Young tennis phenoms: Yes, they're only 12 and 10

Jackie and Symone Jacques are used to hearing the question twice:

"You're how old?"

Most people are incredulous that Jackie, a 5-foot-7-inch 12-year-old with a 100-mph serve, and 10-year-old Symone, an intense 4-11 spitfire with a mean forehand, aren't yet teenagers.

"People trip out," Jackie said. "It's pretty funny. It's always been like that. People don't believe me. They usually think I'm 15 or 16."

It's an easy mistake to make. The Modesto sisters usually play up at least one age group in singles tournaments. Jackie is ranked 10th in Northern California among 12-year-old girls and was ranked as high as seventh last summer. Symone is ranked fifth by the United States Tennis Association.

They helped the Rio Del Oro Racquet Club of Sacramento claim the Northern California Junior team tennis title from Aug. 8-10. The girls returned to the Aztec Center at San Diego State from Aug. 23-24 and helped Northern California beat Southern California for the prestigious Gar Glenney Cup.

Traveling and playing against a variety of players has been fun and educational for the daughters of Marcus and Debra Jacques. They feel their height and strength give them an advantage, even against older players.

"You can get more power and hit down on the ball more," Jackie said. "A lot of girls my age don't hit that hard. I know my serve is stronger, for sure. A lot of girls don't know how to react to it."

The girls alternately appreciate and struggle in the spotlight of playing an individual sport. Symone said she started playing when she saw the trophies her sister was bringing home.

"I was actually doing ballet, and you only got flowers as a reward," Symone said. "I kind of got a little jealous. So I switched to tennis. Every single day, I've got to play tennis."

Symone is a fifth-grader at Standiford Elementary School who admires tennis star Maria Sharapova for her style and fashion sense. Jackie is in the eighth grade at Somerset Junior High and enjoys challenging herself against college players.

Three-year veterans of the tennis community, the girls help each other by practicing together and taking lessons from Mark Weir at Del Rio Country Club.

"It's good for Symone to hit with me," Jackie said. "I like to hit hard. She's really consistent. She hits a lot of stuff back."

Bee staff writer Kelly Jones can be reached

at or 578-2300.