Photo by Jim Blaylock
Courtney Rauscher was born in Maine, but the young tennis standout is quickly becoming the main event at Petersburg Racquet Club.
"By far she's the most advanced Girl's 12s I've coached in this area," said Craig Jones, who has guided Courtney on the court for the past three years. "As far as the kids I've worked with, there's no comparison. She does everything well."
Courtney, who turns 13 today, is a typical teen in some ways. She likes to ride a bike and play with her two younger sisters. The home-schooled student cracks the books, and enjoys reading and math.
When Courtney wields a tennis racket, though, the differences from most of her peers become apparent.
Start with the long list of tournament titles: while competing in the Girl's 10-and-under division in 2000, she was the Mayor's Cup Champion and Little Mo Southern Sectional Champion; she seized the Little Mo sectional and Regional 11-and-under crowns in 2002, and won three other tournaments that year.
Now, study her 2002 rankings: No. 2 in both the Georgia Girl's 12-and-under and Southern Girl's 12-and-under, plus she checked in at No. 23 nationally in that age division.
Courtney has achieved success through long hours or practice and an aggressive style of play which mirrors the approach of her favorite pros Monica Seles and Jennifer Capriati.
While her goal is to earn a top-25 national ranking in the Girl's 14s this year, and to possibly play professional tennis one day, Courtney has the sport in perspective.
"I play because it's fun and challenging. There's always something you need to work on," she said. "I've got great coaching, and the kids at Petersburg push each other, so we all get better."
Courtney has moved up to compete in the Girl's 14s this year, and already has earned two championships in the higher age division. She also made some noise recently with strong performances in a pair of national events.
But don't expect to hear any bragging from the soft-spoken Columbia County resident.
"You don't have to worry about her head swelling up," Jones said. "Courtney is not a win-at-all-costs type player, and that's good. She's competitive, but her goals are focused on how she wants to play."
As Courtney moves up the ranks in junior tennis, she might also pave the way for future stars at Petersburg Racquet Club.
"The young girls that play here are already looking up to her," Jones said. "I can tell the younger players to watch what she does, and they'll have a good understanding of what they're supposed to be doing."
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