Tiger Sharks look to compete for titles in debut season

Kihei Charter boys, Seabury Hall girls win on MIL?opening day

Kihei Charter School’s Hobbes Wilstead hits a return to Seabury Hall’s Miles Stone in the first set of their match at the Wailea Tennis Club on Saturday. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

WAILEA — Kihei Charter School has never won a Maui Interscholastic League team title in any sport. The Tiger Sharks took a large step toward changing that on Saturday at Wailea Tennis Club.

The Kihei Charter boys team beat Seabury Hall 3-2, while it was the Spartans who won the girls match 3-2 on opening day of the MIL tennis season.

Last year, Maui High won the boys and girls MIL team titles with five of the seven players on the boys team and three of the girls coming from Kihei Charter.

Hobbes Wilstead won the MIL individual singles title last year and won his No. 1 singles match over Miles Stone on Saturday 6-0, 6-1.

“I think it’s pretty cool that we can represent our school,” said Wilstead, a junior. “Because before we were playing for Maui High and the Sabers would get most of the credit, so it’s good that Kihei Charter is getting their name out there because we’re kind of a small school. So, it’s given us some credit on our athletics.”

The Tiger Sharks’ Kiyo Christopher follows through on a first-set shot against the Spartans’ Alexa De Crinis. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Devon Baldwin, a senior who played No. 1 singles for Maui High most of last season and was runner-up to Wilstead in the MIL singles final, played No. 1 doubles with Zack Fernando on Saturday and beat Zack Walker and Jacob Keyser 6-0, 6-1.

“It was an honor,” Baldwin said of his first match wearing a Kihei Charter uniform. “I kind of participated in creating the team my junior year, that was my junior year project, was trying to get this team. Trying to make it and planning it versus having the reality was totally different.”

Baldwin, the younger brother of four-time MIL singles champion Joey Baldwin, said there were times he thought a day like Saturday would never arrive.

“I ended up giving up on that my senior year and doing something else, but we ended up having a team after all and it’s an honor to play for Kihei Charter, finally,” Devon Baldwin said.

The Tiger Sharks-Spartans matches were the only ones slated for opening day Saturday, but it appears all four teams involved could be in contention for team titles.

Nikki Fernando of Seabury Hall hits a return during her match against Jessalyn Lopez on Saturday. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

There was some reminiscing for the Tiger Sharks, however. Ian Cohen has moved from Maui High to Kihei Charter as coach.

“We’re very happy to have our own team, at the same time now Maui High is kind of left behind,” Devon Baldwin said. “We miss a lot of the people there, but we have Ian as coach, he came over to Kihei Charter and we’re very happy to have him. I think we have some good coaches, so I think we’re going to do really good this season.”

In the girls No. 1 singles match, two-time MIL champion Jessalyn Lopez, a junior, outlasted Seabury Hall freshman Nikki Fernando 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. Kihei Charter defaulted both the boys and girls No. 2 doubles matches.

“It’s really exciting playing for my own school for once,” said Tiger Sharks junior Chloe Jones-Livingstone after losing a doubles match with partner Jessica Priest. “Because I played for Maui High every other year, so, yeah, really happy about it. I think we can do it — we have a really strong team.”

Jones-Livingstone said a first-ever MIL title would be huge for the school that has 600 students from kindergarten through the 12th grade.

“It would be awesome, for sure,” she said. “I feel like the tennis team is a small team for Kihei Charter and it’s not appreciated as much, so I feel like winning the title will put us up there and hopefully get us some more players who will join.”

Cohen is happy to be at the South Maui school — the boys return four of seven players who started in the MIL championship match last season.

“We’re trying to do as well as we can, we feel like we have a good chance to win the boys championship this year,” Cohen said. “So we kind of have that mindset that we’re trying to repeat what we did last year, but at the same time trying to win Kihei Charter their first-ever tennis team championship, too.”

Second-year Seabury Hall coach Jan Waechli said he is glad to see more competition in the MIL, although it is very familiar.

“We played the same guys when they played for Maui High,” Waechli said. “So for me it is almost like playing the same, it doesn’t change anything. Last year, that was a battle. This year, they are much better. … It’s a big challenge for us.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com

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KIHEI CHARTER BOYS 3, SEABURY HALL 2

No. 1 singles–Hobbes Wilstead, Kihei Charter, def. Miles Stone 6-0, 6-1; No. 2 singles–Quinn Shapiro, Kihei Charter, def. Sterling Sandler 6-1, 6-1; No. 3 singles–Evan Lipetz, Seabury Hall, def. Trevor Coronesi 6-0, 3-6, 6-3; No. 1 doubles–Devon Baldwin/Zack Fernando, Kihei Charter, def. Zack Walker/Jacob Keyser 6-0, 6-1; No. 2 doubles–Braden Nishimoto/Kazu Linuma-Nakaaki, Seabury Hall, win by default.

SEABURY HALL GIRLS 3, KIHEI CHARTER 2

No. 1 singles–Jessalyn Lopez, Kihei Charter, def. Nikki Fernando 4-6, 6-4, 6-2; No. 2 singles–Kiyo Christopher, Kihei Charter, def. Alexa De Crinis 6-4, 6-4; No. 3 singles–Michelle Tasaki, Seabury Hall, def. Carine Bleasdell 6-0, 6-3; No. 1 doubles–Jessica Griffiths/Chiemi Powell, Seabury Hall, def. Chloe Jones-Livingstone/Jessica Priest 6-0, 6-1; No. 2 doubles–Elena Hickey/Erin Tanaka, Seabury Hall, win by default.

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