BIIF tennis: Warriors claim three titles at individual championships

  • RICK WINTERS/West Hawaii Today Battling through what should have been a season ending leg injury, Waiakea's Maya Atwal, along with her teammate Jade Brilhante, claimed the BIIF girls doubles title on Saturday at the Mauna Lani Sports and Fitness Club.

KOHALA COAST — One week removed from claiming both the boys and girls team tennis titles, Waiakea kept the momentum going on the courts Saturday at Mauna Lani Sports and Fitness Club with three more titles

Despite a setback or two early in the BIIF individual championships, the Warriors pulled out victories in girls singles, girls doubles and boys doubles.

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The biggest surprise of the three-day tourney came when Waiakea’s No. 1 girls doubles team of Chloe Teramoto and Alicia Chun were upset by Hilo’s Riza Mae Rabanzo and Cami Oyama.

However, that opened the door for another Warriors doubles duo, Maya Atwal and Jade Brilhante, the No. 2 seeded team in the bracket, to claim an inspirational 6-4, 6-1 victory on the main court at the Mauna Lani Sports and Fitness Club.

Joining them on the podium was the No. 1 seeded Waiakea boys double’s team of Lucas Chun and Bruin Yomono, who survived a 4-6. 6-1, 6-2 match with Hawaii Preparatory Academy’s Noah Henderson and Zane Willman in front of a booming crowd.

Also, in an all-Warriors girls singles final, No. 2 seed Keilyn Kunimoto upset No. 1 seed Maile Brilhante 7-5, 6-0 to claim her second BIIF title and first singles title.

GIRLS DOUBLES

Atwal showed heart on the court. Battling a soccer injury that probably should have sidelined her for the entire tennis season, she fought through the pain to claim a BIIF doubles title with Jade Brilhante.

“The season was tough and I had to take a month off before coming back,” an emotional Atwal said after her match. “It took me three months to be able to fully play to my abilities so this victory with Jade means a lot to me.”

Atwal strained her MCL and injured her meniscus during the soccer season. She may also have a tear in her MCL, she said.

“I wanted to push myself through the injury,” Atwal said. “At the beginning of the season I wasn’t sure if I would even play, and I was told I probably shouldn’t play, and that is why I am crying right now. This win means everything to me.”

The duo faced stiff competition early in the match, but settled into a rhythm by the second set.

“Going into the match we were very excited but once we were on the court we knew what we needed to do,” Jade Brilhante said. “We were losing the first set but we adjusted, calmed down and became more consistent.”

Jade Brilhante and Atwal are also very close off the court, which has helped them with their chemistry during matches.

“They play a lot of junior tournaments together and have had success at that level,” said Waiakea head coach Bill Brilhante. “They compliment each other well and this was a good win. They deserve to be here and it is a joyous occasion.”

BOYS DOUBLES

Waiakea’s boys doubles team won the only three-set championship match of the tournament. After starting slowly, Chun and Yomono were able to win several long rallies to put the game in their favor.

“We were too excited in the first set and we just needed to calm down, start moving our feet better, and start hitting to the baseline person,” Yomono said. “Lucas helped carry me and this was a really good experience.”

Chun, a senior, was able to close out the match at the service line. He was also in the deciding match for the team championship.

“It is quite refreshing to get this win, especially with me being away from the team all last year,” Chun said. “It was also great to work with Bruin. Working with a freshman is not something I saw happening, but we developed trust in each other. He really pulled through for us and we were able to come out on top.”

Chun and Yomono did not have a lot of time to develop any chemistry. They were put together two weeks before the team championships.

“They were playing with different partners all year, but they were playing so well separately, I wanted to put them together to make a really strong team,” Bill Brilhante said. “They gelled immediately and had the big win in the team championships against the HPA team with Ryo. They rode that momentum all the way through.”

GIRLS SINGLES

In the girls championship, top seeded Maile Brilhante was looking for the BIIF singles crown after finishing runner-up to Konawaena’s Tayvia Yamagata.

However, it would be her teammate, Kunimoto who scored the victory in straight sets after going down 2-5 in the first set.

“I was nervous and a little late on my forehand at the beginning of the match but I just needed to tell myself to stay calm,” Kunimoto said. “It all worked out in the end.”

The individual singles title will be added to Kunimoto’s collection. She also claimed a doubles championship last year. However, winning a singles title was a whole different experience for the young Warrior.

“In singles play, you have to think for yourself and that independence is kind of cool,” Kunimoto said. “It is a great feeling to win both and it is an accomplishment that I will remember for a long time.”

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Confidence was the key to Kunimoto’s victory.

“She stayed consistent and when the opportunities came she took her shot and was able to come back,” Bill Brilhante said. “After dropping down 2-5, she won every game after that. That is mental toughness, and that was the difference.”

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