Seabury girls, Kihei Charter boys claim MIL championships

Seabury Hall’s Alexa deCrinis (left) high-fives playing partner Jessica Griffiths after a first-set point during their 0-6, 6-2, 6-1 win over Kamehameha Maui’s Kaelyn Kato and Berylin Lau in the MIL girls team championship final Saturday at Royal Lahaina Tennis Ranch. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

LAHAINA — Before Seabury Hall senior Jessica Griffiths graduated, she wanted her girls tennis team to walk away with the Maui Interscholastic League title.

She played a big part in making that dream a reality.

Griffiths and Alexa deCrinis rallied to win at No. 1 doubles to earn the decisive point in the Spartans’ 3-2 victory over Kamehameha Maui in the MIL team championship final Saturday at the Royal Lahaina Tennis Ranch.

“I’ve been on varsity for four years and we’ve never qualified for MILs or to even get this far,” Griffiths said. “So I’m just so happy that on my senior year I was able to.”

In the boys championship final, Kihei Charter capped off its inaugural season with a 3-2 victory over Seabury Hall.

The Kihei Charter School boys team of (from left) Trevor Coronesi, Quinn Shapiro, Hobbes Wilstead, Zack Fernando and Devon Baldwin celebrate their victory Saturday. -- JAMIE BALDWIN photo

The Spartan girls had not won the league title since 2004, according to Seabury coach Jan Waechli.

“It was super scary and exciting that we were able to pull through at the last second,” Griffiths said after she and deCrinis defeated the Warriors’ Kaelyn Kato and Berylin Lau 0-6, 6-2, 6-1. “We’re just super happy that all the hard work that we put in over the year paid off.”

Spartans freshman Nikki Fernando started strong with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Kamehameha’s Kaitlyn Ralar in No. 1 singles. Michelle Tasaki added another point for Seabury in No. 3 singles with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Ariana Rios.

The Warriors got wins from Kayleen Lau at No. 2 singles and the team of Jayda Lum Lung and Leeana Kanemitsu at No. 2 doubles.

While the players were ready to compete, rain caused two delays in play.

Seabury Hall’s Jessica Griffiths follows through on a first-set shot. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Neither the rain, nor their small roster, stopped the Kihei Charter boys from capturing the league title in their first season representing their school. Most of the Tiger Sharks, led by defending MIL boys individual champion Hobbes Wilstead, won the team title last year while playing for Maui High.

“It’s good, especially for Kihei Charter,” Wilstead said. “Hopefully it will inspire other kids to join the tennis team, so hopefully next year we’ll have a bigger team.”

As they’ve done all season, the Tiger Sharks defaulted the second doubles match Saturday because they did not have enough players.

“Winning with just five players was a challenge for us all season,” Kihei Charter coach Ian Cohen said. “I believe we are the first team to have less than seven players to win a tennis title.”

Wilstead claimed the decisive point for the Tiger Sharks in his No. 1 singles victory over the Spartans’ Sterling Sandler, 6-0, 6-1.

Baldwin waits at the net as Fernando prepares to hit a return. -- MANNY FERNANDO photo

In the boys No. 1 doubles match, Kihei Charter’s Devon Baldwin and Zack Fernando won the first set against Seabury’s Zack Walker and Miles Stone before the match was delayed by rain. After resuming, Baldwin and Fernando closed out the 6-2, 6-1 win.

“I think it gave our doubles a chance to reboot, it was kind of tight in the beginning,” Wilstead said of his teammates. “They were able to revamp and ended up winning.”

Cohen said he always encourages his players to be ready for any situation, regardless of the weather or who they are playing. Before the match started, he told his boys team to “go out and play their best tennis today.”

“It feels awesome because it’s the first ever championship for the team, it’s like a landmark moment for the school,” he said. “We knew coming in, we needed to just take it one match, one set at a time.”

Kihei Charter came into the day having already beaten Seabury twice during the regular season by the score of 3-2.

The Spartans’ Nikki Fernando hit a shot. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

“Even though we beat Seabury two times, it’s hard to beat the same team three times in a row,” Cohen said. “It’s just a great feeling for the kids and we’re just excited to keep this going next year.”

* Dakota Grossman is at dgrossman@mauinews.com

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SEABURY HALL GIRLS 3, KAMEHAMEHA MAUI 2

No. 1 singles–Nikki Fernando, Seabury Hall, def. Kaitlyn Ralar 6-1, 6-2. No. 2 singles–Kayleen Lau, Kamehameha, def. Chiemi Powell 6-0, 6-0. No. 3 singles–Michelle Tasaki, Seabury Hall, def. Ariana Rios 6-1, 6-1. No. 1 doubles–Jessica Griffiths and Alexa deCrinis, Seabury Hall, def. Kaelyn Kato and Berlin Lau 0-6, 6-2, 6-1. No. 2 doubles–Jayda Lum Lung and Leeana Kanemitsu, Kamehameha, def. Elena Hickey and Linda Schmitt 6-3, 6-2.

KIHEI CHARTER BOYS 3, SEABURY HALL 2

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

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