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Top-seeded teams face off for night doubles crown

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After two weeks and a wild 56-team scramble, tonight’s final of the 40th annual Blue Moon Men’s Night Doubles will feature the top two seeds and four guys who have owned this tennis tournament the past five years.

Four-time champions Minh Le and Wei Yu Su will face top-seeded defending champions Dennis Lajola and Ikaika Jobe in the championship at Kailua Racquet Club.

There will be an eight-game pro set played at 6 p.m. for third place. The final follows.

Last night, before another standing-room-only crowd, Lajola and Jobe—a University of Hawaii senior and his volunteer assistant coach—blew through former Dartmouth teammates Jesse Paer and Neal Bobba, 6-2, 6-4.

"We’re both playing pretty sharp and we’re pretty confident right now," said Lajola. "We’re both serving well, that’s the main thing now."

Le and Su reached their fourth final in five years with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over former Hawaii Pacific teammates Stefan Pampulov and Jan Axel Tribler.

The only time Le and Su trailed was 1-0 in each set and they were never in real danger. That has been common under the Kailua lights.

Le played collegiately for Cal, then went on the pro tour and still plays team tennis in Japan. He met Su, a former Brigham Young-Hawaii All-American, on the tour, but they never played as partners until a mutual friend suggested Le come to this event.

Except for a stumble in last year’s semifinals, when Le had a herniated disk, they have been the perfect couple. It is the only tournament Su plays all year.

They broke Pampulov in his first service game last night and pretty much picked on his serve the rest of the evening, with Le particularly vicious on the return.

"I felt really good on my returns," Le confirmed. "In the initial few games, I felt good, and as it went on I felt like I should only return better as the ball got slower. I was able to read the serve pretty well. It was one of those nights when you could see the ball pretty well."

In contrast, Tribler and Pampulov had just one look at a break point in the opening set and didn’t even get a full swing at it. Le slashed his serve wide and the stab return was buried by Su.

"Serve and return is the key here," Pampulov said. "We definitely could have served better and returned a little better. We had our opportunities and we didn’t take them. On this level you have to take every single opportunity. They were just more steady throughout the match."

The winners, getting more aggressive as the sun went down, broke Pampulov and Tribler in the second set to pull ahead 5-1. Then Pampulov, who is from Bulgaria, won his serve and they broke Le’s. Tribler, who came here from Denmark a decade ago, hit his two hardest serves to ace his way through the next game and make it 5-4.

A double fault and Pampulov’s rip of a return gave them a break point to tie it at 5-all.

It turned around in the time it took Su to blast two big serves. Le blew a volley on the first match point, then cleaned up what was left of Su’s next big serve to get to match point again.

Su slammed another serve that was too tough and it was over in 83 minutes.


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