Lily Oliver might be new to the DODDS Pacific tennis scene. But she’s not new to tennis.
Oliver, a freshman, is Kadena’s new top singles seed, and she wasted little time winning her first two matches in Panther uniform on Thursday.
“She’s a very talented player,” Kadena coach Amie Woo said of Oliver.
The daughter of the Kadena Officers Club manager, Lily Oliver has been playing tennis since she was 4 years old. She regularly goes up against Japanese and adult opponents.
“I started as a kid because it seemed easy, but then I started to like it,” Lily Oliver said.
She’s now the torch bearer of Panther tennis, taking over for a sister tandem that dominated the past two seasons. Kristin and Alex Howard are gone, the former having graduated, the latter having transferred for her senior year.
Aside from Oliver’s tennis talent, Woo says she likes Oliver’s on-court demeanor. “She doesn’t look like she stresses on the court,” Woo said. “She stays focused, she knows what she needs to do. You can see she’s had a lot of experience.”
Oliver began her Panther tenure by beating Kubasaki’s No. 1 singles seed Allie Powers 6-1, 6-0, then teamed with sophomore Rita Feight to beat Powers and Haley Agra 6-1, 7-6 (7-2) in the first doubles match.
Woo says she feels Oliver has a shot at big things in singles both on island and at Far East, and in doubles with Feight.
Sadly, the transfer round is due to send her stateside in March.
Kubasaki did end a bit of inglorious history on Thursday as the Dragons girls won the Okinawa matchup for the first time in four years, behind lower seeds Sarah Walter, Mary Neitzke, Leigh Trumble and Troi Cavanaugh.
On the boys side, Woo has hopes for 2012 Far East mixed doubles champion Nic Lay, now a senior, and his doubles teammate Danny Wartella. “If Danny steps up his game, they have a chance,” Woo said.
With most of the American School In Japan crew that won all but two Far East tournament events and the overall team championship graduated, the race for Division I team titles could be wide open. Only Lily Kobayashi and Nana Yoshimura return for the Mustangs.
Seoul American figures to make D-I noise, with doubles players Grace Cho, Ashley Shirriff and Nick Gagnet returning; each took third in Far East events last year.
And back at the helm of the Falcons is David R. Abbott, who coached the team for one season in 2011, winning the D-I title.
Yokota could also be strong, with Chris Beemsterboer and Jacob Mansberger on the boys side and Kaia Austin and Rimi Bargmon on the girls. Junior move-in Benjamin O’Connor is a “solid player,” coach Tommy Palmer said.
Most Division II teams are in various stages of building, although E.J. King’s boys appear to be strong with Rikki Kendall, Edrie Orpilla and Jeremy Rasay returning.
Trayland Rose, Yudai Harashima, Logan Perera and Lorenzo Cardenas figure to make Zama’s boys another D-II threat. But while the Trojans girls welcome back Heather Hurley and Vicki White, they lose Monica Burford in the transfer round to Nile C. Kinnick.
Most D-II girls teams are building from the ground up, coaches say.
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