Punahou's Robbie Lim beat Farrington's Mark Ilagan for the boys state tennis title yesterday at the Central Oahu Regional Park.

Punahou pushes
into Lim dynasty

Punahou junior Robbie Lim knew the road to a second consecutive state championship would be rough, he just didn't know it would hurt.

Suffering cramps and even a trip to the hospital after Friday's quarterfinal match, Lim closed out the tournament winning 23 consecutive games to repeat as the boys state tennis champion at the 56th annual Carlsmith Ball/Hawaii High School Athletic Association State Tennis Championships.

Lim and the doubles champion team of Nicholas Leong and Chris Iwamura led the Buffanblu to their 13th consecutive boys team championship.

"It never gets old," said coach Rusty Komori. "People think it's easy for us, but that's part of what makes winning each year even tougher."

While Iwamura and Leong never dropped a set in the entire tournament as the top seeds, Lim came close to not even making it to the final.

Facing Kahuku's second-seeded Dillon Porter in the semifinals, Lim dropped the first set 6-4 and was down 5-2 in the second set when he suddenly came alive.

"He actually had me doubting myself at that point," Lim said. "But my teammates and coaches never doubted me, and I used that to come back."

Not only did Lim come back, he did so in dominating fashion, winning the next five games to take the second set 7-5, and then sweeping the third set 6-0 before beating Farrington's sixth-seeded Mark Ilagan 6-0, 6-0 in the final.

"I don't know how he did it," Komori said. "Robbie has been a special player for us all year long, but this was amazing."

Lim, who did not lose a set in the regular season, lost the first set in his quarterfinal and semifinal matches.

"I was struggling out there and wasn't playing very good, but I'm definitely happy I was able to pull myself out of it just in time," he said.

While the Buffanblu boys continued their dominance on the boys side of the bracket, it was a pair of sisters from Kamehameha that stole the show on the girls side of the bracket.

Heidi Kaloi, the No. 4 seed, was able to avenge her Interscholastic League of Honolulu final loss to Kalei Gora of St. Francis by defeating her in the finals of the girls singles championship 6-2, 7-5.

"I really wanted to play her (the third-seeded Gora) in the finals," she said. "It was important for me to not only get a little revenge, but to show people that I could beat her."

One advantage for Kaloi this time around was that she didn't have to battle cramping in her legs that hampered her in the last meeting between the two.

"It was such a hard feeling last time because when you cramp up, there's just nothing you can do," she said.

Meanwhile, her older sister, Kim, won her fourth straight doubles championship, teaming with Lauren Shin to defeat Adriann Cy Gin and Erin Katayama of Punahou 6-3, 6-1.

"I was confident going into this since we beat them in the ILH," Kaloi said. "Once we won the first set, it made the rest of the match easier."

While this is Kaloi's fourth straight doubles title, this was the first year she won it without one of her sisters as a partner.

"We decided to try to win the team championship this year, so Heidi and I got split up," she said. "It was different playing with someone else, but Lauren really stepped in and played well and made it so much easier on me."

Even with Kamehameha winning the singles and doubles championships, the Buffanblu girls team squeaked out the team championship by one point, giving them their first team title since 1991.



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