Courting sibling battle

Fun family feud: LeMoles have brotherly love for tennis — head-to-head match

Rockland residents play No. 1 singles for neighboring Oceanside, Camden Hills — to meet May 20
By Mark Haskell | May 17, 2019
Photo by: Mark Haskell Oceanside's Abe LeMole, left, and Camden Hills' Ezra LeMole. The senior and freshman are No. 1 singles players for the Mariners and Windjammers and will square off on the court on May 20 in Rockland.

What started as a fun, family activity has blossomed, in large part, to a way of life for brothers Abe and Ezra LeMole.

While Abe has been a top high school tennis player in the Midcoast four years, his younger brother, Ezra, has broken onto the high school court scene this spring and has yet to lose a match as the regular season winds to a close.

Of course, the tandem, while much alike, wear different uniforms — and are on a collision course for the final match of the regular season — where the duo will face off in a number one singles match for neighboring rival area schools.

Important to note is 17-year-old Abe is a senior at Oceanside High School in Rockland, while 15-year-old Ezra is a freshman at Camden Hills Regional High School in Rockport.

The siblings occupy the prestigious first singles spots for their schools.

The brothers are significantly accomplished wielding stringed rackets. Abe, who has nursed a shoulder injury of late, had an 8-1 record on the season for the Class B Mariners, while Ezra sported a 10-0 mark for the Class A Windjammers, prior to their match.

And, wouldn’t you know it? Oceanside hosted Camden Hills in the final match of the regular season for the high school athletic rivals on Monday, May 20 in Rockland; however, due to rain, the match was moved up a few hours and played indoors at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport.

In the end, Ezra grabbed family bragging rights with an 8-1 win.

The match, by and large, has no real consequences. The Windjammers are the defending Class A North champions and on their way to another undefeated regular season, while the Mariners have only one win on the campaign and will miss the playoffs.

But, the “LeMoleBowl,” between the brothers, should be a fun one to watch.

The duo’s love for the sport developed at an early age when their parents, John and Joan, decided to enroll the family in tennis classes at Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport.

“We started pretty much at the same time,” said Ezra. “Actually, our entire family started at the same time. We all started taking lessons at the MRC and we started together.”

“It was really my dad,” said Abe. “Ez and I went when we were like maybe 9 or 10 and we took just a group lesson with Noah Capetta, the old Camden [Hills] coach. And we just started to get into it from there. Ez and I would do some of the kids groups and the middle school stuff they had running.”

"I’ve had the privilege to work with Abe and Ezra for quite a few years now,” said MRC tennis director and professional Seth Meyer, who has worked more closely with the duo in recent years. “Both are intelligent and talented players, but they have different approaches to the game. It has been a joy to watch them develop as players and individuals.”

Meyer added that “Ezra is a uniquely talented player” and “he is going to do big things in his high school tennis career,” while Abe “is a very talented player who works hard at his game [and] he’s had a great career at Oceanside.”

The family resides in Rockland. While Abe attends Regional School Unit 13 system, Ezra transferred to School Administrative District 28 at a young age and is a tuition student.

"I transferred in second grade, so I’ve been here a long time,” said Ezra. “Oceanside just wasn’t that great of a fit for me and my brother was already in sixth grade or something like that. I enjoy it a lot here.”

Ezra added he is enjoying his first real experience of being on a team of sorts as tennis, at least locally, is not a sport offered by area middle schools.

“I’ve definitely been waiting for a while to be on a team and joining Camden [Hills],” he said. “They’re already incredible.”

He added that, “There’s more self-accomplishment in tennis. You’re part of a team, but you also get the self-satisfaction of it’s your performance and it’s just you [out there].”

The duo have sparingly teamed up in doubles tournament through the United States Tennis Association (USTA), where they also have played plenty of singles matches.

But not against one another.

Ezra said he and Abe were pretty competitive against one another at young ages, but that waned as they got older and “we didn’t really enjoy it as much.”

In his four-year career at Oceanside, Abe has participated in the Maine Principals' Association individual state qualifier each year, while qualifying for the Round of 48 as a junior and senior.

Last year, Abe made it to the Round of 32 before falling to Clay Canterbury of Freeport. If he wins his first match against Falmouth’s Matthew Ray or Lee Academy’s Dat Duong this year, he could have a rematch against Canterbury in the Round of 16.

While this is Ezra’s freshman year, he has not been in the MPA tournament before, but did have a top-flight tuneup prior to the start of the season at the 17th annual Allen Insurance and Financial High School Tennis Challenge at MRC — against last year’s champion — Nick Forrester of Falmouth.

Ezra fell in that match, 1-6, 0-6. He said, “I probably could have gotten more games than I did, but I was happy with the play.”

“After the match we talked a little and he said, ‘Good luck in the state tournament,’ ” said Ezra. And we’re both in the same bracket, so we could run into each other if I get far enough. He’ll make it through no problem. He said I’ll do really well in the state tournament and that felt good coming from someone who just won it last year.”

And, of course, Abe and Ezra will get another top-flight tune-up — against each other — to wrap the regular season.

The siblings agree Ezra likely would be favored in Monday’s match. Ezra has played largely year-round since he began playing as a youth, while Abe split his time with tennis with other sports, including basketball and baseball.

“This is the first year where I’ve actually matched the amount of playing time year-round that he puts into it,” said Abe. “This is his one sport, other than a couple years of basketball toward the end of middle school with friends and stuff. He’s put a lot of time in, takes lessons every week and that sort of stuff for a long time.”

Abe said he and Ezra are “great at the baseline and he’s pretty strong at the net,” while Abe’s strengths are his forehand and ground strokes.

But Abe said his younger brother’s consistency is what sets him apart.

Abe takes it in stride because, as Ezra said, “He’s not one to get jealous. He’s not that kind of person.”

Not to say that some good-natured gamesmanship between the brothers does not take place from time to time.

“He’ll show up at the matches and start yelling nicknames and joking about shots I missed or something,” said Abe. “Getting my bench cheering with him saying goofy stuff.”

“I’ll support the other team maybe a little more and try and help the other person out a little more than my brother,” said Ezra. “Just to give him a hard time. I’ll just tell the other person a couple tips. And if they hit a good shot I’ll cheer them on. [But] usually he has a pretty good handle on the matches.”

Abe has been battling shoulder soreness for much of the season, so much so he sat out Oceanside’s recent two matches against Waterville and Medomak Valley.

But he plans to be ready for Monday, as both said they hope for a good turnout of family, friends and fans at the match.

“We get the parents and stuff, but we don’t tend to have a big following at the tennis matches,” said Abe. “But Camden [Hills] definitely does. I hope some of the people we know from the MRC and previous Camden parents who come to a lot of the Camden matches will be there.”

Brother versus brother. For family bragging rights. If only for one day.

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