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Local sisters ‘cruising’ to the top of the tennis world

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Cruise Control Gear owners Candice Kolins, left, and Kristen Vogelbacher join longtime friend and tennis coach Mike Sell for some downtime. (Photos courtesy of Cruise Control Gear)

By Tim Kelly

Anyone who knows sisters Candice Kolins of Ocean City and Kristen Vogelbacher of Somers Point isn’t surprised by their success.

The entrepreneurial tennis stars, who played for Villanova and Princeton universities respectively, have grown their Cruise Control Gear franchise from a fledgling producer of tennis and sportswear to a commercial player on the international stage.

Candice and Kristen’s products have been spotted at some of the world’s top tennis tournaments in recent years, shortly after being found only online and in local outlets.

Again, no wonder.

This year they took the business beyond dollars and cents to the next level. They’re partnering with the United States Tennis Association’s United States Region’s Unstoppable Women in Tennis series to shine a light on the strong women who are forces on and off the court.

Although vocal if asked, the sisters certainly lead by example.

“My dad works for himself, and I liked that,” said Candice, founder of Cruise Control Gear. “We loved the idea of ​​being our own bosses and working with the sport and the people we love.”

It worked well. Candice is the lead designer and Kristen, who became co-owner, has joined the company to lead marketing.

Regardless of sales growth, Cruise Control Gear is an industry-wide example of how hard work can pay off.

In recognition of its advancement in the sport, the US Tennis Association presented its Tennis Industry Initiative award to Cruise Control Gear.

“We are grateful and humbled for our business, but now our role goes beyond being a clothing retailer,” Candice said. “Now we are tackling broader issues such as empowerment and entrepreneurship for working women and mothers.”

Cruise Control Gear has won honors from the US Tennis Association for its work promoting the sport.

Candice and Kristen were inducted into the New Jersey Tennis Hall of Fame last month. This is the latest example of the sisters living some sort of parallel tennis life. The former Moorestown High School teammates are separated by two years. Kristen graduated from Moorestown High School in 2001, while Candice followed two years later.

“We battled it out for first place in singles, her senior year,” Candice said of Kristen in a previously published interview. “She won, but it was a tight game. We have never faced each other in a game since then. It might get too unpleasant.

The mood will be anything but unpleasant next month when the sisters are inducted into the New Jersey Tennis Hall of Fame.

“We are honored to be inducted together,” Kristen said. “We grew up loving tennis thanks to our parents, (Ocean City residents) Adele and Dan Carlin. Our dad is our first tennis coach and we still play with mom, who is always positive and fun. We hope share the same love with our children and the community.

Ask the sisters for their inspiration in the game and they’ll mention Mike Sell, a member of the Moorestown boys’ tennis team when they were in high school together.

Sell ​​went on to an All-America college career at the University of Georgia and is currently the co-head coach of Louisiana State University’s women’s team with his wife, Julia. Sell ​​was also a touring pro for a while.

Candice said one of her biggest thrills in the game was seeing Sell play at the US Open while still in high school.

Continuing the parallel life theme, the sisters became mothers within weeks of each other. Candice (husband Sean) gave birth to daughter Siena on October 6, 2016. Kristen (husband Bob) gave birth to son Bobby just over three months later on January 10.

Children and many other local residents will be in attendance when Cruise Control is one of the main attendees at the Ocean City Health and Fitness Expo. It takes place on Saturday, June 18 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Ocean City Music Pier.

In addition to a fashion show, there will be appearances by local bodybuilder and fitness model Kelly Adams, Miss Ocean City and the town’s other “princesses”, Junior Miss Ocean City and Little Miss Ocean City.

The event includes health food exhibits, fitness classes, speakers and more.

Kristen Vogelbacher, left, April Scannell and Candice Kolins celebrate their partnership outside the Pappagallo boutique.

Cruise Control Gear’s hometown and local Ocean City roots have only deepened as they have grown. Different segments of the line are available locally:

  • Pappagallo’s, 744 Asbury Ave., Ocean City, carries most of Cruise Control Gear’s women’s line, including tops, tees, skorts and more. There is also a sample of men’s clothing and children’s clothing.
  • Bowfish Kids, 956 Asbury Ave., Ocean City, activewear for boys and girls.
  • Landing Creek Pickleball, 801 Third Street, Ocean City. Landing Creek is a “store within a store” at Pessano’s Variety, offering a full line of Cruise Control Gear pickleball duds. Pessano’s is seasonal and currently closed, but Landing Creek can be contacted for an appointment on its website, lcpickleball.com.
  • Bedazzled Shop, 9309 Ventnor Ave, Margate. A large selection of Women’s Cruise Control Gear is in stock.
  • Bravo Core Fitness, 8411 Ventnor Ave, Margate. This private training studio offers Cruse Control Gear fitness apparel for men and women, all customized with the Bravo fitness logo.
  • Yes she can, 50 Tuckahoe Road, Marmora. A selection of women’s Cruise Control clothing is available, including leggings, sports bras and tank tops.

According to April Scannell, owner of Pappagallo, the store is a “preppy-chic boutique featuring women’s clothing, shoes, jewelry, handbags, swimwear, accessories and more. Our unique lines are truly one of a kind.

Pappagallo’s addition of Cruise Control Gear’s premium performance apparel to its product line certainly fits into this business model.

The Cruise Control brand can also be found at top retailers and country clubs in Florida and nationwide. The full line of Cruise Control Gear can be found and ordered on its website cruisecontrolgear.com.