Jean Okada inducted into USTA Hawaii Pacific Hall of Fame
LAHAINA – The tradition of Lahaina grown student athletes returning to Maui to pay forward the integrity of character forged on the courts and fields of their home continues with Jean Okada.
The former Lahainaluna High School and UC Santa Barbara tennis great – now a mom to three young boys – is back on the Valley Isle to make a life service return to her hometown community as a teaching professional at the Royal Lahaina Tennis Resort and as a volunteer coach.
Her brilliant playing career, guided by Lahaina’s legendary tennis coach Shigeto “Shigesh” Wakida, included age group state championships representing the Lahaina Junior Tennis Club; a team and individual state title representing Lahainaluna, along with several player of the year awards and Maui Interscholastic League championships in high school; and recognition into the UCSB Hall of Fame after being honored as the school’s only female singles All-American player and team MVP.
Okada concluded her playing career by competing around the world on the Professional Tennis Circuit, achieving top 200 status in singles and doubles and making the draw at the U.S. Open in 1998.
For all of these accomplishments, as well as her continuing contributions to tennis here on the West Side, Okada was recently honored with her induction into the USTA Hawaii Pacific Hall of Fame. She was honored with her fellow inductees at the 2014 Annual Awards Banquet held at the Ala Moana Hotel in Honolulu on Nov. 22.
She credits the strong support of her working class parents, Nguyen and Kenneth Okada, as well as her five brothers and sisters and the guidance of Wakida, for her success in life.
“My family is always there for me, and Mr. Wakida has had a tremendous effect on my life. He always emphasized respect, loyalty, responsibility to us, and to endeavor in life, especially in education. He reminded us all the time that success as a person was foremost,” said Okada, an honor student at Lahainaluna who graduated from UCSB with a degree in sociology.
“I feel peace and comfort here in Lahaina with my family, my friends – all the best things in life.”
In related news, the Royal Lahaina Tennis Ranch received “Facility of the Year” and “Special Friend of Tennis” awards at the banquet in Honolulu.
Operated by John and Cynthia Monnier, the facility was recognized for hosting several top tournaments and a very successful junior tennis program, and for superior service to visitors and residents alike.
The “Friend of Tennis” recognition came as a result of the resort’s quality service and support of tennis events and the community.
For the future, the Royal Lahaina Tennis Resort is the new home of Hawaii’s Challenger Series and could host a Davis Cup match in the near future.