Corniel, Camp take title
WAILEA – The Wailea Open men’s 4.5 doubles final on Monday represented the Maui Interscholastic League’s present against some of its storied past.
Brayden Corniel, a state doubles champion at Baldwin High School in 1995 and 1996, teamed with Rick Camp to beat Joey Baldwin and Shayan Shirkhodai 6-3, 6-2 at Wailea Tennis Center.
Baldwin was the MIL singles champion this season as a Kihei Charter freshman competing for Maui High, and Shirkhodai will be a freshman in the fall at Seabury Hall. Both are 14 years old.
The 35-year-old Corniel is an assistant coach for the Bears under his former doubles partner Craig Nunokawa.
“It is a very good challenge because those young guys are very, very fast,” Corniel said. “They are a good team and everything. I hope to see them back again in some tournaments. I love playing with Rick Camp – he is a very good player and everything. It’s why we should play again.”
Corniel’s last Wailea Open title came in 2009, when he and Evie Seeton won in 4.5 mixed doubles. A year ago, Corniel and Tiffany Garcia lost to Camp and Mizue Ramos in the 4.5 mixed final.
“I have been in the final a few times, but just came up short a little bit,” Corniel said. “It’s nice to win it. It was very challenging today.”
Monday’s match lasted about 80 minutes.
“We wanted to get them off the court fast today because these youngsters can run and everything,” Corniel said. “Our job was just to take away the net, put away the balls and then see how it goes from there.”
Camp described a similar strategy.
“It’s great to have a partner that is that steady, that consistent,” he said. “He knows how to play doubles. Doubles is about coming to the net and that’s what we do – we take over the net.”
Camp said playing a solid, young team “is challenging, also interesting because they don’t have a weakness, which we like. It’s just a matter of who plays better that day and I guess we played a little better today.”
Baldwin smiled when asked about playing a more experienced tandem.
“They are kind of funny and they are pretty mature, but they also like to screw around, so it is pretty fun playing them,” he said. “They are really good.”
Baldwin also noted: “It’s not maybe as competitive as maybe juniors who get, like, super mad.”
The match began at 7 a.m., and Baldwin acknowledged that the Wailea sun took a toll.
“It wasn’t that hot in the beginning, but then every second it was getting hotter,” he said.
Baldwin, who teamed with Neil Archer for last year’s 4.5 men’s doubles title, said he learned a lot from playing in the MIL this season, something his partner will discover next spring.
“You have to be really focused, even in the first round against people you think might not be that good, sometimes they are really good,” Baldwin said. “They know that you are good, so you have to be ready to play.”
Baldwin and Shirkhodai will play the Hawaii junior circuit this summer, as partners and in singles, and Shirkhodai will then follow in his brother Arta’s footsteps at Seabury.
“I’m super excited,” he said. “I have been in competition with juniors all over the island, so it is going to be super fun.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com