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Jobe-Lajola takes Kailua

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
    Ikaika Jobe, left, shook hands with partner Dennis Lajola during the Blue Moon Men's Night Doubles last night.
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A matchup of past and present Blue Moon Men’s Night Doubles champions lived up to its billing for a standing-room-only crowd at Kailua Racquet Club.

Dennis Lajola and Ikaika Jobe overcame a tiebreaker loss in the first set and rallied against the former dynasty of Minh Le and Wei Yu Su, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-1 to defend their championship in the 40th running of the popular tournament.

Lajola, a senior on the University of Hawaii tennis team, and Jobe, his volunteer coach, shook off their early erratic play and started landing their first serves regularly and emphatically in the second set. More than a handful of flashy finishes near the net as the match progressed won the crowd over.

"Congratulations to Minh and We. It’s always a great battle when we play you guys. … It was an intense match," said Lajola, who had to decline his half of the $2,800 winners’ share. "It was pretty tough to overcome (the first set). I just told myself, ‘I’ve lost sets before.’ It was far from over."

Le and Su, who won three consecutive years from 2006 to 2008, simply had no answer under the bright KRC lights once their younger foes got rolling.

Su was broken to open the third set, and by the time Lajola smacked a deadly return to break Su’s serve again to go up 4-1 in the frame, momentum was squarely in the defending champs’ court.

Jobe smacked a heater at Le — who was caught in no-man’s land — that the three-time champ couldn’t return to end it.

Lajola in particular found all areas of the court with his deadly forehand.

"My partner played a great match … we had fun together. I look forward to playing again," Jobe said.

Still, Lajola and Jobe had to work much harder for this one than the 6-2, 6-2 beating they doled out to Le and Su in the semifinals last year, when Le had a herniated disc.

"I would like to congratulate Ikaika and Dennis. … They went down a set and came back strong," said Su, who played at Brigham Young-Hawaii. "We had a couple of opportunities, but we couldn’t close it out. And good luck in the upcoming (UH) season."

Le knew his side couldn’t let up after the first frame, but conceded, "We were off on some key points we should have won."

Lajola had the key point of the second set, when he waved off his partner by yelling "Mine!" and smashed a break point between Le and Su to go up 3-2.

"You guys did great in the last set," added the Cal alum, who’s been to the semifinals or farther in all five years he’s entered. "As long as my partner is healthy, I will continue to come out here."

Lajola received the Sam Caldwell Amateur Athlete Award before the match.

In the third-place match, Stefan Pampulov and Jan Axel Tribler bounced back from their semifinal loss vs. Le and Su to play dominant tennis over former Dartmouth teammates Neal Bobba and Jesse Paer, 8-3.

The former Hawaii Pacific teammates jumped out to a commanding 7-2 lead in the pro set courtesy of two early breaks.

"We played very loose because there was nothing on the line anymore," said Pampulov, who is now HPU’s tennis coach. "We were dominating the service game throughout the match."

 

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