Freshman tennis players Katie Owens and Denise Cockrell were not always the best of friends. Throughout high school they were merely acquaintances, meeting only when their teams squared off on the court.
Then, in February of last year, the two recruits sat down with Portland State head coach Leslie Lewis for dinner. Owens was already sold on the prospect of becoming a Viking and encouraged the hesitant Cockrell to sign on as well. The dinner cemented the deal and the friendship for both players.
When school began in the fall, Cockrell and Owens became roommates, doubles partners and best friends. Lewis, who likes to nickname all of her players, started calling them the Siamese Twins. They claim that they are not sick of each other – yet.
“We hang out together all the time,” Owens said. “We do everything together. There hasn’t really been any competition between us.”
It is not surprising, given their similar backgrounds, that the two have jelled so well both on and off the court. Both come from families very involved in tennis and began playing seriously when they were about 10 years old.
Owens, an administrative justice major, graduated from Washington’s Emerald Ridge High School, where she lettered in tennis all four years and was the number one singles player. She placed third in the state 4A championships her senior year.
Cockrell, who is planning to major in either business or sociology, is an alumna of Southridge High School in Washington, where she was also the number one singles player for four years on the varsity team and MVP three years in a row. She placed second in state in 2002.
The duo has played well in recent matches, including the Viking win over Green River Community College last Saturday, where each came away with a win before combining for a victory in the doubles competition.
This week, PSU hosts the Big Sky Conference Championships, being held at both the Portland Tennis Center and Westview High School. The prospect of hosting a tournament can be daunting, but the Siamese Twins are looking forward to it.
“I’m just really nervous and excited because I do think that we have a good chance,” Cockrell said. “I hope we all play well together.”