CK girls tennis drops first match

Rae Cockreham is a soft-spoken athlete, but her tennis game speaks volumes.

The South Kitsap freshman, who is undefeated this season at No. 1 singles, swept Central Kitsap’s Kathy McLaughin 6-0, 6-0 Tuesday to keep her record perfect and help the Wolves to a 4-1 Narrows League victory over the host Lady Cougars.

Cockreham’s win coupled with Meredith Carlsen’s 6-0, 6-0 sweep of CK’s Allie Birmbaum at No. 2 gave South (4-2) both singles matches. CK’s lone win was at No. 3 doubles, with Iori Kimura and Lexi Dewar outlasting Lauren Gallagher and Brittany Mayfield 7-6 (7-3), 6-7 (7-9), 7-5.

CK coach Ken Allen shuffled his lineup to combat South’s deep roster, switching No. 1 singles player Corinne Wurden, who teamed with the graduated Aya Sugimoto to capture the Class 4A state doubles championship in 2008, to No. 1 doubles with Katie Jackson. He also pushed Calla Chun, who typically plays No. 2 singles, to No. 2 doubles with Victoria Marshall, seemingly conceding both singles matches.

“We basically knew South had a strong team top to bottom,” Allen said of switching Wurden and Chun from singles to doubles. “We figured that would give us our best shot to win today.”

But South’s No. 1 duo of senior Emily Hulscher and junior Chloe Helms, who together advanced to districts last year, prevailed against Wurden and Jackson in straight sets 6-4, 6-3 to give South a third and decisive victory.

At No. 2 doubles, Kelsie Carlson and Crystal Polen defeated Chun and Marshall 6-4, 6-3.

“They competed in those matches, so it was a good move on their part,” said South coach Todd Olson of CK’s lineup adjustments. “But, luckily for us, we’re still strong enough to adjust to those moves and win those matches.”

Chun and Marshall hadn’t played together before Tuesday, Allen said, but “they were in both the sets” against Carlson and Polen.

“They just weren’t taking those games at the end,” Allen said.

With Wurden sitting out singles action (she would have faced Cockreham at No. 1 singles), Cockreham’s match against McLaughlin was never in doubt. She yielded no break points and held serve every game.

“She’s very textbook, knows exactly where every shot is supposed to be, where it’s supposed to go,” Olson said of Cockreham. “If you were to write a tennis manual on how to play a singles match, she’d be a good example.”

Hulscher and Helms, meanwhile, who have played together for the past three seasons, continued what has turned into a statement season following their earlier-than-expected elimination at districts in 2008.

They are 5-1 in Narrows League play, having lost only to Bellarmine Prep’s No. 1 team.

“They are kind of playing with a little chip on their shoulder this year and going out and taking care of business,” Olson said. “They followed our game plan to a T and went out and did what they were supposed to do.”

Wurden is no stranger to doubles action, despite being CK’s No. 1 singles hitter. But Tuesday marked her first doubles appearance of the season and the first time she’d played with Jackson.

“I think playing the first time with Katie, it lacks communication,” Wurden said. “A lot of adjustments come with changing partners. She played great, it’s just adjusting to your partner.”

CK dropped to 5-1 in Narrows League play with the loss, but rebounded to beat Wilson 3-2 Wednesday, improving to 6-1.

Against Wilson, Wurden returned to No. 1 singles, beating Eboni Brown 6-1, 6-0. Chun also returned to single to beat Aimee Young 6-1, 6-0 at No. 2. The Lady Cougars dropped two of the three doubles matches, but Dewar and Kimura edged Wilson’s No. 2 doubles team of Mercedes Workman and Kelsey Tallner 6-3, 1-6, 6-1.

The team was at Olympia yesterday, but results from that match were unavailable at press time, and is at Bellarmine Prep April 27 in the regular-season finale.

Tuesday (BOLD)

South Kitsap 4, at Central Kitsap 1

Singles—Rae Cockreham (SK) d. Kathy McLaughin 6-0, 6-0; Meredith Carlsen (SK) d. Allie Birmbaum 6-0, 6-0.

Doubles—Emily Hulscher/Chloe Helms (SK) d. Corinne Wurden/Katie Jackson 6-4, 6-3; Kelsie Carlson/Crystal Polen (SK) d. Calla Chun/Victoria Marshall 6-4, 6-3; Iori Kimura/Lexi Dewar (CK) d. Lauren Gallagher/Brittany Mayfield 7-6 (7-3), 6-7 (7-9), 7-5.

Wednesday (BOLD)

At Central Kitsap 3, Wilson 2

Singles—Corinne Wurden (CK) d. Eboni Brown 6-1, 6-0. Calla Chun (CK) d. Aimee Young 6-1, 6-0.

Doubles—Sarah Gamache/Natinia Doss d. Katie Jackson/Victoria Marshall 7-6, 7-5. Lexi Dewar/Iori Kimura d. Mercedes Workman/Kelsey Tallner 6-3, 1-6, 6-1. Hye-Young Lee/Christian Tran (Wil) d. Kathy McLaughlin/Allie Dirnbaum 6-3, 6-2.

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