Tiger Sharks, Na Pueo get back on court
KAPALUA– Though Quinn Shapiro’s senior year with the Kihei Charter School tennis team was not a typical season, he was grateful for the opportunities he had to step on the court.
On a windy Friday afternoon, the Tiger Sharks traveled to the westside to play Maui Preparatory Academy in a tennis scrimmage at the Kapalua Tennis Garden.
Only one set was played per doubles and singles match, but the time was nonetheless treasured by the student-athletes who have not been able to play official matches with no Maui Interscholastic League season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s awesome to get the opportunity to play, I mean, it’s really cool to be with all my teammates and start building the team for the future, so it’s just fun to be able to play,” Shapiro said after defeating Maui Prep’s Zack Aldineh 6-0. “Just thank you to everybody who’s been there and helped me throughout my whole career.”
Shapiro, who has also been competing at the Valley Isle Track Club meets on Saturdays, helped the Tiger Sharks to an MIL championship back in 2019 and was the MIL boys individual runner-up that season.
After he graduates and heads to Northwestern University in Chicago to experience the city life and study environmental science, Shapiro reassured that the Kihei Charter squad will be in good hands.
“I think they’re looking pretty good. We got a lot of kids to come play this year, by far the biggest team ever which is exciting for the future,” he said. “They’re all improving really fast. We have a lot of new players this year and they’re all doing really well.”
Maui Prep has spearheaded the effort for scrimmages this year, holding boys basketball and girls volleyball club tournaments as well as playing unofficial matches in other sports against fellow small MIL private schools.
Na Pueo’s Keeana Villamar said she participated in paddling, volleyball, track and tennis to make the most of her senior year and show her school “how grateful I am for them.”
“Getting this opportunity to play, I’m so grateful for it,” said Villamar, who with her doubles partner Tori Campbell won 6-4 against the Tiger Sharks’ Daisy Queirolo and Carmen Stettler. “Being able to collaborate with different schools, meet new people and see different faces, it was a really nice change from just staying at home and being confined to just one bubble.”
Villamar is heading to Scripps College in California to study English, world literature and culture, and environmental analysis with the goal to return to Maui and build her own business to “give back to those who don’t have much, like resources, free education, and food and shelter.”
“In this pandemic, we’ve seen first-hand how awful it is and some people just don’t have the resources they need,” she said. “Like right now, we’re here on the tennis courts and not worrying about food and I want to eliminate that fear for other people.”
Also on Friday, Kihei Charter’s Hana Yoshikawa defeated Andy Webber 6-0 in a singles scrimmage match, a final hurrah for the high school tennis season.
“It was fun. Everyone is different levels, but it was nice that everyone could come out and just play some matches even if it’s just for an experience and just for fun,” Yoshikawa said. “I’m glad we were able to have one instead of nothing.”
When sports were initially canceled due to COVID-19 and now with abbreviated scrimmage matches, she said that it was her coaches and teammates who “gave me motivation to play and just have fun.”
* Dakota Grossman is at firstname.lastname@example.org