Aiea Tennis Pro Competes In Doubles Tourney Next Week
Tennis always has been an all-consuming activity for Aiea resident Dennis Lajola. Now in his second year since turning professional, Lajola’s passion for the sport still burns as brightly as before.
“I love it (being a pro),” said Lajola, who was the first-ever University of Hawaii player to be named as the Western Athletic Conference’s Player of the Year in 2011. “I love the competition, I love the tournaments and I love the training.”
Local tennis fans will have the opportunity to see Lajola compete again in the coming days when he and partner Michael Yani take part in the Kailua Racquet Club’s Blue Moon Men’s Nights Doubles Tournament. Lajola will make his first appearance in the tournament in four years and his third overall. He first played in the Men’s Night Doubles Tournament when just 14 years old. (The 2013 tournament begins Sunday and runs through Aug. 3.)
“I like to play in it every time I can,” said Lajola, who was a three-time First Team All-Wac selection at UH. “It’s one of my favorite tournaments to play.”
Lajola recently took some time away from the court to visit with MidWeek’s West Oahu Islander.
What is your earliest sports-related memory?
My first sports memory is following my dad (Dado) to recreational tennis courts. That’s when I fell in love with the sport in general.
Who has had the biggest impact on you in your life?
My whole family. They’ve helped me in different ways. My dad and my brother (former UH player Derrick) always have been big supporters of mine on and off the court. My mom also always has been a great supporter.
What has been the biggest adjustment in moving from the college level to the professional level?
Making a 110 percent commitment to the sport. In college, I also had to focus on school. Tennis is pretty much a job now for me.
What area of your game have you been working on lately?
The physical part – fitness and conditioning. I always kind of lacked that, but in the last year-and-a-half, I’ve been focused on getting into good physical shape. As far as tennis, it would be my serve.
Through your tennis-related travels, what is your favorite road destination?
My favorites are Paris, where I played the French Open, and New York City, where I played the U.S. Open. Both were amazing.
How do you like to spend your free time?
Playing any sport – basketball, mostly, but I love anything that involves sports.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully, I’ll be coaching tennis at the elite level and coaching a lot of Hawaii’s top juniors. I don’t think I’ll still be playing tennis at 34.
What celebrity would you most like to meet?
I’d have to say (professional soccer player) Cristiano Ronaldo. My celebrity dream date would be (actress) Emma Watson.