Future appears bright for two tennis players from Hawai'i
By Dennis Anderson
Advertiser Staff Writer
Players from O'ahu were selected freshmen of the year in both men's and women's tennis in the West Coast Conference.
David Gonzales photo
Janalle Kaloi, a 2001 Kamehameha Schools graduate, finished her first season at Santa Clara with 20 singles wins. "And she has a ton of potential and room to grow," says her coach.
David Gonzales photo
They both play for Santa Clara University in California's Silicon Valley and their coaches say both have the potential to accomplish much more.
Janalle Kaloi finished her first collegiate season with 20 singles victories, tied for fourth in Santa Clara single-season records. But coach Aby Ryan says, "with the schedule we play now, it's the second best. And she has a ton of potential and room to grow."
"Janalle is mentally tough; she can really step up and close out matches when she has her confidence," Ryan said.
"Her serve is one of her big strengths and her ground strokes are some of the best in the conference. We are working on coming to the net, working on her movement and volleys and to get her an all-court game. She's going to be nationally ranked, I think."
Adjusting to college tennis, on and off the court, has been challenging to Kaloi.
"On our schedule, everyone is good, from No. 1 to No. 6, all the teams are solid," she said. "You always have to be 100 percent. Every day is going to challenge me.
"Coach Ryan says I need to be more aggressive, and take advantage of shorter balls sometimes I don't."
Kaloi also has found that "the time I have to put in is so demanding that it's hard to balance school and going to practice and playing matches. It doesn't leave that much free time for me. That was the hardest adjustment from high school."
The team practices three hours daily, has additional conditioning and weight training four or five times a week, and yoga once a week in the morning to improve concentration, Kaloi said.
"It's hard , very hard, to find time for everything," she said.
Kaloi has chosen a demanding major of combined sciences. The demands of tennis have an upside. "Tennis gives me more structure," she said. "Since the season ended, I can procrastinate. In season, I have to organize my time, focus and get it done."
Chris Lam finished 25-9 in singles, winning 11 of his last 12 and breaking into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's national rankings three times. He reached No. 104 on April 17 and was No. 113 and the 14th-ranked freshman last Wednesday.
"He was very focused on what he wanted to accomplish and took it upon himself to keep getting better," assistant coach George Husak said. "Chris was our No.1 from the third match of the spring.
"Chris has a very strong forehand, he's very quick, he reacts extremely well in terms of recovering after a shot to get to a spot," Husak said. "He is able to control the point. He stays focused and doesn't pull off balls."
Husak thinks Lam came of age in a three-set loss to 42nd-ranked Carlos Palencia of UC-Santa Barbara Feb. 2.
"Chris was up a set and had two match points. He battled the entire time, and stormed ahead in the third set, but lost 7-5.
"That match showed him he could play with some of the best in the country, and have the opportunity to beat them, but he saw he needed to improve on some things," Husak said. "He's got a great lot of potential."
Lam later defeated three nationally ranked players, including then-No. 28 Danny Westerman of Wisconsin. "He really made a statement with that win," Husak said.
Lam also impressed in losses to then-No. 1 David Martin of Stanford, 7-6, 6-2, and then-No. 5 Al Garland of Pepperdine, 7-5, 6-2.
Lam's real breakthrough may have come last summer, under the private coaching of Honolulu's Calvin Nii.
He defeated four seeded players to reach the singles finals at the USTA National Amateur Hard Court Championships at Ohio State and earned a No. 9 seed in the ITA Summer Circuit National Championships.
Lam defeated the then-No. 2-ranked 18-year-old in the U.S. at the Boys 18 and 16 Super National Hard Court Championships at Kalamazoo, Mich., and lost in three close sets to the No. 4 player.
SHORT LOBS: Junior Mike Bruggemann (Punahou '98, of Wai'alae Iki) set a Santa Clara record for doubles victories in 2001 with a 19-12 season. "He's got one of the biggest forehands I have ever seen," assistant coach George Husak said. "Some pros would kill to have that forehand." Bruggemann was 16-14 this season. ... Janalle Kaloi was named the conference Singles Player of the Month in February and she and partner Mariko Kawakami, a junior from Seattle, were named WCC Doubles Team of the Month in both February and March. ... Kaloi and Kawakami won honorable mention all-league in doubles. ... Kaloi is the first Santa Clara player to be named WCC Freshman of the Year. She shared the honor with Veronica Koksova of Pepperdine. ... Her singles record was 20-13; she went 13-10 in dual matches, mostly at No. 2. ... Chris Lam is the first Santa Clara men's player ever to be nationally ranked. His record was 14-6 at No. 1 singles.