Summer Classic matures Missouri player

PO‘IPU — Kanoa Fujita and Kimo Honda teamed to get past Dylan Wehrly and Meynard Enriquez, 6-3, 2-6, 1-0(10-7) in Men’s B doubles during the Summer Classic at the Po‘ipu Kai tennis courts.

Donna Umetsu, a longtime tennis enthusiast from the Westside, said what people don’t realize is how young Fujita is.

“Kanoa is a 16-year-old from Missouri who is on Kaua‘i for the summer and had never played in any kind of big tournament before,” Umetsu said in an email. “Kimo, Kanoa’s partner, worked with him last summer and continued this summer.”

With this experience, Fujita decided he wanted to play in the Summer Classic, a doubles tournament benefiting the Kaua‘i United Way and a part of the Koloa Plantation Days.

But more than playing, he wanted to be Honda’s partner.

“Kimo told him that because he was a ‘B’ player, Kanoa would have to play ‘up’ in the Men’s B Division,” Umetsu said. “That meant Kanoa would have to work really hard to improve his game.”

Fujita stepped up to the challenge, taking the court with Honda during the opening day last Saturday, and working three games on winning notes during the preliminary rounds.

But as the duo progressed, games became tougher, the Honda/Fujita duo getting past the semifinals in a three-set tie-breaker against Jef Aceret and Andrew Sugita, 6-7, 6-3, 1-0(10-4).

In the finals, against Wehrly and Enriquez, another three-set tie-breaker gave the division title to Honda and Fujita, 6-3, 2-6, 1-0(10-7).

“The fact that Kanoa and Kimo won against well-seasoned, experienced, hard-hitting men is a testament to Kimo’s excellent instruction,” Umetsu said. “But it is also a demonstration of Kanoa’s dedication, maturity and never-say-die attitude.”

Umetsu said with back-to-back three-set tie-breaking matches, the pressure must have been tough, not to mention having to be mentally and emotionally tough.

“I helped Kimo when he worked with Kanoa this summer, so it was super exciting for me to see what can happen when a young player gives his, or her, all,” Umetsu said. “It was also very inspiring for the Waimea High School tennis kids who witnessed this incredible feat.”

Unfortunately, Fujita, like the other college kids who were on the court for the Summer Classic, as the days of summer come to a close, he packs up and heads back to Missouri — until next summer.

The next event hosted by the Po‘ipu Kai Charity Tennis program is the Fall Challenge scheduled for Oct. 8 and 9 at the Po‘ipu Kai tennis courts. Visit www.kctennis209.webs.com for more information.

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