Punahou, Spiker, Tsukumoto win titles
By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer
History rolled through the Carlsmith Ball/HHSAA Tennis Championships in waves during yesterday's final rounds at Holua Tennis Center in Kona.
Punahou's boys set a national record by winning their 20th consecutive state tennis championship, with 17 points to runner-up Kalani's 10. Twenty in a row is also the Hawai'i record for any sport.
This was not the most talented team Rusty Komori has coached in his 17 years, but it was extremely effective the last three days. Komori will lose three seniors, including Erik Pang, who took second with Brandon Lee in doubles.
"Some of the matches we lost we really got beat," Komori said. "But the ones we won, we felt our guys really rose to the challenge. One of the things we stress to the players is that challenge makes life interesting. Overcoming challenges makes life meaningful. These guys really overcame them."
They did it without an individual champion. Waiākea's fourth-seeded team of Kallen Mizuguchi and Kaito Mizutani won the doubles, and Kalani's Jared Spiker defended his singles championship.
The Buffanblu girls won their eighth straight title, out-distancing Kealakehe, 16-10. Waverider senior Sayo Tsukumoto captured her school's — and the Big Island's — first girls tennis championship when she defeated Sarah Kukino, 6-3, 6-2, in singles. Kukino would have been Kaua'i's first champ.
Punahou's Ashley Nakaoka and Jennifer Laws defended their doubles title, 7-5, 6-3 over 'Iolani's Bobbi Oshiro and Kristen Poei. The Buffanblu have won the past five girls doubles titles, with Nakaoka also winning in 2008 as a freshman.
She is one of nine Buffanblu expected to return next year. Punahou will lose four seniors, including Kaitlyn Yim, who took third in doubles with Dani Young.
Nakaoka/Laws, Tsukumoto and Spiker were all top seeds and straight-set winners. Spiker's 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 win over ILH champion Matthew Westmoreland gave the Spiker family its seventh state title. The others came in wrestling, with Jason winning one last year and Jonathan getting the grand slam in his Saint Louis career.
Jonathan also earned a save out of the stands Friday, when Jared was disqualified early in his semifinal for wearing a sleeveless shirt.
"I thought my career was over pretty much," Jared said. "Then my brother Jonathan appealed. All the people watching helped me out a lot too, especially my team. They helped me get back on the court."
The successful appeal took nearly an hour. When it was over, a shaken Spiker lost the first set but blitzed through the second and won the super-tiebreaker to advance to the final.
Yesterday, he was down 4-1 in the second set to Westmoreland, who will play for Texas A&M in the fall.
"I went on a little tear," said Spiker, who is headed to the University of Hawai'i. "I told myself to keep fighting, stay focused, never give up. That's my motto.
"He made some misses and I hit some good shots and next thing I was up 5-4."
Tsukumoto will also be at Mānoa in the fall. She shook off a shaky start, winning three straight games to go up 3-2 in the opening set. Kukino could not deal with her, or her topspin forehand, from that point on.
"After that (start) I got all my nerves out," Tsukumoto said. "I was all right the rest of the match, no nerves, and she started missing."
Tsukumoto took third as a freshman and lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Kristin Lim the past two years. This season, her No. 1 seed was good from start to end.
"No one remembers who gets second, or third," Tsukumoto said. "My name will be there forever now."