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Pair of Aces

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HEIDI LOVES TO DRESS UP; HEATHER PREFERS jeans and sweaters. Heidi parties and plays the field; Heather likes quiet evenings with friends and walks with her “pretty serious” boyfriend. Heidi keeps an immaculate dorm room; Heather’s is “a mess,” she admits. You get the picture: total opposites—except that Heidi and Heather Burge are 20-year-old identical twins.

That bond will become toweringly obvious to the University of Virginia women’s basketball team’s opponents in the NCAA tournament that begins next week. Alongside star guard Dawn Staley, the two juniors—at 6’5″ the tallest female twins in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records—have led the Cavaliers to a No. 1 national ranking. Despite different playing styles (Heidi’s trademark is an outside jump shot, while Heather prefers to drive to the basket), the pair display uncanny communication on-court. “They do have some telepathic qualities about them,” says coach Debbie Ryan. “There are times you think a pass can never be completed, and they’ll manage to get the ball to each other.”

Growing up in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., with two older half brothers, the girls were all ribbons and lace—and hightops. Athletics were encouraged by their father, Larry, a lawyer, and their mother, Mary, a teacher. As seniors the twins were named to The Los Angeles Times High School All-Star team even though they hadn’t taken up the game until three years before. Widely recruited, the sisters opted for perennial powerhouse Virginia, where they are both honors majors in Spanish. After graduation, they expect to turn pro and play in Europe for a year. Eventually, Heather plans to go into international relations; Heidi leans toward law.

Right now, however, they just want to keep their feet on the ground. “We don’t want people to put us on a pedestal,” says Heather.

“It’s like with guys,” adds Heidi. “I like it when someone who’s 5’10” can deal with standing next to a girl who’s seven inches taller than he is.”