The Maui News 2013 MIL Tennis All-Stars
St. Anthony High School’s Alicia Ballesteros had limited preparation time for the tennis season, having also competed for her school’s volleyball and soccer teams.
It didn’t stop her from winning her second consecutive Maui Interscholastic League singles title and being named the MIL Girls Tennis Player of the Year.
The boys honor was shared by Molokai’s Kamanu Pascua and Pono Chow, who claimed their school’s first boys doubles crown.
“It feels really nice and like all my hard work has paid off,” said Ballesteros, a senior. “There was a lot of pressure from my coaches, the competition was really tough this year and I wasn’t sure how I was going to do. I was surprised.”
As a sophomore, Ballesteros was runner-up to Lahainaluna’s Kaila Nip, who currently plays tennis at Linfield College in Oregon. Ballesteros rebounded last season by beating Lahainaluna’s Melissa Taketa in the final.
This year, Ballesteros beat Lahainaluna’s Joanna Aceret 6-2, 6-1 in the title match.
“I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished and I’m thankful for my coaches and teammates and all their support,” she said. “It was a really fun experience and I learned a lot from the sport.”
Unlike Ballesteros, who began playing tennis at the age of seven, Pascua had rarely held a racket before his sophomore year.
The 6-foot, 240-pound lineman, who played football growing up and participated in the MIL’s inaugural season for eight-player football in the fall, is not sure why he took up tennis.
“Honestly, it looked fun,” he said. “I know as a big dude you wouldn’t expect me to play tennis, but I ended up loving the sport and stuck through it in high school.”
Pascua, a senior, played singles for the Farmers his first two years, producing less than desirable results.
Pascua wound up teamming with Chow, a junior, this year.
The Molokai duo pulled off an upset of the top-seeded Baldwin team in the league semifinals and claimed the title by beating King Kekaulike’s Dillon Koga and Ray Tengan 6-3, 6-4 in the final.
“We had talked it out before the season and I said, ‘We got to win it this year, you want to be my partner?’ ” Pascua said. “We got together and now we’re MIL champs.
“I felt pretty good after, considering it was my last year and what a way to finish. It was a very good experience because I used to play singles throughout my career, but to winning it in doubles was great.”
Ballesteros and Pascua still have plans to play tennis in the future.
“On weekends we hang out and play tennis at our courts,” Pascua said. “It’s a sport that you can play your entire life, unlike football. It’s always going to be there as you get older and it keeps you exercising.”
Said Ballesteros, who plans to study nursing at Gonzaga University: “Hopefully I can see what it’s like at college. Maybe walk-on or join a club team and intramurals.”
* Chris Sugidono is at email@example.com