Ryo Minakata and Jessalyn Lopez make tennis history for schools

The singles titles at the HMSA Hawaii Tennis Championships are in new hands now.
The doubles winners added onto their school’s winning streaks.

Hawaii Prep’s Ryo Minakata beat Hobbes Winstead 7-6 (5), 6-3 for his school’s first state title in the sport, and Jessalyn Lopez of Kihei Charter dispatched Waiakea’s Maile Brilhante 7-7 (3), 6-4 to give her program the same honor.

While Ka Makani athletes have collected state titles in various sports, Lopez joins Maya Reynolds as the only state champs the school has produced after Maya Reynolds won the 800 meters at the state track and field championships in 2015 and 2016.

Lopez, a junior, is the first state singles champ from Maui since Kari Luna of Baldwin in 1994. Minakata is the first from the island of Hawaii since St. Joseph’s Fernando Aguirregomezcorta in 2008.

Minakata is a senior and hopes to play professionally. He reached the state final two years ago before falling 6-2, 6-1 to Hall of Honor inductee Andre Ilagan of Farrington. He was upset 7-5, 7-5 by island rival Gil Assi of Hilo in the quarterfinals last year.

Waiakea’s Brilhante was also going for her school’s first state title and was up 5-3 in the first set before Lopez reeled off three straight games. In the tiebreaker, she scored the first three points and cruised home. She never trailed in the second — sprinting, slicing and lobbing her way to a win.

“I was hitting too much pace early,” said Lopez, who has won three MIL titles. “When you hit with more pace you make more mistakes. I slowed it down and started hitting more lobs.”

Robert Chang and Scott Yamamoto defended their top seed to beat No. 2 Kailuhia Lam and Cade Fujitani of Punahou 7-6 (9), 6-2 for the boys doubles championship. It is the third straight state doubles title for Yamamoto, who paired with Sean Yamamoto tin win it last year.

Third-seeded Genki Kadomatsu — headed to Tufts — and Andrew Somerville got third with a 7-6 (5), 6-4 win over teammates Gabriel Kwock and Riley Visaya.

The doubles points allowed ‘Iolani to win the team title for the third straight year, all under Alex Aybar.

Punahou was guaranteed to win the girls doubles title, and the team of Alexis Matsunaga and Megan Flores swept teammates Jacqueline O’Neill and Cosette Wu 6-3, 6-4. The Buffanblu have won the title for three straight years but Clarise Huang played singles this year and was upset by Annika Alcon of Mid-Pacific in the quarterfinals. Huang and Betsy Wo won the last two doubles titles.

‘Iolani’s Gabriela Siaosi and Mari Kwee won the marathon girls third-place match, grinding on more than 2 1/2 hours before finally silencing Mililani’s Allena Wong and Kylie Hull, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-4.

Punahou won the girls team title for the 17th straight year, this time under Jason Oliver. The Buffanblu have had five different coaches (Bernard Gusman, Rusty Komori, Ikaika Jobe, Betsy Purpura and Oliver) during their reign.


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