to compete against Madeleine this weekend, it is not for a lack of appreciation for what their relationship has given them, especially on the squash court.
“Not a lot of people have the opportunity to play with someone the same level as them on a daily basis, so we were actually really blessed in that respect,” Leslie said.