LIHUE — Going to nationals is so nice, they had to do it twice.
A group of Kauai women tennis players qualified to play at two United States Tennis Association national championship tournaments.
“It was amazing because the group of girls we have, we’re all friends and we all get along. That’s the best part of it, being able to share that experience with them,” said 18-and-over team captain Sonya Halladay. “We all understand each other, we talk, I can set the lineup however I feel is best and I know they will do their best with whoever I put them with.”
Kauai’s 18-and-over team won the Women’s 4.0 division of the USTA Hawaii Pacific regional tournament on Oahu earlier this month. The team will represent the Hawaii Pacific region at the 18-and-over national competition in Tucson, Arizona, on Oct. 17.
Halladay has been playing tennis competitively for three years. This will be her first time at a national tournament.
“We’re actually beyond excited. We can’t believe that this small group of tennis players on this island are able to go and compete with the big players on the Mainland,” she said. “There’s no words that can express what that means because it’s a huge accomplishment for this small island to be able to do that, especially to beat Oahu … It definitely makes me proud to be captain of this awesome team.
“I think maybe a lot of people playing at nationals on the Mainland are used to this. But for us, I think it’s extra exciting that we’re able to do it being such a small tennis community on Kauai,” Halladay added.
Several of the players will also compete in the USTA 40-and-over national competition in Southern California in November. They earned their place by winning the 4.0 Women’s division of the 40-and-over Hawaii sectionals on Maui in May.
“I think it’s pretty remarkable that a Kauai team was able to win both sectionals. We just feel really thrilled and honored. We have a great team and we’re really excited about this opportunity,” said 40-and-over team captain Shannon Burkman. “We’re great teammates but even better friends. That’s the beauty and joy of playing adult league tennis.”
For Burkman, a Kauai High School alumna, the 18-and-over competition will also be her first time playing at the national level.
“I’m curious to see the level of competition just because you play against places like California, Texas, Florida, a lot of people,” she said. “There’s a lot of talented tennis players. So we shall see how we fare. It will be exciting to be a part of that.”