Carrying On A Kukino Tradition

Sarah Kukino is ranked No. 1 in the USTA’s Hawaii Pacific Region

Not too long ago – in fact, just around five years ago – Lihue’s Jordan Kukino dominated the tennis scene on Kaua’i. He would go deep in state tournaments and give the top players all they could handle.

But besides his consistently great play, it was his Cool Hand Luke demeanor that set him apart from the rest. He would rarely get rattled and even give you a smirk after a well-timed drop shot that had you running for the hills.

Fast-forward five years and there’s yet another Kukino – Jordan’s sister Sarah – who is now carrying the torch, or should I say tennis racket for the talented tennis family.

The younger Kukino is a senior at Kaua’i High School and may have just received one of the biggest honors of her young career.

The Red Raider was one of two tennis players to get the 2010 Muriel Osborne Hawaii Tennis Award. Kukino is currently ranked No. 1 in the Girls’ 18 division in the United States Tennis Association Hawaii Pacific Section.

“It’s a great honor for me,” Kukino says. “I hope I represent this award well throughout my career.”

Muriel Osborne, the award’s namesake, was the winningest female player in Hawaii. As a junior, she dominated at the state and national levels. She won more than 200 singles, doubles and mixed open titles in her career, including two USTA silver finalist balls. Osborne was named Hawaii’s woman athlete of the year in 1970. But besides her athletic prowess, she was a tremendous sportswoman.

In collaboration, the Osborne family and Kahiau: A Tennis Foundation have created the annual tennis award in Muriel Osborne’s honor.

It was developed to provide funding to two competitive junior female players who have achieved local and/or national rankings in the 16s or 18s division.

Awards were based on the success level of the player in the 2010 Summer Sectional Championship Tournament and sportsmanship. Applicants had to have a history of strong local tournament results, be actively training, competing in tournaments year-round and provide a future training schedule.

Kukino’s future is bright. She holds down a No. 237 USTA National Junior ranking and has been a key player in the Hawaii Pacific Section teams for the past three years. She’s also the top seed in the Girls’ 18 division for the Summer Section Championship and won the tournament’s consolation draw.

Like her big brother, her demeanor plays a big part in her game. Kukino is as humble as they come, as evidenced by the numerous sportsmanship awards she’s received in both USTA and high school competition.

It’s that type of attitude that keeps this tennis family swinging aces.

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