Four Kauai pickleball players earned medals at the Aloha State Games Senior Olympics Pickleball Tournament which wrapped up Sunday at the Houla Tennis and Pickleball Center in Kona.
Alana Fujikawa of Kalaheo and Judy Honda of Waimea teamed to earn gold medals in the women’s doubles 60-plus bracket.
“They were amazing,” said Jack Hodges, the volunteer USA Pickleball Association District Ambassador, State of Hawaii-West Region. “The ladies have been playing for just three months and beat the top-seeded team twice during the tournament. Judy and Alana were the only undefeated team entering the finals and played the No. 1 seeded team of Katy Gould and Judy McRobbie.”
Fujikawa and Honda suffered their first loss in the double elimination bracket, falling to Gould and McRobbie, 5-11, 11-5, 5-11, to force a game to determine the bracket winner. Fujikawa and Honda came back to win the playoff game, 15-0, for the gold medals following the two-and-a-half hour finals.
Hodges also took home gold in the men’s doubles 60-plus bracket during play which was contested on Friday. He added a bronze medal in mixed doubles after teaming with Steve Lopez from Kona in the men’s mixed doubles, and Maris van der Lee of Maui in the women’s mixed doubles.
“I was fortunate to win,” Hodges said. “In both contests, I teamed with players needing partners. As the commissioner of the tournament, one of the responsibilities which comes as the State of Hawaii USAPA Ambassador, I was only going to play if there were players needing partners.”
Pickeball is like tennis, but played with a plastic ball and wooden paddles.
Fran Graziano of Princeville teamed with Mike Whitley of Sacramento, California, to win the bronze medal in the men’s 60-plus division. Hodges said both men entered needing partners and were teamed together, the first time they met.
Other Kauai players in the Senior Olympics Pickleball Tournament included Dean Fujikawa, who teamed with his wife Alana in mixed doubles to win their first match with a win over a team from Kona. But they dropped the next two matches and were eliminated.
Judy and Jimmy Honda also played in the mixed division, losing their first match to a team from Oahu before winning two consecutive games. They were eliminated by the same team that gave them the opening loss.
“All of these players — Alana, Judy, Dean, Jimmy, and Fran — played in a pickleball tournament for the first time after only playing for three months,” Hodges said. “They represented Kauai well.”