By GERRY STEELE
Of the Baker City Herald
On most any sunny summer afternoon you can find Jed and Luke Rembold at their home away from home, the Ash Grove Tennis Complex.
Jed, 16, and Luke, 14, are two of the top young tennis players in Baker City. Jed will be a junior on the Baker High School squad next season, and Luke a freshman.
Jed has played singles on the Bulldogs squad the past two seasons. Luke has been a member of the Baker Middle School team, coached by the boys mom, Ginger Rembold, the past two seasons.
The two boys recently won the doubles title at the USTPA Pacific Northwest Junior Championships at Walla Walla, Wash. Jed also advanced to the semifinals in the singles competition.
Both personable young men have grown up with a tennis racket in their hands, having started hitting balls almost 12 years ago.
Mom coached the tennis team and we were 3 and 4 years old and were the ball boys for the team, Jed said.
Thats when we first started hitting tennis balls, Luke added.
That was their initiation to the game, but both young men said they seriously began playing tennis while at Baker Middle School.
Both generally play singles, but have played some doubles during the summer tournaments.
Playing doubles can help your singles skills, Jed said.
He and Luke readily admit to their strengths and weaknesses on the court. Jed said his strongest stroke is his forehand, his weakest his volley shots. Lukes strongsuit is his quickness; his weakness his second serve.
Both Jed and Luke work at their tennis year-round if possible.
Tennis is something weve grown up with. Its just always been a gimme for me, Luke said.
During the summer months Jed plays three or four times a week, and Luke two or three times a week.
I get nervous if Im away from the tennis court too long, Jed said. I need to keep my game sharp.
The two players see enough of each other when they practice together, but havent had much of a chance to play against each other in tournament competition.
Were both members of the Tennis Association of Baker and play each other sometimes in the TAB youth tennis ladder, Jed said.
Weve played each other enough during the summer.
Luke noted that another reason they dont face each other during tournaments is that they compete in different age groups.
Besides the tennis ladder, the Rembolds also compete in the summer Pioneer Bank tournament and several other tournaments when their busy schedules allow.
Both will play at a tournament in Boise July 17-19.
Both boys played baseball through the sixth grade. Jed went out for football, wrestling and tennis as a BHS freshman, and cross country, wrestling and tennis this past year. Luke played basketball and tennis at the middle school. He has plans to play both as a Baker freshman, and may try cross country as well.
Both said the winter months are a little rough on their tennis game, making it especially tough to find a place to work out.
Theres not really a place to play during the winter, Jed said. Sometimes we can get the softer balls and work out in a gym. But that doesnt happen often.
Last winter we shoveled one of the courts off at the Complex to try to play, he said. But that didnt work very well. We were able to shovel the snow off, but had about an inch of ice on the surface. And, we have to be careful shoveling the courts so it doesnt hurt the surface.
Luke says the lack of winter practice space makes for a disadvantage for them compared with players who dont have that problem.
We went to a tournament in January and played against kids who can play all the time indoors. Of course we hadnt, and you could really tell the difference, he said.
Jed also reminded his younger brother about the difference between middle school and high school tennis.
Theres a huge difference, he said. In high school its more intense, and youre playing better people.
Luke added that he realized tennis at the high school level is more geared toward district and state qualifying.
At the middle school you can say you won, but we didnt have a middle school district or state to worry about, he said.
Jed said hes had two highlights that stand out in his high school tennis career so far.
Placing third at district and going to state this past season was a highlight. And, my freshman year going to district as a non-seeded player and beating the third seed. That made my goal to go to district last season, he said.
As far as playing tennis in college, neither was ready to commit.
I just want to get good enough in high school to play college tennis, Jed said.
I dont know right now, said Luke. Ive always just been the one to tag along.
Neither Rembold patterns their play after any professional players, but they have their favorite players.
Its neat to watch the pros. We watch them all, Jed said.
He said his favorite player is Gustavos Kuerten, who recently won the French Open.
Lukes favorite is Marats Safin, who won the U.S. Open last year.
Who knows, maybe someday Baker City tennis followers may see the Rembold name in the ranking as one of those tournaments, or even Wimbledon.