Good News: Cougar Cousins Traded Their Bats For Racquets

There was no direct line to the tennis court for Kaiser High School cousins Daniel Yamada and Joza Katsube, but they’ve more than made up for lost time during their four years with the Cougars.

If anything, the pair seemed destined to be part of Kaiser’s perennially ranked baseball program when they first arrived on campus.

“Neither had played any tennis before high school – they both learned as freshmen,” longtime Kaiser head tennis coach Kristie Yamamoto said. “They first came out for soft tennis, and they liked that, so they came out for tennis that spring (2009). Both have worked very, very hard. They live together, so if one wanted to hit, there was always someone to hit with.

“Being baseball players, they’re very athletic and good leaders, and Daniel is one of our captains,” she added. “They’ve been a real asset to the team, and they get along well and work well with each other.”

Yamada and Katsube entered the state tennis championships late last week seeded seventh, and they recently won the Oahu Athletic Association doubles title. The pair also won the OIA’s soft tennis doubles title in the winter. Kaiser’s boys also captured the OIA overall team title, marking the third straight year the league champion came from the East. Kalani’s boys won the OIA team tennis titles in 2010 and 2011.

In addition to Yamada and Katsube, the Cougars also boasted four other qualifiers for states, including singles players Bailey Tacub and Mitchell Miyashiro and the doubles team of Tyler Nghiem and Scott Yabui.

The Kaiser girls tennis team had a trio of qualifiers in singles player Tasha Shaik and the doubles team of Anna Tetsutani and Christie Lane.

“They all worked very hard,” Yamamoto said. “We had a real strong boys team and a lot of good girls on the team.”

Kaiser’s boys team will lose 11 seniors to graduation, although Tacub will be back. The Cougar girls will return largely intact and figures to be a factor in the OIA again.

Kaiser’s boys title this spring is its first since winning back-to-back titles in 2002 and 2003 under Yamamoto. She also coached the Cougar girls team to an OIA title in 2004.