No doubt who is Best on Far East tennis courts
Stars and Stripes October 26, 2023
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa – As much chatter as twins Moa and Miu Best engaged in on the tennis courts Thursday, one must wonder what their dinner conversations must be like.
“We just eat,” Moa Best said, adding that things vastly differ from dining table to the courts. “Out there, we talk a lot.”
She spoke minutes after beating her sister 6-1, 6-4 for the singles championship in the DODEA-Pacific Far East tennis tournament. Earlier Thursday, the two paired to down Matthew C. Perry’s Nina Altig and Julie Apperson 6-1, 6-3 to win the girls doubles.
That helped the Cobras capture the overall D-II banner in the first Far East tournament since 2019. And the junior twins’ father and coach, McKinzy Best, said he wouldn’t want their on-court chatter to cease.
“They’ll talk a lot of junk, but they’ll play,” he said. “If we’re that close to winning a banner, that’s what we want.”
The twins encouraged and complimented each other during their doubles matches, yet got quite competitive with their play – and their chatter – during their singles match. But it was all about achieving the same thing – winning, the sisters said.
“As long as one of us is winning, it’s OK,” Miu Best added.
The overall Division I banner went to Humphreys. The Blackhawks’ Sean Choo and Elliot Lee beat teammates Dylan Byun and Beau Carson to win the boys doubles 6-1, 6-4, then Byun teamed with Erin Ji to win the mixed doubles 6-4, 6-4 over Kubasaki’s Jacy Fisk and Lan Legros.
Yokota freshman Ryunosuke Roesch, the pre-tournament boys singles favorite, lived up to that label, beating Lee 6-0, 6-3 in the final.
Both coach Best and Blackhawks coach Matthew Pollock said the road to their respective team titles were lengthy processes, a mix of gathering and developing talented players combined with motivation to finally get to experience a Far East tournament.
Said Pollock: “Last year, it broke their hearts that they couldn’t come here” to a Far East, which was canceled the last three years due to coronavirus protocols. “It put fire in their hearts, ready to play and show that they were ready to play.”
Five of the eight Blackhawks players are four-year senior veterans. “This is a culminating event over the last 4½ years,” Pollock said.
But it takes more than talent and motivation to reach that summit, Best said. “There’s a lot of good kids in this tournament,” he said. “You have to work hard to beat someone. It’s been taking time to build this team. They’ve been working hard every day.”
Moa Best easily handled the first set against her sister 6-1. Miu burst ahead in the second set 3-0, but Moa flipped that narrative, taking a 5-4 lead. Miu fought off three match points before Moa sent a cross-court forehand shot past Miu for the title.
Roesch, a youngster who is anything but new to tennis, made quick work of Lee in the first set. But the Blackhawk countered in the second set, taking advantage of errors to get back in it before Roesch put it away.
“I tried to keep pressure on him (Lee),” Roesch said. “But I started missing more and he was able to get three games. But I pushed through and finished him off. It feels good.”
Asked by his teammate Tommy Vogeley if there were more Far East titles in store, Roesch said: “Hopefully.”