Baldwin, Kato, Ikioka repeat
LAHAINA – Maui High School’s Joey Baldwin found himself down in each of his two sets at the Maui Interscholastic League tennis individual championships Saturday.
“I kind of started to get tight,” Baldwin said of his boys singles final against Seabury Hall’s Shayan Shirkhodai at the Royal Lahaina Tennis Ranch. “He got on the offensive, so I just loosened up and tried to play my game.”
Baldwin’s adjustments helped him win 7-5, 6-3, and earn a second straight league title.
“It feels good,” Baldwin said. “It was a pretty close match, especially in the second set even though it didn’t seem like it” by the score.
After going up 4-3 in the first set, Baldwin dropped the next two games before rallying. He trailed 3-1 in the second set.
Baldwin and Shirkhodai, a freshman, were facing each other for the first time in MIL play, though they have practiced and played against each other in other tournaments. Baldwin said he knew Shirkhodai was going to be his toughest opponent of the season.
“He played well, it was really close,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin’s match proved to be the closest final of the day.
Kamehameha Maui’s Kylie Kato and Sarah Ikioka defeated Lahainaluna’s Nicole Aceret and Joanne Uzzanti 6-3, 6-0 to repeat as girls doubles champions.
“We were more relaxed and more confident,” Kato said.
The Warriors duo encountered some shaky play in the first set, but Ikioka said “towards the end we got our groove on.”
“Last year we did great as freshmen,” Ikioka said. “We really need to grow as a doubles team, but it’s actually quite refreshing playing with her again because the last time we played together was last year.”
Baldwin’s Bud Kaiwi and Ethan Gazmen beat Lahainaluna’s Max Linder and Jarret Pascual 6-1, 6-0 to claim the boys doubles crown.
“It’s amazing, this is the best we’ve ever played,” Kaiwi said. “Ethan was hitting some crazy shots at net.”
Next up is the state tournament, scheduled for May 1-3 at the Wailea Tennis Club and Makena Tennis Club.
“We’re very much looking towards states,” Gazmen said. “Win or lose, we’re playing with high energy no matter what. Every match we play we want to make a very good match.”
Lahainaluna’s Joanna Aceret defeated teammate Shania Abut 6-3, 6-1 in the girls singles final.
“It feels really good because last year I made it to the finals and the defending champ kind of wiped me out,” Aceret said of her loss to 2013 St. Anthony graduate Alicia Ballesteros. “It was really nerve-racking; one, because I was playing my teammate and two, she’s my younger cousin so I usually help her with tennis but now I had to beat up on her.”
* Chris Sugidono is at firstname.lastname@example.org