Rain delays can’t stop winners

PUHI — Waimea’s Marcus Pereira had already reached his goal Friday, the final day of the Kauai Interscholastic Federation tennis qualifying matches at the Kauai Community College tennis courts.

“His goal was to make states in at least three sports,” said Reni Pereira, Marcus’ mom who came to the courts to support her son. “This is his final chance because he’s a senior, and he’s already been to two other state championships, and the tennis tournament will be his third.”

Pereira, seeded No. 2 in the qualifying matches, went on to upset top-seeded Mitchell Evans of Kauai, 6-2, 6-3 to claim the KIF boys singles title and earn the right to advance to the Carlsmith Ball Hawaii High School Athletic Association tennis championships at the Orchid Mauna Lani & Racquet Club at Mauna Lani, May 5-7.

“He had to play hard,” Reni said. “His opponent, Edmelle Medina, another Menehune, played two games, Thursday so Marcus had to play him Friday.”

Medina, unseeded in the tournament, advanced past Tebbo Beyer of Island School in the opening round Thursday, 6-3, 7-5 before upsetting the No. 3 seed, Kahea Kamalani of Island School 6-3 in the first set. Medina advanced after Kamalani withdrew from the match due to injury.

He opened Friday, late due to rain delays, against Pereira, but succumbed, 1-6, 1-6, sending Pereira to face the top-seeded Evans.

Evans moved along his path with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Kapaa’s Casey Fischer on Thursday and advanced into the finals by taking out his teammate, No. 4 Akira Takabayashi, 6-1, 6-2.

“Mia might be younger and smaller than Michaela, her sister,” said Michelle Fitzgerald, Island School coach and Mia and Michaela’s mother. “But she’s smaller, and in play, she’s a firecracker.”

The bang from the firecracker, overcoming frustrations from the gusty winds, sparked another upset as the No. 2 Mia beat out top seed Michaela, 6-3, 6-3 during the girls singles finals.

Mia’s road to the finals saw her down Kapaa’s Mary Jane Uribe, a three-set tiebreaker winner over Kristine Ruize of Waimea, 6-0, 6-0 to face the tournament’s No. 3 seed, Julia Hirano of Waimea. Mia continued to dominate the court, not allowing a point against two opponents as she shut down Hirano, 6-0, 6-0 to face Michaela.

Michaela, similarly, opened strong, not allowing a point against her two opponents, Jenni Medina of Kapaa, and on Friday morning, Wailana Makepa who earlier upset No. 4 seed Rochelle DelaCruz of Waimea in a three-set tiebreaker, 7-5, 4-6 (10-8).

“Wailana is a great little player,” said Kapaa coach Richard Wanek. “She’s come a long way after only playing four months. I told her to go out and relax, have fun.”

On the boys double courts, the Kapaa team of Shawn Yamane and Joshua “Bear” Zietz was a 6-0, 6-3 winner over the No. 2 seed Island School team of Eli Leech and Monix Wolan.

The Leech/Wolan duo had to open with a tough match against Patrick Cowell and Riley Saiki, who earlier upset the No. 3 seeded team of Holden Halladay and Trevor Carbonel of Kauai in a three-set win. Through hard hitting in the gusty winds, Leech and Wolan advanced to face Yamane and Zietz who earlier defeated the No. 4 seeded team of Joshua Subiate and Limar Medina, 6-2, 6-2.

“She just picked up tennis as a hobby,” said Deidre Andaya’s mom, Friday while watching the pair of Andaya and Isabella Kotsol, top seeded in the qualifying tennis tournament, battle teammates Shannon Sitzler and Britney Uribe in the semifinals. “She found out she really loved the sport. She should have realized this sooner so she could play more.”

The Andaya/Kotsol pair went on to prevail 7-5, 6-3 over Sitzler and Uribe and faced the Waimea pair of Kari Correa and Karla Bermudez for the finals.

“Kari’s playing doubles for the qualifying matches,” said Kirk Correa, Kari’s dad. “She would have done singles, but she said her body couldn’t move the way she wanted it to, so she’s just going to do doubles.”

When the dust settled on the three-set match, the top seed of Kotsol and Andaya prevailed over Correa and Bermudez, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 for the title in girls doubles.

The category winners and finalists advance to the Carlsmith Ball HHSAA state championships on the Big Island.

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