Sports

Whiz kids

She’s tiny.

She’s mighty.

She’s Ray Cockreham, and even though she is only 8 years old, you better start asking for her autograph, because she may just be a professional tennis star some day.

Even though she’s only 3-foot-10, she manages to wield a full-sized adult racquet with deadly accuracy.

Cockreham, who picked up her first racquet at the tender age of 3, takes tennis lessons at the Bremerton Tennis and Athletic Club (BTAC) with kids sometimes twice her age.

“She is the best junior I have ever taught,” said Eric Jacobsen, tennis director at the BTAC.

That’s saying something.

Jacobsen has taught South Kitsap’s Stephanie Davidson, this year’s girls Class 4A state tennis championship runner-up and Bremerton’s Joel Trudel, this year’s West Central District Class 4A boys champion.

He even taught Jamil Al-Agba, who is playing professional tournaments right now around the world. As well as Jamil’s brother Laith, a two time Class 4A State champion from Olympic High School who went on to play at Purdue University.

“She learns faster than any one I have ever taught,” he said. “She hits the ball really hard. She doesn’t make any mistakes.”

Cockreham lives with her family in Port Orchard. Her mother Jan is an avid player herself.

She was the one who first introduced her daughter to the game.

“She didn’t get serious until she was five or six,” she said.

Cockreham is part of a contingent of young female juniors that are making strides at the BTAC.

The pint-size girls play every day with Jacobsen, and play tournaments around the Pacific Northwest as well.

Although Cockreham hasn’t begun playing tournaments, both Amy Rozier and Corinne Wurden have garnered rankings in the 12 or under level of the United States Tennis Association’s Pacific Northwest Division. Rozier is ranked 26, and Wurden is right behind her at 27.

“I really like playing singles,” said Wurden. “I mostly like playing at the baseline.”

Wurden has more tennis influences than she can count on her hands. Her mom, dad, sister, grandmother and aunt play. Her grandmother even has a tennis court in her backyard. Wurden is from Poulsbo, and makes the 15 minute trip to Bremerton Tennis and Athletic Club has a handful of impressive juniors in training to make their mark someday.

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