Kaneshiro, Mizuno a good combination
WAILEA, Maui » On a day when the top players were idle in a figurative sense -- drawing byes in the first round but still getting in intense practice sessions -- the focus was on players who are unlikely to be on center stage when the weekend rolls around.
By then, Punahou traditionally shifts its steamroller into high gear. The Buffanblu have won 16 straight boys state tennis titles and four consecutive girls crowns.
Expect more of the same when Saturday's trophy presentation is made. The Punahou boys have the top two seeds in singles and doubles, with the girls having the top-ranked player in singles and the top two in doubles.
But that doesn't mean that yesterday's matches in the Carlsmith Ball HHSAA State Tennis Championships at three sites on South Maui meant any less to the participants or the schools they represent.
For some, just getting here was an accomplishment. For others, just getting a win was a reward they wouldn't mind duplicating again today.
The Mililani doubles team of senior Jessica Kaneshiro and sophomore Rachel Mizuno fits both profiles. They combined for a 6-4, 6-2 win over Kaiser's Rei Iwakuma and Nina Ho.
"Personally, I'm just glad to be here," Kaneshiro said following their victory under mostly cloudy skies at the Wailea Tennis Club. "And if we get really far, that's great."
There is something unique about the Kaneshiro-Mizuno combination: "As far as I know, we're the only lefties team here, maybe in the state," Kaneshiro said.
Mizuno added: "Coach (Maeann Beamer) first brought it up. Coach likes her forehand and she likes my backhand. It's worked out for us."
Both players have played singles at times during their youth careers, but seem to enjoy the camaraderie of doubles.
"We never fight. If someone makes a mistake, we just get over it," Kaneshiro said.
"You can't get mad at your partner," Mizuno added. "Both of us hit junk shots at times and it's up to us to cover for our partner by getting the ball back. And you have to appreciate that they cover half the court for you."
The Mililani doubles team finished fourth in the OIA West, and was eliminated by the Morton sisters, Genoa and Elora, of Castle in the league tournament. The Morton girls went on to win the OIA title and are seeded sixth in the state tourney.
"They're really nice girls, which made losing to them a little bit easier to take," Kaneshiro said.
Now if they can hold off another loss for a day or two, life would be that much nicer for the tennis partnership of Kaneshiro & Mizuno.
Standing in their way in today's second round, however, is the unseeded -- but rested -- Kamehameha-Hawaii tandem of Amber Stillman and Megan Wery.
In two of yesterday's most tightly contested matches, Ashley Pascual of Baldwin rallied to a 1-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Gabriella Fortunato of Roosevelt, and Sali Morioka of Kalani defeated Irene Ma of McKinley in girls singles 6-4, 7-5.
In boys singles, Logan Chun of Iolani beat Kento Koike of Kaimuki 6-4, 6-4.
In boys doubles, Hawaii Prep's Billy Boynton and Louis Polak defeated Leilehua's Diego Munoz and Michael Izon 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.