Warriors, Sabers defend MIL titles
WAILUKU – The Kamehameha Schools Maui girls team and Maui High boys were no shoo-ins to repeat as Maui Interscholastic League tennis champions Saturday at Wells Park.
The Warriors were playing their fourth match in three days, against Baldwin. The Sabers were facing Molokai, and the teams had split two previous meetings this year.
The bids for back-to-back titles, however, would not be denied.
Kamehameha Maui won 4-1, and Maui High claimed its third title in five years with a 3-2 victory.
“It’s overwhelming,” said the Warriors’ Kylee Kato, who beat Nicole Matsui 6-0, 6-1 at No. 1 singles. “We practiced so hard and we put out what we practiced. It feels really good and I’m really excited and happy.”
Julie-Anne Ohashi-Sides gave Kamehameha a victory at No. 3 singles, 6-4, 6-3 over Molly Murai, avenging a loss on Thursday.
“I had my racket back today,” Ohashi-Sides said with a smile.
Mehana Fisher and Mikayla Lau, who had lost a third-set tiebreaker to Kayla Bisqueira and Malorie Murakami on Thursday, rebounded in the rematch, winning 6-2, 6-2 at No. 1 doubles.
“It was a weight off our chest,” Lau said. “Playing Baldwin again was really whew, I don’t know how to describe it. I think we’re pretty grateful that we played three straight days because I think we improved throughout the matches.”
Fisher agreed the team “felt rejuvenated” over the weekend.
“We kind of had that mindset, we wanted to dominate,” she said.
Kato, a sophomore, has not given up a set in her MIL career and classmate Sarah Ikioka, who beat Jessica Pressman 6-2, 6-0 at No. 2 singles, also has not lost a match.
“I’m really happy that our first doubles and third singles could pull it together and ended up winning,” Kato said.
The boys finalists entered off the heels of 3-2 wins Friday. In the title match, the Sabers rallied after losses at No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles.
“If we would’ve lost the match we would’ve lost the championship, so I was getting pretty nervous in the beginning,” said No. 1 doubles player Devan Kepler. “But I calmed down and played better.”
Kepler and Anthony Baduan rallied for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory over Pono Chow and Kai DeCosta.
“We knew we had to come back and push our way through and just get the win,” Baduan said. “In my first year I really wanted to beat the best in the MIL and now that it’s happened I’m honored to have been a part of it.”
Maui High coach Ian Cohen said he was proud of his team, which was without reigning MIL individual champion Joey Baldwin for much of the season due to injury.
On Saturday, Baldwin defeated Keoki Kaulia 6-1, 6-0.
“We were thinking maybe we weren’t going to make the playoffs because St. Anthony was still in the mix,” Cohen said. “All the teams were really, really even: us, Baldwin, Molokai and Seabury. It was so competitive this year.”
* Chris Sugidono is at email@example.com.
KAMEHAMEHA MAUI GIRLS 4, BALDWIN 1
No. 1 singles-Kylee Kato, Kamehameha Maui, def. Nicole Matsui 6-0, 6-1. No. 2 singles-Sarah Ikioka, Kamehameha Maui, def. Jessica Pressman 6-2, 6-0. No. 3 singles-, Julie-Anne Ohashi-Sides Kamehameha Maui, def. Molly Murai 6-4, 6-3. No. 1 doubles-Mehana Fisher and Mikayla Lau, Kamehameha Maui, def. Malorie Murakami and Kayla Bisqueira 6-2, 6-2. No. 2 doubles-Amanda Barr and Kiara Cummings-Carone, Baldwin, def. Quincee Taguchi and Michelle Nakashima 6-3, 6-2.
MAUI HIGH BOYS 3, MOLOKAI 2
No. 1 singles-Joey Baldwin, Maui High, def. Keoki Kaulia 6-1, 6-0. No. 2 singles-Kelly Griffith, Maui High, def. Caulen Angelsea 7-6 (2), 6-3. No. 3 singles-Decker Bicoy, Molokai, def. Ezekiel Cawigan 6-1, 6-4. No. 1 doubles-Devan Kepler and Anthony Buduan, Maui High, def. Pono Chow and Kai DeCosta 4-6, 6-3, 6-1. No. 2 doubles-Conan Kawano and Kaiea Dowling, Molokai, def. Eric Lazo and Kelvin John Bio Bio 6-2, 6-1.