Jeremy Tweedt showed the depth of the University of Hawaii tennis team last night and teammate Dennis Lajola confirmed his status as the state’s best player by beating Tweedt 6-1, 6-4 to win the Honolulu Masters Championships.
Both are seniors on this year’s Rainbow Warriors team, which is going after its fourth consecutive Western Athletic Conference title. Before they get serious about that, Lajola will play the USTA’s $50,000 Hawaii Challenger in January, which has a field is peppered with players who lose the first week of the Australian Open. Last night at The Oahu Club, he earned the wild card given to the Hawaii Open Sectional winner.
Lajola, from Aiea, won the 2007 USTA Honolulu Futures, which is one level below a Challenger. He remembers every detail of match point.
"I felt so relieved," Lajola recalled. "I’d had a title drought for a year and a half and it was such a relief and joy to win, especially Futures on Oahu. The total experience was something I’ll never forget."
Last night, the top-seeded Lajola won the first five games against Tweedt, a Frenchman who was the Paris junior champion in 2006 and 2007. He transferred to UH last year from Tennessee and clinched the WAC title with a comeback win against Fresno State.
After going down fast in the first set, the fifth-seeded Tweedt had his serve broken in the opening game of the second, but broke right back. At 4-all, Lajola broke Tweedt’s serve on a return that hit the tape and fell over, then served the match out.
"He started stepping it up and putting a lot more pressure on me," Lajola said of Tweedt, who played Nos. 3 and 4 for UH last season. "It’s definitely not like practice. There were rewards and consequences for winning and losing and I felt a lot more pressure. I would love to play as freely as I do in practice. I had to play solid and it was fun."
Lajola has played No. 1 his entire UH career and is a three-time All-WAC selection. He has also won the last two Men’s Night Doubles titles with UH assistant Ikaika Jobe.
Hendrik Bode and Jobe won the men’s doubles, 7-6 (8-6), 6-2, over UH freshmen David Schuster and Jonathan Brooklyn yesterday morning. Junko Kadomatsu captured the women’s singles championship last weekend, and also won doubles with Leilani Magee.