Women’s Tennis Now At Club

There are few sporting events where the onlookers are akin to participants. But Kailua Racquet Club’s Women’s Night Doubles Tournament this week is one of them, as crowds are far more extensive than at the average tennis event.

Punahou senior Katie Kim learned that last November when she made her first appearance at the tournament. Asked what makes playing in KRC’s tournament special, the Aiea resident answered without hesitation: “A couple of things: No. 1, I remember getting to play in front of that crowd. It’s like a change of scenery with all the people. No. 2, I really like the introductions. Last year when (tournament director) Bruce Nagel introduced me, he said that he’d never seen so many eraser marks on an entry form.”

Ah, yes, the introductions. Being that the Women’s Night Doubles Tournament can be neatly summarized as “fan friendly,” no match at the event begins without spectators getting a little background by way of the announcer.

The healthy throngs of fans that flock to the event every November are plainly part of the action. Seating is close to the playing surface, and the scenic backdrop at the club every evening is second to none. The array of tennis talent also is noteworthy, highlighted by some of the top college players in the country, most notably products of BYUH, Hawaii Pacific University and University of Hawaii.

Like the racquet club’s annual men’s tournament, which has grown to be the state’s most widely attended tennis event, the women’s tournament has followed its lead nicely. The field has expanded from just eight teams in its first year to 23 last year. Just as many teams are expected to take part in this week’s tournament, which began Sunday and runs through Saturday with Creative Energy as title sponsor. The tourney was an invite-only event at the start, but was opened up to everyone three years ago.

The team of Hsuan Hwang and Jia Yuan, both of BYUH’s women’s team, captured last year’s title.

As is the case with the men’s tournament, admission is free, with matches starting at 6 and at 7:15 every night this week. Theme is “A Better World,” and KRC will donate a sizable sum to Castle Medical Wellness Center. (The women’s tournament has contributed more than $70,000 toward the fight against breast cancer in previous years.)

Kim is among the local standouts who will participate. She finished second at the state tournament last May along with partner Dani Young in the doubles division. (In 2012, as a sophomore, Kim teamed up with Ashley Ishimura to win a state doubles title). This week, she will be paired with Mililani standout Alyssa Tobita, who is a three-time defending state singles champion.

Also playing this week is Kailua’s very own Cori Cummings, who competes for Mid-Pacific Institute during the high school season.