Wanted: Tenacious Tennis Partner

Avis Hirahara prepares to hit a volley as partner Gerald Miller looks on. Photos courtesy Krystyna Noe

There were a few very late nights that bled into early mornings as I tuned in for the semifinals and finals of the Australian Open tennis championships last week, but the lack of adequate rest was well worth witnessing the excitement and historic action that took place Down Under.

A pair of epic semifinal matches seemed as if they might overshadow the finale, but Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal then went on to play the longest championship match of the Open Era. Djokovic pulled out the emotional five setter after five hours, 53 minutes on court for his third straight Grand Slam championship.

I’m a tennis fan from way back, and with Djokovic, Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, the top of the men’s game may be as good as it’s ever been. The women’s game is also in a competitive resurgence, with most of the top 10 all capable of winning a major.

I don’t get to play as much as I used to, back when I was claiming a few trophies during summer camp tournaments and perennially underachieving in high school, but it might be time to dust off my racket for a good cause.

The first Kaua’i charity tournament of the 2012 calendar year will take place Feb. 25 and 26 at the Poipu Kai Tennis Courts. All proceeds from the tourney, which will be cohosted by Poipu Kai Association, Kaua’i Tennis Association and Grand Hyatt Resort, will be donated to Kaua’i United Way foundation.

Mike Morimoto (front), Jasmine Ikeda, Jimmy Honda and Helen Young at the 2011 Poipu Kai Mixed Doubles charity tournament

“The folks at Poipu Kai Association, Kaua’i Tennis Association have been doing these tournaments for some time now, and they just keep getting better and better,” says Scott Giarman, Kaua’i United Way executive director. “If you’re a tennis player, what a great way to play and do something great for our whole community.”

The tournament will be all mixed doubles action, so I may soon be patrolling the courts in search of a woman willing to put up with me as a partner preferably one who can balance out my Jana Novotna-like penchant for surrendering big leads in matches. The entry fee for each player is $25.

Those who aren’t quite ready for tournament action but would still like to take in the festivities are certainly able to do so.

“We will be having fun games and prizes open to anyone with a $10 donation Sunday, Feb. 26, starting at noon after the tournament finals,” says tournament coordinator Krystyna Noe. “Shoes are required, and if you have a favorite racket, bring it, too.”

“Even if you don’t play, you can cheer on the players and get lunch from Kalapaki Joe’s Poipu for $10, all of which goes to support the vital social service programs of Kaua’i United Way’s 28 participating agencies, all right here on our island,” adds Giarman.

All registration information can be found at kctennis2009.webs.com. Deadline for entry is Feb. 17.

Four more charity tournaments are currently scheduled this year, all of them featuring separate men’s and women’s doubles brackets. The next is tentatively scheduled for the end of May, followed by the Koloa Plantation Days Doubles event (July 21 and 22), Fall Challenge (Oct. 13 and 14) and Holiday Doubles (Dec. 8 and 9).