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Girls doubles front and center on Day 1 of BIIF Individual Tennis Championships

April 21, 2017 - 12:05am

KEAUHOU — There were no big surprises on opening day of the BIIF Individual Tennis Championships at Holua on Thursday, as girls doubles took center stage on Day 1 as the only bracket where all the top seeded teams played.

Waiakea’s Maile Brilhante and Anna Oda, the No. 1 seeded team, made quick work of the St. Joseph pairing of Jaina Galves and Mone Kudo, winning their second round match 6-0, 6-1. They received a bye in the first round.

Kealakehe’s April Wong and Michelle Uyeda, the No. 2 seeded team, dominated the Hawaii Preparatory Academy pairing of Kirra Brown and Charlotte Head, taking the match in straight sets 6-0, 6-0. They also received a first round bye.

As long as there are no hiccups in today’s slate of matches, the pairs from Waiakea and Kealakehe are poised to face off in the championship match on Saturday. While the talent is there for both, the two teams share very few similarities.

As freshmen, Brilhante and Oda are new to the BIIF scene, while the Kealakehe duo are battled tested against league opponents for four years — albeit rarely as a pair.

The youth factor might have affected the Waiakea pairing late in their second set with the Cardinals, giving a game away after being up 5-0. Brilhante and Oda rebounded to take the next game to close out the set and the match.

“We played well in the beginning but we lost focus,” Brilhante said. “We just need to work on our footwork and keep our heads in the match.”

Oda double-faulted three times in the last two games, saying the pressure was a factor. However, she has no doubt that she and her teammate work well as a unit.

“We get each other,” Oda said. “We are kind of like the same person.”

As seniors, Wong and Uyeda have been around the block a time or two. However, while they have more experience at the high school level than the Waiakea doubles team, they mostly worked as singles players. That is where the Waiakea duo has an advantage, since they were able to work as a team for most of the season.

Wong and Uyeda elected to pair up before the start of the 2017 season, but they did not play much together in matches this season, usually only teaming up when they practiced.

The move to play doubles, for Wong especially, came as a surprise since she finished runner-up in the BIIF tournament last year.

“This year I thought Michelle and I could win BIIFs and make it pretty far in states,” Wong said. “Michelle is really good at the net and I am kind of a baseline player, so we mesh up pretty well.”

“We were even thinking about it at the end of last year,” Uyeda added. “There are a lot of good singles players right now but a lot of the seniors from here, Oahu and Maui have left, so it kind of opens up doubles.”

Despite the lack of experience playing together in actual matches, Kealakehe coach Lawrence Lowe knows he has something special with the pairing of Wong and Uyeda.

“They got seeded No. 2 but they could have been No. 1,” Lowe said. “They are a righty, lefty combination which is good for doubles and they have played tennis on the same team together for six-seven years. They are both going off to play college tennis.”

For Waiakea head coach Bill Brilhante, he is cautiously excited about his freshman duo.

“They feed off each other and when one player gets hot the other gets hot. They are very aggressive and compliment each other on the court,” Bill Brilhante said. “But you don’t really know what you have with freshman until there is pressure. This BIIF tournament is going to present that for them.”

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