Seasiders, Vulcans
compete in Florida

The University of Hawaii-Hilo women's tennis team learned its lessons well.

The Vulcans are usually little more than fodder for top-ranked Brigham Young-Hawaii, adding five victories each season to the Seasiders' current 97-match win streak. And while this year was no difference win-wise, the losses were considerably closer. So much so, the Vulcans actually traveled to Laie this season expecting to win.

"They are the bar that we have been reaching for," Hilo coach Kula Oda said. "Playing them five times a year is good and bad. It can be a little hard on the confidence but it gives us something we can measure ourselves by."

Despite those losses to their Pac-West Conference foe, the Vulcans wound up winning their remaining matches to earn a spot in the round of 16 at this week's NCAA Division II tournament at Altamonte Springs, Fla.

Hilo climbed as high as No. 10 nationally and plays No. 4-ranked West Florida today. The Vulcans hope their tough encounters with the defending champion Seasiders, who open with Valdosta State, will serve them well in the Sunshine State.

"I think we have a good chance," Oda said. "We are just going to have to go out and play. The only real difference between us (and West Florida) is a two-hour drive vs. an 11-hour flight."

The six-hour time difference is as new to Oda as it is to his team. In an attempt to keep things as normal as possible, he is making his players spend their daylight hours awake and out of their rooms to avoid any prolonged naps.

"We wanted to get to practice in the morning like we always do, but it rained," Oda said. "So I wanted them to go out and hit, but my assistant coach told me not to bother. They are ready."

The Vulcans' recent resurgence was built along the lines of BYU head coach David Porter's Seasider dynasty. Oda went out and got a pair from France to mix with his core of Japanese and local players.

Even with this foreign influx - that includes Estelle Vicquenault and Dorothee Beauvir of France and Japanese imports Mai Fuji and Michiko Tanaka -- the Vulcans wouldn't be in Florida if not for the three local recruits.

Tiana Lum-Tucker of Lihue finished 16-2 this season after leaving Hilo's volleyball program to play for Oda. Sheena Lani of Waialua and Krystal Hangai of Mililani also managed good campaigns.

Should Hilo upset West Florida and advance through the tournament, most of the attention will still be on the BYUH women's program. The Seasiders have won 247 of their 259 matches since Porter came on board. They have dropped only a single match since moving to NCAA Division II in 1998 and are trying to break the consecutive match streak of 103 set by Porter's Seasiders from 1998-2001.

Krejci honored: Jan Krejci, the ace of BYUH's men's team, was honored as the player of the year at the International Tennis Association's banquet last night.

Krejci, who is trying to lead the Seasiders to their second straight national championship, is 24-0 this year. He has only been stretched to three sets twice. His last loss came to Hawaii Pacific's Mikael Maata in 2001. He has won 56 straight matches since.

Jing Jing Lui of BYUH's women's team is the second straight Seasider to be named the ITA's Rookie of the Year.


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