Punahou wins the state tennis team title
Injury and illness couldn’t stop Payton Jim On.
The Punahou junior overcame a shoulder injury and an ongoing quad injury to defeat Mid-Pacific’s Andre Ajed 6-2, 6-0 and take the boys’ singles title at Saturday’s HMSA/HHSAA Tennis State Championships in Patsy T. Mink Central Oahu Win Regional Park.
The title is a second in a row for Jim On, who was recently recovering from stomach flu while losing 12 pounds.
“I’m feeling pretty good. It wasn’t my best tournament, I would say,” he said. “It’s a lot of adversity but just trusting myself and learning how to trust my game was really important this year to win.”
He managed the pain by getting treatment, particularly for his shoulder.
“I was really devastated. I didn’t know how I was going to play this week. I went to the punahou trainers. I trust them. They’re really good,” said Jim On. “They have really good technology. It really helped.”
Punahou coach Ikaika Jobe wasn’t surprised by Jim On’s end of the season.
“Payton is an incredibly hard worker and has planned his season well. Some things are just out of your control, but he’s rested when needed and worked when the opportunity presented itself,” Jobe said. “He takes his physical training very seriously.”
Ajed came into the state championships as the ILH champion after beating Jim On for a fourth time in as many games this spring. However, Ajed also had two tough games on Friday, totaling five hours in the sun. He had a 4-6, 6-3 (5) win over Waiakea’s Iori Furuhara, who was seeded fifth, in the quarterfinals and then rebounded to a 6-7 (4), 6-0 (6) Beat fourth-ranked Brandon Ramos of Punahou in the semifinals.
No boy has ever won the state singles title in Mid-Pacific, and Ajed was only the second to make it to the finals.
“I don’t want to make any excuses about today from yesterday. To be honest, I just feel like he was a better player today,” said Ajed. “He played a lot better than me. I tried to keep up by sort of playing it out with him but he seemed to have better rally tolerance. Nothing really about yesterday. He just played better today.”
Jim On, so to speak, spoke his faith into existence.
“I played pretty well at the (ILH) tournament. He used to hit me (this year). He owns me,” he said. “I had a bit of nerve, how do I have what it takes? I made sure to focus on myself. I often get caught up with what he’s doing, but today I said I’ll play well and see what happens. I was able to implement a lot of strategies and just imagine playing against him all week.”
Punahou repeated as girls and boys team champion. The boys accumulated 31 points while ‘Iolani accumulated 11.
“The team has a lot of players who haven’t been able to play in States, but this is unique. They push each other to get better. So depth gives us an advantage,” Jobe said. “They have grown together well as a team.”
For Punahou it is the second state title in a row. Jobe also coached the Buffanblu to a championship in 2016, his first season as a boys’ coach.
The Buffanblu girls finished the race with 23 points, followed by ‘Iolani (13) and Mililani (11). This is her 19th straight state title and third straight under Jason Oliver.
No. 2 seed Elise Wong upset No. 1 Julia Visaya of ‘Iolani 7-5, 6-2.
“I think there was a point where the whole team erupted in cheers,” Wong said. “It felt really, really good. Julia picked up speed and my team always had my back.”
Visaya recently won the ILH title.
“The special thing about tennis is that every day is different. It’s just the one who comes up with a better game that day. Julia played really, really hard. It could have gone either way today, but it turns out it was me,” said Wong, a junior.
Wong, like Jim On, defended her state championship in the boys’ division.
“Last year I started the race as an underdog. I was the first seed, but I was up against a girl who had previously beaten me 20 times,” Wong said. “ILH was really an eye opener because Julia fought really hard. I couldn’t take anything for granted.”
Top finishers Jazlyn Miyamura and Arissa Dang of Mililani won the girls’ doubles title, the first time an OIA team had won the crown since Leilehua in 1999. Miyamura and Dang defeated second-placed Harley Wolters and Sophia Woofter of Punahou 6-0, 6-4.
“We didn’t really play together during the regular season. I think our coaches were experimenting and trying to prepare for the OIA Team Finals, but after that we practiced almost every day,” Dang said.
“We were all super focused. In the beginning she pointed something out to me and I totally blocked her,” Miyamura said.
“I tried to lighten the mood. She was so serious,” Dang said.
Punahou’s Tsubasa Okada and Tanner Ige defended their boys’ doubles title, who teamed to beat ‘Iolani duo Kawelo Tsuneyoshi and Gervase Ngo 6-3, 6-1. Okada is a senior and Ige is a sophomore.
“These guys have a certain energy about them. They are incredible together. They were also undefeated at the tournament in California (All-American Nationals),” Jobe said.