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Wednesday, April 30, 2003



[ HIGH SCHOOL REPORT ]



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KEN IGE / KIGE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Punahou's Robbie Lim switched to doubles in last week's ILH title match. He and Mike Azuma trailed in the third set, but rallied to clinch the title against Iolani.




Calming effect

Punahou's low-key Lim
is ready to defend his state
tennis title May 8


Whether he's the underdog or favorite, Punahou junior Robbie Lim enters every tennis match with the same focus and intensity, one of the reasons why he is the favorite to repeat as champion at the upcoming state tournament.

"No matter what is at stake, I try to focus on just playing the guy who shows up," Lim said. "Anything can happen in this game, as was proven last year."

Lim was seeded fourth in 2002 and went on to win the state tournament.

"I still am amazed at winning that finals match," Lim said. "I was tired and it was real hot, yet I managed to pull it out."

Lim was down 5-2 in the third set and facing match point before storming back to win the set 7-5.

"I was just glad that I was able to finally achieve something in a way that I could give back to my school," he said.

And it's that calm and classy demeanor that only helps Lim continue to win, even though now he's the favorite in every high school match he plays.

"That's one of the best parts about tennis for me," he said. "You might think it's tough when there are a lot of people watching, but when the adrenaline gets pumping and you feel the pressure, that's when it gets fun for me."

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KEN IGE / KIGE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Punahou's Robbie Lim came back from a 5-2 third-set deficit to win 7-5 in last year's state boys singles final. He'll be defending his title next week.




Buffanblu head coach Rusty Komori agrees that Lim's personality is very helpful in his performance on the tennis court.

"It's that calm demeanor that keeps him cool on the tennis court and allows him to perform as well as he does on the court," Komori said.

While Punahou has dominated the ILH in tennis, this year proved to be a little different as the Buffanblu were upset by Iolani, handing Punahou its first league match loss since at least 1984 (the actual length of the winning streak is being researched by Punahou). Even though Lim was away at a tournament on the mainland, he still felt the hurt of defeat.

"When I came back and my teammates told me they had lost, it was upsetting," he said. "It stung for me as well because I wished I could have been there to support my teammates."

Even though Lim was gone, he made sure to pick his team up when the two schools played in a rematch last week. He teamed with Mike Azuma in doubles to win the final point, giving the Buffanblu the 3-2 win.

"It was different for me," Lim said. "I rarely have played doubles at the varsity level, but I knew we needed to gain some retribution so I did whatever needed to be done."

And it is that attitude that allows Lim to be one of the leaders, even though he has a full season at Punahou ahead of him.

"We don't have any seniors on this team, but I just try to lead by example," Lim said. "I have been in a lot of tough matches and hopefully I can allow that experience to rub off on my teammates."

His head coach agrees.

"He's just a great team player," Komori said.

As for repeating as champion in the May 8-10 state tournament at Central Oahu Regional Park, Lim knows it will be tough, but he's been there before, and his coach is confident he can do it again.

"It's always difficult to stay at the top once you get there, but if anybody can do it, it's Robbie," Komori said. "He just refuses to lose out there, so if anybody is going to beat him, they're going to have to be at their very best."

As for Lim, he's just sticking to the same personality traits that have gotten him to where he is now.

"It's just one match at a time," he said. "I'll just focus on whoever I'm playing and take it all one step at a time."

And it's that method of attack that will have the rest of the field nervous as they try to upset the defending state champion at the state tournament.



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