Wakida Courts need to be replaced
LAHAINA — The public tennis courts on Front Street in Lahaina stand in a dilapidated state today, but the soulful legacy of their legendary founder shines on despite the physical outward appearance.
Some 70 years ago, Shigeto “Shigesh” Wakida led the effort to promote the sport of tennis here on the West Side, including building the facility that would be named in his honor.
A diminutive figure physically but a giant of spiritual integrity, Coach Wakida led the establishment of the Lahaina Tennis Club, Lahaina Junior Tennis Club and to the unmitigated success of the Lahainaluna High School tennis team.
His community contributions included the promotion of the facility on Front Street that were named the Shigeto “Shigesh” Wakida Courts in his honor. People of all walks of life –residents and visitors alike — enjoyed the soulful sunshine of the sport at the south end of Lahaina Town in a corner of the park that rested in a part of a sacred parcel of Hawaiian history.
Perhaps Mr. Wakida’s most important contributions came in the introduction of tennis to hundreds of local keiki. In a stern but heartfelt manner, he mentored the kids and developed a program that inspired lifelong confidence, focus and motivation.
Keiki growing up in the sugar cane roots of Lahaina became character prototypes of the Wakida way. Ryan Ideta, Jean Okada, Steven Okada, Kimmie Ouchi, Bushy Makekau, Alison Valenta, Kula Oda, Diane Okada, Kathy Felicilda, Karen Felicilda, Lisa Whitehead, Edwin Pascual and Macario Pascual, along with countless others, are among the youngsters that walked onto those courts to begin the journey with the legendary coach that would have a profound influence on their lives.
These kids all grew up to successful lives after marked achievements in the sport. Ironically, the facility did not prosper similarly. Caught in the web of county government bureaucracy and controversy with the historic spiritual integrity of the land that was once the center of the Hawaiian Kingdom, the courts have fallen sadly into disrepair.
It has been over 25 years since the Shigeto “Shigesh” Wakida Courts have been repaired or resurfaced. According to Wakida protege Mac Pascual, the surface is beyond repair and needs to be replaced.
“Re-surfacing will not work — it is beyond that point. Have to start from scratch, and that will cost $100,000 to $150,000,” he said.
A daunting task indeed, but Coach Mac is an optimistic man.
“A donation effort can work for a facility we can be proud of in honor of Mr. Wakida. Fix it, take care of it, and people from all over will come and play. We still play there to keep the undesirables out by taking care of the park,” he said. “We can have a fundraising celebration in honor of Mr. Wakida — his legacy deserves it. Kids, families, visitors — everyone has always been welcome there. The facility deserves more, and that’s why we stay there. There is a lot of heart and love there; it’s a home, not a house. It is the spirit of the Lahaina community, and the legacy needs to continue to the next generations.”
For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (808) 281-2925. Donations can be sent to The Shigesh Wakida Legacy Project, c/o Lahaina Tennis Club, P.O. Box 12656, Lahaina, HI 96761.