Tonawanda News — When John-Michael LeMar started at North Tonawanda as a freshman on the tennis team, he told his dad, coach John LeMar, that he wanted to help hang championship banners for the school and community he loved.
Four years later, John-Michael and his brother, Andrew LeMar, have helped make that dream a reality by leading the Lumberjacks to the outright Niagara Frontier League regular season title, winning the NFL doubles tournament title and finishing second at sectionals in doubles competition to earn a trip to the state tournament in New York City on May 30 and 31.
The LeMar brothers faced stiff competition at Flushing Meadows in Queens, the famous grounds of the U.S. Open, and LeMar said the brothers’ first-round draw was by far the toughest team they’d faced all season.
The team of Travis Leaf and Ross Reiffman from Long Island’s Half Hollow Hills East High School beat the LeMars 6-0, 6-1. LeMar said the talent in New York state is outstanding and the level of competition at the tournament was fierce. Leaf and Reiffman lost their next match in straight sets.
“(John-Michael and Andrew) lost in the first round to a real good team from Long Island,” LeMar said. “They were one of their top seeds. It was a little closer than the score, but they were a great team. They were the strongest team we’ve seen this year by far.”
The LeMar brothers played on day two and lost to Bryce Recer and Nick Spour from Albany. August Bruno and Tommy Baldinger from Orchard Park, the team that beat the LeMars in the sectional doubles final, lost their first-round match as well.
Andrew LeMar will return for his senior season next year while John-Michael has signed to play at Daemen College next season.
LeMar said the team will miss John-Michael’s commitment to the program, his admiration for his teammates and his leadership.
“With John-Michael — tennis isn’t really the biggest sport at NT — but I know when he took the reigns as a freshman, playing first singles and he won the doubles title as a freshman, I think that was the year he really started to care about the school,” LeMar said. “He said he wanted to win championships and get banners up because he cared.
“He was able to put an identity to the team. I think as a sophomore and a junior he was the top rated singles player in the league. He definitely accomplished a lot and he was so happy this year that the team won and that he was able to to spend his last year with so many close friends.”
LeMar said John-Michael’s impact on the program will live on in Andrew, who has benefitted from learning how to play and lead from his older brother.
Contact Sports Editor Matt Parrino at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find Tonawanda News sports on Twitter @tonanewssports.Contact Sports Editor Matt Parrino at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find Tonawanda News sports on Twitter @tonanewssports.