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Kaneshiro a Guiding Light for Tennis Coaches, Volunteers

October 22, 2011 11:02 AM
Coach Kyle Kaneshiro (left) has dedicated 25 years to tennis as a USPTA pro in his native Hawaii.
The Honolulu 14U Intermediate team were a young, hungry bunch out to prove they could hang with the rest of the nation at Jr. Team Tennis Nationals.
By Jasmine Sheppard, special to USTA.com
 
SURPRISE, Ariz. - If you ask Coach Kyle Kaneshiro how he was able to raise $200,000 in two years to build new lights for Moanalua High School in Honolulu, Hawaii, he will tell you: "It’s about the people of the community believing in my tennis program and what I’m doing for the kids."
 
At the 2011 USTA Jr. Team Tennis 14 & Under National Championships is Surprise, that belief and support has played a large part in Kaneshiro and the 14U Intermediate "K2Tens" being a few wins away from a national title. Kaneshiro's kids dedicate the time to develop and play at an elite level, and a trip to Surprise is proof that with hard work great goals can be accomplished.  
 
In March of 2009, Coach Kaneshiro was out with his high school team conducting a routine practice. However, the day turned out to be anything but a typical when a huge gust of wind came through and knocked over each and every light pole on court. A surprising development, but not without precedent - For it was the second time the poles came down due to years of erosion on the sandy Hawaiian campus.  The school decided to get rid of all the poles completely, effectively eliminating large windows of play time for Moanalua students.  
 
The decision "devastated the team," not to mention Coach Kaneshiro, who has dedicated the last 12 years as MHS Director of Tennis in addition to 25 years as a certified United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) pro.
 
"For me, it’s a full-time endeavor – I teach kids from age 5 to 18 in my programs."
 
With a volunteer’s spirit, Kaneshiro spent his free time writing letters to local government, calling upon special relationships fostered with the entire Hawaii tennis community through decades of coaching service and play.  Letters went out to everyone Kaneshiro could think to call upon – to family, friends, parents of the kids in his program, all the way to Hawaii’s Senior Senator Daniel Inouye, the President pro tempore of the United States Senate and one of the most influential Asian American politicians in U.S. history.
 
"People couldn’t believe what I was doing, and they thought I was crazy at first," said Kaneshiro. "When people see what you’re doing for the community and that it’s all about the kids, they want to get on the bandwagon as well so they can be a part of it."
 
To Kaneshiro’s pleasant surprise, both monies as well as professional services were donated. Parents raised $15,000, while the structural engineer – who happened to be the uncle of one of his players – donated $10,000 of his services.  Twenty-thousand dollars of electrical engineering services were donated by one of Kaneshiro’s former players who had taken lessons from him for over ten years.
 
The biggest donation came from Senator Inouye, who donated grants that covered 75 percent of the remaining funds needed - with one grant alone covering around $114,000.
 
Hugh Yoshida, former University of Hawaii Athletic Director from 1992 to 2002, joins the K2Tens to the Arizona mainland to cheer on his his grandchild who plays on the team.
 
With a background in sports and insights into the inner-workings of state politics, Yoshida has had the chance to talk and befriend Kaneshiro.
 
"With the state of the economy, not just in the state of Hawaii, but across the nation, Kyle took the initiative to elicit the support of the local community," said Yoshida. "It doesn’t happen very often with a project that’s a state project, and like most state institutions such as public schools, they  normally depend on state government to fund projects like this.
 
"But Kyle took it upon himself for the benefit of the youth in his community to get the lights up so they could utilize the facility that was really handicapped simply because they didn’t have lights. He was able to provide additional time for those kids to practice and play tennis. For him to take the initiative I think sets a precedence for all the other coaches of the public schools to ask the community to support and provide all the things that are necessary for the youth. Its very unprecedented."
 
With just a few more minor adjustments, the lights will be ready to come on and Kaneshiro is excited to get everyone back on the courts. On November 9, he is going to thank everyone for their donations by hosting a grand opening to show off the new lights. The day will be filled with tennis clinics and prizes to make it fun for all.  
 
"This is my way of giving back to them to tell them ‘thank you’ for helping me raise the money," said Kaneshiro. "I couldn’t have done it without such a supportive community."
 
 

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