CORONA LIGHT EVP TOUR
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Mark Paaluhi slammed the ball past T.J. Canham at the Corona Light EVP Tour World Championships at Queen's Beach yesterday. Paaluhi teamed with Evan Silberstein to win the men's title.
Paaluhi and Silberstein turn out the lights
There was no green flash. But there was Mark Paaluhi and his cutback shot.
The sun set on the Corona Light EVP Tour World Championships yesterday at Queen's Beach, with the men's final ending about the same time as the daylight. Paaluhi's last kill beat the darkness -- and the team of Bryan Starks and Michael Dickmann -- capping a 21-15, 21-18 victory.
"It was just getting to the point where it was going to be a problem, but we managed to sneak it in," Paaluhi's first-time teammate Evan Silberstein said. "If we had gone three (games), it would have been pretty dark and we might have needed some headlights."
The women's portion had no such problems, concluding nearly 2 hours earlier. Top-seeded Carrie Wright and Kelly Rowe won their fourth title in seven finals appearances this season, holding off Meghan House and Colleen Hunter, 21-17, 23-21.
The match wasn't without its drama. The California duo of Wright-Rowe trailed 16-11 in Game 1 before going on a 10-1 run, then needed six match points in Game 2 before finishing off their opponents from St. Louis.
"We really try to stay positive and not freak out when we get behind," said Rowe, the EVP Rookie of the Year. "It's not the strategy we want, but it worked out."
It worked very well in their semifinal against the Hawaii team of Chastity Nobriga and Lia Young-Hunt. Young-Hunt opened Game 1 with a 7-0 serving run that included four aces.
Wright-Rowe rallied to tie at 16 en route to a 21-18, 21-19 win and a berth in the final. The champions had to come out of the contenders' bracket while Nobriga and Young-Hunt had gone undefeated, sweeping all four of their matches.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Meghan House went up for a block while opponent Kelly Rowe waited. Rowe and partner Carrie Wright won the event.
The format was a little different than what Nobriga had experienced, where it is a double-elimination all the way through and a loss in the semifinals meant having to fight back through the losers' bracket. Yesterday, it was double-elimination until the semifinals.
"I didn't realize we were done," said Nobriga, a former University of Hawaii player. "It's not that it would have made a difference in how we played, but I thought we still had a chance to come back.
"This was my first tournament with Lia and we're still trying to learn about each other. I think this showed that we need to train harder so we can be more competitive and we can get more Hawaii teams out there on the tour."
Nobriga doesn't have to wait long. Although this was the last stop on the EVP Pro Tour, a new Hawaii circuit begins its four-island competition next Saturday on the Big Island at Keauhou Beach.
"We're very excited about being able to do that," tournament director Carlos Jimenez said. "It will be good for the Hawaii teams to have their own tour and we hope it will lead them to going on the national tour next year.
"We want to provide Hawaii players with more opportunities. This was our third time here and it's a great way to culminate our season."
The inaugural Hawaii Tour also stops at Kalapaki Beach on Kauai on Nov. 24; Kaanapali Beach on Maui on Dec. 15 and back to Queen's Beach on Feb. 9.
Oahu-raised Paaluhi, a firefighter and paramedic in Garden Grove, Calif., isn't sure if he'll be able to make it back because of work commitments. The 2004 EVP player of the year was also sidelined for part of this season because of work -- he was involved in fighting the fires in Southern California two weeks ago -- and having arthroscopic surgery on his knee.
"The summer was such a struggle that this is just a great way to end the season," he said.