Kinnick's Schoeff, King's Kendall take DODDS Japan titles
CAMP ZAMA, Japan – Trailing 5-2, Nile C. Kinnick’s Raena Schoeff began talking to herself out loud.
“I do that to calm myself down,” Schoeff said. “When I’m losing, I tell myself ‘four more points, four more points.’ I also sing to myself to get myself back in rhythm.”
The singing and talking worked as she completely turned the match on its head by winning six consecutive games to claim the DODDS Japan tennis tournament girls singles championship. She defeated Zama’s Heather Hurley 8-5.
“When I’m playing, I completely stop thinking about everything, so winning the tournament doesn’t feel real yet,” Schoeff said. “I just saw my teammates’ faces when I was down and realized that I have to win.”
Hurley dominated her first-round opponent yesterday with a convincing 8-1 win over ex-teammate Monica Burford, now of Kinnick, and followed that with a 8-5 win over Robert D. Edgren’s Natasha Weimer in the semifinals. But Hurley cut her knee, elbow and wrist on a play during the match and it seemed to limit her speed on a few points in the final.
“[Raena] played a great game,” Hurley said. “Nothing will take that away from her.”
On Zama’s lower court, E.J. King’s Rikki Kendall jumped to an early two-game lead on Yokota’s Chris Beemsterboer in a power-versus-finesse championship game.
The crafty Beemsterboer rarely makes mistakes, something Kendall is prone to on long rallies, and used that to his advantage rallying to take an 8-7 lead.
“Last year, that would have made me very angry and I probably would have lost the match because of it,” Kendall said. “But I worked a lot on my mental game and was able to dig deep to get back on track.”
Kendall held serve, including dialing up one of his four aces, to force a tiebreaker.
Once the tiebreaker started, Kendall was as cool and calm as Beemsterboer and poured it on in the end taking the tiebreaking game 7-3 en route to claiming the boys singles title, but he isn’t taking time to celebrate the win.
“It was too close, Chris played such an amazing game,” Kendall said. “I couldn’t finish the game and he is so confident that he can win every game that he almost got me. Suddenly he pulled ahead and I was fighting to get myself to a tiebreaker at least. I really need to work on closing out games.”