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Far East tennis

Zama, Kubasaki make noise, but ASIJ dominates again

By DAVE ORNAUER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 27, 2017

KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa – On one of the longest days ever seen in a Far East Tennis Tournament, Zama’s twin sister duo came up short in the doubles final.

Yet, seniors Megan and Marissa Petros said they were satisfied with the outcome. And they and their Trojans teammates came away with a couple of Far East team banners to boot.

American School In Japan’s Erin Chang and Eriya Hara dominated the Petros sisters, winning 6-1, 6-0 Thursday in what was the sixth match of the day for each player in a tournament shortened by oncoming Tropical Storm Saola.

“They are definitely good competition,” said Megan Petros, who along with her sister were ranked in the Top 15 in doubles in Kansas before transferring to Zama. “It was fun to play good competition. We gave it our all and we’re happy with the outcome.”

While it was the Petros sisters’ first appearance in a Far East final, Chang and Hara were no strangers to that stage. Hara won the Far East mixed doubles a season ago and Chang mixed doubles in 2015.

They seemed surprised when apprised of the fact that Megan was ranked 13th and Marissa ninth in doubles in Kansas a year ago. Each said that despite the lopsided score, the two gave them a tough go, considering how many matches they had played that day.

“I honestly wanted to cry before the match,” Chang said.

“But I was so excited to play, I just forgot about the pain,” Hara said.

What made Chang and Hara succeed, the Petros sisters said, was their volley and overhead shots. “I should have been on my toes more,” Marissa Petros said.

“They were great at putting power on their shots,” Megan Petros said.

The performance by the twins was strong enough to help Zama earn the Division II girls team and overall school banners. The Trojans finished with 28 points, four ahead of 2016 champion Christian Academy Japan.

“Pretty great, especially knowing it’s Zama’s first D-II overall win,” Trojans coach Jason Osborne said.

The other doubles finals match pitted another pair of siblings, Noah and Joshua Inahara, from ASIJ. Noah, a senior and returning Far East singles champion, won his fourth straight doubles title as he and Joshua beat St. Mary’s Kai Strawn and Syou Nam Thai 6-1, 6-2.

Chang-Hara and the Inahara brothers helped ASIJ repeat its boys, girls and overall school Division I banners.

The Mustangs had 76 points and completed their second straight sweep of all three team banners. It’s ASIJ’s fifth straight overall school banner, all under coach Jen Brown.

“They’re all special and unique in their own ways,” Brown said of all those teams. “Each team has brought a certain talent and skill. It’s been very special every year.”

The surprise among D-I teams was Kubasaki, which finished second with 32 points – the Dragons’ highest finish in 22 years.

“We worked really hard for this,” said Dragons sophomore Shannon Hyde. “We’re a competitive team and we always push each other to make each other better. We’ve done nothing other than go out, play hard and try to beat everyone else.”

The final day of play began at 8 a.m. Thursday and went all the way to 9:30 p.m. in an effort to get as many matches done as possible before the forecast onset of rain Friday morning. On-and-off showers left the courts unplayable most of Friday.

Organizers did their best to cut Far East, scheduled over four days, roughly in half. They tried to resume play several times on Friday, but rain ultimately forced play to be scrapped. The tournament closing and awards ceremony was held Friday evening.

And even then, the tournaments technically have not ended. The boys and girls singles and mixed doubles finals were postponed and shifted to the ASIJ campus. Dates have yet to be determined.

Each of those matches have ASIJ opponents playing each other.

ornauer.dave@stripes.com

Twitter: @ornauer_stripes

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