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New Courts, Solid Support Fuel Growing Tennis Program

Kalaheo High School's tennis players taking a break on their new courts. Photo from Stephan Ogasawara.

Kalaheo High School’s tennis players taking a break on their new courts. Photo from Stephan Ogasawara.

Stephan Ogasawara likes to say he has “the best of both worlds” in his relationship with both Kailua and Kalaheo high schools. A lifelong Kailua resident and former Surfrider tennis player, he tutors students at his alma mater during the day, and then travels across town to coach the Kalaheo boys and girls tennis teams.

Recently, when the two schools met on the tennis court in an OIA match, Ogasawara found himself coaching against some of the Kailua players he had tutored. “I hear it from them sometimes,” Ogasawara admitted of his Kailua students.

The timing of his arrival at Kalaheo two years ago to take over the tennis program could not have been better, as its new tennis courts had just been completed.

“It was 10 years in the making, and there were a lot of issues and challenges, but it came together at the end,” said Kalaheo athletic director Mark Brilhante. “We’re just starting to develop a program. We have full teams in boys and girls varsity and girls JV, which is great.”

Added Ogasawara: “It’s nice to have brand-new courts. Most coaches dream of having new courts.”

The Kalaheo job opened up when longtime coach Greg Siok’s work schedule changed, forcing him to step aside.

The new courts figure to be a huge boost to the program, as evidenced by the full rosters (35 players in all). Ogasawara noted that most players come to the program fairly new to the sport, so their development is a high priority. He also hopes to generate further interest by offering free tennis lessons to the public.

“A lot of the tennis players in Kailua go to private schools, so we don’t get the USTA players,” said Ogasawara, who also is youth pastor at New Hope East Shore. “We’re usually starting from scratch. Our mentality right now, and for the next few years, is that wins don’t have much to do with anything. What has been cool to see is the development of the players. Our kids are amazing.”

Ogasawara also noted the support from Brilhante and assistant coaches JD Tsukayama and Ryan and Krista Kido.

“He’s the best,” he said of Brilhante. “He supports every sport at Kalaheo equally.” jackster.1969@yahoo.com