The finalists from the Kauai Interscholastic Federation state qualifying matches from last week were named this year’s KIF tennis all stars. Twelve KIF student-athletes comprise the list.
“It means a lot. I know my hard work is paying off,” said Island School sophomore Mia Fitzgerald over the phone Thursday.
Fitzgerald defeated older sibling, Voyagers senior Michaela Fitzgerald, in the KIF girls singles finals at the Kauai Community College tennis courts.
“I just tried to keep my head in it mentally. I know my sister is a really tough opponent,” Mia said. “I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. She played really good.”
KIF boys singles champion, Waimea senior Marcus Pereira, defeated Kauai High senior Mitchell Evans in the KIF boys singles finals.
“It means a lot. It means my hard work hasn’t been going to waste,” Pereira said of being named an all star.
Pereira went to the state tournament in 2014 and competed in the boys doubles bracket.
“I hope I can make it past the first two opponents that I challenge. I hope I can at least make it to the top eight,” he said about competing in the singles bracket at states.
Evans is the only KIF tennis all star from Kauai High School.
“It’s very humbling, and I feel proud. I’ve worked hard all four of these years,” Evans said. “Going to states was my goal ever since I was a freshman. I’m really happy I got to make it to this point in my senior year.”
Evans added about the KIF finals match versus Pereira: “It was a good match. He was playing really well. I probably wasn’t playing my best, but he was definitely on his game and played some good tennis. We had some good points, some good rallies. I was trying my best, but he was the better player that day.”
The 12 KIF standouts will play at the Carlsmith Ball Tennis Championships state tournament, which begins May 5 on the Big Island.
“I’m actually a little nervous. I’ve actually started playing tennis only two years ago. So, it’s kind of a big thing,” said Kapaa High senior Deidre Andaya.
Kapaa girls doubles team, Andaya and sophmore Isabella Kotsol, defeated Waimea duo, senior Karla Bermudez and sophmore Kari Correa, in the KIF girls doubles finals.
“After two years, I’m not really at everyone else’s skill-level but I’m (almost there). It shows how much work I’ve put in,” Andaya said of the accolade. “I remember when I first joined, I would stay after practice for about 30 minutes just hitting balls and serving. That really helped. It’s just about putting in the time.”
The KIF boys doubles champions are also from Kapaa. Warriors duo, seniors Shawn Yamane and Joshua Zietz, defeated Island School team, senior Elijah Leech and junior Manix Wolan, in the KIF finals.
“Me and my teammates Shawn, we put in a lot of work over the years. (It feels good) to get some kind of recognition,” Zietz said.
As for Kapaa winning both the girls and boys doubles championships, Zietz said, “We owe that one to the coach.”
Mia Fitzgerald, Island School, sophomore
Michaela Fitzgerald, Island School, senior
Isabella Kotsol, Kapaa, sophomore
Deidre Andaya, Kapaa, senior
Kari Correa, Waimea, sophomore
Karla Bermudez, Waimea, senior
Marcus Pereira, Waimea, senior
Mitchell Evans, Kauai, senior
Joshua Zietz, Kapaa, senior
Shawn Yamane, Kapaa, senior
Elijah Leech, Island School, senior
Manix Wolan, Island School, junior