Luna tennis teams look to gain experience at state tournament
LAHAINA – After finishing atop the Maui Interscholastic League West standings as the 2016 regular season concluded, the Lahainaluna High School boys and girls tennis teams were turned away in the semifinals of the team championships last week at Kaanapali.
The Lady Lunas fell to defending champion Kamehameha Maui, while the Lahainaluna boys were defeated by top seed Seabury Hall of the East Division.
The season now turns to the individual state qualifying competition to be held this week, April 21-23, at the Wailea Tennis Club, and the Hawaii High School Athletic Association State Championships on May 2-4 at Waikaloa on the Big Island.
For veteran Lahainaluna coach Macario Pascual, optimism reigns for his charges as they move into the homestretch of the current campaign.
“We are very optimistic about our opportunities in the individual qualifying matches,” said Coach Mac from the team’s practice courts at Lahaina Civic Center.
“We really want to qualify as many of our players that we can. We are a very young team – with only three seniors on the roster – and we want them to have the experience of competing against the top players in Hawaii. For us, it’s all about the journey.”
The Luna boys will bid aloha to senior team captains Blaine Casil and Jarret Pascual in their final appearances for Lahainaluna, while juniors Arden Domawa and Jose Antonio Rodriguez Gomez, sophomores Kennedy Makekau, Shane Ramos, Everett Prieto and Radon Sinenci, and freshman Kyle Killet all will bank their 2016 experience for the seasons ahead.
The Luna Wahine will lose one senior, but it will be an important vacancy. Co-captain and four-year standout student athlete Joanna Aceret graduates after an elite career of leadership of her team. Junior co-captain Shania Abut, juniors Gaila Galano, Cristine Ramos and Jamie Fujii, and sophomores Kiana Bell and Ruby O’Donnell will surely continue the glory run of Lahainaluna tennis that dates back some 65 years to the groundwork of the sport laid down on the West Side by the late, great Shigeto “Shigesh” Wakida.
The soft-spoken Coach Mac learned the game under the stern mentorship of Wakida and thus continues the emphasis of dedication, respect, family and education that the legendary leader established so many years ago on the Spartan, yet regal, courts named after him on Front Street.
“My sincere thanks goes out to the parents of the players, as they have taken a bigger role in the support of the team; that has allowed me to focus on the kids more. They have done all the behind-the-scenes things. Also, Athletic Director Scott Soldwisch, Trainers Jon Conrad and Helen Hetzel, and the Lahainaluna High School Foundation have all helped us tremendously,” said Coach Mac, who is joined by Edwin Pascual and volunteer assistants Joven and Madelyn Ramos, Roxanne Sinenci and Efren Aceret on the Luna coaching staff.
“My assistant coach (Edwin Pascual) and the volunteer coaches have been terrific for us as well.”