Time flies when you’re having fun.
Fun for fans. Sheer competition on the court. It was only a few minutes into the Interscholastic League of Honolulu girls tennis championship match between top-seeded Katreina Corpuz (Punahou) and third-seeded Taylor Lau (St. Francis) when it was absolutely clear this would be a long, drawn-out, sometimes excruciating duel.
The first name, Corpuz notes, is pronounced “like the hurricane,” which she often played like on Wednesday. Was it the best match of the year? It might turn out to be. Corpuz dug down deep, rallying for a 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory over her strongest rival. Even with her win streak this year over the two-time state champion, Corpuz has visited this route before. In 2016, she won the ILH title only to lose to Lau in the state finals.
On Wednesday at Patsy Mink Central Oahu Regional Park, better known as CORP, it was CORPuz who had to wonder what it would take to get past the relentless Lau. Corpuz had her down 3-1 in the opening set but Lau came right back. Corpuz led in the second set 3-2 and 4-3 before falling behind, 5-4. Then came a shank by Corpuz. A Lau ace. Lau up 30-love. Were we about to see a 6-4, 6-4 sweep by Lau?
Corpuz was gritty, rallying to win point after point to even the set at 5-5. With Lau at serve, Corpus was long on a swing. Long again. Then a swing and a miss. Is she gassed? Lau was up 40-love when Corpuz took a page out of Lau’s book and simply grinded out a comeback to take a 6-5 lead.
From there, Lau, who chases down balls from corner to corner like a female version of Michael Chang, seemed to lose a step. Not the tenacity, to be sure, but she missed at the net, fell behind 30-love and Corpuz took the second set.
Time passed quickly for onlookers. There was a rain delay with Corpuz ahead 2-1 in the third set and it was 6:20 p.m. Two hours of elite tennis in the humidity, the heat, cloud cover, drizzles between two players who know each other’s game as well as anyone. Corpuz went on to win the set, which could well be the same matchup at the Carlsmith Ball/HHSAA State Tennis Championships in Lahaina on May 4-6.
For Lau, playing for a school with a small tennis program means hearing other players like Corpuz get plenty of teammate support. She mentioned that it’s a big advantage for Corpuz, but wouldn’t cede an inch. If anything, the cheers she gets from family have been more than enough with her two state crowns in three years.
“For states, I’m going to train my greatest weapon,” Lau said. “My mind.”
The boys champion, No. 1 seed Phuc Huynh of ‘Iolani, outlasted No. 2 Andrew Yip of Kamehameha 6-2, 3-6, 6-0. Yip suffered from leg cramps late in the match and couldn’t keep up with the state’s defending singles champion.
“He played unbelievably well,” Huynh said.
Before winning states last season, the ‘Iolani standout teamed with Jordan Azuma to win the state doubles title in 2015. On Wednesday, Azuma and Joey Hu took the ILH boys doubles title with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Mid-Pacific’s Reyn Miyazawa and Sean Esaki.
Punahou’s Clarise Arce and Betsy Wo, seeded third, upset top-seeded Laura Okazaki and Chloe Miwa of ‘‘Iolani 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in the girls doubles final.