Of the 406 student-athletes who were given Big West Conference all-academic honors, 56 represent the University of Hawaii. 48 UH spring sports athletes and eight winter sports athletes were recognized.
Hawaii junior and Kapaa High School alumnus Chas Okamoto was among the 56 from UH that was given such acknowledgment.
“Being successful in the classroom has always been very important throughout my life. My competitive nature on the tennis court carries over to the classroom, and vice versa,” Okamoto said in an email. “My coach, John Nelson, really stresses doing well in the classroom so that helps, especially with all the road trips and missed classes. He definitely gives classes the priority over tennis.”
To be eligible for the all-academic team, student-athletes must have maintained a 3.0 grade point average, have attained a sophomore standing academically and competed in at least 50 percent of the team’s contests, according to UH Athletics. Okamoto has a 3.9 cumulative GPA.
The former Kapaa Warrior went 9-10 in singles matches overall and 3-1 in conference play this past season. He also played a significant role in helping UH advance to the Big West Conference finals.
His most memorable moment, he said, was clinching a match at 3-3 in the first round of the conference tournament.
“We also won the regular season, so that’s a plus, but my season also had it’s downsides,” Okamoto said. “I ended preseason and started regular season with an Achilles injury and I was out from October (through) February. That really put things in to perspective for me. I realized how much I appreciate tennis and how blessed I am to compete at such a high level. Next year, I want to continue to appreciate this opportunity and enjoy every second of my final year of eligibility.”
In addition to enjoying every bit of his final season at UH next season, he hopes to win the conference postseason tournament and make it to the NCAA tournament, he said.
In the meantime, Okamoto has been home since the school year ended and has spent as much time as he can with his parents.
“They’ve sacrificed so much for me and it feels good to be able to help them when I’m home,” he said. “Other than that I’ve been spending some time with my church family and going on a lot of adventures. I’m actually going to backpack around Europe next week.”