Success is relative for Pikesville's Margolis sisters

May 23, 1994|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Special to the Sun

Jamie likes to think of herself as laid back, happy go lucky and always relaxed.

Kelley says she's more the serious type, all business and never afraid to be the aggressor.

Jamie likes to hang out with an older crowd. Kelley prefers to be with people her own age.

Jamie has brown hair. Kelley's is flaming red.

At first glance, Pikesville High School's top two female tennis players would seem to have little, if anything, in common.

Except for one thing

Their home address.

Meet Jamie and Kelley Margolis, the best two singles players in Baltimore County and two of the most contrasting personalities you'll find in a pair of sisters.

"We have a totally different attitude about things," says Jamie, who at 14 is the younger of the two by 19 months. "We just have very different personalities."

That was quite evident last week at the Baltimore County Region VI Tennis Tournament, where the two went head-to-head for the singles championship.

Kelley, a lefty, who was undefeated this season for the Panthers in No. 1 singles competition, played the role of aggressor, charging the net at every opportunity.

Jamie, a right-hander, who spent her freshman year playing No. 2 singles, stayed back, content to volley and play the baselines.

"I think the style you play reflects your personality," says Kelley, "and I'm more impatient."

The result was a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 win by Kelley, completing a perfect 13-0 county season, and ending Jamie's 156-game winning streak early in the first set.

"That was really tough," said Jamie of the match. "If you win a set you feel very guilty, but if you lose you feel very mad. I just don't like to play her."

For Pikesville first-year coach Tom Bender, however, their results against each other matter somewhat less than their complete domination of other county opponents.

Entering the tournament, the pair was a combined 25-0 this season.

"They're both unbelievably way ahead of any other girls in the county," said Bender. "They have the potential to be real good. It just depends on how good they want to be.

"They'll both get Division I scholarships for sure, in fact they could probably get them right now."

Pretty strong words for a sophomore and a freshman, but these girls are anything but flashes in the proverbial pan.

Both developed an interest for the sport around the age of 8 after watching their parents play on weekends.

"We'd be playing a lot of tennis, and they'd just bother us until we let them hit the ball," said Joel Margolis.

Years later, after each enjoyed success in recreational softball -- "I'd still be playing if not for tennis," says Jamie, a power-hitting shortstop -- both are considered among the top tennis players in their age group in the mid-Atlantic region.

Though their styles are completely opposite.

"Kelley likes to play like [Martina] Navratilova -- she's got a great serve and volley," says instructor C. J. Travers, who has worked extensively with the girls for a year and a half at the South Point Tennis Club in Ocean City

"Jamie's basically the other way. She's the base liner. She's very good and getting better all the time."

After school lets out, both will spend the bulk of the summer in Ocean City working with Travers.

First, however, there is some work to be done closer to home.

This weekend, they will compete in the state tennis tournament at Essex Community College and Pine Valley, where last year Kelley advanced to the championship match before losing a grueling 3-hour, 45-minute marathon.

This time, the sophomore is hoping for a happier ending.

"I think I've improved a lot since then," she said. "I have more experience and I think that will help me."

But if the two end up playing each other somewhere along the way, look out.

"She's my worst enemy on the court," said Kelley, the more intense of the two. "When I play her, I'm out for blood."

Said Jamie: "It's hard to go home after that. Like my coach says: 'I wouldn't want to be at your dinner table.' "

They've already met in tournament finals three times -- including twice in recent weeks.

But the sibling rivalry isn't likely to last forever. The sisters are already talking about forming a doubles team for future competitions.

And if that happens, opponents beware.

"We've gotten a lot better through the years," says Kelley of their highly competitive relationship. "We even have some of the same friends now."

Says Joel Margolis: "They really get along very well. They're almost like best friends most of the time."

And a most impressive sister act all of the time.

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