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Girls tennis AOY

Omachi conquered Far East issues - and everything else

Seisen Phoenix junior Sarah Omachi has been named Stars and Stripes Pacific's girls tennis Athlete of the Year.

MAYU ONO/SPECIAL TO STRIPES

By DAVE ORNAUER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 1, 2018

Seisen’s coaches or teammates never doubted Sarah Omachi’s talent.

The powerful right-hander, sporting wicked forehand volleys and groundstrokes and a strong two-handed backhand, showed as much when she was a freshman two years ago, powering her way through the Kanto Plain finals and reaching the Far East singles championship match.

But it was there that she lost to teammate Matilde Piras in three sets. It wasn’t so much the loss itself – her only defeat of the season – but how the match got away from her. After Omachi easily won the first set, Piras settled down, counterattacked and made Omachi lose her composure.

“I was really sad and frustrated that I couldn’t win that match,” Omachi said. Perhaps done in by overconfidence, Omachi said she thought it would simply be a repeat of her victory a week earlier over Piras in in the Kanto Plain finals.

“I thought at the time that I was stronger because I had (beaten Piras) at Kanto. But that (Far East final loss) made me realize, I wasn’t as strong as I thought and that I was able to grow further,” Omachi said.

Omachi has since conquered her emotions and exuded a coolness on the court that has led to her being simply perfect on the scoreboard.

“She had great technique; it was her emotions getting in the way,” coach Rory Hawkins said. “Focus on point by point and staying patient. That seems to have worked well for her. She’s grown a lot the last couple of years.”

Omachi didn’t lose a match the last two regular seasons. At Far East this year, Omachi did not even drop a set.

She capped her rise to the top by blanking senior Kaitlyn Corbett of Christian Academy Japan 6-0, 6-0 in the singles.

She also teamed with Amana Fujikawa to beat teammates Lauren Woody and Debangi Mohanta to win the Far East girls doubles title.

For all that, Omachi has been named Stars and Stripes Pacific’s girls tennis Athlete of the Year.

Losing the 2016 Far East final helped Omachi appreciate it more when she came out victorious this time.

“If I had won that match easily, I don’t think I would have felt as much motivation to win everything as I have right now,” Omachi said.

It also helped her handle something that came up last year during her sophomore year, when Omachi didn’t play in the Far East Tournament. Omachi and Hawkins did not elaborate as to what happened, only that they’ve used it as a “learning experience” for Omachi.

“It’s changed her as a tennis player and a person,” Hawkins said. “She’s made amends for it as a leader and a person.”

“It’s not only affected how I play as a tennis player, it’s shaped me as a person differently as well,” Omachi said.

Omachi is due back next season to try again. She says her game plan will remain the same:

“Whoever the opponent is, I decide to try my best and play my best, however strong they are or however long they’ve played,” Omachi said.

ornauer.dave@stripes.com

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