One champion leaves after a remarkable run. Another returns after starting one.
Lahainaluna High School's Jackie Owens put up one of the best singles tennis careers in Maui Interscholastic League history - four league crowns, three state final fours, two state finals - and will take her game to the Pacific-10 Conference at Washington State University in the fall.
She goes there as a four-time MIL Girls Tennis Player of the Year after being selected for the award this season.
KARIS LO photo
Lahainaluna High School’s Jackie Owen completed her prep career with her fourth straight Maui Interscholastic League title and her second consecutive runner-up finish at the state tournament.
''I am extremely excited, I can't wait to be a part of a great team. To be able to compete in the Pac-10 is really exciting, so I am looking forward to that,'' Owens said earlier this week. '''It is a little hard to believe it is over, but I'm really happy with my high school career. I'm looking forward to
college tennis and what college has to offer.''
On the boys side, the MIL Player of the Year is St. Anthony junior-to-be Kento Tanaka-Tamaki, who won his first league title last month.
''That sounds really good,'' Tanaka-Tamaki said via phone from Oahu, where he is attending a tennis camp. ''This year, I really wanted to get it because I know the competition will keep getting stronger and stronger in the MIL.''
Owens is joined on the girls All-Star team by teammate Kaila Nip; Baldwin's Kerrie-Ann Tobita, Rachel Pascual and Ashley Pascual; Kamehameha Maui's Katie Perryman; and King Kekaulike's Kaitlin Dela Cruz and Carly Dela Cruz.
Tanaka-Tamaki is joined on the boys All-Star team by Maui High's Misha Wilson, Paulo Mallari, Jesse Knight and Austin Wines; Seabury Hall's Josh Chapple; and Lahainaluna's Alec Wagner and Stephen Adolphson.
The teams are made up of the four semifinals singles players and the two doubles team finalists from the MIL championship tournament.
Owens is the headliner of the group, making the last two state singles finals after a third-place finish in 2007 as a sophomore. Although only 5-foot-3, Owens stands tall among the long list of MIL girls tennis standouts.
''Well, one of the best attributes of Jackie is that she has a real fire, super competitive. She is fighter,'' Lahainaluna coach Mac Pascual said. ''Despite her size, she fights for everything, and that is the one thing that separates the players that win tournaments and the ones that don't.''
Pascual sees big things at the next level for Owens.
''College-level tennis, especially at the D-I level, from my own experience, will force her to be better,'' Pascual said. ''Definitely, the experience she is going to bring will allow her to really bring her game up. The sky is the limit for her. Anything is possible.''
Tanaka-Tamaki sees dedication in Owens' game when she makes the trek from West Maui to work out at the Wailea Tennis Club.
''She practices a lot, works hard,'' Tanaka-Tamaki said. ''She wants to be good and does all she can to get there. Shoot, she comes all the way to Wailea to hit a couple times a week - that is dedication.''
That kind of attitude to go along with her game has kept Owens atop the MIL for her entire career.
''Four-time MIL Player of the Year. I really like the sound of that. It is an amazing accomplishment for me,'' Owens said. ''I am very proud of what I have done.''
Tanaka-Tamaki hopes that he has started a similar dominance. He is on Oahu this week working at a camp that also has Dennis Lajola, a current University of Hawaii player and the former No. 21-ranked junior in the nation.
Tanaka-Tamaki knows MIL history, as well. When the names of former two-time state champions Ryan Ideta and Malino Oda - both former Lunas - are rattled off, he knows who they are.
It also helped Tanaka-Tamaki that he grew four or five inches, to 5-6, in the past year. He has UH and UC San Diego in his sights as possible college tennis destinations.
''No doubt, that growing helped me a lot,'' Tanaka-Tamaki said. ''My serve is a lot harder now. It is kind of a weapon. My strength got better, too.''
Owens sees a bright future for the reigning MIL boys champion.
''I see him a lot down at Wailea and he has got a really great game,'' Owens said. ''I think he did great winning the MIL title this year. I think he will do great in the future as well.''
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com.