June 11, 2008 · Updated 5:24 PM
L ong after all the
and aerobics participants have left the Bremerton Tennis and Athletic Club each night, Eric Jacobsen is down on court No. 4, feeding balls to the youngsters.
The court may be No. 4, but in Kitsap County, Jacobsen is tennis coach No. 1.
The one you train with if you want to be a professional some day.
The one who can help get you a scholarship.
Or train you for a local tournament.
The man who still can beat the areas toughest competition, maybe even with a wooden racket.
I used to come out a lot and play with one, Jacobsen said.
Stephanie Davison, the Class 4A Girls tennis champion from South Kitsap in April and 13th-ranked junior singles player nationally, has been coached by Jacobsen since she was 8 years old.
He is laid-back, she said. He is like a big cuddly teddy bear.
Although Jacobsen shies away from the teddy bear reference, he does try hard to work with his players, almost like a buddy.
Joel Trudel, a standout at Bremerton High, has been attending Jacobsens lessons since he was 10 years old. Bremertons No. 1 player Josh Scheving has been playing with him the last four years.
Hes a real fun-loving guy, Scheving said. Hes less of a teacher and more like a friend a lot of the time.
Central Kitsaps top singles player next year, Jacob Hobough, has been taking lessons from Jacobsen for the last two years and Olympics top female player, Rebecca Kolstad, credits all of her improvement to Jacobsen.
Jacobsen simply knows how to coach tennis players. Many of them receive scholarships to four-year schools after working with him for a few years.
Because of his love of the game and his achievements as both a player and a coach, Jacobsen dreams of one day opening his own academy. But for now, he works a steady 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. shift at the Bremerton Tennis and Athletic Club.
One thing the players say about him is that he is calmer than most coaches and that he really cares about making them improve.
Eric is the kind of guy that always pushes you to get better, Hobaugh said. He is always there to help you.
His boss, Dennis Margoni, manager of the Bremerton Tennis and Athletic Club, agreed.
The thing I like about Eric is his caring for the kids, he said. He cares about their development as a team player and as a person. He loves the kids.
Jacobsen graduated from California State University, Hayward, in 1991. He played No. 2 singles on the college team. Before that he said he attended West Valley Junior College and was the best community college player in the state of California.
He took a job after college at Puyallup Pac-West for two years before becoming an instructor at the Bremerton Tennis and Athletic Club.
Since coming to BATC, he has coached Central Kitsap High star Laith Al Agba to two consecutive Class 4A State tournament wins.
Jacobsens latest project is Rae Cockreham, a 10-year-old girl who is ranked No. 6 in the United States Tennis Associations Pacific Northwest Girls 12 Singles division. He also is coaching twins Aya and Sachi Sugimoto, who are ranked No. 5 and No. 7, respectively, in the 14-year-old singles division.
It is a challenge to get people improved, Jacobsen said. You have to come out and work five or six days a week.