Beemsterboer takes Kanto, readies for Far East
Yokota Panthers senior singles player Emily Beemsterboer rips a backhand during Wednesday's Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools Tennis Tournament at Shirako, Chiba Prefecture, Japan. Beemsterboer won the girls singles title, beating Natalie Burke of Zama American Trojans 6-2, 7-5.
SHIRAKO, Chiba Pref., Japan – Emily Beemsterboer isn’t satisfied following the footsteps of other DODDS Japan tennis players who have won Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools titles in the past few years.
Beemsterboer, Zama American’s Tia Burke and Yokota’s Erika Youngdahl are the only DODDS players in the 40-year history of the Kanto tournament to win girls singles titles. But as far as the Yokota senior is concerned, well-begun is half-done. There’s still the matter of next week’s Far East tournament on Okinawa, and her recent predecessors came up short at the Far East tourney.
“It doesn’t feel like it,” Beemsterboer said when asked how it felt to follow in Youngdahl’s and Tia Burke’s footsteps in 2009 and 2011. “It’s all about Far East.”
Beemsterboer made her final preparation for Far East, which begins on Monday, count in Wednesday’s Kanto final, beating Zama’s Natalie Burke 6-2, 7-5. She trailed 5-2 in the second set, but broke Burke’s service three times down the stretch, including the clinching game.
Burke admitted to tiredness after the match. As for playing next week on Okinawa, she said: “I have to play my game, stay focused, not let up and not let fatigue get to me.”
Beside the DODDS’ run on girls singles titles, American School In Japan prepared for its first appearance at Far East since 2003 by capturing the rest of the Kanto tournament hardware, individual and team.
Nationally ranked Japan juniors star Yosuke Higashi pummeled reigning two-time Far East tournament champion Kent Shikama of St. Mary’s International 6-1, 6-1 for the boys singles crown.
“He does a nice job of making his opponents switch to his game and take them out of their comfort zone,” ASIJ coach Jen Brown said. “He brings so much to the team, not just his tennis skills, but his personality and demeanor and he makes other players on the team play better.”
Players such as Kentaro Ishihara and Keigo Sakakibara, who beat Mustangs teammates Ken Tsusaka and Kei Hatakeyama 6-1, 6-2 for the boys doubles crown.
Teri Cho’s older sister Nicole, now a freshman student at Loyola Marymount, won four Kanto doubles titles in her years at ASIJ, and now the younger Cho appears to want to follow in Nicole’s footsteps. She and partner Christina Higa beat ASIJ’s Maya Murakami and Julie Sato 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 for the girls doubles title.
The Mustangs won the boys team title 45-42 over St. Mary’s and outdistanced Yokota 35-30 for the girls team crown.